Buriram MotoGP Subscriber Notes: Rain Setups, Tire Pressures, And Team Orders

After a weekend of waiting, the rain finally came on Sunday. It had been forecast for Friday, but Friday stayed dry. It was forecast again on Saturday, but Saturday was dry as well. In the run up to the Grand Prix of Thailand, Sunday had looked like offering the best chance of remaining dry. But that forecast proved to be wrong as well.

The trouble started as the Moto2 race was about to get underway. A few raindrops on the grid quickly turned into a downpour. After a brief delay, the organizers started the race, but it would only last 8 laps before conditions forced Race Direction to red flag it, spray and standing water making it impossible to complete the race safely.

Several abortive attempts to restart the race followed, but when another downpour started as the Moto2 bikes got halfway round the track on the sighting lap to the grid, the red flag went out again and the race was called. With less than two-thirds distance completed, half points were awarded, much to the consternation of anti-decimal faction of the MotoGP paddock who abhor the ugliness of a points table which does not consist solely of integers.

The rain hammered down on and off for the next 40 minutes or so, forcing a delay to the start of the MotoGP race of nearly an hour. But 57 minutes after its originally scheduled start time, the lights went out and the MotoGP grid roared into Turn 1 in a cloud of decibels and spray.

Conditions were pretty miserable on the opening laps. There was a lot of spray, and rivulets of water were streaming across the track between Turns 3 and 4. Opinions were divided on whether conditions were safe to ride or not.

Were conditions over the limit? "Yes, for me it was," Suzuki's Alex Rins believed. Mooney VR46 rider Luca Marini was a little milder in his judgment. "Well, it was on the limit," the Italian said. "Sincerely, it was really really on the limit, because the spray of the other bikes was really big, and in the straight between Turn 3 and Turn 4, there were many rivers, and with the MotoGP bike, when you spin in the straight, it's not easy. It's not good to feel this."

The deeper inside the pack you were, the worse the spray and visibility became."Going down the straight it was like someone had a blanket over your head because of the amount of spray from all the bikes," Brad Binder said after the race. "And I had to keep rolling in the straights, because I could not see where the braking markers were."

Cal Crutchlow, a not completely willing returnee from retirement, was another who felt it wasn't safe. "The start of the race was so dangerous, we couldn't see anything in the back. So I rode the first two laps slow because I don't care enough to not be able to see," the WithU Yamaha rider said. "Nobody could see in the back. People were shutting the throttle in 5th gear in the straight. And then somebody hit in the back of each other and it's just ridiculous."

Aleix Espargaro, normally one of the more vociferous proponents of safety, felt conditions were good enough to go. He had been arguing with the other riders, telling them to take their concerns to MotoGP's safety representative, Loris Capirossi on the grid, where they had the opportunity to do just that.

"I was angry with the other riders!" the Aprilia rider said. He had taken his concerns to Capirossi. "I said to Loris, the track is perfect we can race very good but please clean 3-4 because there is no visibility and there are rivers crossing the track."

His annoyance was with his fellow riders. "How do you think I feel when Fabio says to me ‘yeah, there is no visibility…’ I was like ‘OK, go and tell them!’. You cannot stay sitting on the bike and then if there is a crash blame everybody," Espargaro said. "There is a race direction on the grid and it is good that we can give some good information to them and they can improve the track. They delayed by five minutes more and did their best."

Perhaps the start could have delayed a little longer, but it would not have made that much difference. It needed bikes circulating to clear the water, and once the field had spread out a little, both visibility and the amount of water on the track improved. "After three or four laps, the track condition was good," Luca Marini said. "So maybe they could delay the start of the race a little bit, but this was the decision of the organization, and finally nobody was in danger. There were no dangerous situations, so everything went well in my opinion."

