Mandalika, Michelin, Marquez - How A Chain Of Unfortunate Choices Ended In Disaster

Honda went into the Indonesian Grand Prix widely seen as potential front runners. Pol Espargaro had been fastest in the test at Mandalika a month previously, Marc Marquez had been quickest on the second day of the test, Honda riders had set a consistently fast pace, looking better than their single-lap speed. What's more, Espargaro was coming off a podium at the season opener at Qatar, the race where Marc Marquez had finished fifth.

To say the Indonesian Grand Prix ended badly for Honda is an understatement. Pol Espargaro was fastest Honda once again, but the Repsol rider crossed the line way down in 12th, 33 seconds behind the winner, Miguel Oliveira. Espargaro was one of only two Honda riders to finish in the points, crossing the line just ahead of Alex Marquez on the LCR Honda in 13th. Takaaki Nakagami could only struggle to a 19th place, 49 seconds behind the winner.

That wasn't the really bad news, however. The worst blow for Honda was the fact that Marc Marquez manage to miss the race, and perhaps endanger his chances of the 2022 title, or worse. Much worse.

Living on the edge

I am sure by now you will have seen the footage. During morning warm up for the Mandalika race, Marc Marquez entered Turn 7 at something over 200 km/h, scrubbing speed as he leaned into the corner. Just before he started to think about rolling on the gas again for corner exit, the rear started to come round on him, the soft Michelin tire letting go and starting to slide.

Marquez had caught a similar situation during Q1, when the rear started to slide at Turn 16. He managed that by opening the gas, and spinning up the rear to control the slide and get the bike sideways. It had looked spectacular, a cross between Mick Doohan's method of stepping out the rear on his Honda NSR500 two stroke, and the original Honda four-stroke MotoGP bike, the 990cc RC211V, which had few electronics and bags of smooth, controllable power.

This time, though, the rear was gone too early. Marquez had too much lean angle and not enough time to attempt to manage it with the gas. The rear started sliding very early, just as he entered the corner with no gas. The rear Michelin stepped out, and as is its wont, suddenly bit, gripped and catapulted the eight-time world champion into the air.

To the moon

It was the most violent highside I have seen in a very long time. The Spaniard was flipped up at least 3 meters into the air, spinning on his axis as he fell. He slammed into the tarmac at the edge of the track, landing feet first and still spinning, hitting his right shoulder and smashing the right side of the chin bar of his helmet onto the asphalt. He slid, and tumbled, and rolled, ragdolling in the awful jargon of motorcycle crashes.

It was clear he had been badly affected by the crash. He was up on all fours relatively quickly, but obviously stunned. It took him some time before he was up and walking, and staggered away, punch drunk. There was no need for a formal diagnosis of concussion, it was obvious for all to see.

It came as a relief that Marc Marquez was ruled out of the Mandalika GP. He was obviously unfit to race, and, it would later turn out, had suffered a new bout of diplopia, or double vision. He had flown back to Spain accompanied by Dr Angel Charte, and noticed problems with his vision on the plane. A visit to the hospital to see Dr Sanchez Dalmau, the ophthalmologist treating him for his previous bout of diplopia sustained last October, confirmed a recurrence, though in much milder form.

Back in April 2021, before Marquez had made his comeback from the aftermath of the arm injury he sustained at the first Jerez race in 2020, the Spaniard had told the press conference that he would be changing his approach. "We have a lot of races in life, but only one body," he said.

There was little sign of that at Mandalika. The Repsol Honda rider crashed once in FP2, twice in Q1 – once on each of the two runs he attempted – and then had the massive highside in the morning warm up.

Before the warm up, the crash in FP2 was the biggest, losing the front end at high speed at Turn 11. That should have served as a warning, Marquez taking a tumble and being slow to get up afterward. The crashes in Q1 were perhaps more excusable, losing the front at Turn 13 as he pushed for a quick lap the first time, getting up and running almost before he had come to a stop, to get back to the pits to attempt another run. The second crash, at Turn 12, came after he found himself stuck behind Takaaki Nakagami on his last run, and the last shot at getting straight through to Q2. Again, he lost the front pushing too hard, but was unhurt.

