Argentina MotoGP Friday Notes: Following Freight, And The Benefits Of A Different Schedule

It has been a busy day for everyone involved in MotoGP. A large section of the paddock was sat either behind a computer or staring at a mobile device frantically refreshing their flight tracker app of choice, watching the exploits of Aerostan aircraft EX-47001, as it finally made its way from Mombasa in Kenya to Lagos in Nigeria to Salvador in Brazil. As I write this, it has taken off from Salvador and is winging its way to Tucuman, where it is due to land some time after 9pm. At Salvador, the flight number changed from BSC4042 to BSC4043. A sign? I leave it up to the reader to decipher the letters BSC in the flight number.

At San Miguel de Tucuman, the plane will have to be unloaded and the customs formalities dealt with, before the contents of the plane are transported from the airport to the circuit at Termas de Rio Hondo, just under 100km away. They should at least arrive some time before midnight.

That will mean mechanics working through the night to get the bikes ready for Saturday. In preparation for this, the Gresini mechanics left the circuit early on Friday, presumably to get some sleep ahead of a long night.

Prepping the bikes

How long will the mechanics need to get the bikes ready? Opinions differ. Alex Briggs, formerly a mechanic for Valentino Rossi and Mick Doohan, believed it could all be done in relatively short order, despite the bikes being filthy after the wet race in Mandalika. One bike should be clean, as it didn't get used, and just needs new fluids and the setting and gearbox changed for the new circuit. The second bike might take longer, but even that shouldn't take too long, according to Briggs.

Other estimates were heard from various paddock sources. The factory KTM mechanics had needed 3 hours to clean up and prepare the bikes raced by Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira. Others estimated it could take the Gresini squad between 8 and 12 hours to get the bikes ready to roll. But given that the garages are completely empty, that might also include the time needed to set up the garage, at least to a minimum requirement to be able to work.

Cut and run

But why didn't they strip and clean the bikes on the Sunday night after the race, I hear you ask? Mainly because most of the teams were rushing to catch an 8pm charter flight from Lombok after the Mandalika MotoGP race, a situation which had been made worse by the fact the race had been delayed for over an hour. They had no time to do anything but the absolute minimum before packing them in crates ready for the flight.

But even under normal circumstances, they still wouldn't have stripped the bikes. After every race, the bikes are packed into crates as quickly as possible and either taken to the airport or packed into the race track, and only stripped and cleaned at the next race, or back at the workshop. Sunday night is the end of a long and hard week of work, and most people have flights to catch. Pretty much everyone is done in, and a mistake is easily made when you are tired. Better to do it all on the Wednesday and Thursday, when the mechanics are much fresher, and can work at a less frenetic pace.

Extended practice

The timing of the arrival of the bikes persuaded Dorna to draw up a new schedule. That seems aimed at both giving everyone more time on track, and giving the MotoGP teams more time to prepare their bikes. Moto2 and Moto3 fill the morning, MotoGP only taking to the track at 12:35.

There will be two sets of free practices for all three classes, which will decide who gets to pass straight through to Q2. Moto2 and Moto3 have 50-minute FP1 and FP2 sessions starting at 8:15am and ending at 12:20. MotoGP then gets an hour of FP1 at 12:35, after which Moto3 and Moto2 have their Q1 and Q2 qualifying sessions.

Once the support classes are done, MotoGP gets another hour of FP2, before the riders head into Q1 at 5:05pm local time, with Q2 starting at 5:30pm. With FP3 dropped (the equivalent of FP4 in the already shortened schedule), MotoGP warm up has been extended by another 10 minutes, to a 40 minute session. Moto2 and Moto3 get 20 minutes each. And the races for all three classes happen as scheduled, the only part of the weekend to remain normal.

Friday fan day

With normal activity canceled – including media debriefs, the riders had nothing new to say to journalists so why put them through the misery of having to face our inane questions? - Dorna put on a whole series of extra events for the fans. Attendance was huge for a Friday, a reminder of how important the region is for the sport. Teams passed the time with sports, training, and even a few golf lessons.

The delay worked out well for Takaaki Nakagami. The Japanese rider had previously tested positive for Covid-19, and been unable to travel. That proved to be a false positive, and after a negative test on Friday morning, he was able to fly to Argentina, and should arrive in time to ride in FP1 on Saturday afternoon.

Sweeper class

What happens on Saturday? Putting Moto3 and Moto2 out for two sessions before MotoGP is smart if your main aim is to clean the track up as much as possible for MotoGP. Having 60+ bikes circulating for three and a half hours will do a lot to shift the dust and dirt which has accumulated on a track which does not get much use outside of MotoGP. The fat Dunlops of Moto2, especially, will make a difference here.

Having two long practice sessions makes a difference too. Moto2 and Moto3 will get the equivalent of two and a half normal sessions of FP, with 100 minutes on track instead of the normal 120 minutes from three 40-minute sessions. MotoGP will get 120 minutes instead of 165 minutes, the equivalent of losing one session of free practice.

But for both classes, they gain some time at the end of the sessions. There will be little point trying to set a fast lap at the end of FP1, as conditions will still be improving, so it is better to focus on setup and tire choice in FP1, and wait for the last 15 minutes of the session to start chasing a quick lap. This, as MotoGP race reporter Zara Daniela pointed out to me, will effective mean that MotoGP will have three qualifying sessions within the space of an hour or so. Riders will push at the end of FP2, then face Q1 and Q2.

