2014 Austin MotoGP Sunday Round Up: Of Cracking Under Pressure, And Accidental Tire Management

Normally it takes bad weather to shake things up in a MotoGP race. For most of the day, it looked like the rain was ready to start at any time, but in the end it stayed pretty much completely dry, bar a quick and meaningless shower just before the Moto2 race started. Regardless of what the weather decided to do, we still ended up with a bizarre MotoGP race anyway. The weirdness started even before the race had started, and continued pretty much all the way to the very last corner.

Jorge Lorenzo came to Texas knowing he faced an uphill challenge. Last year at the Circuit of the Americas, Marc Marquez had run away with the race, with only Dani Pedrosa able to follow. Lorenzo had put up a valiant struggle, but had been unable to prevent a Repsol Honda whitewash. In 2014, Lorenzo had come facing an even tougher task, if that were possible. After crashing out at the first race, Lorenzo knew he had to score as many points as he could without taking too many risks. He would have to find a very fine balance between pushing hard to try to catch – and who knows, maybe even beat – the Repsol Hondas, and ensuring he didn't risk ending up with a second zero to go with the crash at Qatar.

The extra tension that created may have played a factor in what happened next. Lorenzo came to the grid with more bugs collected on his visor than usual. As he sat waiting for the official holding the red flag to leave the grid, he did something he never normally did while waiting for the start. To ensure he got the best start possible, Lorenzo decided to remove the first tear-off from his visor, to clear up his vision. While he was pulling the clear plastic strip from his visor, the official hurried off the grid ahead of the start, as the rules dictate. When Lorenzo looked back up, he saw the official gone, and in a moment of confusion, got ready to start.

The start procedure specified in the rulebook states that once the official leaves the grid, the red starting lights will come on for between 2 and 5 seconds. Once the red lights go out, the race officially starts, and riders are free to chase into Turn 1 as fast as they can. That light change is crucial, the lights imprinted onto the retinas and brains of world championship motorcycle racers around the globe. Once the lights change, you go.

Lorenzo saw the lights change, and he went. Unfortunately for Lorenzo, the change he saw was from off to on, and not from on to off. That mistake certainly gave him a free run at Turn 1, but it also meant he had performed a jump start, and so would have to come into the pits for a ride through penalty.

It was one of the strangest jump starts that most people can remember seeing in a great many years. Jump starts are not uncommon occurrences – if anything, the surprising thing is that they do not happen more often, given the extreme tenseness of the situation. Most jump starts, though, involve a rider rolling forward an inch or two a fraction before the lights go out. This was not one of those jump starts. Lorenzo took off like a scalded cat just as the red light came on, a full 3 or 4 seconds before the rest departed the grid. The Movistar Yamaha man was halfway to Turn 1 before the lights had switched off and the rest of the grid powered off the line. Most jump starts are hundredths of a second too early. Lorenzo's start at COTA was, as one commentator put it, so early you could have measured it with a calendar.

His start left the rest of the riders mystified. When Lorenzo came past, a few were tempted to follow – Marquez' first thought was that he had messed up his start once again, and would find himself behind Lorenzo – but they all held back once they saw Lorenzo shaking his head. The Spaniard knew immediately he had made a major mistake, holding back for just a fraction before realizing that his best course of action was to push as hard as possible for the first lap, to try to limit the time he would lose during the ride through.

Lorenzo's problem had been one of distraction, the former world champion admitted. He had been slightly nervous going to the grid, and when his visor collected more flies than he was comfortable with, he decided to remove a tear-off. This was something he never normally did, Lorenzo said, and because of that, he had lost focus for a fraction of a second. When he looked back up, the front flag man had gone, and when the lights came on, Lorenzo took off.

Reaction to Lorenzo's mistake was almost universal disbelief. None of the other riders we asked understood how he could make such a mistake. There was nothing odd or unusual about the track that might trigger such a false start. Marc Marquez suggested that the difficulty of Turn 1 – up a very steep hill to a very tight corner – made the riders a little more nervous about the first corner, but that could not explain going so incredibly early. Bradley Smith, upon hearing Lorenzo's explanation for his jump start, reacted with just a single word: 'Oh'.

