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MotoGP 47

A grand farce at Phillip Island

Embarrassing. No other word for it, really. Well, apart from incompetence on the grandest scale. Pretty much everyone involved in the upper echelons of MotoGP was responsible for Sunday’s travesty of a race: Bridgestone, Dorna, the FIM, the Grand Prix Permanent Bureau, the Grand Prix Commission, IRTA, Race Direction, safety officer Franco Uncini and safety advisor Loris Capirossi. They all failed in their duty of care to the riders, putting them in all kinds of danger because they hadn’t done their jobs properly.

motogp race  A grand farce at Phillip Island

We all make mistakes, but this was several dozen well-paid, experienced professionals failing to spot a disaster in the making.

Phillip Island hosted its first Grand Prix in 1989. Ever since it’s been well known that the track eats tyres for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Well, it eats the left side of the tyres, which is why asymmetric tyres were used there before pretty much any other racetrack, with the exception of Daytona, with its Stateside-style banking, taken at full speed with huge g-forces going through the tyres.

Anti-clockwise Phillip Island features seven left-handers, but it’s the last two lefts – Turns 11 and 12 – that really burn rubber. Taken in third and then fourth gear, the riders are building speed, using high lean angles and big handful of throttles as they fire out of 11, then lay it into Turn 12, where they need the fastest exit for the start/finish straight. The result is massive friction and thus sky-high tyre temperatures that can lead to delamination or tearing.

Bridgestone aren’t alone in suffering Island ignominy. It happened to Dunlop in Sunday’s Moto2 race (which was reduced by 50 per cent because the tyres wouldn’t last any longer) and it’s also happened to Pirelli in World Superbikes and Supersport.

motogp race  A grand farce at Phillip Island

In the days of tyre wars, the competitive urge made sure that tyre companies tested at Phillip Island every year, because they knew it was their biggest challenge, from both performance and safety points of view. Thus they couldn’t afford to get it wrong.

So why didn’t Bridgestone test at Phillip Island, even though they knew the track was resurfaced with extra-grippy asphalt last December, which would create more friction and therefore more heat in the tyres? Presumably because, like everyone else, they’re trying to save money. Bridgestone have no one to beat in MotoGP, so inevitably they want to win the race at the lowest possible cost.

When the tyre war raged – before the global financial meltdown – no expense was spared. Michelin often made new tyres during race weekends in Europe. Their on-track engineers would send data to their Clermont-Ferrand HQ where new compounds were mixed on Saturday evening, then the tailor-made tyres were loaded into a truck and raced to the track for Sunday morning. And when it came to the flyway races, race-by-race development meant that the companies usually flew in their tyres. Nowadays, tyres are made much earlier and shipped to the circuits by sea. Sea freight costs up to 10 times less than air freight, so there’s potential savings of tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds over a season.

So, it is Bridgestone’s fault, but it is also everyone else’s fault.

motogp race  A grand farce at Phillip Island

Although a MotoGP rule (regulation 1.15.1.3, if you really want to know) puts the onus on Bridgestone to request testing of a new surface, all the aforementioned people know that Phillip Island is cruel on tyres, so why didn’t they demand that Bridgestone test there, or at the very least take a swatch of the new surface for analysis? Presumably because they didn’t think about it. So riders were racing around at over 210mph on tyres that were falling apart because no one had bothered to think things through.

That was a disaster in itself. And then the race with its compulsory pitstop made things look even more ridiculous. Why not just make it a 10-lap sprint and be done with it? The six-lap dash at Mugello in 2004 (after the race had been stopped due to rain) still ranks as one of the all-time most entertaining GP races: watching the world’s best riding every lap like it was the last, instead of pacing themselves and their tyres, was a fascinating and unique experience.

And then there was Marc Márquez’s punishment for pitting for new tyres too late. True, he broke the rule and knew the punishment. But that’s not the point. The rule was made up that morning by people covering their backsides for a mistake of epic proportions made six months earlier. So, regardless of the fact that he copped a ridiculous penalty for breaking a rule in a ridiculous race, he suffered for their ineptitude. If Márquez loses the title because of the points he lost on Sunday, MotoGP will have become pure pantomime.