The two crashes in Q1 were, though, a sign of desperation. Marquez was working through a bad weekend – stuck in Q1 for the seventh time since his return from injury, with a rear Michelin tire which wasn't working the way it had at the test. Marquez had been pushing hard throughout practice – he had a massive moment at Turn 7 in FP2, the rear letting go on a closed throttle in almost identical fashion to the crash which happened in warm up, though Marquez managed to save this particular moment – and Marquez was smoking the rear in several places in pretty much every session.

On Saturday night, Marquez laid out his situation. "I’m confident with my tire management…but tomorrow I can’t. I need to attack in the beginning," the Repsol Honda rider said. "For that reason we will put a soft rear, attack and see at the end. You need to try and see."

That need to attack was possibly why Marquez was pushing so hard in the warm up. He had to find a way to make the tires work, after narrowly missing out on Q2. On Saturday night, he explained that he had not been expecting to struggle so badly. "I say unexpected problems because here at the test we ride very well: me, Pol, Taka, my brother. Since we arrived here we start to struggle a lot with the rear and we push a lot with the front. I cannot ride with the front and I don’t feel good with it like in Qatar," Marquez said.

It was hard to blame the tires when others were not having the same issue, however. "The others have the same tire so we cannot point in just one way," Marquez said. "We need to understand the situation to take profit of those tires. It’s true that Quartararo did the same time today as in the test so the performance is there."

So Marquez was trying to find a way forward with the tools he had at hand, despite still not having full confidence in the front end of the new Honda RC213V. He was used to being able to have absolute blind faith in the front end, and then trying to find a way to get the most out of the rear, where he had no grip. But the new Honda has shifted the balance of the bike further to the rear. The rear grips now, while the front has sacrificed feeling.

At Mandalika, the right side of the rear tire was a particular problem. Riders were using the softest compound because the construction was stiffer to help keep the tire cooler. That kept the casing cool, but left the rubber susceptible to overheating, and causing it to lose grip. That was a bigger issue for some bikes than for others. The Hondas had it worse, the Suzukis also suffering.

A situation to manage

"This weekend was really special, for the tires," Suzuki Ecstar rider Joan Mir reflected on Sunday night after the race. "This made everything really complicated. A lot of crashes. Especially in MotoGP, most of the crashes no? For some reason. It's not easy when you work all these years to give the bike your style and everything and then straight away they change the tires. It's not easy to make them work. Sometimes for some riders this fits a bit better and you see that someone is faster and for others it's more a disaster. We took the bad part during all the weekend!"

The Suzukis had managed to salvage something on Sunday, perhaps aided by the rain which fell. Mir crossed the line in sixth place, one place behind teammate Alex Rins.

But it had not worked out for the Hondas, and Pol Espargaro, especially, was livid. On Saturday night, the Repsol Honda was spitting fire. "All winter, even last year, Honda was taking a lot of info about the tires," Espargaro fumed. "Here we were working a lot to recognize the problems of the bike. They brought a new bike to Jerez, to Malaysia that fits with the current tires. Then there was some problem during the test and to improve the problems Michelin brought four-year old tires."

That had dashed Honda's hopes. "What we face is we have a bike ready, the best bike we have to say with the correct tires. but with four-year-old tires this bike isn’t made for it." Honda was struggling, while Ducati had taken a huge step forward, Espargaro complained. "We saw Ducati struggling massively at the test here, especially on rhythm. Now they are flying. We are especially p***ed off with that. We think it’s unfair in some ways. We were working so much during the preseason, making an amazing bike. Honda built an amazing bike and we do not deserve these results."

Forced hand

Michelin's Piero Taramasso told Dutch journalist and Ziggo Sport commentator Frank Weeink that the French tire maker had had no choice. The test had shown that if the track was much hotter than expected, and stressed the tires much more than expected. "We have been very clear that the tires we have at Mandalika this weekend are different to the ones we used at the test, but as all the teams and riders know very well, this change was something that had to be done to reduce the possibility of severe overheating and to eliminate potential safety issues for the riders during the race."

Different tires required a different setup, and some teams had been more successful than others at finding the right balance. "The different casing construction of the tires requires changes to bike set up to extract the optimum performance from them, and with the reduced dry practice time available, this has been difficult to achieve for some teams," Taramasso explained. "I have no doubt that given more time (as we had during the test days), all teams would have found good settings to make the tires work very well, but unfortunately this has not been possible this weekend."

