If anybody guessed the outcome of MotoGP's round 14 at Motorland Aragon then you'd better buy lottery tickets this week! There were very few people who gave Yamaha a chance of a win, (apart from those loyal fans who refuse to hear anything negative about their favoured team or rider), so it's [always] worth considering that anything CAN happen in bike racing. And just about everything DID happen in Spain!
With the weather conditions deteriorating overnight, and dark clouds being concealed by thick mist on race day morning, the track drying process was slow. Warm up was delayed because of poor visibility, with the Moto3 race eventually starting late. There was barely a dry line but by the Moto2 race things looked more promising. Then it all changed again, the MotoGP boys lined up with a hint of very fine rain falling, but not enough for it to be declared a wet race at the start line. So when the lights went out all were slick shod and launched into the unknown, (with the number 2 bikes warming up on pit lane and primed for wetter weather).
The conditions meant that early race lap times were almost two seconds slower than in qualifying and this gave the Yamahas a shot at Honda, the Motorland masters. We were all set for a cracker! But then the rain slowly increased, bit by bit. Unlike the Moto3 and Moto2 races where the riders were forced to cope with a gradually drying track, the MotoGP teams were struggling with one getting gradually wetter. And that's the toughest of the two options.
Riders would have to make the call, when or if to come in to change bikes. Controlling a MotoGP monster with slick tyres gradually losing heat, grip and, much worse, the eventually unpredictable performance of a cold tyre on a wet track, PLUS having to work out how much time you'll lose in pit lane changing bikes when compared to your present lap times to the checkered flag, is virtually impossible for even the smartest rider!
It was hard to watch. Team mechanics frantically whipping tyre warmers off the 'wet' bikes then putting them on again, then off and on again and again as their rider took the decision to try another lap. Something had to give! And it did. Check out www.motogp.com for reports and links to video.
So, do MotoGP need to look at tyre monitoring technology? There is a point where a 'dry' tyre loses the heat to perform at all on a wet track. The rider cannot save the bike from a crash in these circumstances because he only has the 'feel' of the machine under him. When the tyre performance drop-off gets to critical the first time it is confirmed, without a form of monitoring, is when you're picking yourself up off the floor.
But, from a spectator point of view, there's no doubt about it, (provided no one gets hurt), the weather/tyre combination in Aragon gave us the most exciting and unpredictable result of the season.
Now it's time for the long haul 'fly away' rounds of Japan, Australia and Malaysia before returning to the finale in Valencia. Marc Marquez may have found out lately that the title is taking longer to secure than he might have hoped, but retain it he will. And in Moto2 it looks like Tito Rabat has got one hand on the trophy too. But in Moto3 we're in for a dog fight to the end, I can't predict who'll finally prevail and I'm looking forward to commentating on one of the best scraps of the season. Hope you can join me.
Thanks for your support as always.