Sunday wasn’t merely a shambolic joke for all involved, it was also a huge disappointment because Phillip Island should be MotoGP at its most glorious: it’s a wide open primal scream of a racetrack that has given us some of the greatest races of recent decades.

motogp race  A grand farce at Phillip Island
Phillip Island, 2011: Marco Simoncelli came second, his best finish, ahead of Dovizioso and Pedrosa

The circuit rates as a favourite with riders because it’s dominated by high-speed, big-balls sweepers through which riders get to play with the bike, feel both tyres squirming and use their superior bravery to make the difference. (And they all think they’re the bravest rider on the racetrack!)

Ah, bravery. To prove that almighty cock-ups are nothing new in motorcycle GP racing, I remember the 1989 Belgian GP at Spa-Francorchamps, in the days of the superheroes: Wayne Rainey, Kevin Schwantz, Eddie Lawson, Wayne Gardner, Mick Doohan and the rest. Spa was (and still is) the world’s greatest racetrack but it’s also dangerous.

That event was a farce, just like Phillip Island, with the riders put in peril by people in power who messed up. Due to typical Spa weather, the race was stopped twice and then restarted for a third time – against the rules – by Clerk of the Course Claude Danis, who was later rewarded for his ignorance with the job of MotoGP safety director.

The third start took place on a soaking track: Rainey, Schwantz and the rest aquaplaning past the Armco – tyres spinning and engine revs peaking wildly – as they dived into Eau Rouge each lap. Schwantz led, then crashed on the final lap. Rainey climbed to the top step of the podium and smiled, until he was told the final race shouldn’t have happened and therefore hadn’t happened. The results were rewritten and taken from the combined time of the first two starts, so Lawson was declared the winner, ahead of Schwantz and Rainey.

motogp race  A grand farce at Phillip Island
Wayne Rainey in 1989. Photo by Gary Watson

Rainey was understandably very angry. He and his rivals had used all their bravery to risk their lives in the pissing rain at one of the world’s most dangerous racetracks for absolutely nothing. A complete disgrace. I could go on with other famous Grand Prix grand farces, but I don’t think you’ve got the time…

Click here to read more from Mat Oxley on MotoGP

motogp race  A grand farce at Phillip Island

Add your comments

47 comments on A grand farce at Phillip Island

  1. Bill, 23 October 2013 10:04

    “If Márquez loses the title because of the points he lost on Sunday, MotoGP will have become pure pantomime.”"

    This. If they want to turn fans, and top riders like Stoner away from the sport, this is it.

    I must admit for me the decline in interest already started when Dorna got tyres that shackled guys like Rossi, preventing them from riding bikes they way they prefer but this latest goof is just outrageous.

  2. Gavin Brown, 23 October 2013 10:42

    Hi Mat. I’m in complete agreement here.

    If the penalty was disqualification, then the pit window around the 10-lap restriction should have been 5 laps (say, laps 8-12?), as with no radios and no precedent, teams were bound to make mistakes on when to come in. Else it should have been a ride-through penalty in my opinion.

    I agree that Marquez should have been penalised, but to me, this smacks of Dorna trying to manipulate the championship in order to make it go down to the wire. If he doesn’t become champion, then I see it as unjust because he’s been awesome all year.

    This is what happens when you make a formula about the tyres, where they aren’t made to last a full race at full pace. I’m sick of seeing top motorsports series have these sorts of issues just because sometimes, it makes for interesting races.

    All in all, a F1-style farce of epic proportions where everybody lost…

  3. Tetley, 23 October 2013 11:20

    Phillip Island would have been better if they had two shortened races with half points for each race (or full points on aggregate times).
    BUT, the reason they had pit stops was to ensure the race ran continually without interruption.
    WHY ? Having two separate races would have screwed up the TV timings.
    SO, the race format ( and therefore logically, the result) was decided not by the track, nor the riders, nor the tyres, nor the teams, nor by race directors, but by TV schedulers.
    And that may also mean that the championship will be decided by the TV schedulers at this race.
    That is a barmy, ridiculous outcome.

  4. C C, 23 October 2013 11:51

    Great article, written with passion. Almost a rant, understandably so.