Pol Espargaro had no time for that argument. And when it was suggested to him that another test was needed at the Mandalika circuit, he rejected the idea out of hand. The test had been a complete waste of time, as far as he was concerned. "Whatever we do at the test it should stay the same otherwise you create a big mess. You prepare the bike for something an then you arrive to the race and you have completely different things. We spent quite a lot of time here in preseason to put the bike in its place and for us it was a waste of time and money for us to come here in preseason. What we did here during the test was zero for this weekend."

Espargaro pointed to the rear Michelin as an important contributing factor to the crash by Marc Marquez. "When we are complaining about Michelin, it is not because we like to complain about Michelin but because we were facing serious problems about front tire consumption and we could not complete the race because the temperature was too high and the rear was locking out of the corners – as Marc crashed – and to all the rider all the weekend," the Repsol Honda rider said.

"When we complain it is because we feel we have a problem and from being fast and safe on the test we were slow and unsafe, and I think today Marc was lucky not to get injured and if he was injured then it would have been of consequences of an external partner choice this weekend." Espargaro told the media this on Sunday after the race, before the news of Marquez' injury broke.

Espargaro rejected Michelin's claim that switching to the different casing – a tire which had been used in 2018 and 2019 with success – had been necessary. "I’m not a Michelin technician. I’m not a guy that tells them what they need to do. But if they are always trying to be better you cannot bring a four-year-old tire. It’s something that doesn’t match with the current situation," the Repsol Honda rider said. "We can all have problems. Honda had problems. We improved the situation by doing a completely new bike, not by using a bike from four years ago. The problem needs to be solved in a different way. At the end it’s something happening we’re not understanding so much at the moment."

Stability

Jack Miller saw the upside to the rear tire Michelin had brought. The stiffer construction made it more stable, something that was lacking in a few places at other tracks, the Lenovo Ducati rider said. "Through the three fast corners, 5-6-7, when you are on the lean angle and trying to pull gas and hitting kerbs and all sorts of things, it definitely gave me a lot more stability and a lot more confidence to be able to hang off the bike more," the Australian told us.

"In general a lot less pumping. I've given my feedback to both Michelin and Ducati about a lot of times, for example at Assen, we will have issues as you've seen with bikes absolutely doing this, shaking the whole time and I feel that is 100% coming from the rear tire." The compromise between speed and stability had been worth it for Miller. "For sure the performance isn't maybe as good as something soft and malleable and gets nice and hooked up. But you need to find a compromise I guess."

An unfortunate chain of events

Are Michelin to blame for Marc Marquez' plight, as Pol Espargaro claims? Perhaps the rear tire they brought to Mandalika was not the best choice. They had been forced into building something based on an old design (it was the design of the casing, rather than the tires themselves which were four years old) because of the brief period between the test and the race. Normally, that four-week gap would not have been an issue, but at a track where MotoGP had not visited before, located in the tropics, and which had to be partially resurfaced after the stones started cracking during the test, there were too many variables and unknowns.

New asphalt is always a problem, especially at a fast track, as Bridgestone found at Phillip Island in a memorable race in 2013, when problems with blistering forced the introduction of compulsory pit stops (and nearly cost Marc Marquez a historic MotoGP title in his rookie season). New asphalt, with pitch black tarmac, under the direct and intense tropical sun, was going to get even hotter. And that was going to be an issue for the tires.

But Michelin didn't have time to analyze and build a tire suited to the conditions, in part because they couldn't be entirely sure what the conditions might be. And brand new asphalt made this even worse. The tire situation, like the rapid resurfacing of the circuit, which started to come apart as the track hadn't really had time to set yet, was all done under the pressure of contracts and timing. Indonesia had been waiting for a very long time for a MotoGP race, and the weekend was going to go ahead almost no matter what.

Calendar reshuffle

It would have been better to hold a MotoGP test in Indonesia at the end of last year, which might have exposed the issues much earlier, and given the Mandalika circuit more time to fix it. But three months are a long time during the pandemic, and scheduling a test then would have been difficult for any number of reasons.

A better solution would have perhaps been to reschedule the race until the end of the year, but WorldSBK is due to visit in November, and shifting the calendar about at the start of the year is a very difficult task, given the astronomical cost of freight. Michelin would have had more time to build a slightly better tire, perhaps, but how much better is another matter. And what the conditions at the track would have been is yet another matter for speculation. All this is just conjecture.

