Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP's roulette wheel

MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.


MotoGP's roulette wheel

Riders want a more consistent tyre from Michelin, but a faster tyre? That's the last thing MotoGP needs

MotoGP is more unpredictable than it’s ever been, because the grid is more closely matched than ever and because each rider’s tyre choice can make or break his race. This is great for fans.

However, there is one cause of the unpredictability that isn’t so great. In recent months many riders have complained about getting dud tyres from Michelin. Quality control is vital in racing, because, if a rider tries out tyre B and finds it works better for him than tyre A or C, he will fit a B for the race and know exactly what lap times he will be able to run, to within a tenth or two.

But if there is a glitch with the tyre carcass or rubber, his whole race will be thrown out of kilter, like he’s gambled his result on a roulette wheel. This problem isn’t exclusive to MotoGP, it also happens with Dunlop in the lower Grand Prix categories and with Pirelli in World Superbike. And tyres have been failing for as long as people have been racing, all the way back to Brooklands and the Isle of Man TT in the early days of the 20th century.

It’s also been happening in Grand Prix racing since the beginning: Geoff Duke would’ve won the 1950 500cc world championship on his 40-horsepower Norton if his rear Dunlop hadn’t fallen apart at Assen and Spa-Francorchamps, the disintegrating tyre slapping him on his back. And in the early days of MotoGP, Shinya Nakano fell at 200mph when a Bridgestone rear slick failed at Mugello and Valentino Rossi withdrew from the Czech GP when a Michelin rear chunked.

Back to the present, various MotoGP riders including Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo have complained of getting tyres that offer mysteriously poor performance; usually less grip or more chatter than expected. “Some tyres make a lot of chatter – we hope Michelin can improve this aspect,” said Jorge Lorenzo after practice in Qatar.

After the Qatar race Johann Zarco complained that the front slick he used behaved differently from the same spec tyres he had tried in practice. “I had some limit feeling from the front that I didn’t experience during practice,” said the Frenchman.

Meanwhile, Dani Pedrosa was unhappy with the rear tyre he got for the race. “The tyre was spinning a lot, which caused me to lose ground,” said the Spaniard.

But no other rider has been as outspoken as LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow.

Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

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Comments

I am not a Motogp rider and so I cannot know or have a decent opinion. But.. I do not believe in such a big quality matters between tyres of the same batch. Instead I believe in certain varations in the feel a rider has and .. variations in grip level because of temperature sensitivity. Also I can believe in one tyre being less round than the other. But that is probably it. 

Tyres have always something mysterious about the feel they give. Sometimes most grip and feel is delivered just after breaking traction, stretching the ingredients. If you do not manage to break traction you do not have most grip, if you break traction too much a lot of grip is lost. A hard compound trashed around their max performance can even supply better grip levels than softer compounds used well within their limits.

When we had the Bridgestone era a lot of Motogp people were complaining that track condtions varied a lot after a Moto 2 session. Since the switch to Michelin you do not hear that observations anymore.

What I find interesting however that in the Bridgestone era lips of rider were sealed by contract when it came to complaining about tyre performance. Not such a thing with the Michelin I think and that is a good thing. I hope however that i will not become like an F1 like environment where riders where completely allowed to bash their car, engine supplier or even team.

 

 

Yes Lokeend12 when we go from rolling/static friction to dynamic friction the co-efficient of friction (mu) increases. Just as the tyres start moving around we have more grip, then push a bit more & grip drops to zero and you are on your backside. If you are Marc Marquez you may not crash.

"I checked the tyres, they are round & black" Graeme Crosby