    As i’ve said before, MotoGP is where F1 fans go to remind themselves what F1 used to be – bravery, full grandstands, great tracks, power sliding, characters, and overtaking using skill (not pressing a button that makes your car go quicker than the one in front).

    Though i’ve been brought up on F1 and MotoGP, I’ve enjoyed the MotoGP races more this season for the reasons listed above, especially the last 2 or 3 where Lorenzo has upped his game to try and catch the brilliant Marquez.

    So having said all that, one thing struck me whilst listening to the BBC commentary during the Phillip Island Race. After Marquez had been black flagged, all the talk in commentary was about tyres, penalties, pit stops and politics…. i.e, For a moment, MotoGP had become the Bulls**t zone that is modern F1.

    This must never happen again!

  5. N.Weingart, 23 October 2013 13:58

    This affair must be added to the argument for allowing competition among tire manufacturers in MotoGP.
    The FIM should move to prohibit rule writing at an event as well. Phillip Island was an amazing cock-up and unless the responsible participants admit their errors and move to correct them it will happen again. Well done, Mat.

  6. John W, 23 October 2013 14:01

    Good article Mat, and one with which I’m in complete agreement. As others have said, it brought to mind everything that’s bad about modern F1. I feel Marquez and the other riders who were disqualified have been very harshly dealt with and are suffering for the incompetence of others higher up in the sport. Let’s hope this isn’t a precursor of the way MotoGP is going …

  7. Yasu, 23 October 2013 14:16

    Marc is going to win the title anyway…unless he and his team screw up once again.

    Because that’s what’s happened here: THEY screwed up, he and Alzamora and Hernández. The three of them failed to understand the rules which were clear for everyone else in their box, and failed to double or triple check with Race Direction like, for instance, Wilco Zeelenberg did.

    As for Bridgestone, their mistake and fault ends on Friday. From then on, Bridgestone, Dorna and Race Direction did everything in their hand to put rider safety above any other concern. I don’t understand you can’t see this. Dennis Noyes explained it very clearly on his Twitter. And any viewer who cared to consider what was happening and what was being done to address it can do nothing but agree with him.

    Back in the day, Michelin would make new tyres during the weekend, but ONLY FOR SELECTED RIDERS, not for the whole grid. That’s just not feasible. Bridgestone brought a third kind of tyre, the extra-hard, to see if it would make things better, only it didn’t. Without further tests and analyses, Bridgestone can’t manufacture the appropriate tyres for this new tarmac, they can’t just do it overnight. You can compare that with fine-tuning the tyres for slightly different track conditions and setup like Michelin did. That’s a false argument.

    Bridgestone screwed up big time not coming here to test before the race, everyone agrees on that. But from Friday on, everyone’s done everything possible to ensure rider safety.

  8. Yasu, 23 October 2013 14:29

    The rules for the race were clear before the race started. The penalty for failing to swap bike and tyres during laps 9 or 10 was communicated verbally TO EVERY TEAM, and decided in accordance with FIM’s rules and procedures. Even if Suppo and Márquez questioned the black flag saying “the penalty wasn’t written anywhere”, they knew full well before the race started that THAT was the penalty. When Márquez failed to enter the pits during lap 10, Gabarrini turned to his crew and made a sign that indicated he knew the race was over. Before the race started, Zeelenberg said to Lorenzo: “Be careful. If you fail to enter, race’s over.” Rossi also confirmed he knew that would be the penalty. According to Mike Webb, ALL TEAMS were informed before the race.

    Would it have been better to have two 10-lap races instead of a flag-to-flag one? Maybe, but that’s beside the point. The point is that the format was clear, the rules were clear and the penalty were clear. If Márquez were to lose the title because of this black flag, he’d have to blame Alzamora and Hernández, and probably himself too. It was the three of them that misunderstood the rules, it was the three of them that designed the strategy, it was the three of them that decided not to include the rest of the team in those decisions.

    I can’t help but feel that if Márquez had won the race a lot of the people complaining about what a mess Bridgestone, Dorna and Race Direction made would be much happier. This article would probably be very different too, especially in tone.

    It was the same for everyone.

