Phillip Island MotoGP Subscriber Notes: The Secret To Great Racing, How To Win A Tire Conservation Race, And The Power Of Leadership

If there is one thing which is bound to rile up the fans and get them complaining, it is the prospect of a race which requires the riders to carefully manage their tires. "Let them race!" people cry. "It should be a test of who goes fastest, not who can save their tires!" The clamor invariably ends up with a single, indignant demand: "Bring back the tire wars!"

If you needed proof of the wrongness of that opinion, you need only look at Sunday's Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island. In a race where tire preservation was paramount, we saw countless passing maneuvers throughout the race, a pass for the win on the last lap, and the first seven riders finishing within a second of one another. Yes, you read that right. The top seven were within one second. 0.884, actually.

With riders worried about tire wear, the Phillip Island race allowed riders to come from the back -way back – and join the front group. It produced a surprise winner and a thrilling podium. It shook up the title chase, as riders and teams gambled on just how slow it would be, and adjusted their strategies and their electronics setups accordingly. Phillip Island 2022 proved the universal racing truth: forcing riders to save their tires produces fantastic racing.

Choose carefully

The main concern on everyone's mind before the race was which tires to choose. Both front and rear were critical, because of the circuit's seemingly never-ending fast lefts which chew up the tire, combined with the cold winds which suck the heat out of the rubber.

What you want is the hardest possible compound on the left, and the softest possible compound on the right, but in both cases, you are at the mercy of the elements. Choose the hard front, and you risk crashing out because the tire loses too much heat into the headwind on the Gardner straight. Choose the medium front, and you risk chewing through the left side of the tire before the end of the race.

Compounding this issue is the fact that Phillip Island has barely any braking. Brembo rates it as the least stressful circuit on the calendar for braking. The downside of that is that you can't force load (and therefore temperature) into the front tire by braking hard into corners. There are very few corners where you actually need to brake hard. And even fewer left handers which need hard braking.

What does this mean for a race? It means that the way to win at Phillip Island is by going as slowly as possible, or rather, as slowly as your rivals will let you go. It helps, of course, that your rivals want to go slowly as well, because they are facing exactly the same dilemmas as you are: pick the right tires, front and rear, then figure out a way to make them last.

That is how we ended up with the first seven riders within nine tenths of a second, and the top ten within 6 seconds. How Enea Bastianini, who finished fifth, just 0.557 behind the winner Alex Rins, had managed to come through, not just from fifteenth on the grid, but had found himself down in twentieth at one point, 5.5 seconds behind the leaders, after his airbag went off when he hit a bump.

How slow was the 2022 Phillip Island Grand Prix? It was the second-slowest race since 2014, the first full race after the track was resurfaced. It was 7 seconds slower than 2019, 2 seconds slower than 2016, 4 seconds slower than 2014, and a massive 16.8 seconds slower than the epic battle in 2015. Only two races were completed in a similar time: 2017 was 0.882 faster, 2018 was 0.427 slower. Over a 40'50 race, that is nothing.

And that is one of the ways we ended up with one of the most thrilling races in recent years, a classic for the ages. Marc Marquez put it succinctly. "You want a strong pace and no overtakes? It’s better to have a slow pace and many overtakes. You enjoy it more. Me too."

Disrupting technology

There's more to overtaking than that, of course. But it starts with the field being close enough for riders to actually attempt a pass. But what about the aerodynamics and ride-height devices which have made passing impossible at other circuits? Why can riders pass at Phillip Island, but not at, say, Jerez?

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Source: 
year: 
2022
round_number: 
18

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Comments

One of the best ever. And as usual, an excellent summary from Mr. Emmett. Thank you, sir!

Liked the paragraph about leader ship. Unfortunately nowadays this quality does not show itself very often. To often people assume because they have been voted/selected into a position of leadership, that they are leaders. Nothing could be further from the truth. Leadership is earned, not given.

