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Friday Practice Scrapped In Argentina As Freight Delays Disrupt Schedule

A broken down cargo freighter has thrown the schedule for the Argentina Grand Prix at Termas de Rio Hondo into chaos. One of the aircraft carrying some of the freight from Indonesia to Argentina suffered problems, causing the freight to get stuck in Mombasa, Kenya, and delaying its arrival at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit. With bikes from a number of teams missing - including the Gresini Ducati of MotoGP championship leader Enea Bastianini - it was decided to cancel practice for all three classes on Friday, and to begin the weekend on Saturday instead.

The problems are twofold. On the one hand, the bikes of several teams - including the Gresini and VR46 MotoGP squads, and the Marc VDS team in Moto2 - will only be delivered to the paddock very late on Thursday evening. The bikes were not cleaned after the race in Indonesia, and the MotoGP bikes, who rode in the rain, are in need of a very thorough clean. Mechanics from one team took 3 hours just to clean the bikes which had arrived from Mandalika.

The other issue is that it is not just bikes which are missing. Crates belonging to equipment suppliers have also been affected, meaning that spare helmets, gloves, leathers, boots etc are also missing. Typically, at least one set of leathers will travel with race bikes, but the spares are needed in case of the inevitable crashes. Missing bikes and spare equipment has made it impossible to get everything ready for Friday morning, without creating unsafe working conditions for paddock staff. Mechanics having to work on just a few hours sleep is a risk for everyone involved.

With Friday canceled, a new schedule has been drawn up for Saturday. It is a very hectic day of action, with two practice sessions for each class on Saturday morning/early afternoon. Moto3 and Moto2 get two 40-minute sessions, and MotoGP gets two 45-minute sessions. Qualifying then happens as usual on Saturday afternoon, the only difference being that FP4 for MotoGP is now FP3. Warm up has also been extended for all three classes, Moto2 and Moto3 getting 20 minutes, MotoGP half an hour.

The new schedule appears below, with the press release from Dorna with more details below that.

Time Class Session
Saturday    
08:45-09:25 Moto3 FP1
09:40-10:20 Moto2 FP1
10:35-11:20 MotoGP FP1
     
11:35-12:15 Moto3 FP2
12:30-13:10 Moto2 FP2
13:25-14:10 MotoGP FP2
     
14:35-14:50 Moto3 Q1
15:00-15:15 Moto3 Q2
15:30-15:45 Moto2 Q1
15:55-16:10 Moto2 Q2
     
16:25-16:55 MotoGP FP3
17:05-17:20 MotoGP Q1
17:30-17:45 MotoGP Q2
     
Sunday    
09:30-09:50 Moto3 WUP
10:00-10:20 Moto2 WUP
10:30-11:00 MotoGP WUP
     
12:00 Moto3 Race (21 laps)
13:20 Moto2 Race (23 laps)
15:00 MotoGP Race (25 laps)

Logistical issues oblige Argentina GP time schedule change
Thursday, 31 March 2022

Logistical issues affecting freight for the FIM MotoGP™ World Championship have obliged a schedule change for the upcoming Gran Prix of Argentina. Five cargo flights were scheduled to ship paddock material from Lombok, Indonesia, to Tucuman, close to Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina, in the week following the Indonesian GP.

Due to two separate issues affecting two different flights, the final freight for the Argentina GP will now arrive in the country on Friday. The flight contains freight for all classes of the FIM MotoGP™ World Championship, with changes to the time schedule therefore obliged for all classes.

Free Practice sessions will now begin and take place for all classes on Saturday morning. Of the sessions that normally take place on Friday, only one has been cancelled, with the other moved to Saturday. Qualifying will take place on Saturday afternoon, with a slightly later start time.

Warm Up sessions on Sunday morning have been extended, with each race set to begin at the same start time as originally scheduled.

The trip from Lombok to Termas consisted of five flights. Three of the planned cargo routes took freight from Lombok to Tucuman via technical stops in Mombasa, Lagos and Brazil. The two other routes saw freight planned to travel from Lombok to Doha, Doha to Accra in Ghana and then on to Tucuman.

The chain of events started last Wednesday when one of the five airplanes suffered a problem during a technical stop in Mombasa, Kenya. The first plane which had already arrived in Tucuman was then returned to Lombok to collect more freight, and unfortunately has also suffered a technical problem during a layover this past Wednesday night.

As of Thursday morning local time in Argentina, one cargo load remains grounded in Mombasa, Kenya. The plane is awaiting a part in order to return to the air, with two parts – one dispatched from Europe and another back up part, dispatched from the Middle East – already en route.