Lorenzo claimed that the start procedure had been different, that normally the lights are red when the riders arrive at the grid, but that seemed a strange conception to be harboring. The rulebook is clear on the procedure: the red lights are only illuminated prior to the start for between 2 and 5 seconds. They are not used before or after. This was a case of brain fade, nothing more, nothing less, perhaps engendered by nervous tension. Lorenzo's biggest mistake was to break his routine, removing a tear-off while he sat waiting on the grid. That broke his concentration, and forced him into an error.

It was the second in a row, after his first-lap crash at Qatar. He had at least scored points – after his ride through, Lorenzo worked his way through the field to make it up to 10th – but the 6 points he secured will do little to help him tackle Marc Marquez. Lorenzo emphasized that the season was still long – 16 races remain, and a total of 400 points – so he had not yet written off his chances of winning the title. It would, however, be difficult, he conceded. Team manager Wilco Zeelenberg was a little more optimistic, though still full aware of the task in hand. 'Anything can still happen,' the Dutchman said.

Even without the jump start, Lorenzo would have found it hard to take the fight to Marquez. Taking away the 23 seconds extra his ride through cost, plus the 6 or so seconds lost to backmarkers as he fought his way forward, that still left Lorenzo with deficit of some 20 seconds to Marc Marquez. It is indicative of the mountain he still has to climb.

The weirdness was not confined to Jorge Lorenzo, however. Once the race got underway, the only slice of normality appeared to be the Repsol Hondas disappearing at the front. Marc Marquez cleared off, Dani Pedrosa tried to follow, but eventually had to admit defeat, the pair finishing 20 seconds ahead of the man in 3rd. That was very much in line with expectations. What happened behind most certainly was not.

Andrea Iannone led the chase for the Repsols on the Pramac Ducati, with Cal Crutchlow close on his heels. Valentino Rossi joined the fray, along with Stefan Bradl and Andrea Dovizioso. Cal Crutchlow was the first to drop off the front, pitting for a new rear tire, then going back out only to suffer a massive crash in which he dislocated his finger. But with Iannone, Rossi and Bradl all battling for 3rd, trouble started to arise just before the halfway mark.

Valentino Rossi was the first man to run into trouble, Rossi' plummeting like a stone after a very strong start. His lap times went from high 2'04s to mid 2'07s in just a couple of laps, with rider after rider streaming past him. Andrea Iannone was the next to suffer, losing a couple of seconds and falling back into the clutches of Stefan Bradl, before dropping even further back to end the race in 7th. And Stefan Bradl was the final victim at the front, holding out to near the end, losing out only once he got caught up in battle with Bradley Smith.

The problem was simply one of tires. Not, as many had feared, the rear tire, but instead the harder of the two front options. Most riders suffered severe wear on the front tire, making it harder and harder to manage the bike. Valentino Rossi was one of the more serious victims, with Colin Edwards also in a bad shape. Andrea Iannone had similar problems, while for Stefan Bradl, it meant he had no chance of attempting to attack Dovizioso. Pol Espargaro, after a strong start to the race, ran into the same trouble and had to let his teammate Bradley Smith go.

The race turned into a war of tire management, though the victors in that battle won more by accident than by planning. Andrea Dovizioso had been ill all weekend, and knowing that Austin was the most physical track on the circuit, paced himself early in the race. He let the front group go a little, benefiting when they succumbed to tire wear. This wasn't a conscious strategy for tire wear, but Dovizioso had made a virtue of his weakened condition. The Ducati rider was forced to manage his own fitness, and in doing so, ended up with more tire.

Bradley Smith benefited from his own mistake in the early laps of the race. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider overheated his brakes in the first couple of laps, as well as cooking his tires. Realizing he had to be more careful, he backed off a little, tangling with his rookie teammate Pol Espargaro. Riding more calmly his brakes and tire recovered, and Smith had a bit more front tire when everyone else had destroyed theirs.

Their enforced calmness paid off handsomely. Andrea Dovizioso put the Ducati on the podium, the first dry weather podium for the Italian factory since Misano in 2012. It was a token of just how much the Ducati has improved this year, but also a major boost for Dovizioso himself. It broadens the Italian's options come contract time, but also offers hope of more improvement later in the year. For many years now, the Ducati project has been heading for the rocks, but it appears that the latest round of personnel changes are starting to get the oil tanker turned around. There is hope again.