I saw a clip of Quarty, in his shorts, Polishing and cleaning bikes, his racing bikes. And he was laughing and chatting with the mechanics. No wonder they follow him. The same for Mark. Day what you want about him but he does work his ass off, and there must be a lot more going on than we can see. And taking responsibility for one's mistakes is another one. Not like our expm, 'that's not my job', etc.

And yes, one of THE BEST RACES in recent times, so happy fit the top two. And it's going to get tricky in regards of perception fit Pecco. But for Jack, who really Did TRY overtakes, the other Duc riders just parked their bikes behind him and played second fiddle. Deminishes Pecco's results, because he is riding pretty good. Good enough to become WC without the gaggle of second fiddlers behind him only time will tell

I respectfully diagree on the bike parking comment.

Martin clearly wasn’t. He lost the lead with about 12 laps to go and after that never made any real moves forward, not even on other rivals.
If he wasn’t taken out, Jack would have gone for the home win, no doubt in my, his or Ducati management’s mind about that one.
Both Zarco and Bestia arrived too late to the party getting stuck behind Aleix and Brad and after that couldn’t get past other ducati riders Marini and Martin.
Marini got close to the absolute front, but couldn’t get past Marquez.
There was only a short spell of 3-4 laps where Bez was in second behind Pecco. Even if Bez decided not to attack, 
I don’t see how that diminishes Pecco’s results in any way. The final race result would have been the same as it is now anyway.

….like a fool with his defensive lines, particularly going into T10 just to protect his buddy. 
All friendliness between the riders makes it a worse show and we need more hate, like between Wayne and Kevin, Pedrosa and Lorenzo, or Rossi hating Marc. 

I don't know if hate needs to be infected, maybe just friendly rivalry. And I suppose Yamaha and Honda had many years of opportunity to build up a supporting team and did not invest the money nor whatever else it takes. And sofar I have to say that only Zarco and Bez have been blatantly blocking for Pecco. Quite aggressively overtaking anyone else and then parking themselfes as a buffer behind Pecco. A little poor in my opinion.

Sadly, all those permutations for FQ’s finishing position at Sepang are perfectly credible. However, the same is true for Pecco.

Marquez was breathtaking in turn 2 carving them up underneath them through the loop. Stunning to watch.

The articles on this site, are just beyond Great, and these extras have been this way all year. 

I have to admit to being a bit bemused by the opprobrium being heaped on Suzuki for pulling out of MotoGP. Of course it’s sad to see, of course it’s a shame for all those employed in the racing department, but if the company doesn’t feel there’s sufficient ROI, it’s good stewardship to pull the plug. Rins winning on Sunday has no bearing on the quality of decision-making behind this departure. Everyone, including the Suzuki board, knew it was a damn good bike three or four years ago, not to mention when Mir won the title on it. Bad decision-making would be if yesterday’s result did cause a change of heart or regret.

It’s a crying shame for sure, but also the only logical and sensible decision for any company that’s planning not selling too many bikes in the future. (There’s even rumour that the GSXR1000 will be discontinued for 2023, just think about that)

We can only hope that Hamamatsu suddenly decides to double down on bike-making in the future and comes back to MotoGP. They do have the most beautiful bike on the grid.

I don't think any of us want to go down the road of "Is racing a good use of budgets/resources?" Haha. 

Hopefully Suzuki's "responsible decision-making" doesn't catch on--particularly with my missus. 

If I were a wealthy man I would buy the entire Suzuki MotoGP project, hire on all the engineers/techs, call it TeamJimV racing and travel the globe with the MotoGP circus.

I would buy you green paint enough to paint every single thing and hand it over to partner w Kawasaki. 

Inline or V4? Keep Suppo? 

"Family at the Table" that Brivio made is just as important as the "everyone integrate and unify" that Gigi did. Synergy, should be kept together. Take all the inline 4 and conventional balance of bike, mechanical grip, perfect power delivery...best Yamaha on the grid for half the spending. Even if you didn’t run their bike! 

When do I start prepping the light blue trucks for paint? Will work for sushi and plane tickets.