The plane is expected to take off this evening and will follow the route from Mombasa via Lagos and Brazil, arriving in Tucuman on Friday.

Dorna and IRTA would like to thank the teams and paddock personnel for their effort and understanding, as well as the promoter of the Grand Prix of Argentina for their invaluable support and assistance.

We also would like to thank fans for their patience, both those in Argentina and those watching around the world, and we look forward to enjoying some fantastic track action and racing on Saturday and Sunday.

Please find attached the new time schedule for the Gran Premio Michelin® de la Republica Argentina.

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Red Bull Ring Completes Work On Chicane After Turn 1 Aimed At Improving Safety

The Red Bull Ring, home of the Austrian Grand Prix at Spielberg, today announced that they have completed construction of a chicane between Turns 1 and 3, aimed at improving safety for motorcycle racing around the Austrian track. The change was deemed necessary after the horrific crash at the Austrian GP in 2020, when a collision between Johann Zarco and Franco Morbidelli through Turn 2 saw their bikes carry on through the gravel and cross the track after Turn 3, narrowly missing Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales as they exited Turn 3.

The solution devised by track designer Hermann Tilke, is to add a chicane, consisting of a sharp right and a sharp left about a third of the way along the straight between Turn 1 and Turn 3, just before the start of the fast kink which is Turn 2. The idea is to slow the bikes significantly on the approach to Turn 3, to prevent them from crossing the track in the event of a crash.

The work was extremely constrained by the terrain of the Spielberg track. The circuit is built on a hillside, and the section between Turns 1 and 3 climbs up a steepish hill flanked by a dirt bank leading on to a low hill on one side, and a steep slope on the other. Making room for the chicane meant digging out a section of the hillside to lay asphalt.

Although the chicane should slow bikes on the approach to Turn 3 by drastically reducing their exit speed out of the chicane, the new layout is not without its problems. Riders still exit Turn 1 over a blind crest where riders are prone to crash, and the braking zone for the chicane also includes the possibility of a rider losing the front on entry and their bike sliding across the track in the first section. The blind section out of Turn 1 is not the only problematic area. The exit of Turn 3 is also blind, as we saw when Dani Pedrosa crashed there in 2021.

The change will only be used for motorcycle racing. The F1 car series will continue to use the original layout.

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Repsol Honda Press Release: Marc Marquez Out Of Argentina

The Repsol Honda team has announced that Marc Marquez is to miss the Argentina round of MotoGP at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit. The Spaniard met with the specialist treating him for diplopia, or double vision, on Monday, who judged that it would be better for him to sit out the race weekend taking place in Argentina.

There was good news too, however. Confirming Marc Marquez' own report that the diplopia was nowhere near as bad as the bout he suffered after a training crash at the end of last year, Dr Sanchez Dalmau noted that Marquez' condition was progressing well, and his vision was improving rapidly. That holds out hope for Marquez that he could make a return for the Austin round of MotoGP, a track where he has previously dominated. That could also explain why the Repsol Honda press release only ruled Marquez out for Argentina, and made no mention of Austin, which happens the week after Argentina.

The Repsol Honda press release appears below:


Marc Marquez to miss Grand Prix of Argentina

The Repsol Honda Team rider has already shown very favourable improvements with his diplopia after visiting the Hospital Clínic and an examination from Dr. Sánchez Dalmau.

Marc Marquez visited his ophthalmologist, Dr. Sánchez Dalmau, at the Hospital Clínic in Barcelona yesterday, Monday, where he underwent his second medical check-up after the crash in Warm Up for the Indonesian GP a week ago. In this new examination, Dr. Sánchez Dalmau confirmed that Marc Marquez’s diplopia shows a notable improvement and reaffirms that the progression of his vision is very favourable. As happened with the last episode of diplopia, Marc Marquez will continue to carry out a conservative treatment regime with regular check-ups.

The Repsol Honda Team rider will not take part in the next round of the MotoGP World Championship that takes place this weekend in Argentina as he continues his recovery.

Doctor Sánchez Dalmau
Ophthalmologist

“The second neuro-ophthalmological evaluation carried out on Marc Marquez this past Monday has shown a very favourable evolution in the paralysis of the fourth right nerve affected by the fall that occurred at the Indonesian Grand Prix. Recovery is not yet complete, and Marc Marquez must follow the established therapeutic regime with conservative treatment.”

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MotoGP Grand Prix Commission Bans Front Ride-Height Devices From 2023

There has been much debate over the past two months over the use of front ride-height devices, hydraulic-mechanical systems which lower the front of a MotoGP bike on corner exit. Ever since Ducati turned up with the device at the Sepang test, the other motorcycle manufacturers have complained about it as a waste of money, an expensive way of finding small performance gains.