  9. John W, 23 October 2013 14:36

    Yasu,
    speaking personally, I’d still find the whole thing a ridiculous parody whoever had won it. It should be good for the fans because it keeps the championship open, but I’d hate to see the championship decided because Marquez couldn’t count to ten.

  10. Yasu, 23 October 2013 14:41

    @Gavin Brown: if the pit-stop window is between laps 8-12, you have two problems:

    -first, and most obvious, is that if you can’t do more than 10 laps on a set of tires, you can wait until lap 11 or 12 to pit

    -second, if you pit in lap 8, then you’d have to pit again in lap 18 in order not to do 11 laps on the second set of tyres

    The pit window was decided in relation to the total number of laps. The total number of laps was decided to keep the race as long as possible while considering the limitation of the tyres. It was a compromise, but it was the most sensible compromise.

    2 laps to pit were plenty. All riders but two managed to pit and go out without any issues, and of the 2 that made a mistake Márquez did it because they misunderstood the rules, not because the window was too tight or the procedure was too complicated. I don’t know what happened to the other guy.

    Regards.

  11. brian, 23 October 2013 14:41

    Gavin, they could only pit on lap 9 or 10 because bridgestone said the tires would only last 10 laps. That’s why the race was 19 laps. Pit on lap 9 and finish doing 10 laps or vice versa. By your logic, pitting on lap 8 would mean they would have to stop a second time to complete the race. Pitting on lap 12 wouldn’t have happened because the tires wouldn’t have made it that far.
    Colin Edwards said there was no riders meeting. Just a piece of paper handed out explaining the changes. That’s ridiculous.
    I agree that the whole thing was a shit show and made the premier class look like a bunch of amateurs. And if Marquez loses the title because of this, it will bring up angry memories of when Haga got screwed out of his wsbk title for taking a diet pill.

  12. Yasu, 23 October 2013 14:50

    @John W: that’s the way you choose to look at it. Some people will think the championship was decided when Márquez took out Pedrosa at Aragón (unintended, of course). Some people will think the championship was decided when Lorenzo fell at Sachsenring.

    With regards to Márquez, why choose Australia as the deciding moment? Why not Mugello, where he had a comfortable 2nd place and pushed too much until he ended on the gravel? If he were to lose the Title by less than 5 points, why not choose Silverstone, Jerez, LeMans or any other race where he was 2nd instead of winning?

    I personally think Márquez and his team would need to be very stupid to lose the Title this year, leading by 18 points with only 2 races to go, one of them Motegi where we could have an all-Honda podium. That’s certainly not a Yamaha track. I think Márquez will be champion at Motegi, although Pedrosa could challenge for the win and delay the title until Valencia. We’ll see.

  13. Yasu, 23 October 2013 14:56

    In the comment @Gavin Brown, I’ve obviously meant to write “if you can’t do more than 10 laps on a set of tires, you CAN’T wait until lap 11 or 12 to pit”. Sorry about that.

  14. Rich Ambroson, 23 October 2013 15:47

    Agree overall, but also think Lorenzo suffered in a small way as well. No question Marquez was hurt the most by this shamsicle. But though Lorenzo was fastest all weekend, and raced fantastically, people will remember this win as one that was “gifted” to him.

    I told a friend who knows I’m a big Lorenzo fan that I was massively disappointed with this result, and felt that Marquez was screwed over. In the context of that conversation, I sarcastically asked my buddy if MotoGP is now owned by one B C Ecclestone…

  15. Mat Oxley, 23 October 2013 16:01

    Hello again Yasu!

    Yes, you are correct that the powers that be salvaged a race out of the situation. But I hardly think that is worthy of congratulation. The cock-up is what matters here, not back slapping officials for having saved the day by rushing in rules the like of which have never been seen in 65 years of GP racing.

    I don’t think any of the officials would have been back slapping each other on Sunday night. They know the cock-up was of historic proportions. There have been something like 1000 GPs since 1949 and never has there been a need for a compulsory pit stop in a drastically shortened race.