Bradley Smith did well out of his patience too, scoring his best ever result in the premier class. He could even have gone one better, finding himself in a duel with Stefan Bradl as the German's front Bridgestone started to drop. Smith attempted a fearless pass on Bradl through the esses, but could not quite make it stick. The pair of them dropped off the back of Dovizioso, losing a shot at the podium but still ending up with Smith’s best ever result in the premier class. There has been much criticism of Smith in the past, but only now is he starting to shake off his image of not being fast or forceful enough.

Even the race winner managed to nearly throw it all away in the last corner. With the race effectively in the bag, Marc Marquez nearly lost the front into the final corner, losing time and going very slowly. But by this time, the gap was more then enough to cruise home to the win.

The 2014 Grand Prix of the Americas turned into something of a comedy of errors. However, only a few participants found themselves doing much laughing. The one exception was Marc 'laughing boy' Marquez, who leaves Austin with two race wins and two poles to his name. Whenever pressure is applied to Marquez, he just shrugs it off. This could be a long year for everyone who isn't reigning world champion.

There were two more races at COTA, providing fantastic fun for the viewers. Both the Moto3 and Moto2 racers saw popular young riders winning, but that is a story for another day.

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Articles like this is why I subscribe! I can't help to remember back to the end of last season where Lorenzo tried to play every mind game in the book with the young rookie. How times have changed and Marquez at this point simply has to let Lorenzo self destruct.

but honestly not nearly as exciting as Qatar (but on the other side Moto3 was a treat).

great article as usual!

Glad to hear its 'only' a dislocated finger for 35.
Smith is showing speed, maturity, and race craft. He's growing on me too.
Argentina should be interesting but the real order (apart from you know who) will not appear until the European rounds.
If Ducati can maintain this progress Dall Igna will have good reason to be smiling.

.... for the fantastic info. It's much easier to understand what's going on with this kind of inside infos. This way you can't just say Jorge was nervous or he acts like rookie or...

Yes, that selfie was another first time event as far as I'm aware. What amazed me was that as the official MotoGP live coverage concluded that selfie was used as an image on screen. I found it pretty amazing that they captured and posted that picture to the live broadcast within a couple of minutes of the pic being taken.

Obviously that's not impossible to do, but considering all that must go into pulling off a live broadcast I was amazed they'd go to the trouble. The video coverage at these events always amazes me. Now if they could just do a better job of the often flakey audio.

Looks like an iPhone...come on Samsung, HTC, Motorola, (insert fav manufacturers)!!! Start sponsoring some riders and we may have more cash coming to the sports!

I can't help but observe Pedrosa and see a whiley veteran looking to stretch this season out and wait for the inevitable Marquez mistake, and not push until he absolutely has to. Of course that has been his MO for years, and with the exception of one half-speed German crash that wrecked his season last year, there would have been a LOT more pressure on Marquez and things could have ended very differently in 2013. But that's always his story...

The dude is still blindingly fast when things click, like 2H2012 and Malaysia every year, and one mistake by Marquez (surely he won't crash as many times as last year, but half as many would still be a lot) could change everything. Pedrosa has taken his hard knocks, suffered plenty, and watched 3 teammates win championships. He is due for some good luck, so it will be interesting to see how long he sits and waits before he starts trying to make his own luck and go full on.

Until then, it's hard not to criticize him for not having a bit more fire in his belly and digging deeper... I need to look no further than the seemingly resurgent 2014 Rossi (vs 2013 washed up Rossi), or even the previously lowly-regarded and less-talented but now hard-charging Bradley Smith, to see what I am looking for in Pedrosa.

Time will tell....

Interesting, Pedrosa's comment on running the medium rear just so he could have something different from his teammate. Many a time a racer has won because he had the right tire vs his opposition. I might just be rooting for Dani this year...

That's the perfect term to explain yesterdays race since it was half entirely expected and half entirely surprising.

How is it that Pirelli makes tires for WSBK and no one has an issue with them, and Bridgestone can't seem to get it right no matter what? For years, almost everyone in MGP ha been bitching about the tires and what's done about it? Nothing! I really think this has to do with a major difference in 'attitude' between company's. Casey has said, numerous times, whenever they had a 'tire' issue, Bridgestone made it clear it was NOT a tire issure, but a chassis, suspension, etc issue. Their tires were perfect! Years later, nothing has changed. The pinnicale of the motorcycle racing world hangs in the balance on tires that have issues every race!

