Cycle News

Cycle News 2013 Issue 43 October 29

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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CN III IN THE PADDOCK P110 BY MICHAEL SCOTT PHILLIP ISLAND SHOWS THE WAY T he Australian Grand Prix gave plenty of food for thought. The circumstances were extreme; the remedial measures likewise. But there are lessons that could be carried forward to races where Bridgestone and Dunlop manage to bring tires that are actually able to run a full race (to be fair, that's every other race but this one). Brief recap: lovely new surface at lovely Phillip Island in unexpectedly lovely weather. Both companies brought special hard tires in anticipation of higher speeds and stresses, and both fell so far short of the goal that they might as well have used marshmallow. At least the heat blisters would have made a tasty confection. Acting on the hoof, making it up as they went along, race management went into overdrive. First an international teleconference at supremo level authorized those on the spot to – basically change the rules as often and as much as they liked, whenever they liked. Under these new powers, Race Direction did just that. Moto2's heat-fatigued Dunlops were given half the day off, the race cut from 27 to 13 laps, still on full points. MotoGP's battlefazed Bridgestones likewise, but in a quite different way. Since all riders have two bikes, they could do half a race on each of them. Bike-swapping flag-to-flag rules were in place for weather chang- es. But why wait for the weather to change when you can change the rules instead? Generally it was considered a fair Band-Aid for a messy wound, give or take some concerns for safety in the old track's narrow pit lane. Race distance was cut from 27 laps to 26, with a compulsory bike change halfway. Along with other strictures: hard tires only, and no fiddling with the pressure given in the manufacturer's handbook. On-the-hoof means what it says, and quick reactions were required the next day when further tire failures in morning warmup earned a more shamefaced confession from Bridgestone: they'd said their tires could do 14 laps safely. So sorry. Mistake. Actually they can only do 10. The race distance was cut again, to 19 laps (by now the Moto3 race was in progress) and a fresh instruction sheet handed out, revising the time of the pit stop until the end of laps nine or ten. As we know, Marc Marquez and/or his team made a Horlicks of it and the title leader was disqualified. Officially they blamed misinterpreting the instructions; unofficially video footage shows Marquez's team apparently flummoxed as he flashes past at the end of lap 10. Whatever the real reason for this clumsy error, the outcome had the immediate effect of lighting a blue touch-paper under a championship that less than an hour earlier had seemed almost done. Race-winner Jorge Lorenzo came with no chance, and left with a real one. The bike-changing, mean-

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