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GP Week : Issue 193
at BrIEFly » In the first year of the new penalty points system, Dorna issued a league table showing that Marquez is the naughtiest rider of all. He has amassed three points with two separate infringements, one short of the first in a sliding scale of penalties ... a back-of-the-grid start. Three riders – Moto2’s Ricky Cardus and Moto3’s Jack Miller and Maverick Vinales – have two points apiece. New Moto2 champion Pol Espargaro is among nine riders with just one point. » Race Director Mike Webb didn’t mince his words after the tyre- induced shambles at the Australian GP, accusing both Bridgestone and Dunlop of “total incompetence – beyond belief. We were handed a really bad situation, and had to try to rescue it.” » The weather handed race management a second successive “really bad situation” at Motegi – for a most oblique reason. Riding would have been possible if difficult and uncomfortable on a streaming Friday, but could not be sanctioned for safety reasons, Webb explained on Friday evening. Motegi is set in remote hilly country, and with the officially designated hospital more than an hour away by road it was considered essential to have a medevac helicopter available for rapid transfer of any seriously injured riders. But the low cloud cover and Japan’s ultra-strict aviation regulations meant that the helicopter – parked just five minutes flying time away – was officially grounded. It arrived safely on Saturday morning, but then the hospital landing site was fogged in and unavailable for landing, and proposed free practice had to be cancelled again. MARQUEZ BLUNDER Who was to blame? MOTOGP >>> nEWs When Marc Marquez flashed past the pits to start an illegal eleventh lap at Phillip Island, the reaction from the Honda pit was striking. senior technical Christian Gabarrini, supposedly overseeing both riders, turned in surprise and made a throat-slitting movement. He at least knew what the error meant. Yet the official blame was shouldered by the team, for having misunderstood the instructions or method of lap counting meant by the hastily drafted instructions issued during the Moto3 race that morning. A more than slightly cheesy official Dorna video purporting to show discussions between Marquez and the team show him saying in Spanish (with English sub-titles): “I did what you told me.” A team functionary explains that “we miscounted the laps” . Since Pedrosa’s team, like all other riders’, understood the instructions perfectly, the exclusive error revealed internal differences within the factory Honda pit, and that Marquez’s pit is operating as a team-within-A -team. The fatally flawed strategy had been agreed in secret by his inner circle, including mentor-manager Emilio Alzamora, who has a strong rivalry with Pedrosa’s mentor-manager, fellow-Spaniard Alberto Puig. It seems not only HRC vice- president and team big boss Shuhei Nakamoto was in on the secret. After the Motegi race, Marquez spoke for the first time of the possibility of losing the title. “We must remember it is my first year, and it was not my target.” Should he lose at Valencia, he still has one more chance to oust Freddie Spencer as the youngest-ever champion ... but only if he secures the crown by the end of October next year. BRIDGesTONe PROMIse: NEVER AGAIN! After the Phillip Island debacle down under, Bridgestone manfully took the blame for their seriously off-target predictions, added to the call for more tyre tests at new circuits or surfaces, and promised that given time to test, they would guarantee to build rear slicks capable of running for the full 27 laps of the tough Australian circuit. The Japanese company’s motor sport manager Hiroshi Yamada described how in spite of thorough preparations for the smoother, grippier new surface, all predictions had been radically over-ruled by much higher stresses than anticipated by computer simulations – levels “far beyond our expectations” . Corner speeds had been, on average, 12 km/h higher than previously, he said, on a track already severe on tyres. This had been revealed by analysis of teams’ data, while forensic investigation of used tyres, “working round the clock” , had confirmed what was already obvious. “The higher than anticipated increase in speed caused a huge increase in load, side force and traction. In combination this resulted in 20 percent more energy being put into our tyres. “This is what caused extreme rise in tyre temperature, and cracks in the tyre tread.” As a result, the race was cut to 19 laps and split into two, with a change of bikes on fresh tyres halfway through. Yamada echoed calls from teams and from Dorna for tyre testing at new tracks, and especially tests at Phillip Island. “If we can test there, we are confident we can develop rear slicks that will last for 27 laps,” he said. Tyre tests are likely to become de rigeur for any new or resurfaced tracks for next year. One of these will be the reprofiled and resurfaced Indianapolis, and also the new circuit at Brazil. 15 GPWEEK.com // 15 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: