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GP Week : Issue 151
OPINION 18 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: It took years for MotoGP to sort out what to do in a rain-interrupted race. The problems began with the arrival of slick tyres in the 1970s. From then on, if a race started dry and turned wet, or vice versa, they used to press on until enough people crashed to suggest it was getting really dangerous. Then they’d stop the race. If two thirds had been run, the result stood; if not they would restart to complete full distance, results declared on aggregate time. Which was a real shambles: nobody knew the results until all the times had been added up. Good old days indeed. Trouble was it could take 45 minutes or more to get things ready for the restart – by when, of course, it might have dried up again. And the spectators would be getting a touch restless. Never mind them. What really put the kibosh on it was when the TV kicked in during the 1990s. Delays now became unthinkable, because of the danger of the world TV feed missing the satellite slot. Various ideas were tried and rejected: one such being the introduction of a pace car, which would circulate while riders pitted to change tyres. Then they were supposed to resume their previous running order behind the car, which would then pull off. This was abandoned after a single shambolic trial run. Flag to flag was the answer: if a race was designated ‘wet’ riders could decide for themselves whether to press on, or pit to change to a spare bike, with wet tyres and steel brakes rather than the carbons that don’t work when they get wet and cold. And it worked pretty well. The first time the system was used in anger was in Australia. Everyone, or nearly everyone, loved it. Since then, however, lots of things have changed: most particularly the limit to tyre numbers and types. There are no more cut slicks or intermediates for half-and-half conditions, and limits on which of the two different (soft and hard) tyres would be available. Casey Stoner was leading a growing rumble of discontent, with a rather confused and confusing picture of what the rules actually state (understandably, given the frequency with which they are changed and re-adjusted). But the real problem will come next year, if the one-bike proposal is adopted. What then, if a rider doesn’t have a spare bike to switch to? Here’s an idea. If management is utterly dedicated to dumbing GP racing down, with street engines in home-made chassis a la CRT, why not go all the way, and fit street tyres as well. While they’re about it, having introduced a red tail-light this year for bad weather, they might as well leave the headlights on as well. And indicators, to make overtaking manoeuvres safer. And number plates. Luggage racks. Sat-nav. And dual seats. That’ll help keep costs down, too. OPINION MICHAEL SCOTT MotoGP Editor The wet-weather scenario is back on the MotoGP agenda IS THE FLAG-TO-FLAG RULE FLAGGING?