2011 Silverstone MotoGP Monday Round Up - Tires, Elias, Moto2, The Twenty One-Three

The big surprise at Silverstone was not so much the crashes - given the conditions, it was just a matter of waiting for them to happen - it was the riders who crashed out. That Marco Simoncelli went down is less of a surprise - the Italian is fast, but still errs on the side of bravery, with predictable consequences - but putting money on Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies to crash would have got you long odds indeed, and given a tidy return.

The problem was, of course, the Bridgestone rain tires. Undoubtedly superb in the wet, the cold temperatures in Silverstone (remember, this is mid-June, supposedly the start of summer) combined with the wet meant it was hard to put and keep the heat in the tires during the race. Every lap was like an out lap, Valentino Rossi said, the best description of the situation, describing the need to both simultaneously tiptoe around and not get caught out by the tires, and push hard to try to get some heat into them. Some teams had decided to run two sighting laps to heat the tires before putting them into the tire warmers, but others felt it was too risky, given the length of the Silverstone circuit and the brief period before the pit lane closed. Ramon Forcada had decided that it was too much of a risk, and had sent Lorenzo out on a single lap, and Lorenzo had struggled with heat in the tires all race long.

One rider who has struggled with heating the tires all season has been Toni Elias. The reigning Moto2 champion has had a miserable return to MotoGP, struggling around at the back of the pack on the LCR Honda. Rumors of an early exit from the series have been persistent in the paddock, though question marks remain over who would take over the Spaniard's ride.

But Elias' fortunes have improved a little at Silverstone, helped in no small part by the weather. The gap to the rest of the field has declined significantly, Elias sneaking into the top 10 in the weather, and ending comfortably ahead of Loris Capirossi in the dry, and not far off the other satellite Ducatis. Members of the Spanish media are reporting that Elias has been given two races to turn his situation around, before the sponsors pull the rug from underneath him. His problems appear to arise from a conflict with his pit crew, who have been trying to force him in a particular setup direction. They have now relented, and are letting Elias find his own setup, the problem being that while they will not prevent him from making any changes he wants, they will not help him either. Consequently, Elias is chasing around the Ohlins truck himself, forced to work his setup out for himself.

Back in Elias' old class, there are plenty of rumblings of discontent. Much of the complaints have been aimed at Suter, the Swiss Moto2 chassis builder facing a barrage of complaints that the chassis is not competitive this year. Thomas Luthi, competitive on a Moriwaki last year, is now firmly ensconced mid-pack on a Suter, and accusations of favoritism surround the Swiss firm. Many of the teams who thought they might have a competitive package have been keeping a close eye on Marc Marquez' garage, angling for information on whether the Spaniard is using the 2010 or 2011 chassis, and which swingarm they have chosen to go with the chassis.

The most immediate - and high-profile - threat of defection could come from the Speed Master team. Andrea Iannone is believed to be very unhappy with the Suter, and is rumored to be in talks with another chassis manufacturer to switch chassis, and given Iannone's history with the Speed Up team, that chassis manufacturer is rumored to be FTR. So far, there is little more than rumors, with nothing said to be signed, but in this case, it appears that where there is smoke, there is fire. The problem with the Moto2 paddock is that there is so much smoke from the rumors circulating that it is hard to discern the fire unless it turns around and burns you.

Of course, right now, the hot ticket in Moto2 is the Kalex, with several teams rumored to be talking to the German Moto2 chassis manufacturer. The bike is clearly very good this year, with Kalex on top of the manufacturer standings, and a Kalex rider dominating the series. What the typically short-sighted Moto2 paddock appear to be overlooking is that Bradl's domination of the class is not just down to the German's strength this season - and Bradl has been outstanding so far - but also due to the failure of his rivals. Simone Corsi, the man in 2nd place, has only a single podium, with a bunch of 4th, 5th and 6th place finishes netting him points. The riders with the real podium potential - Andrea Iannone, Yuki Takahashi, Julian Simon, Marc Marquez - have all managed to trip themselves up in one way or another, either by qualifying poorly or crashing out of races. If Bradl starts to face a concerted and consistent attack, he may not be quite so comfortable atop the Moto2 standings.

Held over from Barcelona, there is bad news for superstitious Honda riders. The 2012 Honda MotoGP machine (capacity unknown, but believed to be pretty close to the 1000cc limit) is almost certain to be called the RC213V. I checked with Shuhei Nakamoto, HRC vice-president, and he explained that the 2012 machine will most likely follow Honda's usual nomenclature system. The RC designates a racing machine, the 21 marks the machine out as being from the 21st century, and the 3 denotes that this is Honda's 3rd generation racing machine in the MotoGP era (the V denoting that the engine is a V4).

