Cycle News

Cycle News 2013 Issue 37 September 17

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 P112 BY MICHAEL SCOTT BRING BACK THE WAR M 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 also fell. 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

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