That prompted an internal discussion inside the MSMA, the association of motorcycle manufacturers racing in MotoGP. Five factories were opposed to the use of front ride-height devices, while Ducati felt they were being punished for their innovation. If the devices were to be banned, then Ducati had wanted to postpone such a ban from going into force until 2024.

Ducat has lost out on both counts, however. Two proposals were put to the Grand Prix Commission, and the GPC decided to adopt the proposal banning front ride-height devices from next season.

The proposal will not ban front holeshot devices, meaning any device which can be used once, at the start of the race, to help get the bike off the line when the lights go out. Interpretation of the rules will be left to the MotoGP Technical Director, Danny Aldridge.

The ban raises the question of whether Ducati will continue to develop it's front holeshot device. At Mandalika, the Italian factory had already removed the device from most of the Ducati GP22s, after all of the GP22s got off to a bad start at the first race in Qatar. If the device is to be banned from 2023, and needs further development before it offers any gains, it might prove more productive to drop the device now, and focus on other areas. Ducati's track record of coming up with new and innovative ideas to circumvent existing regulations suggests they will find other areas soon enough.

Notably, the ban adopted by the FIM only affects ride-height devices on the front. Rear ride-height devices will continue to be legal.

The press release from the FIM appears below:


FIM Grand Prix World Championship
Decisions of the Grand Prix Commission

The Grand Prix Commission, composed of Messrs. Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna, Chairman), Paul Duparc (FIM), Herve Poncharal (IRTA) and Biense Bierma (MSMA), assisted by Jorge Viegas (FIM President), Carlos Ezpeleta (Dorna), Mike Trimby (IRTA, Secretary of the meeting) and Corrado Cecchinelli (Director of Technology), in an electronic held on 18 March 2022, made the following decision:

Technical Regulations

EFFECTIVE SEASON 2023

MotoGP Class

RIDE HEIGHT DEVICES

During the meeting of the Commission held in Lusail on 4 March 2022 the Grand Prix Commission delegates were asked to consider two alternative proposals on this matter. Both had the objective of preventing further performance improvements and development cost increases. After consideration of the proposals the following regulation was approved unanimously.

The use of any device that modifies or adjusts the motorcycle’s front ride height while it is moving is forbidden.

The decision of the Technical Director will be final when determining what constitutes a front ride height device; devices that only operate one-shot at the race start (i.e. “holeshot” devices) are allowed.

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Marc Marquez Diagnosed With Double Vision After Massive Highside In Mandalika

Marc Marquez has suffered yet another injury setback on his long road to recovery. He has been diagnosed with another episode of diplopia, or double vision, after his huge highside in the morning warm up before the Indonesian Grand Prix at Mandalika.

Marquez was ruled unfit after the crash, and did not take part in the race at Mandalika. At the time, he had undergone scans to check for broken bones and brain trauma, but the scans turned up nothing serious. Fearing a concussion, however, Marquez was not allowed to ride, a decision he and his team supported.

During his trip back to Spain, however, he started to suffer vision problems again. On arrival in Barcelona, he met with the opthalmologist who has been treating him during his previous bouts with double vision, and he was diagnosed with diplopia again. The only ray of light in this situation is that this episode is less severe than the previous bout he suffered at the end of 2021.

There is no schedule for a return to action for Marquez. He is due to start the same conservative regime of treatment and therapy, and will undergo new checks next week, to determine how long his recovery might take. Though the press release gives no indication of when Marquez might race again, it seems unlikely he will participate at either Argentina or Austin, as those two races are back-to-back.

The injury is a massive blow to Marquez, another one in a long string of physical problems starting with surgery on his left shoulder to prevent it from dislocating at the end of 2018, then the same surgery on the left shoulder at the end of 2019, and a complicated recovery from that. At the first race of 2020 at Jerez, Marquez had a huge crash at Turn 4 in which he was hit by the bike and fractured his right arm. A mistaken attempt to return a week later saw the plate holding his arm together fatally weakened, setting off a long period of recovery as the humerus bone became infected and did not heal.

Marquez started to slowly recover his form through the 2021 season, and was just hitting his stride when he crashed on an enduro bike, further damaging the nerve in his right eye which he had originally damaged at Sepang in 2011, at the end of his first season in Moto2. Dr Sanchez Dalmau, the specialist treating Marquez, decided against surgery, and the Spaniard rehabbed using a course of physical therapy.

