2017 Argentina Sunday Round Up, Part 1: Explaining Factory Crashes, Aliens Old & New, And It's Only Round 2

Weird is still the new normal in MotoGP, though after Qatar, we appear to be entering the second half of the acid trip, the part where the hallucinations stop being overwhelming and start to take on a strange kind of internal logic once you learn to embrace the weirdness. You can sort of understand why motorcycling's premier class is throwing up the kind of bizarre surprises that it does, and the truths you held to be self-evident still have some roots in reality, though they are much, much shallower than before.

The Termas De Rio Hondo track remains one of the jewels in the crown of motorcycle racing, albeit one which could use a bit of a polish. The track is little used, which often leaves it dirty, while also becoming rather bumpy. Yet the layout is still glorious, and perfectly suited to the cut-and-thrust of two-wheeled racing, each overtaking point lovingly crafted to allow the chance to counter if passed. Layouts like that help create great racing, which is what we got in part. But the blemishes threw up anomalies, causing riders to crash out and the racing to falter.

There was still a spectacle to admire, in all three races. The day started well, with Moto3, though a break in the field cut the battle for the lead down to a group of five, with a deserving winner at the end. The Moto2 race threatened to turn into a snoozer, but the field tightened as the laps ticked off, creating last-lap drama that rendered the race memorable. And the final act was worth the wait, packed with drama and surprise.

Meet the new boss

The winner, though, hardly came as a surprise. Since his switch to the Movistar Yamaha team, Maverick Viñales has now left each MotoGP event he has participated in at the top of the timesheets. He was fastest in all four winter tests, from Valencia to Qatar, and now he has won both the opening races. With victory in Argentina, Viñales became the first rider to win the first two races since Marc Márquez in 2014, the first to do so after switching to a new team since Kenny Roberts Jr moved to Suzuki in 1999, and the first rider to do so for Yamaha since Wayne Rainey in 1990. That last statistic is particularly surprising, given that neither Valentino Rossi nor Jorge Lorenzo managed it. And neither Rossi nor Lorenzo were ever considered a slouch on the Yamaha.

A Viñales victory didn't look likely at the start, however. Marc Márquez took off from pole like a scalded cat, and quickly opened a convincing lead. His lead would not last long, however: while braking for Turn 2, and as he tipped it in to the flowing left hander, Márquez washed the front out and crashed out of the race. He was furious, absolutely livid, either with himself or with the bike.

Not-so-exceptional pace

The obvious culprit to blame for the crash was Márquez' blistering pace at the start. It was an argument he rejected. His two-second lead after a lap and a half had surprised him for one reason in particular: "I was not extremely fast," Márquez said. "I was riding in 1'40.0-1'39.8. That was the rhythm. Normally we go out and we already stay there. I was not riding '39.5-'39.0. So it surprised me, but then after three-four laps the other also come to 39.8-40 low. That was the rhythm of the race. I was leading by two-seconds and people can think, 'he was pushing too much'. But I was not pushing a lot. I was riding on the good lap times."

A glance at the lap times confirms Márquez' statements. On lap 3, the lap before he crashed out, the Repsol Honda rider did a 1'39.848, while Maverick Viñales, who had just got past Cal Crutchlow, set a 1'39.919. The lap after he crashed, Viñales, Crutchlow, and Rossi all did a 1'40.1, then Viñales followed that up with a 1'40.028, a 1'39.895, a 1'39.795, and a 1'39.700. Márquez was riding at the same pace as the trio that went on to fill the podium.

Where was the difference which explains Márquez' huge lead at the start? Blame Cal Crutchlow. The LCR Honda grabbed second place off the line, but knew that the issues he has with the front end were particularly difficult at the start of the race, with a full tank of fuel. "It was critical, no doubt about that," Crutchlow said. "I let Marc go at the start of the race, because with a full tank, I felt it was even worse. So I said, OK, just let him go." Once Viñales got past Crutchlow, he was no longer being held up, and could push at the same pace as Márquez. And a lap or two later, Crutchlow was lapping in the same times as Márquez had been.

Explaining the crash

Why did Márquez crash? He put it down to his own mistake, though he still couldn't understand the cause. "Honestly I don’t know because the crash was really strange. I was just 25-degrees banking. I was completely straight on that brake point. For some reason maybe the tire was not ready, but I was feeling really good with the bike." With Dani Pedrosa also going down in almost the same place, it seems likely to be more than just a simple mistake.