Understanding tires

Longer sessions will be better for race setup too. The Termas de Rio Hondo circuit is particularly hard on tires, so choosing the right race tire is going to be crucial, as well as setting the electronics to manage tire wear in the best way possible. Two 60-minute sessions gives the MotoGP teams enough time to do several long runs and get a real idea of tire wear.

With the missing cargo now almost certain to arrive, MotoGP fans everywhere, but especially those on the ground at Termas de Rio Hondo, can look forward to two days of action on track. The teams and riders face one of the longest days of activity I can remember for a very long time. And some teams face with a lack of sleep after a long night of work.

But the good news is that the races will happen. The show must go on, and with everything necessary at the track, it can, at last.


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Source: 
year: 
2022
round_number: 
3

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Comments

Hindsight is 20:20. When I was a defense contractor we used the terms "front loading" and "back loading" when describing tasking. If you have the tasks, people, money and time, front loading equals risk reduction. Yes I realize folks are tired, but that is a zero sum game. Save energy when you get to the track, you have more at the end. For a multi million euro business motogp and the teams do not seem to run on best practices. They need to not allow folks exit flights to drive tasking. Maybe this is a difference between US defense contractor culture and euro sporting management culture.

Point well taken, but isn't anything worth doing, worth doing right? All the sweat, pain, death. War w/o the guns. Doesn't MotoGP deserve better management. I have no problem with ex-racers getting jobs. I'm not too impressed with the younger Ezpeleta. I shouldn't be surprised, I'm sure this goes on in FIFA, FIM, NFL, NASCAR, after all it's only entertainment.

Say they prep the bikes after the race, leaving sufficient time to prep them properly.   The bikes ship out a day later, the teams fly out a day later.  They hit the same snag - the bikes arrive a day later and the race is screwed as much or more.

It seems like the highest risk (such as it is - when was the last time this happened? ) is in the transportation and the best mitigation is to front load that by getting the bikes on the planes ASAP and having time on the back end to absorb that.

 

Not to mention managing the logistics of any new parts etc. If needed.  More efficient and lower risk to get the bikes moving and plan any repairs and logistics in parallel to transport.

... and a mechanical malfunction can happen on an aircraft at any time. And aircraft based in Kyrgestan? More likely than not? Just wonderin' ...

There is a euphemism for you ' US defence contractor!'. D fast as I know the US army has not really defended anything in a long, long time. Most of the time, all of the time in the recent past, they have been the aggressors.

And then one could argue that they lost just about every conflict they engaged in. So wether the US army has a good system in place re tasking and management is doubtful. I know it's off topic. 

I feel at this moment in time there are no fool proof systems. Everything and anything can and will go wrong, now more so then ever. The difference is how one reacts / deals with these mishaps. 

 

In 22 years (and counting) of racing, >300 events, my race bike(s) were ready to go off the trailer/out the van all but once. Once! All nighters as a mechanic? Never. Luck favors the well prepared.

As far as the shipping and logistics. Add a 6th plane, run them all ~4/5 full. Extra cost 17%. Routes can be chosen to optimize a number of features. Airspace and fuel are probably the biggest factors used now. Raise repairability/spares availability higher in that mix. Have a contingency plan in place that gets triggered under rigorous conditions. Heck, I'll bet you could get an insurance policy for it (Brits?). Don't leave it to prayer and good luck charms.

Unfortunetly, it's not just Sporting Organizations that pracitise nepotism, it's a fact of political life in Australia, hopefully I'm incorrect in Ezpeleta appointment being another example, and he achieved the appointment through due diligence and protocol

The mechanics are going to be working ALL NIGHT tonight. Some odd stuff is going on, like the Factory team mechanics (more manpower) going to help the satellite teams do time consuming work like building the gearbox (Ducati for example). 2nd bikes unused last Round for a rider don't need so much, they were sent over ready minus set up. Whether that becomes bike #1 this time we shall see, as well as if the other bike even getting done to usual standards. Speculation, but if (when really, the track is indeed dirty and getting less rubbered in) bike #2 needs to come out, the odds of "something wasn't right with the 2nd bike" may be up. 

Everything is arriving now from Brazil btw. Michelin has had no tire machines, so Dunlop has been fitting their tires. Shite is just weird.

Tea leaves just pointed to Oliveira staying Orange. They also indicate Mir has signed but not yet allowed to announce it, should emerge very soon. (Not just guessing, extrapolating and interpolating bread crumbs).

We havent been here in a while. Dirty track conditions odd and changing. Hardly any time for set up. FP1 will be confusion and mixed results. FP2 is going to be frogs in a blender. 

Stay safe please. And bring us some intrigue (Oliveira won last time? Cool!). We may get a mixed traction and balls specialist like Miller running strong.

This place can already be odd on a regular schedule. Remember 2018 and the start with one lone rider, then everyone else gridded back? 

2018 Full Race video, hi quality

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zWQ4318K4vQ

We do this at club races to help dry the track when it’s wet why not do it to clean the track?
Motorcyle racers in rental cars. What could possibly go wrong?

 

BSC

Bat shit crazy?

Bring some cash?

Bizarre shipping company?

If it were normal and predictable, we wouldn't have as much to talk about.

Belated

Shipped

Cargo?

(Glad we just lost a Fri! The show goes on. Enjoy!)

Aerostan is probably one the most unreliable cargo airlines out where so I’m not surprised this fiasco.  Long before the Ukraine war started there was barely any cargo available, especially when it came to true cargo airplanes, and not belly cargo in passenger airplanes, for example the airline I work for had sold out all capacity for 2022 already back in November, and btw, we used to fly MotoGP charters.