Episode 70 of the Paddock Pass Podcast is hot off the presses, and it is the episode that you surely have all been waiting for, as the Argentina GP was in no shortage of action, drama, and consequences for the 2018 MotoGP Championship season.
The guy obviously talk about the incident between Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi, and examine the words said in the aftermath in the larger perspective of MotoGP’s political arena.
Words are also spent talking about Cal Crutchlow’s performance, both on and off the track, as well as the fortunes of riders like Dani Pedrosa, Johann Zarco, and Jorge Lorenzo, the latter being tipped to take Andrea Iannone’s ride inside the ECSTAR Suzuki garage.
Of course the show ends with the guys picking their biggest winners and losers from the weekend’s events, which isn’t as obvious this week as one would think.
We think you will enjoy the show. It is packed with behind-the-scenes info, and insights from teams and riders in the paddock.
As always, be sure to follow the Paddock Pass Podcast on Facebook, Twitter and subscribe to the show on iTunes and SoundCloud – we even have an RSS feed for you. If you like the show, we would really appreciate you giving it a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening!
On Friday, the Hondas were looking pretty strong at the Termas De Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina. Dani Pedrosa led FP1, with Cal Crutchlow just behind him. In FP2, Marc Márquez opened a big lead over Crutchlow, with the rest some distance behind.
On Saturday, Marc Márquez looked just about unbeatable, despite his slip up in qualifying. Six tenths quicker than Johann Zarco, and effortlessly quick in a wet FP3.
Over a second quicker than his teammate Pedrosa in FP4, an advantage that was almost embarrassing. The portents were clear on Saturday night: this was Marc Márquez’ race to lose.
And that is exactly what he did, before the lights had even gone out. A combination of ignorance of the rules and panic meant he blew his chance of winning the race as soon as he jumped off his bike to try to restart it on the grid.
From there, he piled error upon error to make the situation worse. By the end of Sunday, he had managed to throw away any chance of salvaging points from the Argentina round, and run up a 15-point deficit to Andrea Dovizioso.
He had also managed to create a public relations disaster, though to be fair, he had more than a little help doing that.
Dani Pedrosa has suffered a fractured wrist in his lap one crash at the Termas De Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina on Sunday.
As a consequence of that crash, Pedrosa had to undergo surgery today in Barcelona to fix the intra-articular fracture in his right distal radius.
The fracture reduction and internal fixation with a titanium screw was performed at the Hospital Universitari Dexeus, by Dr. Xavier Mir and his team from the Catalan Institute of Traumatology and Sports Medicine (ICATME).
Every MotoGP weekend throws up dozens of talking points, notes and points of interest that can help an interested observer better understand what remains the greatest sport on earth.
Some weekends have more to offer than others. And then there are weekends like Argentina. Already by qualifying, the Grand Prix at the Termas De Rio Hondo circuit had produced more wildness and weirdness than you get at most rounds. And then Sunday came along.
Yesterday, I wrote a little about the peculiar and unique set of circumstances that caused the start of the race to be delayed, and about how Cal Crutchlow came to win what would be a fantastic race riddled with controversy.
Before I move on to the most controversial part of the weekend – Marc Márquez’s frantic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ride through the field, which eventually saw him penalized out of the points – a few more notes on the race itself, and the result as it ended up in the books.
Responding to the backlash in the media from this weekend’s Argentina GP round, Dorna CEO and MotoGP boss Carmelo Ezpeleta issued a statement via the MotoGP.com website, where he backed the decisions made by the MotoGP Race Direction officials.
Notably though, Ezpeleta’s statement focuses mostly on the decisions made during the starting procedure of the MotoGP race at the Argentinean round, and not the on-track action, which also gained the scrutiny of Race Direction.
Interesting too, Ezpeleta pleads the case for Dorna, noting how the media right holder for MotoGP is not involved in picking the FIM Stewards (that is the job of the FIM and IRTA), thus trying to absolve the Spanish firm from any controversial decisions, and the appearance of bias.
On Saturday after qualifying, I wrote about how one of motorcycle racing’s defining characteristics is its unpredictability. That was written in response to a thrilling qualifying session that saw Jack Miller take pole by rolling the dice on slicks on a drying track, and outperforming everyone else.
The rest of the grid had been pretty unpredictable too: Tito Rabat in fourth on the Reale Avintia Ducati GP17. Marc Márquez, the man who had been fastest by a country mile all weekend, only starting in sixth. Three first-time pole sitters in the three Grand Prix classes. Saturday at Argentina defied expectations.
