Holed Crankcase Cause Of Moto2 Multi-Rider Pile-Up

There have been fears of early-lap carnage in the Moto2 class ever since it was announced that there would be over 40 riders on the grid, so when Shoya Tomizawa and Simone Corsi tangled on lap 2 at Jerez, nobody was particularly surprised. What was surprising, however, was to see a further 8 riders go down immediately behind the Technomag-CIP riders, wiping out without warning on a trail of oil left on the track by Tomizawa's bike.

Speculation on the nature of the fluid started immediately in the media center at Jerez, with opinions divided between oil, water or fuel. Given the speed at which the following riders lost the front end, water seemed unlikely, and it was hard to see how fuel could have affected grip so radically.

The ever-vigilant Toby Moody immediately dashed to pitlane to search out the problem, and quickly got to the bottom of the matter. The nature of the crash had meant that Tomizawa's Suter had flipped over onto its side, grinding a hole in the crankcase cover and allowing oil to spill all over the track (pictures over on the Autosport website). The fact that there are very strict specifications about what can and cannot be altered on the spec Honda engine meant that no protective covers - common in racing - had been fitted to the bikes, allowing the aluminium casing to be worn away quickly.

After the incident, new rules to mandate use of crankcase covers are likely to be introduced by the time the paddock reaches Le Mans, but the incident highlights the problem of racing spec engines based on production equipment. During MotoMatters.com's visit to the Buckingham base of FTR, who supply chassis to the Aeroport Castello team of Alex Debon and the FIMMCO Speed Up team of Gabor Talmacsi and Andrea Iannone, both FTR boss Steve Bones and bike designer Mark Taylor talked about the problems they had run into while designing the bike. Though emphasizing that MotoGP's technical director Mike Webb had been extremely helpful in getting issues sorted, the FTR design team had put in requests for modifications of various ancillary systems and the airbox, just for reasons of packaging. With so many details to discuss - and decisions to be made in Japan, in consultation with Geo Tech, the engineering firm handling maintenance of the engines - it is easy to overlook the obvious, such as damage to specific parts in a crash. Crankcase protectors will be the first step to solving this issue, but no doubt there will be more as the season progresses.

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Even in club races, replacement machined or heavy cast engine covers are required by many sanctioning bodies. Seems like a real miss on the part of everyone involved.

Should not be overlooking the obvious. The FIM requires them for use in Supersport racing and Honda even includes notes on the requirement of engine case protectors in its HRC race kit document for the CBR600RR. Talk about dropping the ball.

BTW, it's interesting to hear that chassis manufacturers can petition for changes due to packaging issues. When I was trying to get a grid position we were told there would be no modifications at all allowed to the sealed engine/airbox package provided to the teams.


Im suprised that tomizawa didnt grenade his engine, seeing that he had to ride back to the pits without the correct amount of oil.

The crash protection oversight reveals the level of stress Dorna put on themselves and their technical partners to bring Moto2 into existence a year early, imo. I think it also shows how hands-off the FIM were during the formation of Moto2 and the selection of a spec engine. Would someone have noticed if Moto2 had been introduced on schedule in 2011 as originally planned? Hard to say.

I think we should all be really thankful that the crash happened at one of the slowest turns on the entire calendar. If it had happened at one of the fast sweeping turns someone could have been badly injured or even killed.

Moto2 dodged a bullet. I hope they can get proper crash protection sorted by LeMans.

you mean they use stock engine case covers in Moto2??!

that seems a bit crazy to me - even I use Woodcraft engine case covers on my street/track bike! :O

ohwell, here's hoping that they sort that soon... as spectacular as a 1st lap event like that is, it's no fun to have riders crashing and races being red flagged.

Apart from the pretty stupid mistake of the rule makers to forget to fit engine protectors, it is also quite ridiculous that Tomizawa was allowed to take part in the restart. He was the one who caused the race to be red-flagged and now he is being rewarded for the mass crash he created? If he had not dumped oil on the track he would simply be out of the race, all by his own mistake. Not very fair to all the riders who crashed because of him and also rather unfair to people who crash nice and cleanly without doing harm to others.

If the race is restarted within the first 3 laps, then all riders are allowed to restart the race, whether they crashed or caused a crash or not. 