    Bridgestone and Dunlop got it v v wrong, despite all the evidence. Phillip Island told everyone that the new surface laid in December had been specially formulated for super grip for super-fast lap times. During the spring, the World Supesport race was shortened because the Pirellis wouldn’t go the distance. But still Bstone and Dunlop didn’t think it worthwhile sending someone to analyse the new surface, even though PI destroyed tyres even before the resurfacing.

    Each Bridgestone rear slick would barely last 27 miles (44km), when the race was 75 miles (120km). That is a huge miscalculation that could have been avoided by sending one engineer to PI to get a swatch/imprint of the tarmac.

  16. Mat Oxley, 23 October 2013 16:03

    As for Marquez, take a look at this video and you’ll see that his mechanics were ready for him at the end of lap ten and you’ll notice their looks of dismay as he rockets past, still on the track. So it wasn’t a team mistake.

    He had that huge moment at Lukey Heights on lap ten, then had two more moments at Siberia and Turn 11 on lap 11. His tyre was already past its sell-by date!

    http://www.motogp.com/en/videos/latest+videos#How+Marquez+took+it+too+far+in+Australia

  17. Jim, 23 October 2013 16:24

    “I could go on with other famous Grand Prix grand farces, but I don’t think you’ve got the time…”
    I have the time! I have the time! I’ll find the time, if I must.

    We need to hear and learn about these things if we are going to do anything about them in the future.

  18. Yasu, 23 October 2013 16:31

    Hi, Mat

    Thanks for replying. On the tyre situation, the problem wasn’t just the surface of the tarmac but the higher speeds it allowed, which combined with the increased grip made for abnormally hight tyre temperatures which caused internal damage to the layers of rubber. I don’t think that sending an engineer would have been enough. They probably need to go there with a few motogp riders, not even test riders, to really develop tyres adequate to this new surface. It certainly will be a challenge on all involved.

    As for the video, his mechanics were waiting for him to pit in lap 10, but you can also see Alzamora and Hernández in that sort of booth they have with monitors at the other side of the pit lane (I don’t know what’s called), and they don’t show any signs of knowing something’s gone wrong. There’s even a guy showing Marc the blackboard (is that what you call it in English?) when Marc wasn’t supposed to be on the track to see it. Part of the team knew what was supposed to happen, part of the team were expecting him to pit during lap 11 because they misunderstood the rules.

  19. Jim, 23 October 2013 16:43

    http://acswebinars.org/motorcycles-and-cars

    This American Chemical Society webinar is called: The Chemistry of Motorcycles and Cars: Lighting Fires that Move Tires. It is live on October 24, but should be available online afterwards (they put them up a week later).

    Tires are a featured subject. A timely webinar, given the Goodyear/NASCAR/Kansas and Bridgestone/MotoGP/Australia problems that we have just witnessed.

  20. rob, 23 October 2013 17:09

    great article and lets hope that Indy has a tire test before 2014.

    As far as comments go. I was wondering when a Rossi fan would pop up and offer an explanation as to why he is no longer in the Alien class. This is the first time I’ve read of a tire conspiracy.

  21. Bazza, 23 October 2013 17:35

    Clear rules ???
    Colin Edwards tweeted that the new format for the race was given out on a piece of paper…no rider/team meeting !!!!

    MM did not complete 11 laps on the first set of tyres.

    SBK had to run half distance races earlier this year because of the new track surfaces effect on tyres.
    Who owns SBK ?? DORNA that’s who….so alarms should of been ringing and a MotoGP Bridgestone tyre test set up to prevent this FARCE.

    Extending the resticted speed section of the pit EXIT ??? Causing the JLo / MM clash we all saw….as MM struggled to match the speed of other bikes on the same piece of track. CRIMINAL.
    Again, this shows why 2 seperate races should have been organised.

    MM was robbed…..in daylight…..while the whole biking world was watching.

  22. kowalsky, 23 October 2013 18:13

    yamaha wanted to add one point penalty to marc for the collision with lorenzo, besides the black falg!!! If they had achieved it, the title would have been at very high danger, but thanks god, race direccion didn’t go with that nonesense.
    Marquez should be world champion in the next race if pedrosa does what hrc expects from him.