Do Michelin bear the blame for Marc Marquez' crash? In the end, the rider controls how fast they attack a corner, and know the consequence if it goes wrong. The trick, of course, is to believe you can outrun fate, and can manage the risks involved in racing better than anyone else. Bad things may happen to other riders, but if you believe they will happen to you, then you probably shouldn't be racing in the first place.

Marquez believes he can manage that risk, but he gambled wrong on the morning of the Mandalika race. Through a series of circumstances set out earlier, he ended up with more risk than anticipated, bit off more than he could chew. And the perils of motorcycle racing came back to bite him, in this case in the eyes.

Should Marquez be taking that much risk, after all he has gone through? He has repeatedly said his crash at Jerez has changed his approach to racing, making it easier to accept he can't win a race, and just to concentrate on scoring as many points as possible. But it is in his nature to want to outwit the bike, to bend it and the tires to his will, to subjugate the Honda and make it score points. With the bike so drastically changed since last year, that is a wrestling match he is more likely to lose.

Will this mistake prove to be costly? Undoubtedly. By the time you read this, you will probably know whether Marquez will be forced to sit out Argentina, and possibly Austin as well. If he can race, then in Argentina, another fast track with a notoriously dusty and slippery surface, he will once again have to throttle back the amount of risk he is willing to take. And he will have to restrain himself in Austin, not push too hard at a track where under normal circumstances, he would be certain to win.

The clock is ticking

Marquez certainly can't afford to keep crashing the way he did at Mandalika. Each concussion he sustains makes him more susceptible to concussion. And he has already been told that the nerve in his eye which was damaged in the Moto2 crash at Sepang in 2011 cannot take much more punishment. The injury picked up training last year had already created additional problems, and increased the likelihood of suffering permanent vision issues.

And that's just the head trauma (though head trauma is by far the most serious aspect). Marquez' crash at Mandalika was a demonstration of just how good modern safety equipment is. Boots are designed with shock-absorbing layers between inner bootee and outer hard shell, which probably saved Marquez' ankles from being shattered. Alpinestars Tech Air airbag suits now cover a huge amount of the body when they inflate, from shoulders and upper arms to back, side of the ribs, and around the hips and lower back. Marquez landed hard enough to break several bones without the benefit of the airbag. (Airbags are one of the biggest safety gains for street riders in 20 years, thanks to racing.)

But Marquez still landed very heavily on his right shoulder, the shoulder which is still giving him grief after surgery to fix dislocation issues at the end of 2019, and then the massive crash at Jerez and attendant bone infection issues. Right now, shoulder problems are probably some way down his list of concerns, but if his vision corrects itself once again, his focus might shift to the secondary damage done at Mandalika, if any. Did he escape unharmed except for the concussion and vision problems? Would he even know just yet?

Could this crash be the end of Marc Marquez' career? Potentially, yes, but it is way too early to suggest this with any certainty. Marc Marquez is driven beyond the imagination of most people, his willingness to make sacrifices to pursue his dream of, well, riding around in circles faster than anyone else, already the stuff of legend. The mental strength to keep coming back from injuries and and health problems - two shoulder surgeries in 2018 and 2019, then the broken and infected arm from 2020, then diplopia at the end of 2021 – is almost superhuman. There can be no doubting his commitment to doing all he can to come back.

But even if, as seems most likely at the current moment, Marc Marquez does come back from this crash and race again this year, it serves as a warning sign, a harbinger of what is to come. Marc Marquez may race again, but he won't be racing into his forties, and retire on his own terms. His will to overcome his own limitations and those of the bike he races, his appetite for risk, and his prodigious talent for finding the limit and seeing how far he can go over it will catch up with him in the end.

Marc Marquez will not choose the moment of his retirement, but will be forced into it by injury. He will go out like Mick Doohan, forced out by injury, rather than Valentino Rossi, choosing to switch to another discipline once the keenest racing edge has been blunted.

