Analysis

Le Mans MotoGP Friday Round Up: Why So Many Crashes? And Why Is Overtaking So Hard?

It's only Friday, as riders will repeat endlessly to you on, well, on a Friday after the first day of practice. Friday is a day for assessing tires, testing new parts, and at the end of the day, posting a quick lap in an attempt to avoid the limbo of Q1.

That proved not to be easy at Le Mans. A weird combination of circumstances (more of which later) meant that there were five crashes in the last ten minutes of FP2. It was almost impossible to put in a quick lap without it being canceled due to yellow flags in some sector or other. "In the time attack, it was a bit of a disaster on track, I just saw 4 laps of yellow flags," Pecco Bagnaia complained. "And like this it's more difficult, so I didn't have the possibility to do a free lap."

That didn't matter for Bagnaia – he set his fastest time at the end of his first run while working on race pace, and still ended as fifth fastest, a sign of just how quick he is at the moment - but there were others for whom it did not work out quite so well. "It was unfortunate not to be inside the top 10," Jack Miller said after missing out on Q2. "We were trying, but a lot of yellow flags at the end, a lot of guys crashing, so it wasn't easy to make a lap."

Back to top

Le Mans MotoGP Thursday Round Up: An Open Track, Suzuki's Withdrawal, And Tire Pressures

There is a MotoGP race at Le Mans this weekend, but to be honest, it is hard to concentrate on the race. A lot has happened in the past couple of weeks, which has shaken up MotoGP to a degree we hadn't expected even as late as two weeks ago. Suzuki's withdrawal blows the MotoGP silly season right open, with not just rider seats up in the air, but grid slots and bikes too. Then there's the controversy over tire pressures being routinely under the minimum allowed, and whether that is even an issue or not, given the MSMA have agreed not to do anything about it.

But first, to the track, perhaps. The Le Mans circuit lies just south of the charming eponymous town in the Sarthe region of France. For much of the year, when there isn't a race on, the town is quiet and rather lovely, the central square surrounded by 18th and 19th Century buildings a very pleasant place to be. The circuit, too, is rather charming, situated between the industrial outskirts of the town and the woods which frame the 24 hour car racing circuit.

Back to top

Jerez Test: Close Up Photos Of Yamaha's Swingarm And Fender, Honda's Exhausts, And Ducati's Ride-Height Devices

The Monday after Jerez was the first chance that the teams and factories got to work on their bikes since the entire design was homologated ahead of the MotoGP season opener at Qatar. Given the oft-discussed weird start to the 2022 season, where the teams never seemed to have more than 5 minutes of normal or consistent conditions, having a whole day with a dry track allowed everyone some badly-needed time to work on some very basic stuff.

Of course, not everything was perfect. The weather was significantly cooler than it had been on Sunday, and the wind picked up considerably. There was also a nice thick layer of Michelin rubber, laid down in Sunday's race, the with the MotoE class, also Michelin-shod, adding yet more to the track surface. If anyone had hoped to work on low grip conditions, they would have to create them themselves by running very, very old tires.

Starting first with satellite riders – real satellite riders, that is, not the factory-backed riders in junior teams like Pramac – and rookies. When you have no new parts to test, then what you work on is setup, and especially the kind of setup changes that you don't have time to try during a race weekend.

Setup first

Back to top

Piero Taramasso On Tire Pressure Transgressions And Planned Changes For 2023

The role of tire pressures, and especially for the front tire, has grown in importance in recent years, as aerodynamics and ride-height devices have made the front ever more sensitive to pressure and temperature changes. It is common to hear riders complain of temperatures and pressures skyrocketing after getting stuck behind other bikes, and kept out of the cooling air.

It is therefore not surprising that factories and teams try to manage tire pressures as carefully as possible. By lowering the pressure, they can keep tire temperatures lower and allow the riders to better manage the front tires over the duration of the race.

They have to be careful not to go too low with tire pressures, however: like all motorsports series with a spec tire, MotoGP has a minimum pressure for both front and rear tires: 1.9 bar front, 1.7 bar rear. Tire pressures are monitored by sensors and recorded by the spec datalogger, and pressures have to be over the minimum for at least half of the race.

Bending the rules

Back to top

History Deep Dive: Why Suzuki's Withdrawal From MotoGP Won't Be Like Kawasaki In 2009

Two years after starting the blog which would eventual morph into MotoMatters.com, I felt it was time to quit my job and do this full time. It seemed like the perfect moment to pursue my dream of writing about MotoGP for a living, so I handed in my notice to my erstwhile employer and prepared to strike out on my own. That was late August, 2008.

Two weeks later, on September 15th, Lehman Brothers collapsed, kicking off the Global Financial Crisis which would plunge the world into recession. My timing turned out to be absolutely terrible.

Why am I looking back to 2008? Because the financial crisis sparked by the collapse of the US housing market and the worldwide banking system would have a profound effect on motorcycle racing, and would go on to shape MotoGP as it is today. It would create the conditions where there were six manufacturers racing in MotoGP. It would also reshape the politics of MotoGP to put Dorna in a much stronger position to cope with Suzuki's decision to withdraw from the series.

What will Dorna do and how will they handle Suzuki's withdrawal? To understand their current position, you need to go back to 2008, and the aftermath of that terrible September.