  23. Larry T., 23 October 2013 18:20

    +1

  24. Barry Glading, 23 October 2013 18:25

    The sight of Marquez screaming past Lorenzo as Jorge slotted off on to pit lane made me laugh out loud. It was, to me, the perfect example of the red mist overcoming the most exciting talent to come along in years. Good on you, mate, don’t change. Black flag? meh, I speet on your black flag…….!

  25. Gavin Brown, 23 October 2013 19:04

    Yasu,

    Good points. I guess what I was trying to say was that the penalty for missing a 2-lap pit stop window was too harsh. Perhaps the race should have been made even shorter to accommodate a proper pit stop window like I suggested in my earlier comment.

    As for Bridgestone not doing any tyre testing, isn’t it funny how we have a recently retired rider, who has been keen to do some testing mileage this year, with local knowledge of Phillip Island?

    I wonder why he was never asked by Bridgestone to do a tyre test?

  26. Gavin Brown, 23 October 2013 19:10

    I find it amusing that Bridgestone never asked Casey Stoner to test for them, considering he’s recently retired, was keen to get on a bike and had good knowledge of the circuit.

    @Yasu, good point about the tyres, but I think a 2 lap window is too small for such a harsh penalty. So either you give them a ride through or reduce the race distance to 15 laps with a proper 5 lap window.

  27. Bonnie Prince Charlie, 23 October 2013 19:32

    How far from the spirit of motorbike racing have we come? I appreciate that MotoGP, like F1, is a testing ground for new technology, but isn’t the idea that talented racers get to pit themselves and their machines against one another and the most skilled rider wins? Surely if it is known that your machine (or tyres) will deteriorate during a race, then you ride in such a way as to compensate and ensure that you get to the end of the race! To finish first…first you have to finish!
    The fact that the circuit is extra-grippy is surely a good thing from a safety angle, but to knowingly make a tyre that disintegrates because of the track surface is stupid! I think that this argument is back to front and that we should stop blaming tyres, officials, temperature, the track and all the other things and just get back to RACING!

  28. Alan, 23 October 2013 20:15

    My opinion is that the format of having every racer coming out of the pits onto turn one was way too dangerous. I’ve seen bikes and riders sliding across the pit exit at 250+Km/h. To set a rule that has every rider in that zone is ridiculous. If it’s a wet flag to flag, then the riders enetering from the pits have lost time and know the track is slippery so they might be more careful than the race leaders on a dry track….

  29. Yasu, 23 October 2013 20:32

    Gavin,

    I agree that the black flag seems like a harsh penalty, but considering the state in which Marquez’s rear tyre arrived to the pits after 11 laps and considering the huge risk a tyre malfunction would mean to the security of the rider and other riders around, I think it makes sense that breaking this rule would be dealt with harshly. Staying out longer than 9-10 laps was a major risk. Look how Marquez’s bike was shaking during that last lap before pitting, even the lap before where he almost fell.

    Maybe two races would have been a better solution, I don’t know. I think the main reason not to do two races was that such races would need to be 8 laps long to allow for two podium ceremonies and for the riders to answer to the press, setting up the grid twice, etc., and still fit in the TV time slots allocated for the race. Two 7-lap races? That would be a joke, and probably very dangerous because people would be taking more risks than usual, the groups would be larger, etc.

    So I think Race Direction’s decision was the best compromise possible. Most riders and all of the teams have already experience with flag-to-flag races on wet conditions. Why would this be so much more different? I also think it’s fairer on the riders, because the advantage they build over the first half of the race carries on to the second, instead of having to restart from the grid.

    Last, the decision to cut the race to 19 laps instead or 26 came after analysing the tyres used in the warmup, when track temperature increased. There was no time to call a rider meeting before the race.

  30. prof, 23 October 2013 21:43

    Excellent, indisputable analysis.
    It was interesting to compare the commentary (in the laps immediately after Marquez’ team’s blunder) between Sky and BBC commentators.
    I think it was Julian Ryder who immediately called “black flag” whereas the BBC team including Steve Parrish (who you’d expect to know what was going on) and that insufferable loudmouth Charlie “rat up a third armpit” Wotsisname spent a couple of laps trying to figure out what it all meant – and were even confused about on which lap Marquez came in.