David, how much bitching is going on behind the scene's about these crummy donuts?

You don't hear as much complaining about the Pirellis in World Superbikes for two reasons. Firstly, justly or unjustly, WSBK gets less coverage than MotoGP. When something bad happens (like Phillip Island last year), it barely registers. Secondly, Pirelli has a system of fines. Bad mouth the tires, and you get to pay what is reportedly a five-figure fine to the Italian tire company. Even for the very top WSBK riders, that's a serious chunk of their salaries.

Not Just two reasons....add to those The stress and wear forced on tyres by a superbike simply does not compare to what the bridgestone hoops go through under the forces that a motogp bike imparts upon them. Bridgestone has a much tougher job to do. That said I would love to see the end of the control tyre era. Sick of hearing about tyres, tbh.

Easy to blame the tyres. If they are so crap, how come Marquez and others managed to do so well??
Comments re Smith easing off and having the tyres come back indicate that perhaps some lack of simpatico might also be at the root of the issue for some of the riders.

Tyre choice, even in a control tyre series, still has to be made wisely, and it would appear some people are shifting the blame for their own decisions to the tyres.

Moaning about tyres is pretty much a universal constant in any motor sport. :)

I agree with you. Unless there were individual variations between tyres (not typically a feature of the 'stones) then some used them better than others. As flawed as the control tyre is in it's current form, the "good old days" of tyre wars - with only one or two chosen riders from each manufacturer getting the best tyres - weren't real flash either.

Every time I see a false start in MotoGP I wonder if the penalty fits the crime. In track and field a false start (a) results in a warning first and then disqualification if done a 2nd time in the same race (except in the US where there are different rules because, we'll, I don't know why) and (b) is only assessed to the athlete who jumps the gun FIRST. That is, if other athletes also false start, possibly following the lead of the guy who goes first, they don't also receive a warning, or any penalty.

In the case of the COTA race Jorge didn't pull anyone along with him when he false started, but that often does happen and I always feel it's severe for the 'other' guys to be penalized for erroneously following the lead of someone else. I also often wonder if a pit lane ride through penalty is a little severe. In the case of Jorge it nearly had the same consequence as a disqualification, and often it may as well be the same.

Maybe the rules are as they should be, but I often wonder if there's a better solution. Thoughts?

...but when Spanish TV asked Marquez about his start he said: 'I got a good start, but Lorenzo got an even better one.'. If it is true, the lad has a champion sense of humour.

If you jump the start sufficiently that you lead into the first turn after qualifying on the 2nd row, it has to be a ride-though. The advantage of being in front with a clear track, rather than needing to fight through the traffic is too big. You could even imagine the situation where one member of the team would be sacrificed: told to jump the start and hold up the real leader, to give his team-mate a chance to catch up.

Second, as I understand it the reason no one complains about Pirelli is because there are very big penalties written into the contract for anyone who opens his mouth.

Yes, but there are other options. How about a restart for a 1st jump start offence? I know that delays the race, reduces everyone's fuel, and causes general mayhem for a few minutes, but is that preferable to effectively losing one the key protagonists in the race by assessing a ride through penalty. Or how about having to drop back a place, or two, or three?

I'm not necessarily advocating a restart or dropping places, but I am interested in thinking through alternative solutions that are optimal for the fans while still being fair to the riders.

"If someone jump starts they MUST go across the finish line on the first lap in the same or lessor position as they qualified."

I agree that the current rule is too severe. It is also inconsistent. At some tracks this is a much more severe penalty than some others.

That might work. It may be confusing to communicate to the rider mid-race, and might be hard for the rider to implement (let's see, how far back do I need to drop?) but I agree that the current rule is at the very least inconsistent because of different pit lane lengths.

what if half of the grid jump started? how chaotic could that be? the current rule is perfect

I think the current rule is far from perfect, but you make a good point about implementing a 'drop place' rule if a whole bunch or riders had to drop spots at the same time.

I keep wondering: have Ducati really made great improvements? I mean, they do run under the 'Open' rules now right, allowing them more fuel, softer rear tires and more engines? How do we know where they really stand?

The chances of Jorge moving to Honda are increasing race by race. He believes he is the best (they all do and should) and the only way he can compete with Marc is to be on the same bike.

