Cycle News

Cycle News Issue 32 August 15, 2017

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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Page 151 of 151

VOL. 53 ISSUE 32 AUGUST 15, 2016 P151 Folger was one victim. Clever boy Marquez had managed to get most of the fast people to pass him before he pitted abruptly after just two laps, in this way making sure none followed him in. His early change on a track not yet dry was a risky strategy, but turned out to be a masterstroke. A few of the lower riders did follow him in, including Folger. Only to discover that his spare bike, which he hoped would be set for a dry race, wasn't ready, Monster Yamaha mechanics frantically changing it from a wet bike to a dry. He had to pull off and go around again. Chances ruined. Ducati's second bikes were also still set for the wet. Their riders wanted to come in, but had to keep circulating, their wet tires making them slower lap by lap. Lorenzo's patience wore thin. He'd led the first lap. Now he pulled in at the end of the fourth, ready for one of those very watchable quick hops from one bike to the next. But no. He had to sit and wait instead. His chances were also wrecked. Over at Yamaha, things weren't a lot better. The bikes were already set for the dry, but while Vinales made his decision and called in after four laps, not waiting for his pit board, Rossi (now leading) went on. He saw the pit board, and came in next time around. By then, he'd lost too much. His last flying lap had been 2:08.400. On the same lap, Marquez did 1:58.981. Ev- ery extra lap Rossi had stayed out had cost him almost 10 seconds. Accordingly, he was 20 seconds adrift at the finish. How can this shambles hap- pen? Clearly there needs to be better pit-lane discipline to avoid collisions. But why, on a damp track, should the spare bike be set up also for the wet? There is a reason: that if, for example, the rider should have a problem on the warm-up lap, then he has another race-ready bike waiting. Which is fine on a dry day, or a properly wet one. Not so good otherwise. Once a race has been de- clared flag-to-flag, teams have a choice. At Brno, some (includ- ing Repsol Honda and Movistar Yamaha) had the spares set for dry; others (including Ducati and Monster Yamaha) had spare wet bikes, and would have to change them directly after the start. And it cost too much time. Modern technology has made changing wet to dry quite complicated. One of Rossi's long-standing mechanics, Alex Briggs, ex- plained: "In the old days, you'd take off 2mm preload front and rear, change the sprocket, and put on wet tires." Now it is a process taking four or five min- utes at best—two or three laps. As well as tires and suspen- sion—probably a different front spring and rear shock, along with a different rear linkage and maybe swingarm position, you have to load different engine maps. And change the brakes, having to decide whether to use carbons with full or half shrouds, or even cooling ducts; or steel with similar variations. These requirements, especially the tire choice, might change with the progress of the race, as the laps count down, or with temperature changes. Little wonder that some teams were caught out. Marquez and Honda looked like heroes for being prepared and getting it right. He won a massive victory as a result. But never forget—it could just as easily have gone the other way. Had rain returned, or even if the track had taken a little longer to dry, he would have been in serious trouble, and the teams that looked stupid for having their spare bikes set wrongly would have been the geniuses. In the end, it's the narrow margins that make racing so interesting. CN

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