  31. Reg L van Buuren, 23 October 2013 21:56

    Thankyou ! well written.
    I agree,totally .
    bulk lack of complacency,too much assumption.
    lets hope they learn & instigate better follow thru.
    only time will tell !
    unfortunately MONEY still rules Everything !!!

  32. Tony Geran, 23 October 2013 21:57

    Mat I was wondering when you would put your thoughts down on paper, well into the ether. I guess it took you a few days to calm down after one of the biggest screw ups seen in motor racng since the RAC let some clown in a Cortina block the Brands Hatch pitlane thus depriving Niki Lauda of a British GP win in 1974. Yes Bridgestone and Dorna ruined possibly the best race of the year or at least the race on the world’s best Moto GP track.

    Spa in the wet on a bike with a light switch throttle. I had forgotten that race. Madness.

  33. Donnie, 23 October 2013 22:45

    Hi Mat

    Spot on! Don’t often watch Moto GP, but could not believe what I was viewing in Australia! It was WRONG in many ways.

    You are the only journalist brave enough to highlight the stupidity of many that put all the riders at risk.

  34. R.E.B, 23 October 2013 22:47

    Totally agree with article, and liked comment from CC. This is indeed what motorcycle racing would look like if the F1 people were running it.

  35. Rob, 24 October 2013 01:47

    Thanks for explaining all that Mat . I thought the matter was going to be swept under the carpet. Unbelievable as you said at such a high level.. Getting more like the Americas Cup drama that goes on year after year..

    Rob.

  36. pavlo, 24 October 2013 03:13

    I was really surprised to hear from several journalists that this was perhaps the most interesting/dramatic race ever. Does everyone seriously like pit stops that much? Perhaps they just enjoy watching teams mess up their strategies. Then I imagine they would have loved the shumacher era in F1 – zero overtakes and a change in classification was only likely to happen during the pit stops.
    I could be mistaken but apart from the fight between Valentino and Crutchlow (?) i do not remember seeing any other overtakes…
    I was also disgusted to see Jarvis literally run (like only a sad person would) to demand marc to be banned… These people love racing????
    And then Jorge stating in the press conference that marc deserved a black flag because he hit him coming out of the pits… Could someone tell me if he was right to say that, because i am speechless. Hope marc smokes them all

  37. Peter, 24 October 2013 08:10

    I agree with Yasu.

    Yes, there should have been a tyre test, but to do it at the right time (on a bedded in surface in the same temperature) would have meant shipping bikes, teams, riders and crews mid-season to PI. I’m not sure when that could have happened mid year.

    Dunlop stated that they tested new tyres in Australian Superbike straight after the resurfacing and were happy with durability. However, Australian Superbike supported the GP and also had issues. So the track characteristics changed. Maybe the tarmac settled as it aged and rubber went down? Maybe it was unseasonably warm? Who knows?

    Moto3 didn’t have problems, but they are less demanding on tyres.

    I don’t agree that a tyre war would have resolved the situation. Having very exotic tyres for some teams would add to the cost of the sport for everyone involved. I agree that once both tyre companies realised they had issues that everyone did their best to create a show. Unlike Indy 2005 F1, where the organisers could not get a sensible solution. The reason for that was that there was a tyre war, and only one manufacturer had a problem. Therefore, logically, the other (Bridgestone) wasn’t going to do anything to help the one in torouble (Michelin) . Personally, I prefer what happened in Oz to Indy.

  38. Paul Blezard, 24 October 2013 10:25

    Great article Mat and great perspective back to the 80s.
    Good reader comments too!
    I confess I enjoyed watching the whole ‘farce’ up until the point that Marquez was black-flagged. A ride-through penalty would have been much more appropriate IMHO.
    Also, it would probably have made more sense to have a slightly shorter race with a 3-lap window.
    At the end of the not-so-g’day, I’m also glad that the championship remains ‘open’. My head says Marquez is going to win it anyway; my heart would rather like Dani Pedrosa to nick it because he’s had more than his share of bad luck, Lorenzo’s won it twice already and Marquez will certainly win it in future!