I'm not so sure Dovi's podium means a whole lot with respect to an "improved" Ducati. Dovi finished 21 seconds behind Marquez on Sunday, whereas last year he finished 22 seconds behind Marquez.

Being one second closer to the winner over full race distance doesn't mean a whole lot other than Ducati have kept pace with Honda's development. And most likely THOSE gains are down to the open class rules advantage they have.

I think it would be interesting for you to do an in-depth analysis of Ducati's results throughout this season relative to how they did last year, looking at total race time vs the gap to the winner. My hunch is you'll find that, for now, they've made no progress.....

Dovi was a full 10 seconds faster this year then last year.

Good write up as always David. Good to chat with you briefly on Sunday. I can assure the rest of the readers that you are a hard working guy, chasing down all the insight you can. From a spectator perspective in the grandstands at turn 15 it was very telling that Dovi could carve his Ducati so consistently and with a tighter line than Cal, Rossi and others. Could that be up to the way he treated the front tire early on or has the bike (and his style) improved to solve for a major issue? We all know it is a rebuilding year for Ducati, but other than Lorenzo opening up a spot on the podium before the lights went out, Dovi really did deserve that dry race position. It will be interesting to see if they lose the added benefits of full Open rules sooner than expected.

and need to be discouraged. The present penalty is severe and is probably why we don't see too many, especially in the front few rows. Better to lose a tenth or two than lose 40.
For those at the back, the TV coverage is possibly some compensation......

"Andrea Dovizioso put the Ducati on the podium, the first dry weather podium for the Italian factory since Misano in 2012. It was a token of just how much the Ducati has improved this year"

Although the comment about Ducati being on the podium for the first time since Misano is correct, I really don't see how anything has changed for Ducati.

If and when the Ducati is back battling for podiums when the factory Honda's and Yamaha's are not experiencing problems will I call Ducati a success. Dovi benefited from Rossi's lack of tire conservation and Jorge's lack of concentration. If and when Dovi can reproduce his results on the Ducati as he did on the M1 would I really call it a success.

Any fool and his dog knew that barring an act of God or the Devil, Marquez would cruise the snoozefest that was GP Senior. It came to pass. The rest of it was mesmerizing after George's focus was restored and dived in for his ride through immediately. 3rd place and last podium spot was where the real action lay and it was thoroughly entertaining up until about 3 laps to go when Dovizioso had clearly broken the backs of Bradl and Smith. That,probably as a result of their personal battle thus giving the Ducati man a chance to gap them sufficiently to grab a podium. Spare a thought for Joe Maniac. That was a fine ride. He has always had a habit of riding his tyres too hard dating back to M2 days.
For me the big highlight was actually the opening lap. George jumps the start by a calendar year, realizes, baulks and correctly blasts off anyway knowing that he's up the creek with the ride through anyway and don't wait for a pit board. Marc sniped it and was already hounding him by turn 9.
Ducati and and the podium. That was great. Granted 20 odd seconds back,but it looks like they are playing to their strengths again. Brute power negating the finesse of the M1, the balance of the HRC bike and the application of the rule book within the ambit of their interests. Then of course that 'sticky' subject. Tyres. Was it a success for Ducati sans Factory M1 woes? Sure it was. They beat a factory Honda, two Factory Yamaha's and were damn close to a 3rd and 4th position until late race. Brain fade and sundry. I reckon they will have to suck up the 22.5 litre fuel mass and jettison the OPEN 'soft' option sooner rather than later. I guess Gigi had already factored that in. I would love to know what fuel content Ducati started that race with. 22 litres is my guess. They also raced the bikes with the full factory spec rubber, not the option soft for OPEN.

If you don't think Dovi's display was a great success you've frankly lost the plot.
The fact others killed their tyre was down to bad set up / design / riding, something the Duke used to do every race, and here, well it it didn't.
Second point, you can only beat who's in the race, and Dovi beat the Tech 3 M1s and the satellite Hondas, and both the Factory M1s, which last year were a dot on the horizon.
You trying to say Marquez only won in Qatar cause Lorenzo fell on lap 1? D'oh

Commentaries by Ben Spies were exceptional: timely, insightful and very interesting. Is he jobless right now? He should do that every race (wishful thinking, I know).