Is that a tragedy? Absolutely. Should he be protected against himself? That is a question for philosophers of ethics rather than MotoGP writers and fans. Given all that we know about Marc Marquez, he lives only to race, and knows only one way to do that. He may be the only rider to actually live up to the cliché of giving more than 100% every outing. But in the end, that is Russian Roulette, and he will pay the price. But Marquez has show himself willing to pay that price over and over.

It is not a choice that I, or the overwhelming majority of humanity would make. But we are not eight-time grand prix champions.


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Comments

I think Marc can and should be supported by those close to him in changing his approach. These things have plasticity. 

Puig and others at Honda have seemed to just put him on a bike. It is not entirely of their doing. Marc has made a fairly insular group around him. This group is congruent with The Marc's inclinations. I would call this a structural deficit. Same group that won't count to ten for a mandatory pit stop.

^ Great article David! You write really well.

I always got the impression that Santi has been fighting that losing battle since day 1. I know it doesn't fit well but I'd hate the idea of feeling like a commodity. As Peco's bum says...go free.

I think it's up to Marc and it should be up to Marc. Advice and concern, primarily from a personal perspective but also from a professional perspective, yes. Coercion with teeth, no.

Absolutely. If he's cleared to the standard of the usual medical rules & regs, everyone else should just mind their business. Having a Dr pull you out of a GP because of concussion or injury is one thing - someone trying to pull the plug on your career when you're cleared to race and are still keen is a totally different subject. How do you think Marc would react to 'having someone make the decision for him'? I know exactly what he'd tell them, and I would too.

So long as he meets the fitness threshold it has to be his choice. None of these riders gets out unscathed, they know what they’re doing even if the rest of us think they’re insane. Which they all are of course. 

Canadian Oxford Dictionary, 1) mentally deranged, not of sound mind. 2) extremely foolish, irrational.

Honestly don't really see that applying to any of the ones I've seen being interviewed. Hell, most of my friends thought I was insane to be club racing -- just a matter of degree, I suppose.

 

I think that should read, going round in circles etc, knowing you will be periodically spat off and suffer grievous injury.

Definitely option 2. Part of the thrill of danger sports is that you know perfectly well you really shouldn’t do this.

"His will to overcome his own limitations and those of the bike he races, his appetite for risk, and his prodigious talent for finding the limit and seeing how far he can go over it will catch up with him in the end."

Although I feel this is true, I only posted last week that he was past his peak, and that CTE later in life was a real concern. I was being conservative as it turns out, compared to this article's view of the possible Marquez future.

I have never been a MM fan, but I really hope that quote I repeated above is not mentioned again, in response to another incident. In the end.

But I fear he can't change.

P.S. Let's not forget that testing the limits as Marc keeps doing has health implications for other riders also.

MotoGP and other motor racing series went to a spec tire to take the tire competition out of the race results. Yet Michelin is messing up the whole spec tire purpose! They should only offer three different tire constructions and never change them the entire season (just like club racing). Michelin's approach to MotoGP is a total waste of effort and damaging to the racing results. Take the tires out of it!

I say fire those French bastards. They get nothing right.  

I say fire those French bastards. They get nothing right. 

Internet commenters say the darndest things.

The racing has never been closer or faster than it is on spec Michelins. Mandilika was in garbage condition and shouldn't have held a race. I don't think ANYBODY could have made a tire that could have gone full race distance in the dry under 300HP MotoGP bikes. 

And most importantly............... nobody else launched themselves into orbit. It's not physically possible to make a tire that can save Marquez from himself. The success of his MotoGP career comes from dancing on and above the limit. At Mandalika warm up he finally ran out of luck. Michelin had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Your last 4 paragraphs encapsulate the very essence of Marc Marquez.  I would take it a step further and say it peers into the soul of all motorcycle racers.  That is one reason I love this site.

"It is not a choice that I, or the overwhelming majority of humanity would make. But we are not eight-time grand prix champions."

Amen

We live in a world full of safety and concern. Its pervasive in our world. Most find it sensible and admirable. We punish risk to life and health through varying modalities such as sin taxes, seatbelt and helmet laws and building codes. Risk takers are looked upon as crazy or stupid and somehow we seek to change their behavior "for their own good". However, the willingness to take on and assume risks is present in our nature for a reason. We may not need the risk takers today but their value to our world will return. Marquez is a great example of the breed. He does what he must because that is who he is.