I pointed out that some riders would not be happy with the name: the RC211V and RC212V are colloquially referred to as the two-eleven and the two-twelve respectively, meaning that to most people, the RC213V will be simply known as the two-thirteen. Nakamoto-san said it was not something he had considered, but joked that this was merely because we were looking at the race designation incorrectly. "This bike is not an RC two-thirteen," Nakomoto said, "this bike is a twenty one - three!" Having witnessed one Spanish journalist plead with others to swap his media vest (allowing access to pit lane and the grid during the race) because the number on the back was 513, I can see that this argument will not wash with the more superstitious parts of the paddock.

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13 is not an unlucky number in Japan but 4 (四) is. A Japanese woman once pointed out to me that 1 and 3 makes 4 so they are kind of the same. Oh superstition!

"His problems appear to arise from a conflict with his pit crew, who have been trying to force him in a particular setup direction"

Isnt this the same complaint Casey had when he raced with them?

certainly had a few thing to say about the team attitude, including if I remember correctly, that they would get a useful set-up in practice and then he'd find they had changed the setting for the race and neither consulted nor (I believe) even told him! It would appear that acceptance of what he said - as is often the case - seems to rely on later supporting evidence from a different source.

That aside, it's a damn poor situation for Elias if it's correct. That level of conflict in a team is a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure.

that a so called professional team can operate in such a manner. I realise Elias was foistered upon them through the dark machinations of the Dorna system but nonetheless if this is true.....

To my mind Elias' biggest problem is the extreme way he hangs his arse off the seat and therefore doesn't provide the rear tyre with the little weight he has to use. He's had this issue in years past, so in some ways it's a wonder he wanted to return to MotoGP knowing the nature of the Bridgestones. Shameful that the team is not supporting him properly but Elias' inability to adapt has proven him to be his own worst enemy.

Bradl may not have one or two regular consistent adversaries but individually to date he has seen them all off. Big big credit to the young German in this mercenary class.

I don't know if one could definitively blame his riding style, but it is a shame that such a rift would be allowed to happen by Checcinello.

I think he sets an example that the 'support classes' should be a place where specialists could thrive. The assumed progression is that they all move upward or leave following success. The age cap on the 125s signaled the end of a long tradition of small displacement specialists. The pressure to find the next great thing is too high. The talk of Bradl moving up to MotoGP next season is premature on top of being an unreasonable forgone conclusion based on nationality. He's been doing great and could very well find success. I think that capitalizing on his run of form is more driven by promoters and agents wanting to strike while the iron is hot rather than a clear signal that this rider is ready to compete at that level.

Reading here its hard to believe anyone would belive that the LCR team would not do anything in their power to help Toni achieve a good result. Surely the team members have no more desire to finish last than Toni. I know some of the guys in this team, and they have tried every setting and part in the truck to help Toni, so I know for sure its not from lack of trying that Toni is slow.

Wow, poor Toni has been at odds with his pit crew?
I can understand that different people in the team will have different opinions, but the fact that his team refuse to help him makes it sound acrimonious.

Is there a precedent for this level of non cooperation within a team?
I find it almost inconceivable.

And as long as I'm conceiving the inconceivable, what would happen if poor Crutchlow has to sit out several races and Elias gets dismissed from LCR at the same time?!

Most of the first half of 1995 when Team Roberts were under contract to Dunlop but were buying over-the-counter Michelins without keeping the bikes still long enough for anyone to tell for sure (Suzuka), all in an effort to keep Luca Cadalora happy; if I remember correctly, at the season's low point (Mugello), he refused to speak to his manager. Maybe Lawson in 1990, though I'm not actually sure about that one.

Those who saw it will never forget it--the 1993 USGP when in qualifying Mat (Mladin) stopped on pit road for adjustments and none of the Cagiva mechanics would come over to help him. They instead waited by the pit wall for Kocinski and even second-rate Chandler to come in. It was as if Mladin had an infectious disease.

Ancient history, but great read:

Thanks David..
Ok sorry to do this to you... but i think its time you wrote an article about who could fill in the vacant positions in motogp.
Vermulan ( still with a very sore knee)
or are super bike riders beeter than moto2 for the job? as they are more used to power and weight..

half of those riders are contractually obligated to different manufactures, and a few of them are contesting for a WSBK championship, and the few Moto2 riders listed all struggled in MotoGP, and one permanently retired Ducatista who is overseeing the development of the next 1198 SBK, + one American who is trying to win a British Superbike title, I really don't think it's article worthy.