All Motomutterers are welcome. You'll have to work though - scooting out to pick up crashed riders, moving tires around, etc :-)

The Sunday after race parties will be legendary

Alien Journo Mr Emmett, thank you SO much! Beautiful. As was the Australian Round eh?

Bezzecchi and his speed, defensive lines and efforts to support his Ranch cousin Bagnaia? It was brilliant! Marquez was in the mix on totally different lines. A SUZUKI was sweeping inline 4 lines...RINS!

Underdog Black Aleix Espargaro teamed up with Spanish friend Vinales to push for Championship points. Rear tire spinning/edge grip was a challenge. But, like beloved Stoner cornering, riders were using rear wheel focused riding and throttle control to get thru corners here. Miller talked about it (what doesn’t he?) - he is not the "new riding style" we see coming from Moto2 so he has a bit of Doohan butt and rear wheel pivot. Cool!

The Michelin tires were brilliant here. If Suzuki is top bike, the tires are optimized in balance. 

Quartararo, the only rider doing the near impossible aboard a Yamaha, had to push for his Championship. He nearly hit the back of someone on the brakes again just riding hard with his sweeping high corner speed lines. This sent him out way wide and recovering. Then, his overriding in traffic sent him in the gravel and sweeping off his leathers. Disappointing? Yes. But BRILLIANT. Challenge Pecco or crash. Incredible show.

How many times are you going to watch this race? Answer is MORE. 

- So much racing going on that no one has yet even mentioned A.Marquez's "move." It happens sometimes, he went arse over tea kettle. Hope he and Jack are fine for next weekend.

Hey Non-subscriber readers, don't miss joining commentary on the subscriber articles, really interesting mutterings. And the article is FANTASTIC. If you are on the fence about subscribing for a yr (cheap as heck and pays for Krop to be at races on a shoestring budget, basically buying him a good dinner with Neil Morrison) this might bump you off the fence. Best article since Summer, and he is firing off lots of great ones. Doesn't matter when you pay for a yr, it is year round and most of us just re-up anyway. 

Viva Motomatters!

Might be worth it to hear your comprehensive and frequent views on everything mate 👍

 #famousfirstwords from Livio Suppo, after the race on austrian ServusTV. Assen 2018 comes to mind a race that delivered as well racemagic like this, interestingly it was Marquez/Rins coming in on 1 and 2 and a ducati in third.

Some trashtalk to finish - i don't care who's doing the tailgunner for whoever, it's not for the first time and it will not be the last... and in a time long ago ( well maybe it's 2015), on a racetrack near Valencia ... well let's not start a pointless argument again!

It's pointless now but I will never have a shred of respect for MM93 due to that.

I help a lot of people suffering (not as much as those that live them) with resentment, anger, taking things personally, fixed mindsets, deelling in difficulty in the past, and various egoic/neurotic processes. If you don't grow for yourself, do it for the other guy - he needs to be seen as he IS too. 

2015 is long gone friends. I dont miss that crap one bit, not even the on track part.

... that many race fans or casual spectators take it as seriously as all that; it's just a sport, after all. I certainly don't, and I've been involved in one way or another for going on 50 years now. Having villains and heroes is just fun, I think. Agostini said in a recent interview that he believed everyone was too friendly these days, that the fans needed heroes and villains to make things more exciting. Carl Fogarty said something similar recently, as well, to the effect that he'd have a beer with the other racers Sunday night but he hated them the rest of the time. I doubt that was literally true, but I'm sure it was a great way for him to wind himself up for race day. Same for Schwantz vs Rainey, Doohan vs, well, everybody, lol, Lawson likewise. They all seem to get along well enough these days.

It's the nature of competition to root for one individual or team, and hope for another to lose. Taking sides means we are engaged in the competition as fans. 

I can't stand Marc, and yes 'Shrink, I still hold a grudge for his past behavior on the track, no matter how long ago. But I have to be honest, if I bump into him at the airport I will be incredibly excited to just say Hi to this man who can do such incredible things on a bike--even though I "hate" him when he competes.