Marquez' crash at Mandalika was so severe that he banged his head, damaging the nerve which controls the muscles in his eye again. The crash happened during morning warm up, when the rear of his Honda came round on him at Turn 7 on a closed throttle, before gripping and then viciously spitting him off and up into the air. Marquez came down heavily, and was lucky not to be more severely injured.

The crash happened after all the Hondas and the Suzukis complained of a lack of rear grip from the harder construction rear tire Michelin had brought to the race, fearing the extreme tropical heat would cause problems for the tires used at the test. There were instances throughout the weekend of the rear letting go unexpectedly, as clouds and damp conditions kept track temperatures much lower than expected.

Marquez' injury will raise questions over when, and if, he will return. But speaking at the Sepang test, the Repsol Honda rider had already accepted the risk of a recurrence of the injury if he crashed. "This is one point that when I spoke to my doctor, it was my first question. If I crash in the Malaysia test, what is the possibility to create the same problem again? And the answer was clear: the possibility is the same that you will have in two years. The nerve problem is there. If you crash tomorrow or you crash in two years and you touch that nerve again, it will be damaged."

Marquez knew the risks, and took them anyway. How this injury affects his mental fortitude and ability and willingness to race remains to be seen. But this, yet another in a long line of incidence, will surely test his resolve.

The press release from the Repsol Honda team appears below:


Marc Marquez diagnosed with a new episode of diplopia upon his arrival in Spain

The Repsol Honda Team rider experiences another episode of diplopia as a result of the heavy fall suffered during Warm Up for the Indonesian Grand Prix.

Marc Marquez was declared unfit for the Indonesian Grand Prix held at the Mandalika circuit after suffering a high side at Turn 7 during Warm Up prior to the race.

The MotoGP medical team confirmed that Marquez suffered a concussion and several minor traumas before being transferred to the hospital in Mataram, the capital of the island of Lombok, where he underwent a more exhaustive medical examination and a CT scan in which major injuries were ruled out. As a precaution, the MotoGP medical team together with the Repsol Honda Team jointly decided that Marc Marquez would not take part in the Indonesian race.

During the journey back to Spain, Marc Marquez began to experience discomfort with his vision and upon his arrival in Barcelona on Monday, he had an emergency visit to the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona with his trusted ophthalmologist, Dr. Sánchez Dalmau, who after an examination confirmed a relapse in the diplopia that the rider suffered last November.

This morning, the Spanish rider visited his medical team, led by Dr. Samuel Antuña, at the Ruber Internacional Hospital in Madrid, where Marquez underwent a general medical check-up to evaluate all the bruises caused by the crash and a brain MRI. This has reconfirmed that he did not suffer any other injuries.

Doctor Sánchez Dalmau
Ophthalmologist

“The neuro-ophthalmological evaluation carried out on Marc Marquez on Monday after the head injury that occurred at the Indonesian Grand Prix, shows a new episode of diplopia caused by a recurrence of paralysis of the fourth right nerve, with less involvement than the one that occurred in the injury in November 2021. After this examination, it was initially decided to follow a conservative treatment with periodic medical tests. Next week, Marc Márquez will undergo a new check-up to evaluate the evolution of the injury and to predict the estimated recovery period to return to competition.”

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Marc Marquez Ruled Out Of Mandalika MotoGP Race With Concussion

After a massive highside during warm up for the Mandalika MotoGP race, Marc Marquez has been ruled unfit to race. The Repsol Honda rider had the rear of his RC213V come round at him at Turn 7, before spitting him off in the biggest highside seen in MotoGP for a very long time. Marquez was clearly shaken, but got up and walked away.

Marquez was taken to a local hospital where no broken bones were found, but it was clear Marquez had taken a bang to the head. After examination by Dr Charte and the circuit doctors, and consultation with the team, Marquez was ruled unfit due to a possible concussion. Marquez will undergo a period of observation of 12 to 24 hours, before being allowed to return home.

Whether the crash will have any long-term consequences remains to be seen. Marquez was just starting to emerge from a long period of convalescence from injury, from the arm he broke at Jerez to the double vision he suffered when he banged his head in a training crash at the end of last year. Marquez has two weeks to recover ahead of the next MotoGP round, at Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina.

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Pandemic Fallout: Piero Taramasso Explains How MotoGP Bike Development Delayed Introduction Of New Front Tire To 2024

The 2020 Covid-19 pandemic threw a spanner into the works for MotoGP in all sorts of ways. In response to the pandemic, the MSMA decided on an engine and aerodynamics freeze for 2020 and 2021, to limit costs in a time of uncertainty.