""I’m not a Michelin technician. I’m not a guy that tells them what they need to do."  Then why not shut tf up about how unfair life is with Michelin tires and what they should do? Guy is really starting to irritate me.

Excellent piece, Mr. Emmett. Even better than your norm, to my mind, and that's saying something!

Great article, as usual, David. Marc is 'different'. Always has been...always will be. That is what makes him what he is and why folks will talking about him 20, 30...50 years from now. Every time he through his leg over his bike, you know you were about to see something 'special'....because he's 'special'. He is a pure warrior and I'm hoping that he'll be on the mend shortly AND they can get a handle on that bike.

Rather than bringing a tire no one had tested, could a mandatory bike swap have been put it into effect? If the race is dry all riders must pit between laps 12-15 for a bike with fresh tires. Was that considered?

 

" The rider crashed once in FP2, twice in Q1 – once on each of the two runs he attempted – and then had the massive highside in the morning warm up."

If this was anyone else, might someone take him aside and suggest just maybe he back off and calm down a bit before HRC fires him and finds someone who can go fast without tearing up so much machinery and potentially injuring himself permanently/fatally? Nah, that would take someone who cared about something other than winning! "#93's dead or injured so badly he'll never race again? Next!"

Early-to-mid 20-teens (can't remember the precise year), at Phillip Island, there was a mandatory bike swap set for around halfway through the race, and The Marc pitted in, but was one lap too late and got a penalty for that...

2013, Marc's rookie year!

Extremely well written David. Absolutely spot on about Marc's drive and ambition to win and comeback at all costs that us concerned fans or the Anti Marquez will never understand because it is far beyond our comprehension. He's always found a way to ride beyond what was deemed possible and never made excuses regarding tyres or the machinery. 

I was really hoping for this to be a building up steam year so that he could win it next year but as much as I hate to say it, I think he should call it.. but I am not an 8timer. 

I have seen MM crash in slow motion, and i think the cause for the motorcicle 'snap', the high-side, is his conscious or un-conscious attempt at saving a crash, same as the one that damaged his shoulder. Others would just slide, no high-side.
I find strange that i have not seen this directly pointed, just that he was 'on the limit' or 'too fast', but not specifically that it's his saving ability that is putting him in more jeopardy than what would happen otherwise. Please someone that can bring this though to MM.

On another less important but annoing issue, why is Nakagamy rear camera different? is it the riders choosing? i have seen on ocassion some motos without it.
I think that 'view' should be eliminated; it's disgusting to have this dudes ass occupying 90% of the screen, it could be replaced by shoulder/helmet/front views, and the rear camera either eliminated, or pointed backwards to see what the pursuers are doing.

To see the drivers movements, which is interesting, it's enough with the track and other riders cameras.
I have never seen anybody praising that ass camera, why is it there? i don't remember seeing that view in WSBK, or seldom that i didn' notice. It's not necessary, it's disgusting and even insulting to the viewer.
Let's say 5% of viewership enjoy it, why submit the other 95% to it?

As a veteran of plenty of low (and high) sides I'm not so sure. Most of my high-sides I blame on trying to fight the low-side rather than just laying down, whether they were all my own fault or caused (more often) by hitting someone's oil on the track and losing the rear wheel's traction, then fighting the low-side slide-out, ending up flying through the air as the bike caught traction and flipped me off. Luckily for me, mine were all at much lower speeds than a lot of these MOTOGP high-sides - never smacked my head or broke any bones, thank gawd!

Sorry, confused, you think most wouldn't high side ?

The rear just said no thanks, no more please, I'm off. The bike gets to a good angle relative to its direction of travel. The rider's position on the bike is involuntarily adjusted. The loads on the bike fall away, suspension, swing arm and frame aren't loaded up as they were. Bike leans more. It's no longer taking a line around a corner, it's more of less off on a tangent. It grips again with some aggression....Sayonara !

I think it's very hard to know much other than we've seen plenty before. It was spectacular, big and fast but it was 'just' a high side.

Still, if anyone could I think he could...