^ I hear you. I had disappointed delusionment w the other rider. Never thought of him the same after that, and he continued to confirm it afterwards. 

I like my process more than my conclusion, and they keep growing and changing. Marc is a good guy that is over-driven. I like and respect that/him even when he "bugs" me. He isn't very egoic. (I dislike Honda/Red Bull, and don't favor Spaniards). The other rider basically acknowledged that Marquez is a better rider than him and I agree. "Upgrades" for a younger Great. Not provable, ever arguable, and super happy we don't have to. My truth is just that to others eh?

Cheers

A reasonable and intelligent attitude. As someone (Keynes? Paul Samuelson? Winston Churchill?) once said, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do?" A very popular apocryphal saying with a lot of truth in it.

Asparagus has been very critical of Aprilia after the race. He thinks he had excessive traction control, which may wll be, but he was spinning too much at full lean Saturday even on Q outing distance. He is just frustrated period...understandable.

A.Marquez got a long lap penaly for next Sunday. Off to a Ducati 3rd Team, where he will have a very interesting bike adaptation. He may be of more help to Marc off of a Honda!? Their relationship won't ever change. They are even closer than Aleix and Pol. Not sure about Brad and Darryn now, but if little Binder goes WSBK rather than Moto2 they won't see each other much. Jack and Crutchlow are our other brothers as long as Cal is racing the bike.   :)

At the rider's safety meeting they requested a P.I. resurface for SAFETY reasons as well as grip adequate for performance. Bumps, esp off line outside of T1 and a few others, causing crashes. Did you see the length of the list of crashers in the lower classes for the weekend? A.Espargaro was (again) clearest/loudest, he almost lost his mind losing adequate edge grip at lean. (Translation, the Black bike is no inline 4 but can get on most those lines then ask too much of the electronics driving out if tires wont last or grip is lower in the dry. Ducati has them beat).

Noticing there aren't many people criticizing Marquez about what is is saying and doing off track since his bike hit him and broke that humurus. I think he has always been this relatively straightforward and a good human being, despite a pitch otherwise from fans of other riders, countries or brands. He is saying it like it is (except for infrequent strategizing or care to not mis speak). I appreciate the guy, even off the bike. Even more than that other guy from before him! He just got asked what advice he would give Rins for the Honda. Answer? He won't, it would be ingenuine. 

I enjoyed Marquez' words, and rewatched that dialogue a few times. Made me chuckle. Rins also mentioned recently that the friendliness among riders is phony.

^ VR46 gang excepted. Gang being literal. 

The diversity? Martin may be Spanish, but BASTIANNINI is the diversity in Ducati and fake w BAGNAIA even and they are Italians! 

Unusual thing. (Can't criticize Yamaha enough for letting VR46 go AND Petronas AND THEN Really Need Fasterblackbikes). Huge mistake, may never ever recover the lost pipeline let alone intangibles.

Yeah Yamaha what was the strategy there? Let's have a new sputnik team, dump Herve's Tech3 try Petronas. Satellite team, oops, damn it had one a minute ago.

See also Honda Ten Kate racing, loyalty etc.

The opening paragraph is interesting--the fusion of a thoughtful argument in support of tire conservation, bookended by an awkward non sequitur about tire war. If I dusted for prints, I feel like Dorna would be the lead suspect. 

Tire wars feature manufacturers going as soft as possible to help the leading riders escape the riff raff, while still having just enough durability to reach the end of the race. Tire war is the genesis of tire conservation. There is no overlap between the no-tire-conservation-demographic and the tire-war-demographic. They are disparate factions.

Of course Dorna could always unify them by instructing Michelin to make shoddy tires that don't last race distance. That would be interesting. Sort of the opposite of divide and conquer--unify and get wreckt.

