MotoGP, Bridgestone join F1 in tire/race debacle club

You can now add MotoGp to the pantheon of racing debacle gods as The Australian Grand Prix was plagued with tire issues that prompted a mandatory dry-weather pit stop for a bike change due to high tire wear that placed the riders in danger.

Bridgestone is the tire maker in the doghouse this weekend as they told Race Direction that they could not guarantee the safety of their slick tires beyond 10 laps. Therefore the following changes were made to the race:

1. The race distance will be 19 laps.

2. Every rider will be required to enter the pits and change to his second machine with fresh tyres at least once during the race. In normal circumstances this means that the rider must change machine only at the end of lap 9 or lap 10.

3. No rider is permitted to make more than 10 laps on any one slick or wet rear tyre. This means that a bike/tyre change before lap 9 will require a second bike/tyre change to finish the race.

4. The above procedure is valid for a dry race or a race that starts in wet conditions. Clearly in a wet race the rider will change to a bike with wet tyres.

5. If the race is started in dry conditions and it then rains the race will be stopped with a red flag. The restarted race will be for the number of laps required to complete 19 laps but with a maximum of 10 laps and a minimum of 5 laps.

6. Riders using “Factory” and “Satellite” machines will be required to use the “hard” option tyre (B51DR). Extra quantity will be allocated by Bridgestone.

7. Riders using CRT machines will be required to use CRT “hard” option tyre (B50DR). Extra quantity will be allocated by Bridgestone.

8. The pit lane speed limit zone will be extended both on entry and exit, and the exit route to rejoin the track will be marked by a white line in the runoff area. Crossing this line whilst rejoining the track from pit lane will result in a penalty.

As fate would have it, championship-leading rider Marc Marquez failed to put on lap 10 and faced a black flag for his infraction. Teammate Dani Pedrosa pit early but was in excess of the pit lane speed limit and had to give up a position on track for the infraction. This would normally be a drive-through penalty in Formula 1 the result on Sunday showed why.

Pedrosa was back on track with the nearest competitor six seconds behind him. This would have been a huge penalty if he had slowed to allow Valentino Rossi to pass him. Instead he waited and his teammate, Marquez, came back on track in front of Pedrosa allowing him to lose practically no time by allowing Marc the position. Had Dani’s Honda been on song, he could have wont he race negating any penalty for speeding in pit lane.

The ten-lap maximum was released on a directive from Race Direction but riders tweeted that they were not all told in a rider meeting suggesting that there was room for confusion. Oddly, the commentary team knew the directive and it is difficult to understand how the riders or teams didn’t.

Two races remain and defending champion and race-winner on Sunday, Jorge Lorenzo, is now only 18 points behind Marquez. Anything can happen in racing and Sunday proved it. It also proved that Birdgestone has now joined the ranks of Michelin and Pirelli for bringing a tire that is not fit for the race surface causing confusion, safety issues and robbing fans of what is otherwise a good race.

The difference between Formula 1 and MotoGP is that the latter will try to avoid this scenario from happening again. Formula 1 had a similar situation and thought the shakeup of grid positions and amount of passing was great and then purposefully instructed their tire supplier to make tires like this for every race.

Let’s be honest, The Canadian Grand Prix that prompted our current high degradation tire insult was not unlike Australia’s debacle this Sunday. F1 pragmatism is apparently working overtime while MotoGP feels shame for their offense. Question is, what does Bridgestone feel? Not much, they were bragging about Lorenzo’s new lap record on their website. Apparently they’re perfectly fine with bringing a bad tire to a race weekend.

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