Márquez hinted at the root cause when he explained about using the hard front tire. "In the end we take the risk. We put the hard front tire for try to brake well, try to have stability," he said. In Qatar, they had used the medium front, and he had not been able to attack as the front had been too soft. "Here we plan to take the risk. But in the end is no excuses, it was my mistake and I must learn about this and try to improve for the future. The positive thing is that with all the problems we have we are there fighting for the victories."

In reality, it is a combination of factors. The carcass of the Michelin is not really stiff enough for the heavy braking the Hondas do, which forces them to choose a harder compound. The harder compound is usually also a little stiffer, but it is also harder to get heat into and quicker to cool. Racing the hard front means taking more risk with grip for a bit more stability.

It's complicated

Though it is tempting to do so, the blame can't be pinned solely on Michelin. After all, the winning bike used Michelin's medium front, and had no problems at all with either braking or grip. The design of the Honda forces the riders to seek as much performance as possible from braking, as they are still lacking in acceleration. It is a familiar refrain, yet it remains true.

While the Honda RC213V still lacks acceleration, Honda has consistently moved to strengthen its strongest point. The bike is a beast on the brakes, and can be pivoted around its front end to exploit any sign of weakness from others on corner entry. To achieve that, HRC have made the front of the bike incredibly stiff to handle braking loads, and sacrificed stability in favor of agility. Over the bumps at the Termas De Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina, both those traits worked against the Honda, making riding fast a particularly risky business.

The lack of stability over the bumps was plainly visible. Watching Márquez, and especially Dani Pedrosa, fight a bucking, weaving Honda reminded me of my own biking days in the early 1980s. As a young man, I had a Suzuki GT380, a bike built at a time when "rubber band" was considered an appropriate stiffness for a motorcycle frame. Fun was to be had hitting bumps while leaned over, which would send the bike into a pogoing frenzy to match the punks from the era the bike had been designed.

When a 2017 racing motorcycle is drawing comparisons with late 1970s road bikes, something may be considered to have gone awry.

The Happy Honda

And yet a 2017 Honda RC213V ended up on the podium, albeit on the bottom step. There are a number of factors at play here too. Firstly, Cal Crutchlow was coming off a string of DNFs, and had not finished a race since his win at Phillip Island last year. Crutchlow was a little more inclined to settle for third, rather than pushing above and beyond in pursuit of a better result. Secondly, Crutchlow is also heavier than both Márquez and Pedrosa, and this extra weight may help to settle the Honda a little. Pedrosa, in particular, looked like he was being tossed around over the bumps like a cork in a storm.

Crutchlow described his sensations with his usual color. "The Honda at the moment is really difficult to ride. Physically, the last five laps were really demanding, and I was not really pushing. But the thing is shaking all over the place, snapping in the braking zone, many things that you have to manage over the race, as well as the situation I had which I needed to manage to finish."

The LCR Honda rider was perhaps unnecessarily coy about "the situation" which he needed to manage, referring only to a warning light which kept lighting on his dash, and which he had to respond to by managing the throttle.

There are two possible explanations for Crutchlow's predicament: it was either an issue with fuel consumption, or with engine overheating. Team boss Lucio Cecchinello hinted that it was fuel, and that was backed up by Crutchlow's own explanation. "We have to look at it for Texas and start to make a plan," he said. "It's probably likely to reappear, to be honest, but I hope we're able to fix it a little bit more soon."

Factory falling

The two Repsol Hondas were not the only factory bikes to fail to finish the race, however. Here is where the weirdness starts: of the twelve factory bikes which started the race, only five crossed the line at the finish. Only four finished in the points, the two Yamahas taking a combined 45 points at the top, the two KTMs taking a combined 3 points at the bottom, and making history for the Austrian factory in the process. Andrea Iannone was the fifth factory rider to finish, but he ended up out of the race, after being handed a ride through penalty for a jump start.

What happened to the rest of the factory riders? Jorge Lorenzo crashed out on the first lap, after coming together with Andrea Iannone. It was a racing incident, Lorenzo cutting inside early, then finding his front wheel drifting outside just as Iannone was cutting his Suzuki towards the apex. Lorenzo's front wheel touched Iannone's back wheel, and the factory Ducati rider was off, and deeply frustrated.

Down, but not out

It wasn't the cause of the crash Lorenzo was frustrated about, but rather the loss of track time. After a miserable start at Qatar, he and his crew had something of a breakthrough in Argentina, when Lorenzo went back to the raised seat he had originally rejected when he first tested the bike in Valencia. What he needed most of all was more time on the bike, to keep testing it, he said. "I needed more than ever to find the kilometers and the laps to keep the improvement we made during the weekend with the position of the bike, with the way of riding using more the rear brake to stop the bike. And in the warm up lap I felt very very good."

Now, he faced a long layoff from riding. "A bad moment, because still ten, twelve days before I can get on the bike again, and I would like to go tomorrow. It's difficult, but at least I'm not injured, and we found a good way to be more competitive in the future. Every time I ride differently, more like you have to ride the Ducati, using the rear brake to stop, I improve so much in the braking. "

Andrea Dovizioso suffered similar bad luck. For the second year in succession, the Italian was skittled by another rider in Argentina, this time by Aleix Espargaro (yet another rider who crashed). Dovizioso did not blame Espargaro, however. The factory Ducati man put the blame squarely on the shoulders of Danilo Petrucci, the Pramac rider behind whom Dovizioso and Espargaro found themselves stuck.

"When I was behind Danilo and he finished completely the rear tire he was riding in a bad way," Dovizioso complained." He stopped a lot of riders. He rode in a strange way. I think it was too much. Everybody tries to use his [own] style and this is normal, this is good. But in the way he use it, it was very bad. I tried to overtake him on the inside and he brake late and close the door. Like this it’s very bad. You don’t give the possibility to do something because you can’t brake like him. He’s heavier and he’s able to brake harder. This is not fair. This is not over the limit but this is not fair."

The crash had been caused because he had been forced to miss Petrucci as they braked for Turn 5, Dovizioso said. That had caused Espargaro to tighten his line, and in doing so, he lost the front end and took both himself and Dovizioso out of the race. True gentleman that he is, Espargaro was immediately full of remorse, rushing over to Dovizioso to check on him and apologize profusely.

Friday at fault

The real cause of Lorenzo's crash, and to a certain extent Dovizioso's too, was their qualifying position. If the two Ducatis hadn't performed so poorly on Friday, and missed out on the top ten, they wouldn't have found themselves stuck in Q1, trying to make their way through to Q2 and a shot at the front of the grid. Instead, Lorenzo found himself heading into Turn 1 amidst a pack of riders, with nary an inch to spare. The smallest error of judgment proved costly, and saw him crash.

Dovizioso, for his part, had the pace to be battling for fourth, but had a lot of riders to get past to do so thanks to his poor qualifying. The more riders ahead of you, the greater the risk in trying to get past them, and Dovizioso ended up paying the price.

Alex Rins was the last factory rider to crash out, losing the front of his Suzuki and falling heavily on his already damaged right ankle. Though he tried to remount, the pain was too great to continue, and he pulled into the pits. Sam Lowes also pulled into the pits, the Aprilia RS-GP developing gearbox problems, and being forced to abandon.

Aliens, young and old

While others struggle, the factory Yamahas appear to be leading a charmed life. Viñales' second win in two races – a 100% record on a factory Yamaha – confirms his ascendancy to Alien status, any question marks about his talent now completely removed. He had won his first race in Qatar by being patient, biding his time and working his way forward. He had won his second race by taking the opportunity handed to him and running with it. There is a lot more to come from Viñales.

A lot has already come from Valentino Rossi. An awful lot, in fact, second place in Argentina making it a grand total of 223 podiums from 350 Grand Prix starts. Rossi continues to break records, and most remarkable of all, he continues to be competitive, showing the hunger and ambition to do whatever it takes to keep grabbing podiums and keeping himself in the championship hunt.

It certainly hadn't looked that way on Friday, however, nor at any point during winter testing. "The preseason for me was a disaster," Rossi said after the race. "I was very sad. Difficult. But the important thing is just the Sunday afternoon when you cross the line." Rossi has learned over the years that he has to keep the faith, keep working until he finds a solution. "In my long career I learn that you have always to be concentrate and never, never give up, that a lot of things can happen. The race in Qatar gave to me a good feeling, a good vibe because I started to know better the bike and I know that also if I suffer I can be competitive on Sunday."

What he and his team had found was some improvement in braking. "During this weekend I was always struggling during the braking but we improved the balance on Sunday. Today in braking I was very strong, especially after the back straight. Also great work from Yamaha because it looks like that this year our engine is more competitive, and we suffer less in the straight. We have always a good driveability but also we have a good top speed."

Over the hill is far away

Can Rossi compete with his young teammate? On the face of it, it looks like Viñales has the upper hand. But perhaps if Michelin bring the new stiffer front tire, which will help Rossi in braking a little more, and if Yamaha can alter the bike a fraction to help him in corner entry, and his team can keep finding the right balance for the bike on Sunday, then who knows?

Ten, fifteen years ago, whenever Rossi lined up on the grid, he started the race as favorite. He may no longer be favorite now, but you can still never write him off or count him out. The talk over the winter that Rossi might be past it, and no longer capable of competing has evaporated. One day, Rossi will indeed struggle to compete, and see the young guns disappearing into the distance. One day, Rossi will indeed be past it. But we, fans and observers of the sport, will only ever recognize that moment in hindsight, looking back.

The Flying Frenchman, Part Deux

Argentina proved there was much to look forward to as well. After crashing out while leading the race in Qatar, Johann Zarco confirmed his status as exceptionally talented, by coming through the field from fourteenth on the grid to finish fifth, and have a reasonable shot at fourth. The Frenchman was a joy to watch, fearlessly attacking established riders, striking back immediately when passed himself, and putting the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha M1 wherever he wanted on the track.

What surprised was seeing he maintained his pace all the way to the end. Zarco was lighting up the rear tire of his Yamaha on corner exit, using it to cut back underneath other riders and make passes which looked almost impossible. Yet his pace only dropped off in the last couple of laps, once fifth place had been secured.

Zarco identified corner exit as a distinct problem, and something he and his team were trying to work on. "My weak point is I think the traction in the exit of the corner. I can be very good into the corner, in corner speed, on the brake, but I'm losing too much time on the gas," he said. The hard rear he had used lasted well, and was the tire he preferred, and the fact that he had smoke pouring off of it as he got on the gas did not matter to him. "The target was just to fight and follow the others, so smoke or not, I wanted just to push."

Slaying giants the Aspar way

Zarco finished behind Alvaro Bautista, once again deeply impressive on the Aspar Ducati, and ahead of his teammate Jonas Folger. Bautista is riding with enormous maturity and concentration, managing his tires to perfection and capable of racking up results. After a crash in Qatar, Bautista wanted to make sure he brought points home for his team. He did that, and much more.

It was a good weekend for the Aspar team, with Bautista's fourth place coming on top of Karel Abraham's front row start from qualifying. Abraham himself came home in tenth, losing out in a fierce battle with Scott Redding and Jack Miller. A front row, fourth, and both riders in the top ten is a very good result for the MotoGP grid's most cash-strapped team. They may be operating on a shoestring budget, but it's remarkable just how far you can make a shoestring stretch these days in MotoGP.

If Aspar had a good weekend, Tech 3's weekend was outstanding. Zarco fifth and Folger sixth means the team is punching well above its weight. As team boss Hervé Poncharal said to me in Jerez earlier this year, his riders are making him look like a genius. Given the sheer volume of talent which has passed through the squad, perhaps that impression is not that wide of the mark.

Yamaha champs one eighth of the way in

After the first two races, it is clear that Yamaha are the big winners of the season so far. They lead the constructors' championship from Ducati by 17 points. The Movistar Yamaha team and Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team are first and second in the team championship. Lin Jarvis looks like a genius for signing Maverick Viñales as the star of the future to ride alongside the all-time great Valentino Rossi. Hervé Poncharal looks like a genius for signing two-time Moto2 champion Johann Zarco and Moto2 race winner Jonas Folger, both of whom have taken to MotoGP like ducks to water.

Above all, the Yamaha M1 is the most complete bike on the grid, doing most things very well, and with no real weaknesses. The extra horsepower the 2017 bike has removed its most glaring shortcoming, and the bike still brakes well, can hold unmatched corner speed, and has outstanding mechanical grip and drive off the corner. Yamaha have the electronics down pat, the bike responding well to the throttle and the engineers understanding how to make the bike do what they want it to.

But this is only the second race of the season. With sixteen races still to go, there is an awful lot of racing to be done before we reach Valencia. A lot can happen in the seven months until the final race, and Honda and Ducati are not as far behind Yamaha as the results so far suggest. We should not be getting ahead of ourselves.

Apart from the madness of MotoGP, there were two other races in Argentina. Morbidelli in Moto2 and Mir in Moto3, along with Maverick in MotoGP (which is only cheating a little), made it all the Ms in motorcycle racing. That, however, is a tale for another day.

Gathering the background information for long articles such as these is an expensive and time-consuming operation. If you enjoyed this article, please consider supporting MotoMatters.com. You can help by either taking out a subscription, buying the beautiful MotoMatters.com 2017 racing calendar, by making a donation, or by contributing via our GoFundMe page.