Pedrosa's bike probably won't be going anywhere considering there are already 2 Repsol Honda's already on the grid.

Cal's bike won't move either until at least after the next race at which point Cal might be viable for a return.

and Elias's bike....well, it's no factory Honda, clearly there is tension within the team, and I really don't see them kicking last years Moto2 champion off the grid barely a third of the way through the season, and if they did, like David mentioned, who isn't retired, but isn't racing, but can legitimately get on a MotoGP machine and do better than Toni?

Gazza McCoy would not have a problem getting heat into the tyres. He is not doing anything.

Thank you for mentioning him!!!I though exactly the same thing....it would be so great if he would be back in MotoGP.He is probably still chuckleing for laughter because of the rider weight discussion...chrchrchr.

Please, please, please, please, please! Imagine how entertaining that would be ... "Turn the TC off would ya mate."

Tell you who I bet would love to be back on the LCR: Randy DePuniet, contracts be damned. I have a suspicion that he feels like a frog that jumped from the pan into the fire.

The Ducati is making RdP look much worse than he really is. Last year he was incredible! Qualified really well a couple of times and was usually fighting close to the top 5. I miss seeing Randy in true form (and I'm not talking about tons of crashes true form).

Am think than elias ambition to pass to the leader class is taking his consequences. he maybe should stayed another year in moto2 with Moriwaki, gresini's racing was very happy with elias on board and for dont frustate elias. they just let him go and now his situation is bad, it's clearly than the pit crew and elias are in-fighting and they arent working together for results. LCR HQ was more pleased with Rdp leaving RdP to Pramac was an error.

the past is past but
¿If elias should have waited for a offer from a better team, like Jorge martinez aspar team?.

About moto2, some time ago kenan sofuoglu was complaining to Suter about the new MMXII
¿Someone knows about it?

Elías, what's going on here mate ?
When talking about Toni, a much loved rider in Spain, one can never forget that miracle race when he beat Valentino Rossi in one of the best performances I've ever seen.
This man knows how to drive a motogp bike. How to win a race against one of the best riders ever. He has showed it to the world. Check out youtube for details.
Now it's time to definitely find out that f****** setup and, man, regularly fight for a place between 5th and 8th.
Vamos Toni !

One great race 5 years ago???

IIRC, Elias always seemed to find form around contract time. Why that was, only he can say, but he would have been better being a great rider in a tough class and notching up race wins in Moto2 than being pleased with anything other than last in Motogp.

A superb summary of what is, unfortunately, currently one of the most dramatic, interesting, and entertaining facets of this season. I honestly felt myself incapable of being surprised by anything to do with Moto GP, but the discord in the LCR team did just that. That, and the fact that Colin got another opportunity to demonstrate that he still is THE MAN!

Maybe things will be more interesting next year. This year is excruciating. (I know...moan moan whine moan whine whine... It's just that I recall a time, back in the halcyon days of yore, when the racing was actually interesting. Moto GP is currently utterly identical to the Schumacher/Ferrari era of F1. All credit to HRC and Casey, but thrills and chills, it ain't. And my ability to refrain from being scornful of the carbon "frame" nonsense? Nearly evaporated. Perhaps they have a better, more technologically-advanced shaped for a wheel...the 64-sided, understeer-reducing, "big bang wheel"...that they'll make from--wait for it--carbon fiber!)

"IIRC, Elias always seemed to find form around contract time. Why that was, only he can say..."

You don't recall correctly, cejay.  I laid that "logic" to waste here 19 months ago.

It is clear you missed the point of the article, so here it is, framed another way:

Which rider on the grid would be great with no help from the mechanics on his team?

This revelation is the saddest thing I've read about this sport that didn't involve career-ending injury.  I have completely lost respect for the "underdog" mantle I granted LCR.  What a shame.

Elias has always been an up and down rider, never consistent. He's had his chances and for whatever reason he's not been able to capitalise on them. I think it's time we stopped looking at riders from other series, classes or era's and instead focused on bringing new talent along.

Im not surprised Spies crashed. He was gave the "its raining" hand signal (raised arm palm up - to Edwards?) not long before he crashed. He must have been struggling badly.

'All chassis' are ceated equal,but some are more equal than others'. Standard engine and now 'factory vs customer' chassis may be raising its head. Suter being the case in point with Repsol and Marquez. Questions being asked by Iannoni and others.
If nothing else,Marc is currently having a Simonchelli'esque season in his rookie year Moto 2.The all German outfit of Kalex/Bradl are doing a great job currently.
Toni Elias,well,he and LCR are not going to be together next year.
Two sides to the coin,6 races in. I reckon after Brno the picture will be clear.