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GP Week : Issue 139
All weekend, riders had complained that the Sepang surface was in a slippery condition. But there were no complaints about the tyres, and after practice all the leading riders were unable (or unwilling) to reveal tyre choices. Either softer or harder would do the distance was the common opinion: the former with better grip, the second with better endurance. “ We must wait and see what the temperature is like,” said Pedrosa. A threat of rain had cooled things slightly when the race began at 5pm. Even so, all but three riders stuck with the harder front tyre ... Elias, Bautista and Aoyama were the exceptions. All but two decided that the softer rear would be the one. The exceptions were Randy de Puniet ... and Marco Simoncelli. The play-off they chose was to sacrifice some grip in the earlier laps in the hope of being stronger at the end of one of the most gruelling GPs on the calendar. On-board footage from Bautista’s bike clearly shows Simoncelli’s rear tyre painting a black line on the corner exit as he opens the throttle. That is what you would expect, with a harder tyre in the early laps. And wheelspin would in turn put more weight on the front. For it was the front that folded, tipping him off the inside of the bike, before the tyres gripped again and sent the bike careening to its inevitable collision. Did Marco’s tyre gamble go wrong? 30