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   a great review once again, your detective work and rational explanation`s of our beloved MotoGP racing are so looked forward to. As a shift worker my sleep times don`t always line up with telecast time`s (i had to find another TV at work this morning 5am, as others wanted to watch GOLF of all thing`s) I`ve beem following a long time, i can remember trying to watch long delayed telecasts in the pre Gardner era. These days with almost instant media available we are so spoilt for blow by blow results that a lot of people miss the background details as to why certain things happened. Thank you so much for your concise explanation`s,  and for sometimes affirming my own thought`s of events. One thing i often wonder about is repair costs of  crash`s and just what is replaced after some of the mega tumbling end for end ones we see, will any team own up to what gets replaced and the value of the parts used. Mostly just curious.


Back in the 800's era I remember reading that it cost them on average $40,000 US Dollars per crash.   That may be higher now and of course depending on what's damaged

I know what you mean about crash damage.  I understand that fairings are replaced, levers and pegs are replaced, electronics are replaced or rewired.  What I woonder about are the larger components; like the frame and suspension.  How do these bikes flip and tumble but still continue to use the same frame for the next session?

seeing how much you can write and in so much detail about a race within a day's time. Great job David.

Also, I do have a feeling if Rossi had/has better feeling with his front tyre then he would actually challenge for wins sooner than later..

great write up David! I see lots of psychological aspects rather than technical : first and foremost MM proved that MV is really making him nervous. No matter what he says, he was pushing way too hard in those opening laps, his escape was not the run of someone owning the track, rather a run to avoid having MV breathing down his neck. and maybe the hope to show that he is the best. We are only two races in but my guess is that he hasn't coped yet with the fact that he is no longer the wunderkind of Motogp.  As for MV : well, he is showing such confidence and skills, the sheer will and calm... who can stop him?

My "yellow hart" is pounding with joy, another record for the history books... still it's gonna be a tough year for Rossi, he cannot afford to have such bad bad practices...  I hope Michelin will bring sooner rather than later the stiffer carcass (I'm sure MM wants it too : he had to use the harder compound precisely because these new tires have a softer carcass...!) this might give VR some new confidence with the front. In Vinales' hands that Yamaha looks so perfect! so maybe with that little help VR can step it up.

One final note on Dovi: how many black cats have crossed his path? I cannot believe his bad luck! 




"One final note on Dovi: how many black cats have crossed his path? I cannot believe his bad luck!"

He and Dani need to form a support group.  ;-)

you are soooo correct, mgm; it's not like marquez has ever run away with a race before argentina 2017 when he could. vinales or no vinales, marquez will always run away with a race if possible, and so will quite a few others given the chance.

You agree with me.... :)
Seriously though, wouldn't you agree he was on the limit from turn 1? Did he really need to rush like mad ? And let me return the question : i seem to recall that pulling a "Lorenzo" is not his style.... and I would add that on more than one occasion he has shown that riding alone in the distance far from the pack ends with a crash....
Bottom line he was pushing too hard too soon and unfortunately lost the front. The fact that both him and Suppo insist that he was NOT pushing is very revealing of the contrary. But it's just my opinion.

Hi Everyone,

After reading David's articles for a few seasons, I made the decision this morning to become a site supporter.

If you are a viewer of this site that looks forward to reading the fantastic articles the day after (nay hours after) each session of the race weekend, I would personally ask you to become a site supporter.

When I did the math per article, the decision was easy for me -- 18 race weekends x a write-up for Friday/Saturday/Sunday comes out to less than the coffee you're probably drinking while reading this ;)  Not to mention all the extra coverage of testing, subscriber content, etc.

I am looking forward to more great articles on what is shaping up to be an amazing MotoGP season and a huge thanks to David for his efforts.


Hey...can't blame someone for wanting to watch The Masters.  Two Spaniards had great days yesterday and one wasn't on a track!

Fantastic write-up and interesting race.  In my book, MV won't get alien status until he has a premier class title.  Until then, it's MM at the top and Rossi a huge threat, still, to dethrone him.  

While it doesn't look like it, I believe MV will have some youngster-woes to contend with throughout the season.  Wet races, for example.  MM will take advantage of these instances, and several others, throwing off MV from optimum points in the occassional round.  Meanwhile, Rossi may very well quietly, calmly and consistently hit the podium round after round.  Points abound.  