During the race after half distance i believe Ducati had 3 bikes within first. 6 spots. That tells me quite a bit - that GiGi is starting to make an impact and that his Open gamble will pay dividends. To have 3 riders with three different styles and pedigrees run the race they did says Ducati is doing something. Even if a flash though, it was good seeing three manufacturers in the mix.

Did I say Marquez only won because Lorenzo fell off? It would seem you are the one who needs to get a grip.

One race does not a season make. Was the Ducati declared a success when Rossi took a podium in Misano? No.

The simple fact remains that until Ducati starts being on the podium on a regular basis due to bike/rider combination and not because of some freak incident will I believe Ducati has turned a corner.

Not once did I take anything away from Dovi. He earned his podium full and well, I'm simply saying it's a little early in the game to call being 20+ seconds behind the winner after screw ups by the factory Yamaha riders a success.

Dovisioso only down 20 seconds this year!!!! Last year he was down 22 seconds. My how the Ducati Monster has risen out of the ashes. Kidding to some extent. I do wish Ducati well but on an even playing field only.

Also it would seem part of the Factory Yamaha team might try to get some setup tips from the 'lesser' Yamaha team(s).

Yes, Dovi was down 20 seconds to the winner this year. But so was everybody else except for the guy on the exact same bike as Marquez.

So I don't think Dovi and the other Ducs are exactly where they've been one year ago. I think Iannone's performance is proof for that as well. He was able to hold off Bradl and Rossi pretty well until his front tire started to give in. A Ducati in a dry race fighting an RCV213 and an M1 for a podium for that long into a race would have been unthinkable one year ago in my opinion.

But as David stated, this was a rather odd race to really judge where everyone is at. Bridgestone very well made sure of that.

I think we won't be able to see everyone's real potential before Jerez. A track which Dani loves. So we'll see what he can do against Marquez on equal machinery. Jorge and Valentino shouldn't have too big of a technical disadvantage there in theory, so we'll see where the M1 is at. Without any mistake happening, we will also see how Valentino's performance compares to Jorge's on a track they both know very well. And we'll see where the Ducatis fit into that picture.

But first, bring on Argentina!

One think missing, I think, from the commentary is whether or not the factory Hondas had any tire issues? I'm assuming not though not certain why. Any ideas? They seem to be the only bikes which did not have problems.

I'm in the camp that Ducati is improving. They have been near the top of the time sheets in many of the practice sessions and even Ianonne on a satellite bike is running up front in the races. And yes, it is early in the season. And, yes, they have a long way to go.

Marquez in particular (as seen in the very last corner). Late in the race, Dorna showed a super slo-mo shot of Marquez, and as his front tire came around the first time, you could see that the right side was completely shredded. It appeared as though there was a chunk missing from the shoulder that was about six inches long and as thick as a finger. The race was pretty much a snoozefest up to that point, but that shot made me sit up and pay attention. I was pretty sure Marquez was about to either start dropping off back to Pedrosa or toss it in the kitty litter.

My guess is that the Repsol riders, aside from just having a great bike and setup and being great riders, pushed their tires much past where the rest were comfortable with and got away with it. Barely.

Towards the end of the race there was a slowmo of the front wheel on Marc's bike and the right side looked shot. Would be good if there was a pic of them all at the end. Will not get anything from Bridgestone...

Still does not explain Rossi destroying his so quickly - was the temp that much hotter on race day? Surely they tested the fronts for wear in practice. How many times did we Jeremy send a bike out and it go backwards that quickly?

I believe the track temp was lower during the race.

The tyre damage in the pics looks like cold tear to me. If so, would suggest some (Marquez, Pedrosa) were working the tyres enough to get to temperature, via setup and pace, whilst others (Dovi) let the tyres come to them.

The unfortunate (Rossi, Iannone) perhaps had too much pace for their maintained tyre temperatures, and induced cold tear.

Just supposition though....

What, if anything, can we read into Rossi's tyre issues? There were plenty to read into Qatar the 2nd coming of the Lord, it is probably similarly presumptuous to write off his new crew chief after just one bad race but it makes an interesting point.

Lorenzo trailed Rossi by around 21s on lap 2 and finished 4s behind, so gained 17s on his team mate over the course of the race. David placed a figure of around 6s for the time lost by Lorenzo making his way through traffic, so one might be able to surmise that without the jump start Lorenzo would have gapped Rossi by around 23s on the same bike.