  39. George, 24 October 2013 13:26

    Somebody in MotoGP leadership needs to be assigned the job of following F1 so as not to make the same mistakes as that series has. Sole tire suppliers is a bad idea. This sounded similar the tires situation at the British GP and subsequent races this year in F1. F1 is now a shadow of its former self with saving tires de rigeur of the day. It is almost unwatchable. MotoGP is pure racing at the limit all the time, and the minute it loses that, I am done.

  40. ray, 24 October 2013 16:13

    so dam true matt well done !!!

  41. stephen Dunne, 24 October 2013 16:30

    Mat, you have always been eloquent on the problems within the Grand Prix circus. Yet again you have hit the nail on the head. What a shame you are simply an eloquent commentator and not involved in the organisation. You would probably hate it but you would almost certainly improve the sport so many of us love.

  42. paul stead, 24 October 2013 17:16

    Excellent article Mat,and i cant help but agree with just about all you have to say here.a couple of things that dont appear to have been mentioned but i feel need to be are……who is the first person that knows that a tyre is no longer useable?..id say its the rider,all those riders on that grid are the ultimate experts on tyre management.Secondly I cant see how it can be said Marquez gained any kind of unfair advantage by staying out that extra lap on a shredded tyre,ok,he would have had a one lap fresher tyre for the end of the race,but im sure that would be outweighed by the obvious struggle he was having trying to complete that extra lap on the knackered one.Also,to me,this is clearly a miscommunication between team (or part of the team) and Dorna..why black flag the rider?..the worst possible punishment!..surely a fine for the team would have sufficed at most??..just thinkin out loud,thats all..oh,one last thing..after attending gps for over 20 years,i have boycotted them for the last 2 years,simply due to Dornas perversion af our beloved sport and complete disrespect for the fans………

  43. erwin, 24 October 2013 21:01

    yeah francorchamps is the best!!love it!

  44. Chris H, 25 October 2013 09:16

    Hi Matt,

    I think your article is a spot on, word perfect summing up of Sunday’s farce.

    The only thing missing from the Phillip Island race, that would have made it the perfect satire on the current F1 setup, was a rider being disqualified for running out fuel on the warm down lap.

  45. Si Melber, 25 October 2013 15:22

    Spot on Mat as usual. Couldn’t believe what I was watching as the MotoGP organisers changed the rules, mid-season, to cover their own arses and ended up penalising the sport’s golden goose (no pun intended to Mr Goldman). Sure he knew the rules but they were only decided upon at 10am that day and (as you know) a racer has so much more to worry about once the lights go out. Besides the penalty must fit the crime, so dock him a point per extra lap or similar, but don’t black flag the guy. I was disappointed to see Lin and Team Yamaha rushing over to protest afterwards, It’s sad when true sportsmanship gets pushed aside in the name of corporate profit. The whole thing smacked of a cover-up to narrow the points gap towards the end of the season. And that’s before I get on to the subject of that ridiculous pitlane speed limit and exit procedure. Aaaaarrrggghhh…

  46. howard, 26 October 2013 07:53

    I view Mat Oxleys report as a one sided piece of hindsight. True the Bridgestone Tyre company did not cover itself in glory but if we are into blaming everyone else we can think of for not second guessing Bridgestone, what about the journos? How about you Mat – did you not warn the organisers about the tyres and if not why not?

    The organisers, the competitors and even the journos all are entitled to assume Bridgestone have done their job. You have an operation in hospital – do you cross question the surgeon on how competently he has organised himself? No you dont because you dont have the technical skills to do so and its the same issue here with Bridgestone. Had they cross questioned Bridgestone before practise, I have no doubt that they would have been told that in the tyre company’s view, there was no issue. So what then?

    When the problem became apparent the organisers reacted sensibly in my view. I thought that the pit stop added to the interest in the race just as it does in F1. I’d like to see it repeated. And as for Marques error – how on earth can you excuse a simple memory failure and yet condemn a highly technical issue with the tyres? One sided.

  47. Ron, 31 October 2013 09:01

    ” I could go on with other famous Grand Prix grand farces, but I don’t think you’ve got the time…”

    Please do, love hearing stories from the wild old days, that I was too young (and only starting watching a few years ago) to experience myself

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