"...we appear to be entering the second half of the acid trip, the part where the hallucinations stop being overwhelming and start to take on a strange kind of internal logic once you learn to embrace the weirdness."  - - - - Hunter S.-esque!

During the race, commentators were talking about Zarco lighting up his rear tire and speculating that it wouldn't make race distance. Apparently it did, and as David pointed out, Zarco didn't seem too concerned with it.

I found myself wondering: Is it possible that by "artificially" burning/scraping off layers of the tire--rather than letting it abrade normally over race distance--Zarco is actually providing himself a better gripping surface? And that, despite this, there's still enough "meat" on the tire for it to take him race distance?

I wouldn't say that's a stupid theory. Casey Stoner, as most of you know, used to get both Ducati and Honda absolutely side ways coming out of corner. He explained at one point that spinning the rear tire actually kept it at a cooler temperature, which in turn extended its longevity.

The commentators were making those comments and I was a little puzzled by that. As someone mentioned, Gary McCoy. He did that and won races. The explanation I recall was that yes the outside layer of the tyre was hotter, but the core was slightly cooler. I can't claim to know how it works, but this exact discussion point was around during the 500cc days due to Mr McCoy.

While I wouldn't argue the overall point about tyre wear/heat etc. I will say that as awesome as he could be McCoy never won much and hurt himself quite a bit so I can't always take the example like it's a solid rule. I think a lot of people were defending McCoy through his tyre use a lot of the time because they were fans. 

There were times last year when the leaders were smoking through corners but I'm guessing theres a time and a place. Zarco was in the process of completing his first ever race. He'll probably get better at judging how much of his bikes potential is useable throughout a race. 

When a tyre is gripping, the whple structure is being worked and the heat is generated throughout and is less likely to dissipate. When it is spinning up the heat is only in the outer surface/tread layer and doesn't remain as long. Hence, lighting up the rear doesn't necessarily overheat and ruin the rear. Of course if you're doing it every corner then half to the next, the tyre only has so much tread available to smoke away and can still overheat.

Well... I never really understood how pushing is always explained in terms of lap times. It happens a lot everywhere. Pushing on a bike means taking it to an even finer limit with lesser buffer for safety. Pushing doesn't really means a fast time is on the cards and more importantly a fast time doesn't mean someone is really pushing. You can push all you want and still be left with a slower lap time. Visually Marc seemed like he is pushing too hard. Entering the corner more aggressively and generally in an hurry to make a gap. Now we need to factor in all the reasons mentioned in the article to arrive at why Marc was pushing on the limit. His comparable laptimes to an yamaha comes at a much higher risk rate or at a higher push than a yamaha rider. So if Mav and marc does same laptime, we can't say both were pushing at the same level, evidently Marc needing to push much harder. So Marc's explaination of the event is really moot here. He was pushing like crazy hence he lost it. And the most scary part is that he refuses to give any sort of explanation for his crash. He not knowing what he did wrong makes him sound so fragile. Mainly because that makes it sound like he is susceptible to the same mistake again with no way of learning from it, all these because of the looming threat of having to fight with Mav.

As for dovi, his comments show why he wouldn't never be a truly competitive package at the top end of the grid. Seriously? Danilo was doing something unfair because he was holding up others? Yeah great, that's called racing. When Lorenzo did the same at Valencia to slow down the entire grid, it was hailed as a great show of defensive riding by JL. Which it was. If you don't have the pace to follow someone, don't let them pass you. And being heavier is not being unfair here. Comments from dovi was really fun with only worthy response being 'suck it up'.

If more time with bike is what Lorenzo needs, he could've gone out on his second bike for experience purposes and ride at the limit. Is it unnecessary risk? Maybe or may not be depending on your view of the situation. If more time is so dearly needed, take the risk and ride the race. A large part of the grid fights for no points, do they stop racing? Riders get ride through penalty and end up last. Lorenzo should've ridden more.

Only commenting on the bit about Lorenzo going out on his second bike. I'm sure there could be a hundred reasons, but seems to me that you've gotta be in the right mindset to make that kind of exercise worthwhile. If he was angry with himself, or feeling physically drained by the crash, or whatever, spending more time on the track might be useless, or even counterproductive (or unsafe).

You can't just change bikes at your convenience, it was not a wet race.