Anyway, I'm confident Dorna were not behind the eloquent expose of racing with tire conservation. Worth the cost of admission. I'd also argue that the concepts behind tire conservation are much bigger than just tire conservation. What is effectively happening is the mitigation or assumption of risk by the riders in real time. They are deciding in real time exactly how much risk to assume and resources to use, based upon the maneuvers of the competition. That is the true essence of motorsport, and it's much bigger than just tire war. It also relates to rider aids or systems that function mostly independent of rider input, like ride height devices. If fans want good racing, and true motorsport, most of that stuff needs to be placed in the dustbin. 

Racing, as a sport and as a spectacle, cannot co-exist with machine/corporate management of risk.

What a fantastic race. AS you rightly point out David, it was all about riding the bike, not riding aids. 

The championship can still throw up a few Wobblies. Mark MArquez will continue to be at the front and disrupting the leaders. He doesn’t give a toss who wins the championship. You get the feeling that the Ducati squadron will go easy on Pecco and leave the path open to him, except for the Beast maybe (he’s hungry to win too). If other riders are up front taking points from Pecco and Fabio the pressure on them increases because the points gain and gap narrows quite a bit unless they are right at the front. This means that he who can hold his nerve best will benefit most. Right now I’d have to say that Fabio is looking vulnerable and Pecco far more reassured, that is until he starts to fall back in qualifying and races. All of this leaves a glaring opportunity for Aleix to go balls to the wall and see what happens. I’m not sure of the permutations but how would it look if both Pecco and Fabio DNF or finish very low in the order out of the points at Sepang and Aleix takes the win? Improbable I know, but not impossible. Pressure makes diamonds so lets see who shines!!!!!

For sure it’s a thought, but he looks more rattled than the other two. Probably because he suspects, rightly I think, that this year is a one-off and he’s unlikely to ever come as close again. Not least because, if he remains calm, Mav will overtake him next year.

As a VR fanboy I have less to say these days, probably because I don't root for anyone in particular! Brilliant races on sunday, all three were first rate. Maybe Sepang-Tilke and Valencia Karting will surprise this year but I do wish the series wrapped up on a high like PI, Mugello or (if only) Spa. Now there's a track that should be on the calendar, never mind all these new circuits.

Well about Spa.

As a Belgian I say gogogo. Beautiful layout, incredible high speed corners etcetc.
Riders would love it, no doubt.
Seeing MotoGP machines go round that place would be awesome. They don’t own enough cameras to capture all the wonderfull shots.

But I’ve got to admit that the racing (F1 that is) isn’t always that spectacular, on the contrary.
Not so easy to overtake.

So I’m wondering if MotoGP machines will be able to pass each other more easily.
Could it be that the racing won’t live up to the expectations?

(And yes, I know chances of it ever happening are slim at best)

Yes, you do have to be careful what you wish for. It could be a complete bore. (But I don't think so :-) )

That's one of the happiest things about aero in MotoGP. It seems to hurt following bikes in braking areas but not in the turns. So at Spa you've got La Source, Les Combes and the chicane...not even La Source really, the bikes wouldn't be going so fast between the chicane and La Source. The rest of the track I think would be a winner for racing. The cars suffer in all areas when following. The faster you go, the more aero by the square, fast turns in the cars are death to racing. Not so with the bikes. It would be amazing to see them there but I agree, wont happen.

Unfortunately, the team as a whole isn't quite up to championship standard. The errors have compounded over time and the points deficit is much greater than it should be. I think the bike is good enough, but the rest has fallen just a little short of what's needed--and that leads me to believe that a miracle is not in the offing. 

Celebrate Suzuki, Rins & Davide Brivio!

Congratulations to all the team!

No one is getting kicked in the arse at the Suzuki MotoGp team.

Please return Davide Brivio we will never mention the 4 wheel stuff.

Mir ran well in early stages! Best I can tell he just faded back to joining Maverick due to fitness (no crash or drama reported).

v Which corner was that A.Marquez front wheel into Jack's back again? (Ouch, and ironic ego insult to boot).

Turn four, traditionally called Honda corner, now officially Miller, something? Miller fishhook?

Fast out of Stoner curvone, the hard on the brakes into 4. Riders can go straight on.\; first on your right the long lap loop. then the old original layout goes right in front of the Ducati bar. You can also get back into the pits.