Similarly, Lorenzo trailed Marquez by 24.7s on lap 2 and 49.1s at the finish - a difference of 24.4s. With his normal rocket start let me presume he would probably have been very near to Marquez on lap 2, deduct the 6s for time lost in traffic and he might have finished around 18s back - probably enough to stay clear of the scrap for third.

What's clear is that Lorenzo et al set up the bike and used it a lot better than his team mate, but that both were thoroughly outpaced by the Repsol boys.

All meaningless supposition, roll on Argentina. :)

1. 2013' tire.
2. Other riders chucked there fronts as well, clearly a defect or..
3. The surface, far grippier than last year, is abrasive enough to merit the "special 13'/new 14'" tire, of which Bridgestone brought none because of...
4. Production and logistic issues by bridgestone and lastly.....
5. During FP4 they did 16 lap race simulation on a used front tire and assumed a brand new one would last the race but....
6. Despite no setup changes it didn't last 8 laps in prime condition.

Arguments against Silvano:

none, his rider was on course for a sure 3rd place finish, VR looked extremely comfortable on the bike the first couple of laps and was cutting through the pack with finesse.

3 highlights for me from the show: #1: Dovi rode beautifully. This has been a long time coming. The move he pulled to get past iannone was fast and hard and ballsy - really made me sit up and take notice as i was snoozing off at the time:) Then he set about getting himself into the podium spot with courage and balls. GREAT ride for Dovizioso. #2: MM93's comment that his moment on the last corner was because 'the race was quiet and he wanted to give some entertainment to his family and mechanics' that made me LOL - the kid is just awesome eh? #3: The selfie on the podium that Dorna put live to the world. This was an inspired, magic human touch that most could relate to all over the world, and it portrayed the rider's personalities really well. Full Marks Dorna.

Again though, moto3 was the best racing. Jack Miller rode amazing - led most of the way, and refused to panic when passed late but pulled hard outside AND inside passes. 2 / 2. GO JACK.

I think you're mistaken - isn't that bridgestones new mixed weather tyre. You ride it in the dry until it goes like that, then when it rains you whizz into the pits, quickly whip em off and put them on back to front and hey presto, you've got tread for the wet corners.

Honestly, bridge stone need shooting. After the farce of PI last year they shouldn't be stuffing up anywhere.

Did anyone else catch the comments made at the pre-race press conference in regards to Bridgestone bringing the 2013 tire? Valentino disliked the idea and said he didn't understand the decision especially given the development of the bike is obviously based on the 2014 spec tire. Marquez said that he didn't understand the decision either. He also said 'some riders complain. Not many, but some complain in Qatar and in pre-season.' Bradley Smith didn't beat around the bush. He said that the positive of having the 2013 tires at COTA was that it will clarify things for Bridgestone and the rest of the paddock regarding which tire is better and 'it will shut up some riders from whinging and I'm quite excited to get through this weekend and go back to the 2014 spec.' All riders in the press conference said that the 2014 was better over race distance.

Let's be clear - the 'riders' (not many, as Marc mentioned) was rider = Jorge Lorenzo. He claimed that they were unsafe, which seemed to be substantiated by the number of crashes in the race. Not by his, but perhaps by some of the later crashes. But this had to do entirely with the track conditions at Qatar. Looking at the above image of Rossi's front tire from COTA - now THAT is unsafe. And to think- I entertained a funny conspiracy notion in my head that Dorna had made a phone call to BS to spice up the start of the season after JL's DNF in Qatar and get him back in the game so they could preserve the major storyline of this season (MM vs JL in a tight title chase). When in fact, Jorge may have had a more significant voice in the matter than I had jokingly led myself to believe. That and the fact that he has, per his own error screwed the first two races of the season on his own merit. Concessions are being made for a 'whinging' rider who has clearly lost his focus to start this season. When you become obsessed with everything that is going wrong and continue to point your finger at something else - distraction by mosquito accumulation is the new one, or the tires that everyone is riding with are unsafe you are not focused on the task at hand. I really think that had Jorge been truly focused to start this season he would have 2 podiums at the very least. He was lapping at a podium pace after his restart in Austin. I believe that he would have been in a great place to win at Qatar regardless of how practice went.