The rules are available here:

In there you'll find 1.18.17 which says:

"Unless the race is interrupted, no further changes of machines are
permitted. Except that a rider who has not crossed the start line to
start the race, is permitted to change machines up until the leading
rider has passed the finish line at the end of his first lap. This change
of machine is defined as when the second machine crosses the timing
point at the pit exit lights.
After this time, in the MotoGP class only, machine changes are permitted
only under the following circumstances:
- If the race has been declared wet, according to Art. 1.20.
- If the White Flags have been displayed indicating that machine
changes are permitted, according to Art. 1.22.2."

but couldn't Jorge simply push his bike back to pits and have them patch it up so he could at least get a few laps in? is it not allowed to enter through the pit exit? It was Turn one, it wasn't really that far.

Seeing I was stuck at hospital with nothing better to do, and thought I might quote exactly why it would be forbidden, I skimmed the rule book again myself.  Surprisingly, I didn't find anything stopping a rider from doing what you suggest.  The only thing relating to going the wrong way up pit lane (which I had presumed was an absolute taboo) is this:

1.21.11. Riders must not ride their motorcycles in the opposite direction of the
circuit, either on the track or in the pit lane, unless doing so under the
direction of an Official.

The relevant word being 'ride', surely any lawyer could argue that pushing a bike does not constitute riding it.

Now expecting a recently crashed out rider to push his crashed bike 500+m back to the pits, for repairs to be possible without taking it into the garage (which automatically retires the bike) and then to return to the track and carry out worthwhile testing is asking rather a lot I would say.  But surprisingly, it might just be legal.

A rider needing one point to clinch a championship might do well to know that.  However unlikely, as long as they cover 75% of race distance and cross the line in contact with their bike, in a race of high attrition they might score a point.

thanks for looking this up and clarifying. I know it is extremely complicated and I know how painful it is to push a motorycle on full leathers but I guess it's just the way that I'm wired. If I was in his position I would've probably given it a try, what's the worst that could happen? I don't see how that would be dangerous, not any more that it was for Alex Marquez to pickup whatever was left on his Moto2 bike and bring it across the finish line. 

hope the hospital visit went ok!

I'm guessing the 5x world champion is probably wired pretty good for not giving up too ;)

It takes quite a while to walk 500 metres, let alone pushing a damaged motorcycle which may or may not be fixable within race time when it can't be pushed in to the garage. On top of that, where does he push it? Through the gravel against traffic that will be back round every 100 seconds? 

Exactly right RE: Dovi on Danielo. This is racing - if you're struggling you're going to (and should) do your best to keep people behind you! I am very surprised to even hear Dovi saying this is unfair...it's up to him as another racer to either make the pass by expoiting his extra exit grip (he noted Petrucci had toasted his rear tyre) or by chasing Petrucci into a mistake, not complaining that it was 'unfair' racing afterwards!

Reading the comments in the context of this article, it does seem like he's blaming Petrucci for taking advantage of his strengths. It almost seems as if Dovi thinks that Danilo is brake checking people at the expense of his natural corner speed (otherwise why is it unfair?), and it is being exacerbated by his higher weight / braking potential.

That race had me yelling, "Ooohh!!!" Everytime someone went down.  All the racers that finished deserved an award that race.  Zarco continues to impress me more than anyone else on the grid.  I am beginning to feel if he has the chance, he may just win a race this year.  Wondering how long Rossi can keep pulling out results from bad qualifying, it fun to watch him move up the field after just about ALL the practice sessions seemed to not be going anywhere.  Seeing Crutchlow get a result is heartening.  He has had enough criticism to last a career.  Bautista is showing that he actually has real talent.  And of course Vinales... what can be said.  He is riding like he has already won multiple World Championships already. Masterclass win.  Marquez was on a razor edge of riding the Honda.  The bike may not be as good as the Yamaha, but I think he was pushing with every piece of him to make sure to get away from Vinales.  I would love to see them go head to head for a full race.  Crutchlow has stated that Vinales is NOT as fast as Marquez in no uncertain terms.  But Vinales may surprise him and anyone that doubts Vinales.  

Firstly, another good result for the Sunday man. More importantly, it's great that VR is getting the better of the new M1 - post race comments that he feels strong in braking point to a real break through. Remember that last year at COTA his qually time was good, even though he crased out of the race. Then again, it's almost a total re-set this year so who knows what ro expect there the way the Hondas behaved yesterday. MV simply underlines the resetting of outcomes.

