After the dramatic events of Misano, which saw Shoya Tomizawa lose his life after crashing during the Moto2 race, attendance at the Safety Commission meeting at Aragon - the first convened after Misano - was very strong. Everyone had come to hear Race Direction explain their actions, and give their reasons for not red-flagging the Moto2 race, and a long discussion ensued over the pros and cons of having astroturf on the outside of corners.
All of the riders who attended described the meeting as very positive, and the atmosphere as very open. The riders said that Race Direction was very open to the ideas of the riders, and everyone in the room was looking for lessons that could be learned from the incident involving Tomizawa, Scott Redding and Alex de Angelis.
Nicky Hayden, Valentino Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso were three of the riders present at the meeting. Here's what they had to say about the meeting afterwards.
On the opinion of the riders on astroturf:
It's mixed. I think that astroturf's good but it's too grippy, you know, it don't scare anybody. Especially 125 and Moto2 riders, people don't even slow down for it. They get their tires onto it. I think they need astroturf but more slippery. So when you get onto it, you have to slow down.
On red flags:
Obviously, the riders, we want a little bit more to see some red flags. Now we have a big long procedure whenever we have a red flag, we just want to shorten that up. Now we go back to the grid, bring out the umbrella girls again, the generators, go through that hoopla, it just seems like a waste of time. If we have a red flag, let's just stop, and regroup. But we don't need that whole dog and pony show again.
Also, when a guy's on the track, I think they should be a little bit more quick to show the red flag. I'm not a big fan of those Ambulance blocks, when they come and put those in front of a rider. If a guy's on the track unconscious, we should get a red flag. But we're not pointing the finger, it was a really good discussion, those guys were listening. What happened there, they did the best they possibly could. The reason they didn't red flag is was because they needed to get him out of there as quick as possible. It was a really positive meeting, it wasn't anyone in there pointing fingers, just trying to work out how we can make it better.
And it was more the Redding situation than Tomizawa. The riders felt like there's where the red flag should have come, he was rushed off the track a little bit too quick.
Yes, [the Safety Commission meeting] was good, there were a lot of riders, more than normal. Everybody agreed that the Race Direction made a mistake not to red flag the race after the bad crash. So we also said this to the guys and we hope for the next time they will change their behavior, and at the end the race direction agreed with us.
We spoke about the artificial grass, but everyone has his own idea. Especially, Casey explained better what he thinks, and this was not not the same as what I read in the newspaper. But we don't arrive at one decision yet, because everyone has different ideas, maybe take out the astroturf from some corners, some dangerous corners, but not everywhere. If not, all the riders also use the runoff area. And everybody is agreed that for bikes the best way is normal grass with gravel, like in the old times, but unfortunately we have to race a lot of times at the tracks the are used for the Formula One, for car racing, that all want artificial grass, and concrete run off area.
I more or less agree with Casey, because he said that with the normal grass and gravel, a rider is more scared to go over the kerb. So when you understand you are a little bit wide, you know that if you go also 5 centimeter out onto the normal grass, you know you crash, for sure. Maybe on the artificial grass with the concrete runoff area, you try, you try to reach the last centimeter, and if you touch the grass, this is a problem.
But we also saw a lot better the crash of Tomizawa at Misano, and Tomizawa did not crash on the artificial grass. Tomizawa crashed on the asphalt, he lost the front on the track. So the artificial grass is not to blame.
So I agree with Casey, but what do we do? It is difficult now to modify all the tracks with normal grass and especially gravel. The other option is we go to the track that Formula One and other cars don't use. But this is not the answer for me.
For me another problem is that the Moto2 bikes are too wide. When you lose the front on a MotoGP bike, the bike is narrower and the bike falls flatter. So the tires don't touch the ground, and the bike slides to the outside.
The Moto2 is more wide. For a lot of riders when they crash, when you lose the front, the bike remains on the tires. So with the bike on its side, the tires bring the bike back into the track. This is more the problem than the artificial grass. It happened again today: If you see Elias' crash, he crashed, the bike is wide, the bike continued to go on the tires and came back [on the track].
We spoke a lot about how we and they can improve what happen in Misano with Tomizawa and Redding and De Angelis, because they are open 100% to improve the situation. They thought they were OK they made the maximum, but always there is a possibility to make better. They say our feeling, we say our feeling. We speak also about the practice and the tarmac, if it can be better.
On whether the riders agreed on removing the astroturf:
Overall, all the riders agree more or less that the natural grass was better. That was the best, because the grip is much less, but nobody push like now to go out [to the edge of the kerb]. When there was that situation, almost nobody went out [to the edge of the kerb]. The risk is higher and you lose too much. So everybody doesn't use maximum the kerb. This [natural grass] is the best for the bike. The problem is we race many tracks which the cars use. So, we can't take it away and put it back again when we have a race, so it's not easy to find the best material to put for the race.