That went a long way to restraining costs, but as the world adapted to the pandemic, and it became clear that a global economic crisis had been averted, development budgets started to rise again. Even more so when people started using the money that travel restrictions prevented them from spending on vacations to buy new motorcycles and accessories.

With engine development frozen, MotoGP engineers turned their minds to finding advantages in other areas. Factories went all in on the holeshot devices which had made their debut at the end of 2018 and through 2019, transforming them from devices used only at the start to become adjustable ride-height devices, used throughout the race to improve acceleration and corner exit. Faster speeds on corner exit meant higher speeds on the straight, and as a result, higher braking forces.

That has had a knock-on effect on Michelin's development program as well. Since 2019, Michelin has been working on a new front tire, with more support, to improve corner entry and braking stability. The tire had been tested in 2019, with more tests scheduled in 2020 to finalize development ahead of an introduction in 2021. But with the 2020 calendar and test schedule completely rewritten, that idea had to be abandoned.

With 2022 promising to be something of a return to normality (pandemic and war permitting), this could have been the season where work on the front tire resumed. But the development of MotoGP bikes in the past two season has forced a rethink, because the design parameters have moved on.

"We are still working on the front," Michelin boss Piero Taramasso told me when I spoke to him at the Sepang MotoGP test. "We will make some adjustments, and the tests will be done in 2023, to be introduced for 2024." The added aerodynamics and braking forces had changed the demands placed on the front tire. "Basically it's delayed, because we are working to improve the temperature and the pressure control. Now when you have the slipstream, the tendency of the front tire is to overheat. So we are working on that, to try to better control that point."

The behavior of the MotoGP bikes had changed a lot over the two years of the pandemic, Taramasso said. "We realized in the past two seasons, that bikes are changing, they are putting more and more weight on the front, with the winglets, and riders are braking very very hard. So the load is changing, so we had to also change the development to adapt to that." With the front tire being subjected to higher loads, the front would have to offer even more support.

The stronger front had originally been expected to help both the Hondas and KTMs, as the bikes which demanded the most from the front under braking. But with the redesign of the RC213V to move the weight distribution more rearward, the Honda is now less dependent on the front tire for its lap time. The bike has more rear grip, and so more drive out of corners, and the ability to use the rear tire to assist in braking.

Development of the front tire may be delayed until 2024, but Michelin will be continuing development of a new rear tire ahead of the 2023 season. "We have some new things, a rear casing," Taramasso told me at Sepang.

The MotoGP riders had already tested the tire in 2021, and had brought it to Sepang for further testing. "This rear casing we already tested last year in Barcelona, in Misano, in Jerez. It's a new solution to improve the warm up and to improve the edge grip. So this solution, if it works, we will test it again this season. It may be introduced next year, for 2023."


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MotoGP's New Red Flag Rules - How They Will Work In Practice

Last week, the Grand Prix Commission changed the red flag rules for all three grand prix classes. Previously, the result of a race that was red flagged was taken from the last lap on which all riders had crossed the finish line before the red flag was shown. But in response to the perceived injustice of that situation, the GPC has changed to bring the result closer to the actual standing at the time the red flag was actually shown.

In the new situation, the final lap before the red flag was shown will determine the outcome. All of the riders on the same lap as the leader will be classified in the order they crossed the line. Any riders not on the same lap as the leader will be classified in the order they crossed the line on the penultimate lap before the red flag.

In effect, the change being made ensures that all riders will be classified in the order they crossed the finish line for the last time prior to the red flag being shown, whether that be on the same lap as the leader, one lap back, or several laps back.

Austin Moto3

The change was made in response to a number of situations in the past couple of years, with the Moto3 races at Austin a particularly unfortunate example. The race was red flagged twice, and the second running of the race saw a massive smash with two and a half laps remaining, when Deniz Öncü clipped the front wheel of Jeremy Alcoba as they raced along the back straight at the Circuit of The Americas, causing Alcoba to crash in front of the charging pack. Andrea Migno and Pedro Acosta had huge crashes as well, leaving the track littered with debris leaving Race Direction no choice but to red flag the race.

Under normal circumstances, the result would have gone back one lap, but as the pack entered Turn 11, race leader at the time Izan Guevara suffered a technical issue, and had to pull into the pits, leaving John McPhee, Jaume Masia, and Darryn Binder to cross the line as the top three.

However, because Guevara had pulled into the pits, the entire field had not crossed the line at the end of the lap before the red flag was shown. So under the old rules, Race Direction was forced to go back two laps. That made Izan Guevara the winner, putting Dennis Foggia into second and dropping McPhee down to third.