Thanks David, but I know that it is conform the rules. I just don't agree with those rules. The same goes for situations where a race is cut short because of a crash in the last laps, and then the order from the previous lap is taken as the final result. All very well, but it should not include the rider that caused it. Riders sometimes even provoke the flag for this reason. I remember for example a few years ago in Supersport that Fabien Foret crashed at Brands without too much havoc on the track, but then kept lying still on the track so that the race would be red-flagged. As soon as the flags came out, he hurried to the pits to get to his spare bike and joined the restart. Had he simply got up and walked away from the crash, the race would have gone on and he would have been out of it. And there are lots of these cases. Crash while in the lead in the final stages and all you need to do is stay on the track and you still get the win this way. So, the rules are flawed.

I don't think it's Tomizawa's fault that his bike dumped oil on the track. It is the fault of the flimzy case cover.

I had similar feelings as well. I found it strange that improper crash protection would actually give a rider 20 championship points, but I'm a bit more willing to let it go in a class that has a 1 bike rule. You can't chuck it down the road, roll around in the middle of the track, and then hop on your spare. Moto2 bikes have to be repaired. The red flag was clearly not foul play, and Tomizawa can't really be faulted for getting lucky b/c of a Dorna oversight.

any reasonable, objective person who has seen the race/footage could arrive at the conclusion that Tomizawa was at fault for the crash. He was attempting an inside pass, but when Corsi decided to close the door - and he closed it very quickly - Tomizawa was already at his side. The only way that Tomizawa could have avoided being hit is if he had gone into the infield, which would probably have been impossible given that such an attempt would probably have exceeded the bike's lean capabilities and he probably would have lost his front in the attempt. In any event, he was already astride Corsi, and Corsi closed the door so fast that there wasn't time to enough to react to avoid the crash, even had he been able to thrash himself by somehow steering into the infield (and, as impossible as it would have been, had he been able to get into the infield, obviously he himself would've been toast). Tomizawa did attempt to brake it appeared, but there was no way to avoid Corsi. It was either a serious error in judgment on the part of Corsi or a NASCAR-style intentional ram.

This incident was very similar to the '95 Jerez incident between Rossi and Gibernau and the '09 incident between Melandri and Kallio. In all cases, the riders making the inside passes were already astride - or fully past, in Melandri's case - the riders being passed. The riders being passed in these cases all closed the door way, way too late. They all clearly saw the passing riders by their side, but in their reluctance to being passed, simply made mental errors and tried to slam the door on the passers who had already come through the door.

Well, I took another look at the crash video and I still think Tomizawa got in too hot and was not far enough beside Corsi yet. Check the shadows on the track. I must admit it is a close call, though. Maybe other camera angles could prove me wrong. Anyhow, my main point is that in cases where it is clear who caused the crash and resulting red flag, that rider should be eliminated from the race and results. I think any reasonable, objective person would agree on that.

The problem is 'the close call'. There is no time to argue and not wrongly eliminate competitors. The events in the 125cc race at Motegi in 2005 precipitated the rule change that eliminated riders who cause a crash. The points gained by Luthi in that last lap placement system were key (as well as Talmasci pipping Kallio at the line in Qatar) in his championship over Mika Kallio. At the time the rules didn't mention the rider who caused the crash. Now there are rules in place to objectively eliminate the riders who crashed on the flagged lap. But that only bears on races that are ended. If it were to also read on restarted races, the delay to argue who would be eligible for restart would be unreasonable. Race direction always has the right to penalize a rider for reckless behavior. If someone deserved a black flag, they'd get it. I think the current system is the most reasonable and objective method to conduct the races in the event of a red flag.

I don't know the details of the 3 laps that DE referred to above. The only thing I remember was the rule change to eliminate riders not actively racing at the time of the red flag and those who did not return to pit lane within 5 minutes of the red flag (thus eliminating all crashers on the last lap).

Corsi stuffs it up the inside (the right way) by letting off the brakes into the long right hander which shot him up the inside of Shoya just before the got on to the back straight. At the end of the back straight Tomizawa tried to hit back, but he lost his nerve halfway through the divebombing move. Instead of letting off his brakes and trying for a late apex, he clamped down on the brakes harder which kept him in Corsi's blind spot. Just look at the shadows into the hairpin. Tomizawa is never along side.

Most of these guys are only a teenagers and I certainly think it was just another racing incident, but Tomizawa was clearly at fault. He was never alongside or in front of Corsi, he just wedged himself in between the curb and Corsi's rear tire which nearly took both of them out.