Back to top

Jerez MotoGP Subscriber Notes: Two Champions Emerge, The Trouble With Front Tyres, And Marc Marquez Is Back Again.

We have spent a lot of time saying that the 2022 MotoGP season starts at Jerez, and it really felt like it on Sunday. Driving into the track on Sunday morning I was surrounded by motorcycles – if you get a chance to go to a MotoGP race on a bike, you should, it is a wonderful experience – all of whom I did my very best not to run into, whatever their antics. The grandstands were full and attendance was nearly back to pre-pandemic levels – over 58,000 on Sunday, about 10,000 shy of a normal Jerez Sunday, or at least, the 'unskewed' numbers which suddenly appeared at the 2016 race, down from double that the previous years.

More importantly, normal order has been restored. There were two riders head and shoulders above the rest, finishing 10 seconds ahead of the battle for third. Marc Marquez showed a lot of his old form, the Repsol Honda rider looking like Marc Marquez on a bike again, not an impostor who sneaked into his truck and stole his leathers for a glorified track day. And all six MotoGP manufacturers are racing under the same rules again, after the last factory lost its concessions. This was a good weekend of racing.

In these notes:

Back to top

Jerez MotoGP Saturday Round Up: The Lead Duo Gets Stronger, And The Marc Marquez' Conundrum

Saturday at Jerez was a sign that things are getting back to normal in MotoGP. Though the drive into the track in the morning was still pretty smooth – old paddock hands are still traumatized by memories of coming to the track in the '90s, when a single-lane road led to the circuit and you needed to start out almost as soon as you had finished dinner on Saturday night to make it into the track for warm up on Sunday morning – with minimal traffic on the way to the circuit. But the stadium section got fuller as the day went on, and for the first time in three years, the roar of the crowd drowned out the sound of the 130dB MotoGP bikes going at full pelt.

There was a sense of normality on track as well. A second day of near-normal running (only the occasional damp patch, especially around Turn 8, ruining the fun) meant riders arrived in qualifying well prepared to fight for pole. The names at the front of the grid have a more familiar ring to them. The chaos and unpredictability of the start of the season is beginning to dissipate. It is getting easier to pick potential podium candidates, as the main cast of characters is looking similar to those at Portimão. The season is starting to take shape.

Back to top

Jerez MotoGP Friday Round Up: The Cursed Calendar, Damp Crashes, Honda's Testing Program, And Silly Season Kicks Off

I am starting to suspect that the 2022 MotoGP season might be cursed. The Sepang test happened, and was relatively incident free, but it's all been downhill from there. The track coming apart at the Mandalika test, an almost normal Qatar, the track coming apart at the Mandalika race, freight problems in Argentina, an almost normal Austin (or as normal as Austin can be, the same going for Qatar), and then rained out practice at Portimão.

So we arrived in Jerez with the weather forecast looking promising. Some rain on Thursday night, but all dry for practice and throughout the test. Friday night dawned sunny and bright as promised, but nobody had told the track. Though the surface was mostly dry, a few persistent damp patches remained throughout the day, stubbornly resisting all attempts to remove them. When I left the track at 10:30pm, circuit staff were still out with special blowers trying to dispel the remaining water.

Back to top

Jerez MotoGP Preview: Who Can Beat Fast Fabio?

We are just over a quarter of the way into the 2022 MotoGP season. And yet Jerez is the sixth race of the 21 to be held this year. "Only a quarter done?" Joan Mir recoiled in horror when apprised of this fact by On Track Off Road's Adam Wheeler. That sentiment is almost universally shared throughout the paddock, given the expansion of the calendar this year.

It may also explain why rumors were circulating so widely about a supposed cancellation of the Finnish GP at the Kymiring in July. It turned out to be entirely wishful thinking, the race set to go ahead, the organization receiving a cash injection to make the race happen, marshals already being recruited and trained. Nobody can face the prospect of 21 races, and so they are inventing reasons for the calendar to be curtailed.

It is odd for Jerez to be the sixth race on the calendar. For many years, Jerez was the place the grand prix season started. It was only the arrival of Qatar, and the switch from a day race in the summer to a night race in spring that cost Jerez its place as season opener. Once Qatar had a foot in the door, that opened a path for others to be jammed into the start of the year. Austin, Argentina, now Mandalika and Portimão.

It starts here

Back to top

Portimão Moto2 Chaos: Could The Red Flags Have Come Out Earlier?

It is the sight every MotoGP fan fears. At the start of lap 9 of the Moto2 race in Portimão, bike after bike went down, bikes firing through the gravel at stricken riders like unguided projectiles. We sat holding our breath until the crashing had stopped, and miraculously, no one had been struck by a bike, the MV Agusta of Simone Corsi having gone up in flames after hitting the Kalex of Zonta van den Goorbergh.

After the race, there was a great deal of debate about the crash. Ten riders had gone down at Turn 2, the leaders of the race the first to go. There was anger in some quarters at how slowly Race Direction appeared to bring out the red flags after the race. With so many bikes ending up in the gravel, and at high speed, it should have been stopped earlier, the critics said.

Should Race Direction have ordered a red flag earlier? To test that assertion, I went back and watched the incident several times, and dived into the analysis timesheet on the results page of the MotoGP.com website. Taking the timestamp from the video of the race on MotoGP.com, I timed how long it took for the red flags to come out.

A matter of seconds

Back to top

Pages