Under the new rules, Race Direction would have gone back one lap for the podium, putting McPhee, Masia, and Binder onto the podium.

New solutions, new problems

Although this is a fairer reflection of the state of the race when the red flag is shown, Twitter user Pablo Thuillier pointed out a possible problem. If, for example, a rider is leading the race with two laps to go before a red flag, but runs wide on the lap before the red flag, and drops down to, say 20th, behind a group that did not cross the line before the red flag was shown, then the former leader, now in 20th, will be classified in his position with 2 laps to go, along with the group that also didn't cross the line before the red flag.

However, the former race leader can't be given the win – they were not leading the race the last time riders crossed the finish line before the red flag. And they can't be classified in 20th – they were in first position the penultimate time the rides crossed the line before the red flag.

The solution, then, is for the riders who finished on the same lap as the leader to be classified in order, and the former race leader on the penultimate lap to be classified as the leader of all the riders who did not cross the line before the red flag.

To give a concrete example:

  • Rider A is leading a group of 10 riders on lap 14.
  • At the start of lap 15, Rider A runs wide and into the gravel, and rejoins behind a second group of 10 riders. Rider A is now in 20th position.
  • The lead group, now down to 9 riders and led by Rider B, crosses the line at the end of lap 15, to start lap 16.
  • There is a crash behind the two groups, causing the race to be red flagged
  • The second group, with Rider A still in 20th, does not cross the finish line at the end of lap 15.

How they would be classified:

  • In this scenario, the lead group would be classified in the order they crossed the line at the end of lap 15.
  • The second group, including Rider A, would be classified in the order they crossed the line at the end of lap 14.
  • BUT: Rider A was the first rider of the second group to complete lap 14, and so will be promoted to 10th.

I checked this scenario via email with Race Director Mike Webb. He said it was accurate. "All riders that haven’t crossed the finish line on the same lap as the leader are classified in the order they crossed the finish line on the previous lap, but behind the first classification of riders who did cross the line on the lead lap. So Rider A would be 10th," Webb wrote in an email.

Improvement one step at a time

When I pointed out that there were situations such as this where the new rules might seem unfair, Webb pointed out that any current solution will have some inherent unfairness in very specific scenarios, but that this solution was felt to be a big improvement and much fairer than the previous rules.

"There are possible anomalies such as this in any classification system, however it is much less unfair than the previous system where if any one rider did not cross the line on that lap, then all riders were classified based on their previous completed lap. All incidents and passes on that last lap were rendered moot for the whole field, meaning in your scenario Rider A would be the declared the winner," Webb wrote. That is precisely the scenario which occurred at Austin in the Moto3 race.

The WorldSBK series uses a different method of dealing with red flags, taking the last sector timing loop crossed by each rider as a virtual finish line. Webb pointed out that even in this scenario, there are some sectors which are so long that it is possible for a similar scenario as described above to occur, where a rider leads through one sector, runs wide and loses a lot of time, and then gets promoted or demoted to a position which, on the face of it, does not reflect their position in the race when the red flag was shown.

Webb also pointed out that technical failures were possible, such as transponder failures, which made it difficult to verify positions through each sector. Though rare, this is known to happen: several times a year a rider will disappear off the timing screens, only to reappear in exactly the same position we last saw them, a glitch in the transponder causing them to become invisible to timekeeping.

Future technological fixes

But a side benefit of MotoGP's push for safety, which involves much better information on the precise location of each rider, to allow them to be warned when a dangerous situation occurs, such as when a bike or rider falls and is left on track, means that in the future, such technology could also be used to improve race results in red-flagged races. In theory, Race Direction would know the precise location of each bike at the time the red flag is shown, and can set the race classification accordingly.

That technology is not yet ready to be used in practice and race situations, however. "Soon the technology will allow us to provide definitive positions of all bikes at all times to give the best and fairest classification, but it’s not ready yet," Webb told me. "Look at these new rules as a significant step fairer than the previous, on the way to an even better system."

Making a fair and accurate assessment of the classification of a race which is red flagged is always difficult, if not currently impossible. These new rules will remove some of the unfairness of the former system, though it is unable to address the question completely. But it is progress, and that is a good thing.

