CN III IN THE PADDOCK
BY MICHAEL SCOTT
BRING BACK THE WAR
arc Marquez has demonstrated much this season. He proved something else at Silverstone: that
when you are 20 years old, you
bounce. He dislocated his collarbone in the morning, and came
back the same afternoon, failing
to win by inches.
This is very much the year of
the collarbone, in the same way
it is the year of the Spanish triumvirate. All three of them have now
sustained some sort of clavicle
injury: but Jorge Lorenzo and
Dani Pedrosa suffered for weeks
thereafter, the former's heroic
post-surgery return at Assen notwithstanding. Anyway, he only
finished fifth rather than battling
for the win.
More important is to ask why
they crashed. In Marquez's case,
it happened in morning warmup, and he was one of five to go
down in the 20-minute session.
In fact he followed Cal Crutchlow
so directly that his bike almost
took out the marshals recovering
the English rider's Yamaha, earning the oft-punished Spaniard yet
more sanction in the form of two
penalty points for failing to spot
the yellow flags.
It happened at Vale corner,
where Michele Pirro had crashed
his Ducati a few minutes earlier. In the same session, Nicky
Hayden and Yonny Hernandez
All for more or less the same
reason: hard Bridgestone tires
on a cold track. Far from the first
time this syndrome has been observed this year: Pedrosa's collarbone cruncher in Germany
was for the same reason, and
there have been a large number
of other victims.
Tires are almost always the
weakest link in the rider's chain
of command (unless you're Ben
Spies, in which case almost anything could happen, including
a frame breakage, or complete
collapse of the rear suspension).
Even before the control tire
era began in 2009, riders have
always complained about tires.
The words may be guarded for
reasons of contract, but about
the best you ever get is that the
tires were "okay."
Truth is that tires are, quite simply, never good enough, never
have been and never will be. The
bikes are just too powerful; they
get chewed up.
Control tires came in perforce, after Dorna spent several
years trying to get the competing
firms – Bridgestone, Dunlop and
Michelin – to cut costs in a tire
war that had gone out of control.
Limiting numbers made little difference. Dunlop were left gasping as Michelin used their European advantage to make special
track- and weather-specific tires
overnight in France, trucking
them to sundry circuits in time
for race-day. Bridgestone had
no such opportunity, since they
make their racing tires in Japan.
They fought back by developing
a wide range of tires to suit different circumstances, many of
which would be scrapped without ever being used.
Dorna decreed an end to the
ever more expensive tire wars.
Michelin declined to tender for