Calendar games

The reason for the rain, of course, is because MotoGP visits Thailand during its rainy season, as part of the Asian and Australian flyaways. Here, Dorna is caught between several different fires. On the one hand, there is the availability of circuits, and how MotoGP fits in with other events. As a rule, the only event that trumps a MotoGP race is F1, but Dorna doesn't have a completely free hand in setting a date.

F1 plays a role in deciding dates as well, both series attempting to avoid racing in the same timezone, or at the same time if they are. Then there's the weather in Europe, especially the northern races at Silverstone, Assen, and the Sachsenring. The window for those races is relatively narrow: snow can fall and temperatures can drop to freezing even in mid April, as WorldSBK found out in 2019. Even the softest compound Michelin uses need temperatures of 8°C to start working properly.

Finally, there is the double whammy of freight costs and logistics. The flyaways dotted around the Pacific basin are grouped together because it is much cheaper to fly freight and staff between, say, Japan and Thailand, or Australia and Malaysia, than it is to fly them between Asia and Europe.

Choosing a date

That leads to some unfortunate scheduling choices. In 2023, Buriram, Mandalika, Phillip Island, and Sepang all happen over a five-week period from mid October to mid November. That works in terms of logistics, but less so in terms of climate. Thailand's dry season is from November to March, just after the race in Buriram. November to March is the wet season on Lombok, the Indonesian island where Mandalika is located. Dry season for Sepang is May to September, right in the middle of the European races. While the best weather at Phillip Island is between roughly late November to March, the antipodean summer.

Now take all of those ingredients and create a calendar which works. The expansion to include races outside of Europe and turn MotoGP into a truly global series is a necessary and important objective. But it does mean that there will always be races where the weather will be an adversary.

Of course, mixed weather can be conducive to a more open championship, as we found out at Buriram. After qualifying on Saturday, Fabio Quartararo looked like he might at worst lose a handful of points to Pecco Bagnaia, and perhaps even widen his 18-point gap if he got a good start. When the rain came, the general consensus was this helped Quartararo and hindered Bagnaia. In the last truly wet race this year, at Mandalika, Quartararo had finished second, while Bagnaia had scored just a single point.

In Japan, Bagnaia had confessed that he hadn't been able to find a good feeling with the Ducati Desmosedici GP22 so far this year, after being strong in the rain in 2021. Rain had been a cause for concern.

But that was not at all how things had played out. Bagnaia had gotten a strong start, and held on to take third at the end of the race – with perhaps a little help from Johann Zarco, but more about that later on – while Fabio Quartararo had sunk like a stone. The race had been won by Miguel Oliveira – the winner of the previous soaking race at Mandalika in March – with Jack Miller finishing second. But the real winner was Pecco Bagnaia, closing to within 2 points of Fabio Quartararo.

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Source: 
year: 
2022
round_number: 
17

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Comments

and write up David.  Could not agree more with your final comment.  Everyone else had the same opportunity if they chose it and implemented it.

So much fun to read about the unbeatable dominance of the Ducati mob! Honda wishes they could be so reviled.

15 years since their last rider's championship, the Italians are probably still feeling like the underdog. As they are.

Great writeup. The info about wet settings and tire pressures in changing conditions is interesting.

Great write up DE, thank you.

It looks like Fabio has fallen back into 2020 mode, where the chill character gives way to frustration and anger. He got on top of his psych and destroyed everyone last year but now seems to be falling apart as the pressure mounts. Maverick, Asparagus - same thing. Tank punching, hand waving - regression after finding a little 'something' both psychologically and on the bike. Pecco has been fragile too.

There's far too many killers in the paddock that will prey on those weaknesses if they're at the pointy end with them. I can't see 2023 being a disappointment. It's gonna be wild.

Good point. Compassionate towards most of it, we all come apart with intense stress. In different ways, but not too many to count on two hands and understand. 

The important part may be recovery speed and method.

Chronic vs acute stress is different. Internal dilemma vs outside "real" situational too. Within your control/influence vs not. Personal vs happenstance. Violation from a trusted close person vs an outsider. Et al.

It is very interesting, and both displays and sometimes makes more of the person. 

Sublimation is beautiful. 

(It is ok for Fabio to lose his shite and avoid everyone short term to recover. Then, come out quietly focused. This is a great move. VS tantrum on camera in garage, etc). If he doesnt get a big step in motor come Testing we may see a defeated man burn up on entry after having been out of this World. Sad.

Marquez? Win or break his Skittle trying to save it. Different breed. I dislike the egoic ones, and I won't name them to spare us lousy reading. Pedrosa was quietly compliant.

Miller? Currently externally emoting sadness, but mostly Sublimation and kindness. Respect.

Who mentioned Maverick? :-)

Miller =sadness? Don't know about that. He seems pretty pumped to me, upcoming marriage, end of season s/b fun home in Aus, will be at least top five in the championship, not bad. I imagine there's a bit of sadness about leaving Ducati after what, four years? Seems to have fit in well there. But he and Brad should made an interesting duo next year. If the factory can make a couple of little steps I'll bet Oliveira will be the sad one.

Read his interview in crash.net. as a resident in Italy with past contact with Ducati, was not entirely surprised to see his comments about life in red

If Miller is emoting sadness (I haven't noticed it) it is probably that he reportedly spent the first half of the season running an individual set on his Ducati when he has proved much faster now that he is using one much closer to the other Ducatis. Maybe he is ruing the missed opportunity.

It would be iInteresting to know why he thought different was better for him.

No time to find video, search it and mark time of it.

But interviews, post race when podium esp. One Round ago for instance. 

He tears up. 

Not the only time. 

Just quoted as "a lonely time" at Duc.

Et al

Some more 'interesting' stats. Ducati is the most 'crashiest' bike on the grid in races. Can't keep that bike upright. More than twelve times the number of non-finishes than Aprilia. However, they have won more than three times the number of points as Aprilia their nearest rival. Something doesn't add up.

“the MotoGP grid roared into Turn 1 in a cloud of decibels and spray.”

This has been a problem for some time now, Yamaha apparently having more trouble than others. Is there any reason that some sort of bleed-off valve can't be installed on the wheel to keep the pressure where the team wants it?

Probably a safety issue. Imagine a scenario where the temperature and pressure rises when the rider is in traffic and the valve releases air, then the rider moves to the front and gets clean air and the temperature and pressure drops too low.

Can you elaborate on that? I didn’t see anything about it before this 

Mid Ocober to end November is peak raininy seaason in Thailand and Malaysia, not quite so for Lombok, though it is hammering down all week there at the moment. 50 kms from Buri Ram the whole area is completely flooded.

I've been in Sepang when just after the race you literally could not see across the track and the main road outside flooded. Saying that at an earlier race in in 1995 Garry McCoy got a win in a rain shortened 125 race when it was in Shah Alam in April. The races used to be in April and the weather is much better suited end March to end April for the flyaways. There is no F1 in Sepang anymore as they took the April slot and force Motogp to move.

It looked like he was trying, nearly crashed into the back of FB a couple of times. I bet Ducati just wished he'd said he tried and couldn't get past, mention the buses are so equally matched it was impossible da-de-da.

It does seem a bit like an Italian armada pushing their man to the top. Poor old FQ, not a fan but can justifiably be a bit miffed perhaps

 

Even with his absence he led all Honda riders the whole time. Nakagami and Pol never came within 10-15 points of him. Pretty wild stat right up there with Mav not having an off until Motegi.

Sorry, gotcha. If Alex was competitive, that Repsol team would have been pretty awesome for the marketing department.

Alex Marquez had 2 x 2nd places and looked odds on to snatch a win, especially in sketchy conditions.

He’s not Marc but he has some good skills, you don’t get to be a World Champion without ‘em.

Not a Marquez or Honda fan, but he will be an interesting side-show on a Ducati in 2023. With a few years of Motogp under his belt I’d definitely mark (Marc?) him as one to watch on a decent bike.

So was Pecco, Franco, Martin, Binder, Mav, Enea and Pol. Zarco was even a double world champion but in one category only. Since Freddie Spencer bagged two titles in one year only Alex, Marc, Mir and seven other riders have won titles in multiple categories.

In 1988 Jorge Martínez did the last single-season double when he took his Derbis to both the 80cc and 125cc titles. An easy one to forget...outside Spain.

^ I was JUST thinking about Rabat too Larry. He was a third w the Marquez brothers training etc until joining MotoGP and fizzling out. He tanked bad! His last season, no joke, he looked scared and even with poor color in his face in the garage waiting for the race. He NEEDED to go elsewhere. And, never perked back up on Superbikes either.

Dramatic "rug pulled out from under" a career trajectory. Used to be we might say "but what if he'd started on a Yamaha or Suzuki? 

Times have changed!

Hard to say what went on in those team. They seemed to be short on money and support compared to the sat teams which partnered with factories. Third tier teams. Jack got a win with VDS though and showed some pace, better placed usually. I think Rabat's first season on the Ducati had a nasty mid season end and I have no idea what such an accident would do to me. Maybe things would have worked out better but for that.

I blame the old satellite Honda's for the premature demise of the likes of Rabat etc. Sadly it never lived up to the hype and I suspect it stole too many potential winning careers. I think it was promoted as within 0.3 of a second to Casey's laptime or something when in reality it was just slow. 

As an aside, back then 0.3 of a second was an acceptable margin . . . . but not nymore.

Both Rabat and AMarquez are riders that like to take things gradually and there isn't time for that currently, ask Gardner or DBinder. I also have a suspicion (not worth much, actual results trump) that if Binder and Oliviera had been on Kalex chassis the first year of Triumph AMarquez would only be a single Champ and if.....

Sadly, any last chance Rabat had of regaining confidence and speed had was finished at Silverstone.

I wish AMarquez well next season, could be career defining given that he will be on what is unquestionably a good bike with good data from the previous year. No hiding places and many other Ducati riders to compare with.

I think if Oliveira had used a Kalex for the first year of Triumph he wouldn't have come near his best place finish of 8th. More than likely would have been last on every grid and the last finisher in every race. He was in MotoGP :)

^ Tough crowd to squeak anything by here.

;)

Joan Mir returning for P.I.

Martin posturing against Duc Team orders "I would have tried to pass if I were Zarco" etc. No one said he was smart. Oliveira on the other hand, he has a degree and experience practicing...dental? Smart guy. Leaving Orange for an Aprilia? Smart. Big pendulum swing on Black's seat value eh?

;)

I've just finished reading Mat Oxley's article on being banned from the Ducati team engineers interviews. In light of the tyre pressure issues currently being the hottest topic around [and possibly some of the reason Ducati are preeminent at present] it'll make next year even more interesting.

Ducati has taken the Honda crown for being the most arrogant and self entitled factory on the grid. I admire Gigi, but Tardozzi and Domenicali etc, nup.

I'm interested to see who the unnamed interviewer with Jack turns out to be... DE hopefully.

Glad to see Aegerter is with the GRT Team next season, he's impressed me with his speed and style in the last 2 seasons, mid pack at the start of races, then steadily works to the front. Hard, but consistently clean overtakes, reminds me of a less psychopathic Marquez. 

WSBK and BSB have become as addictive viewing as MotoGP, dammit, lucky the sports channels are the only thing on tv worth watching.

That was great. I really like this in-depth work you're doing. This coupled with Paddock Pass Podcast makes for great background on the racing. Thank you! 

Marc just said his moving from home to Madrid reinvented himself, and got him out of a "two year loop" at home in the city. He is in the Suburbs, and away from the people of home. 

We may have overlooked this? It wasn't just letting his lifelong manager go. He needed to relax and get away from a 24/7 work mindset. 

He may have made a career save on the knee. Good for him, and us having him back.