Different circumstances but still magic.

https://youtu.be/jmlAi9CQWPY?t=19

"...high-side regardless of what they did or did not do" IMHO is not true based on my experience. The rider has a big effect on these things. Fighting against what is trying to happen often results in something else happening..something that you really, really want to avoid. Once I had a bike start what they used to call "tank-slappers" and I battled mightily to stop 'em. I was losing the battle until the forces partially yanked my shoulder out-of-joint to the point my arm went dead. Suddenly, once I'd "lost" the fight the bike straightened out enough for me to just run off the track. Someone behind me later complemented me on a great "save" but by then I was just a passenger. A passenger fortunate that what he was trying to do was ended before a really bad crash!

1. A string of really serious injuries and time outs. 2. A stated commitment to ride with more caution with his only 'one body' 3. Repeated concussions. 4. Then turns up at a really unsettled track with a range of unknowns and untested variables, and crashes repeatedly, even compulsively. Team blames the tyres... Sorry guys but none of this is worthy of such a brilliant career. I agree with other commenters that the team around him need to take some more account of his welfare and provide some grown up counsel and not seek to sheet home responsibility to a tyre offering necessitated by the conditions and shared by the entire field - note that not one other rider carried on like this in the event. MM's achievements are so admirable that he really needs to take account of them himself. Riding like a rodeo clown is beneath him. He can take his time while he sorts the bike out and he heals up (again) find something else he also likes to do, that can take him into his posti competitive career. I would also suggest that he give Ash Barty a call - who - having achieved everything she ever wanted and become fabulously rich - decided to retire at 25, after playing the best single tournament I have ever seen. There is life after racing, and it would be a good idea to practice it now and arrive there somewhat intact. Obsession is a great horse but it will only take one so far.

Good take Tony. I would say that seeing the big picture, perspective, is not a MM strength.

Plenty of riders and sports stars in general are starting to come around to Casey's way of thinking about things. It doesn't mean they'll follow through because let's face it, that's usually reserved for people pushing their balls around in a wheelbarrow. It's a big call. Stoner might second guess the timing somewhat but if you take his earnings, his immediate risk reduction, physical mileage and the time he has been able to spend with his family - that there is real wealth. He wasn't only ahead of his time on the bike, he was ahead of the curve on where he places value in life as well. To each his own but I'm sure you get my gist.

All of you parents out there probably appreciate the sentiment even more. You have kids, blink your eyes and they're all grown up and you're an old codger. I left the military to be a full time Dad on my own dime. I'm have never second guessed it for a second. Rose coloured glasses at times perhaps but never regret, and then even in my position time goes too fast and the memory bank starts taking up more hard drive space in the brain than new experiences do.. and off it goes, time slips away.

A credit to Casey for doing what he did. It takes big plums. As for Marc though, everyone outside of his Doctors should just butt out. This is his decision alone to make and it involves his legacy and the one shot he gets at crafting it in this life. His entire existence has revolved around this very thing.

Imagine if anyone other than Mick Doohan himself pulled the plug on his career after the leg? They are big boys. Let them work it out themselves.

Not personal to you D9's, but directed at the flurry of "ending his career" et al comments...

False dichotomy of drama induced conjecture bubbling re Marc's career ending or worse someone besides Marc ending it.

Nonsense. We aren't children. That sraw man stuff is reactive and egoic. 

He isn't stopping racing. Everyone and everything wants him on a bike. Except perhaps the unregulated part of him that we all saw last Round. I love the guy, and he has a loose wire. I fix those all the time, and people love it. So would we all getting to keep The Marc where he belongs. 

Solder the loose bit, then let him rip. He's still here and The Marc. Just has a vulnerability of head injury, interrelated with a burning hubris to bust his skittle well beyond the far reaches of limits. 

It is workable. Or, he can Garry McCoy and then all our prideful talk is an awkward memory to sweep under a garage door he is installing instead (his job when he left racing).

This situation w Marc is a hyperbole of example for supporting someone to settle down a bit. He can go fast that way for a bit, but not far. He loses NOTHING and gains everything via a dash of discipline. I see it as regrettable negligence that he get left to keep insisting on breaking through a wall of his own making with his head. 

 

Apologies for being dense but what are you getting at? I wouldn’t have thought Vale’s presence or absence had any real bearing on MM93’s plans.

I'm curious too. If it's about beating one's competitor, one's idol (should that be true for Marquez - Rossi being his childhood idol) Rossi may no longer be in the paddock, but his championship tally is in the record book.