The press release from the FIM appears below:


FIM Grand Prix World Championship
Decision of the Grand Prix Commission

The Grand Prix Commission, composed of Messrs. Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna, Chairman), Paul Duparc (FIM), Herve Poncharal (IRTA), and Biense Bierma (MSMA), in an electronic meeting held on 4 February 2022 made the following decision:

Sporting Regulations

EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY

Race Classification in an Interrupted Race

Previously, if a race was red flagged and a final result declared, the result was taken from the lap on which all riders had last crossed the finish line. If a rider or several riders were half a lap or more behind the race leader, this caused the race classification to be taken from the previous lap, even when the race leader and the majority of the field had completed the next lap. In these cases, any position changes or crashes on the race leader’s final lap were rendered moot.

Effective immediately, the result of a red flagged race will now be taken from the last time the race leader crosses the finish line before the red flag is shown. All riders who cross the finish line on the same lap as the leader before the red flag will be classified in that order, as a partial classification.

Any riders who do not cross the finish line on the same lap as the leader before the red flag is shown will be classified based on where they crossed the finish line on the previous lap.

These two partial classifications will be combined to provide the final race result.

This system previously applied to races that were red flagged after the race leader had taken the chequered flag, and will now apply to all red flagged races for which a final result is declared.


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Livio Suppo To Be New Team Manager Of Suzuki Ecstar MotoGP Squad

Suzuki's quest for a team manager is at an end. After a year of searching for a replacement for Davide Brivio, who left MotoGP to join the Alpine F1 team at the end of 2020, Suzuki have finally announced the hiring of Livio Suppo to run the MotoGP team. Suppo is a very experienced team manager, having set up Ducati's MotoGP team when they first entered the class back in 2003, and having run the Repsol Honda squad after leaving Ducati at the end of 2009.

Suppo's hiring came after Suzuki had talked to a range of candidates. They had talks with Wilco Zeelenberg, but Zeelenberg was committed to the RNF project with Razlan Razali, and having worked with Yamaha in once capacity or another since he retired from racing at the end of the 2000 season, preferred to stay within the Yamaha family. There had also been rumors of Johan Stigefelt joining Suzuki, after the Swedish ex-racer's ousting when Petronas Yamaha disbanded to become RNF, but that never went much beyond rumor.

Suppo had expressed an interest in joining Suzuki at the start of the 2021 season, but Suzuki had decided it was better to wait until the off season to make a decision. Talks have been going on since the start of the year, and have only just finalized now.

Suppo's first job will be to oversee the re-signing of current riders Joan Mir and Alex Rins. Keeping Mir on board had looked a tricky proposition prior to the Sepang test, the 2020 world champion expressing dissatisfaction with the progress Suzuki made. Mir's public opinion changed drastically after Sepang, the 2022 GSX-RR being the step forward he had hoped for.

The press release appears below:


SUZUKI ANNOUNCES THE ARRIVAL OF LIVIO SUPPO

Team Suzuki Press Office – February 23rd

Suzuki Motor Corporation and Team Suzuki Ecstar join forces in the announcement that Livio Suppo will take up the position of Team Manager for Team Suzuki Ecstar with immediate effect. It’s no secret that the Project Leader, Shinichi Sahara, has been looking for a Team Manager to step into the squad for 2022. After a transitional 2021 season in which the team were forced to create a management committee, with Sahara assuming the role of Team Manager ad interim, a solution has been found and an agreement has been reached ahead of season opener in Qatar on March 6th.

Livio Suppo is a well-known manager in the MotoGP paddock. He began his career 28 years ago with Benetton Honda Team in the 125cc and 250cc classes. Since then he has enjoyed 11 years with Ducati as a Project Leader, which included the crowning of Casey Stoner as champion. He then moved to HRC where he was the Team Principal for seven years, and a further five titles were achieved. Since his departure from MotoGP, Suppo has set up a successful e-bike company, but he feels now is the perfect time to step back into the paddock.

For Team Suzuki Ecstar, Suppo’s arrival gives a further boost of confidence ahead of a season where an increase in performance compared with last year is necessary. Following the winter tests both Joan Mir and Alex Rins felt positive about their possibilities for the season ahead, and the addition of an experienced and successful manager who has a strong belief in team work and enjoys working in an upbeat atmosphere will no doubt lift the Suzuki squad’s spirits further.

Shinichi Sahara - Team Suzuki Ecstar Project Leader

“I'm very happy to announce the news of Livio Suppo as our new Team Manager before the new season starts. I'm confident that Livio is very well suited for the position, because he has a lot of experience and a big passion for winning. He understands how teams work and that team atmospheres are important when it comes to being competitive consistently during a season. Some of our crew members already have experience of working with him, and I’ve known him for long time because he’s been in the paddock for many years. We’ve already seen promising signs and improvements in our performance during winter testing, and I believe Livio joining us will bolster our team further and we will become even stronger.”