Secondly, I have watched JL patiently without writing him off, but at the back of my mind knowing that he is as sensitive as VR to his bike's feel. Despite a few fast runs I have seen nothing to demonstrate that JL is going to fare much better than than VR on the Ducati. The men doing reasonably well on it have been spending several seasons re-learning how to ride to get the best out of it such as AD and AB. It needs adaptation and serious manhandling from what I read. JL is a smooth rider used to delicate feel. Might we see him cut his losses by the end of the season?

You mean Alvaro Bautista?  Factory Aprilia rider last year?  :D

*after the crash* Does anyone know what JL was saying before he smash the poor bike to the dirt? Did he mad to the Marshalls or what?

-Mechanical failure/tire failure

-Hit by another rider

-contamination of track surface

Did I miss something? Bumps are something the rider needs to deal with. Tires have finite traction limits. Failure to ride within the limits imposed by both are down to the rider, although Marquez seems to get away with bending physics a little. :^) But not always. 

It can't be common for the same riders to win the first two races of the season races in each of the 125/Moto3, 250/Moto2, 500/MotoGP classes.

Another superb ride by Maverick who I first remember with a fantastic ride through the field in Motegi on a 125. He is definitively Yamaha's answer to the Marquez question.

In regard to the Old boy. With these two races beginning as an absolute nightmare for him and pulling a pair of podiums out of the bag. Whats he going to be like when he gets the bike set up well and is quick from Friday? 

May have to place a sneaky few quid on him for the title, the odds are pretty good I'd think...

is my favorite rider to watch at the moment. Watching him blaze that Michelin on Sunday, I was expecting him to drop back towards the end.

IMO Suzuki missed out big time by not signing him.


 suzuki ditched him twice .  zarco fits better on the yamaha 



How is it that the Honda riders must seek more braking performance than the others. 
Yeah I get their hook up problems out of the turns, but isn't that what they shoud figure out?
Pedrosa will never be a deamon braker and proved that again last weekend, while Rossi and Marquez is exactly that. What I don't get is that (with a possible exception of the ducatis) the others suposedly leve a much larger margine at braking than the hondas. Can or will they afford that? Wont they all need maximum performance everywhere and push to the limit everywhere to be in the competition. Rossi depend on the brakes just as much as Marquez and I won't belive for one second that he don't brake as hard because "he doesn't need to".


it isn't that everyone isn't breaking as hard as they can...frame design,etc, determines where the strengths lie.

huge beam front; great straight line breaking.

slightly bendier (sic) frame front; more front feel while at lean.

ducati frame design seems to handle incredibly well near the end of the straits (ha!)

as for dani not being a competitive braker, i suggest a look at video of his win at misano last year.


I hope to have part 2 ready this weekend. I have had a bunch of magazine work to do, and I've just got off a flight to Texas. So my work planning has been abysmal. One of the aims for this year is to get more subscribers, so I need to do less magazine work, and can hire someone to add more depth to the site.

Moto2 & Moto3 will be covered soon enough, however. Sorry for the delay. 

I read that Rossi hinted (around qualifying?) that his front end confidence issue with the tyre may not actually be related to the tyre, instead, it might be down to the chassis?

Secondly, I'm interested to know can any GP bike's riding position be altered to make the rider sit more upright in case he is looking for less load up front (and more at the back)? Is this kind of change in riding position allowed?

I understand it possibly can't be any other way given the speeds and aerodyamics and lean-forward (hide behind the fairing stance), but just wondering if making any such alteration by bringing the handlebar up can help in weight distribution.

Answers to your questions:

  1. Rossi's confidence in the front end: all of motorcycle setup is aimed at finding the right balance between chassis and tires, basically altering the bike chassis, suspension, weight distribution, electronics to extract maximum performance from the tires. There is no doubt that Rossi could solve some of his problems with changes to the chassis. The question is whether he can solve all of them, especially if he also changes his riding style a little. 
  2. Almost all changes to riding position are allowed. But riders don't want to sit up too high, as that puts them in the wind and is bad aerodynamically. What they do is move footpegs, seating positions backwards, doing things like fitting a tank pad to force a rider further back. The rider is just as low, but a little bit further to the rear.

My guess is that Zarco will take Rossi's seat in 2019.

I'm a Rossi-fan for years and think Zarco is his worthy successor! This guy's performances absolutely stole my moto-gp-heart... what a skills. 

The first pharagraph could not be absorbed properly by my brains but that is likely because David is the alien in the world of MotoGP journalism. Having that said, it does not take a genius to sign Vignales for the Yamaha team, in fact it is closer to a no-brainer. The kid's talent is bigger than Marquez with the irony that instead of the latter, he does not have to ride like a maverick to win races.