Rossi retired and without one heartbeat skipped, Marquez became the most heralded fall. Deep dives into the psyche of the legendary Italian replaced with the same of Marquez. Same source, different canvas. From now until the day he retires, be it next week or in 10 years time, we shall hear the how, why and when of it. Like the last day of earth. Until, at some point, someone will be correct.

Please, nobody take offense, if you think I'm talking about you, you're wrong.

Good observation, no offence taken. And you’re quite right, though it hadn’t occurred to me think of it in that way. I don’t suppose there’d be half as much written if it was one of the others, with possibly one or two exceptions. Natural though, he is after all the big beast of current times.

But Vale's decline has been years in the making. My perception is not that the spotlight has suddenly swung to illuminate MM. He has been the center of attention for years, and his crashes, and failure therefore to win the the last few championships, have been, and still are, front and center.

So maybe I still don't get it.

If it doesn't want to change, five dry grams of psilocybin mushrooms in absolute darkness, alone. Guaranteed change and/or commitment to one!

^ Hey, TWO grams, and a nice day out in the woods near a river to swim in. Don't give Peterday any funny ideas.

:)

Just watched the doc on Schumacher. Got all the way through Fyawn to hit his head skiing after retiring on his terms. You can evidently still break a changed and retired light bulb?

I think the World of The Marc. It would be HIM that is handed a wee leash of his own making. Don't make me tell you a hundred stories of patients doing maladaptive things for what are the wrong impulses that USED to be adaptive ones. 

I won't guarantee that this is an entirely workable situation for another blossom, but I'd more than bet a shirt on it. Routine work for the psych facet. It is the riding that is so ReMarcable.

^ (See what I did there? Heh)

If two grams are recommended, then five must be better, right? Double the dosage, double the fun, Doublemint gum. But hey, two times two doesn't equal five...or is that just a belief? Like the belief that a light bulb needs a changin'. Beliefs are the funny idea. If a guy really wants to believe something, where does that desire come from? Lots of power wrapped up in beliefs, huh?

Maybe the light bulb doesn't need to be changed, but just needs a fresh power source. If the awakening of the heart center is like a five-kiloton fission bomb detonating, then the blossoming yellow bulb could be compared to a fusion reactor, steadily under control. New wave. 

Great group of folks on this site...

works fine if one is sure about the wheather. but if chances of rain are high, one can not prepare a second wet and dry bike. if it's a dry race and rain comes in between the start and the pitstop, there is no time to change the bike's setup and rider's would be send out on a dry bike with wet tyres. if a rider would crash than and hurt himself , the same people who blame Michelin than  would be the same people blaming Michelin now for not bringing the right tyres.

a mandatory pitstop can only be a solution to a problem for a situation when they have to find a solution with "work with what is available right now". Michelin did the right thing in finding a better solution.

Only MM himself and Honda are to blame : a brand new bike with insufficient data on  possible setup-changes. They should have gone for "the best possible result giving the circumstances" and not for "I want to win no matter what".

Not just "win no matter what," it was past that. More like "crash no matter what." It was SO far past reasonable last Round. Enough for concern that a part of him can't take it that he isn't where his trajectory would be without injury. But this is at a 2nd derivative go around already as causal of the suffering! Starting to reach into irrational and self destructive maladaptive processes. No bueno mi amigo Marc.

^ Agree that the pit stop emergency fix was only because there wasn't a tire to go race distance. Odd occurrence.

While it's true enough that only one person can make the final choice, lack of perspective is always a problem for elite sports' people.

There is a well known study done of elite and highly-driven athletes with Olympic potential, who were asked a hypothetical question - if there was a substance you could take that would not violate the rules, would guarantee you an Olympic gold-medal, but would also guarantee your death before the age of 40 - would you take it? Overwhelmingly the choice was YES.

Michelin used to build " Saturday night specials " 

How did it take a few weeks and they still messed up ?

Perhaps because it was cheaper ...

...that if Marc had lasted another 2 mins to complete warmup he would have podiumed or quite possibly won the race in the wet.  What would we be saying then?  Waxing lyrical about his crazy qualifying and loose antics in warmup, all historically quite 'normal' for Marc.

He would have! The grip was great, and he would likely have softened his attack instinctively for the wet.

But he catapulted himself into injury (missing a couple rounds, one of which is historically/categorically his win). Again. Again again?