Livio Suppo - Team Suzuki Ecstar Manager

“I am very proud to become Suzuki Ecstar’s Team Manager and happy to re-join the MotoGP Championship after four years. I’m also very honored to be involved in this great project with Suzuki; for sure it will be a challenging task to be part of an historic manufacturer in MotoGP, who recently achieved the crown in 2020 in the year of their 100th anniversary. I also feel it will be a great experience to start working with two talented riders like Joan Mir and Alex Rins, both capable of fighting for the top in MotoGP. Sahara-san’s proposal came at the perfect time for me, I had been busy setting up my e-bike company but I was certainly missing the paddock and ready to come back. Racing has been my life, for almost all my career, and I will do my best to bring my experience to Team Suzuki Ecstar. I know they are a great team, but also a great group of humans, so this could help a lot to achieve our goals sooner. MotoGP nowadays is more and more exciting, with many very fast riders and competitive motorcycles from all manufacturers. It’s a difficult challenge for everybody involved, where all the small details can make the difference, I am ready to be part of the game again and give my all to be on top with Suzuki.”

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First Big MotoGP Signing Of 2022: Ducati Extend With Pecco Bagnaia Through 2024

The first big contract to be signed in MotoGP's so far torpid silly season is one of the least surprising. Today, Ducati announced that they had signed up Pecco Bagnaia for two more years, meaning the Italian will stay with the Bologna factory for the 2023 and 2024 MotoGP seasons.

It had been the intention of both parties to continue for the foreseeable future, especially after Bagnaia's exception 2021 season, in which he came close to preventing Fabio Quartararo from taking the MotoGP title. Talks had started at the end of last year, with the details finalized during the Sepang and Mandalika tests. Ducati expect that Bagnaia's improvement over the 2021 season and the Italian factory's new GP22 will once again pose a potent challenge for the MotoGP crown.

Bagnaia staying with Ducati was the first move and one of the most widely anticipated, and is likely to set the tone for the 2022 silly season. There is little sign of major rider moves being made, with neither riders nor factories showing much appetite to move around. The biggest questions remain over whether Joan Mir or Fabio Quartararo will leave their respective employers for pastures new, whether KTM can persuade Raul Fernandez to stay with them, or if he will head to Yamaha as he had intended to do for the 2021 season, and whether a factory will be so enchanted of the potential of Pedro Acosta that they will move to sign the Moto3 champion early.

None of those decisions are expected early, however. Teams and riders will want to have a look at how the first part of the season plays out, with the return of a more sane silly season likely, and contracts settled nearer the summer, around Mugello and Barcelona time.

The press release from Ducati appears below:


Francesco Bagnaia and Ducati set to continue together in the 2023 and 2024 MotoGP seasons

Francesco Bagnaia and Ducati Corse have reached an agreement that will see the Italian rider aboard the Ducati Lenovo Team's factory Desmosedici GP bike for another two seasons.

Born in Turin in 1997, "Pecco" Bagnaia made his MotoGP debut in 2019 with the Desmosedici GP of the Pramac Racing Team. He also contested the 2020 season with the same squad, achieving his first podium at the Grand Prix Lenovo of San Marino and the Rimini Riviera, where he finished second on the rostrum.

Promoted to the official Ducati team last year, the Turin-born rider continued to shine after taking pole position and finishing third place in the opening GP of the 2021 season in Qatar and soon became one of the main title contenders. With nine podiums, four victories and six pole positions, Bagnaia ended 2021 in second place and is now looking forward to the new Championship, which will start on 6th March at the Losail International Circuit in Doha, Qatar.

Francesco Bagnaia (#63 Ducati Lenovo Team)

"Being a Ducati rider in MotoGP has always been my dream, and knowing that I can continue with the Ducati Lenovo Team for another two seasons makes me happy and proud. I have found a serene environment in the factory team: I feel very much in tune with my team and know that we can do great things together. Now I can only concentrate on doing well in this Championship. A big thank you to Claudio, Gigi, Paolo, Davide and all the Ducati Corse staff. I'll try to repay their trust with my results on the track!"

Luigi Dall'Igna (General Manager of Ducati Corse):

"We are delighted to have Bagnaia with us for another two seasons. Since he arrived at Ducati in 2019, Pecco has shown great talent and the ability to interpret our Desmosedici GP very well, adapting to ride it in any condition. He did it, especially in the last season, during which he had significant growth and got to play for the World Title. The way he managed the races at Aragón, Misano, Portimão and Valencia, scoring four fantastic victories, is proof of his maturity as a rider. With these great qualities, we are sure that he has the potential to aim for the title with us".

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