Something about Mir's tires? Haven't re-watched yet.

Dieterly I don't remember that one, Jack's 1st season in MotoGp or an early year in MotoGp. Was it 2007?

Casey Stoner's first win at the Island is about all I can remember. Started my business later in 2007, learnt a lot since.

Or was 07's dnf a mechanical? 2009 was a problem at Doohan corner iirc. NH69 finished 15th afaik. 2015?

Nicky Hayden had a very good record at P.I. over the years.

Maybe Motoshrink can find us a link, if I saw a video I might remember.

It was Hayden's last ride in Motogp. He was subbing for Pedrosa. 

A bad pressure gauge, ffs, and his tires were set completely wrong (way too low) at the start. Criminally unfortunate.

Oh ! Nearly forgot. Not heard any calls for Alex Marquez to receive a one race ban, cast into oblivion or generally burnt at the stake. Interesting comment from Marc in the post race press conference. Something along the lines of braking in a straight line is a big problem for the Honda, it is easy to make a mistake as we saw with my brother today. Or previously for that matter, Taka Naka. A lot of luck involved. Unluckily for Jack it involved him but could easily have involved many more riders. Luckily not.  

Ever since returning, Marc has been an open book. He has been dropping so much knowledge and insight week to week and it has been really refreshing to see. 

Previously he was always Mr Invincible, didn't give much away, shoulder a little but only once the championship was sewn up. Now for the double mind f***....he's fragile, he's weak...and we still look like amateurs ! Even with this years dodgy Honda, if he had had a good arm from race one...win 10 races ? No chance, maybe win 2 or 3. Have enough points to be in the fight for this years championship ? For sure and dangerous.

Exactly!

Who will stop him next year? Anyone really capable for the entire duration of the championship?

Pecco? Not if he has disastrous start of the season again. And if he doesn’t… Not convinced, will be closest tho
Fabio? Not if the Yamaha doesn’t improve significantly. Could easily fall into a hole like he’s in now…
Bestia? No consistency on the horizon yet I’m afraid
Aleix? Not sure he’ll be capable of another season like this one, not because of his own performance, but because a number of riders behind him wil make a step

I don’t see anyone else consistent enough to pull it off…

No idea. It's not certain. It never was, just seemed so some years. A lot, as always, will depend on the bike but if his fitness is good then what do we end up with ? Love or hate him he's a legend in the a very legitimate sense of the word. He has now got 10 years top class under his belt. I think that the arm break/extended recovery may have stolen his best years but he's still young enough and now reinforced with experience. Maybe mad Marc will come out of the box next year and then maybe he wins or maybe he has too many crashes. If he uses what he has, which is immense, then come last round if he's not 100 points ahead he wont be many behind.

He's been following that tight line through T2 for years. I think it's his 'standard' line through the turn. Most riders go in, go out and then back in for the exit. Door open.

The way he wags the tail of the Honda and dives into the tiny gaps... I missed that! Marquez seems to have acquired a touch of humility through suffering the past couple of years. We'll see how that translates to his riding on track, if at all. And what Honda brings the riders for 2023. Interesting...

It does seem that way. I wonder if his humility has grown, or if it is our perception of him because of all of his recent troubles? Maybe a combination of both? I would think age and maturity also plays a part on his side. Oh! If only we had a psychiatrist in the mutterers to comment...

 

One thing for sure, his riding is amazing and the most recent arm surgery seems to have helped him tremendously. Seriously, 30°+ of rotation!?! That's insane.

Kidding aside, Yamaha is likely picking up an engineer or two from Suzuki. They will have no non-compete or knowledge sharing limitations. Blue should grab as many as they can absorb, but won't. Too proud, and myopic I am afraid.

They've shot themselves in the feet so many times they must look like swiss cheesy Crocs. Yamaha are barely digging out of their hole the last year. Not holding my breath on that 2023 motor doing anything but bringing down Fabio’s crash count and getting them into a few non Ducati slip streams.