People gave VR so much guff for letting go of Jeremy Burgess. He was making excuses - he was pointing fingers, etc and unable to face the facts of his career slowing down. Well, in Vale's defense - when he loses, he loses with dignity. He says in press conferences that Marc or whomever else beat him is stronger than he is or faster than he is on that day. Jorge talks about tires. I get it - you have to believe that you are the best but focus on that. I earned a new respect for JL last year because I think 2013 was his best year by far. His heart, his race craft and his tactics on and off the track were undeniable. I think that perhaps Marc winning the championship has thrown him for a loop and maybe the time off to marinate on the high level of his competition has him rattled. I don't know how else to explain the the beginning of this season. I do know that I am absolutely tired of hearing his excuses. He needs to get to work and start racing. His press conference mind games and media noise are not helping him this year. The bar has been raised. C'mon JORGE! Let's go! Get your head back in the game!

That's a bit harsh. For sure Jorge is rattled but even while I've never warmed to him he's proved beyond all doubt that he's hard as nails.

I would never dispute that Jorge is tough as nails. He has displayed that season after season. I just want to see him focused and on the track battling for victories. I think that saying that he is 'whining' might be harsh as you say, but I was also borrowing the words of some of his fellow riders who view his complaints as such.

outcome to this race. I expected the Repsol Hondas to pull away, (especially Marquez), but I did not excpect the Factory Yamahas to both be back in the pack. Lorenzo's jumpstart was comical. He is going to have to calm down. I think Marquez has rattled him like he is the rookie and not the veteran. Two races, two mistakes. Once Lorenzo settles down, he will be probably the only one capable of stopping Marquez. He showed last year that once he is focused, it will not matter if his bike is not as fast or good in some areas. Lorenzo himself will make the difference.

Ducati. I know a lot of people on here are skeptical, but when is the last time you saw Iannone's team, which is now on the spec software as I understand it, look like they may lock down third place. He was in that position for most of the race! Dovisioso was reportedly sick, and STILL went faster than last year. Yes people crashed, mismanaged tires, but even with all that. Ducati is usually near the rear not the front. Bradl, Bautista, were both on damn near, if not factory material Hondas, (Bautista having different brakes and suspension). The Tech 3 team, (will give up that Pol is a rookie, but Smith has looked like a far more serious racer than I have ever seen him look), both were beaten by Dovi. And the Ducati did not look as bad in the corners. They always had the straight line speed, but not he handling. Hopefully they can get another podium with everyone up and running.

Not an action packed race, but watching it was still entertaining for me. Still digging the updates and insider views by this site. Keep up the good work David!

Put it like this.... if the penalty was light, everyone would do it. 5 seconds can be the difference between 5-10 points. Pit ride through is a very fair penalty... Jorge still came back to take 10th place and he could have placed even higher if he had been in the 2' 04"s instead of the 2' 05"s

The tyre supply is abysmal, and has been for a while now. Rossis early laps displayed that the Yamaha is still very competitive in the right hands, however that pic of his front tyre was disturbing.

Also the focus on Jlo is a bit much really, especially in the broadcast! I think we watched more of him bringing up the rear than Marquez! 2014 is a write off for him, in fact I don't believe Jlo will win another title-his style is obviously extremely good when everything is perfect and the electronics are possibly playing a much larger role for him to ride like he has. The off season has proven that he's in trouble, particularly with his illustrious team mate now out pacing him regularly, and not even being within sight of the repsols.

Let's see how Bridgestone fair next, new track, no data-I'm sure they probably haven't tested anything there so it could be another farce....

Some people here are bemoaning the fact that Ducati are still the same distance behind Marquez this year as they were at last years race, therefore they've made little to no improvement. To that I would say that Marquez has a heap more races and confidence behind him now vs this race last year so Ducati are doing well to mirror his improvement. I don't think there is any doubt that the 2014 spec Marquez would be significantly faster than the 2013 spec. Anyway it's just great to see another manufacturer in the mix and Ducati riders with some hope in their eyes.

Tyres? The tyre wars of old were an absolute farce, with most competitors nobbled before they turned a wheel (witness Elias' improvement when gifted some of Pedrosa's cast off's) so long live the spec tyres as far as I'm concerned.

''There were two more races at COTA, providing fantastic fun for the viewers. Both the Moto3 and Moto2
racers saw popular young riders winning, but that is a story for another day''

Waiting for that day.