Sunday at the Termas De Rio Hondo circuit made Saturday look positively straight-laced. Wild doesn’t even begin to cover the events on race day. There were Moto3 riders gambling on slicks on a track with just a very narrow dry line.
There were new names and fresh faces at the front of the Moto2 race, a thriller that went down to the wire. But when MotoGP came around, even those events were made to look positively mundane.
So much happened that it will take several days to digest, let alone do justice to in writing. There were so many facets to this race that I will need more than one report to deconstruct it all. For now, we will start at the beginning, and work our way forwards from there.
It all begins with the weather. Heavy rain all night, followed by the track drying out through the course of the Moto3 and Moto2 races left the track in a difficult condition.
The Moto2 bikes and their fat Dunlop rubber had at least cleared out a dry line around most of the track, but it was not very wide in places, and there was water crossing the track. Then a light rain started to fall as the riders prepared to leave pit lane, making them choose wets instead of slicks.
All except Jack Miller, that is, who rolled the dice on slicks once again, determined to seize an advantage wherever he could find it.
Motorcycle racing is many things, but above all, it is unpredictable.
Just when you think a racing series has settled in to a pattern, either during a season or over the course of a race weekend, along comes some unexpected factor or other to throw a spanner into the works and turn it all on its head.
Suddenly, the script has gone out of the window and the protagonists are all ad-libbing their way to a completely new and unimagined story.
This is why so many riders sport symbols of gambling on their leathers, helmets, or bikes. Look around the MotoGP grid, and you see dice, cards, and poker chips everywhere.
With so many random elements which can affect the outcome, from mechanical misfortune to errors of judgment to choosing the wrong tires to the fickleness of the weather, there is always the hope that things can break your way.
It’s always worth rolling the dice, because from time to time, a gamble will pay off handsomely.
That is how we ended up with the polesitters in the three classes at Argentina all taking pole for the first time in their careers.
We expected practice at Termas De Rio Hondo to be dominated by the weather, and we were right, though not in the way we expected.
Rain had been forecast for all of Friday, but it largely held off except for the odd wayward shower which caused more of a nuisance than any real disruption.
But a combination of a dirty track and strong and gusty winds made conditions difficult at the Argentinian round of MotoGP. It turned the field on its head: Andrea Dovizioso, the man who had won the previous race at Qatar, finished FP2 as 24th and last on Friday in Argentina.
The track played a big part in making life difficult for the riders (or more accurately, everyone not called Marc Márquez). The resurfacing had been a major improvement, removing the worst of the bumps, but the new surface didn’t really have any extra grip, the riders said.
“It’s positive about the bumps,” Andrea Dovizioso said. “Apart from Turn 4 all the other corners are much better, almost perfect. The grip is not good like the old one, maybe it’s worse, maybe it’s too new, I don’t know when they did.”
Valentino Rossi agreed. “The new surface is a bit better because we have less bumps,” the Italian said. “I think Michelin was a bit worried about the level of grip because they bring more tires. At the end the level of grip of the new asphalt is the same as the level of grip with the old asphalt.”
The real problem was the track still being dirty, and not being rubbered in, Marc Márquez explained.
“It’s good. In terms of grip, very very similar the new and old, you cannot feel the difference, because there is no rubber, it’s just dirty. But it’s so good about the bumps. Last year it was at the limit, quite dangerous with big bumps, but this year it’s completely flat,” the Spaniard told reporters.
It is a good job that the Termas De Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina is one of the finest on the calendar. Because actually getting there would test the patience of Odysseus.
For most of the MotoGP paddock, it is at least a 24-hour journey to get to the track. If everything goes according to plan, that is, which, as any experienced traveler will tell you, things tend not to do.
This year, as usual, a sizable portion of the paddock found themselves taking the better part of two days or more to get to the circuit. Poor weather, a diverted flight, or a missed connection meant that some paddock folk found themselves rerouted via Montevideo in Uruguay.
Pol Espargaro got bumped off his overbooked flight to Buenos Aires. Members of the Marc VDS MotoGP team took 48 hours to get to Termas, with team press officer Ian Wheeler the current record holder, taking 50 hours to get from Dublin to the Argentinian track.
It took him 28 hours to travel just 500km, an average speed that even I, an overweight, aging journalist manage to exceed while out cycling.
It’s worth it once you get there, though. The atmosphere at the track is phenomenal, and the circuit layout is one of the best of the season.
The circuit has a bit of everything, and a lot of the thing which racers love: fast, flowing, challenging corners which test rider courage and skill equally. Though there is no real elevation change, the circuit has enough dips and crests to require precision in braking.