I like to tease my friends who have an interest in F1. Don’t watch MotoGP, I tell them, you might be shocked when someone overtakes. Any F1 people watching today will be getting their own back thanks to a quite amazing collection of errors in a flag-to-flag race.
As usual, Marc Marquez and Repsol Honda got it right. His mistake in choosing a soft wet rear tyre to start the race with sent him in to change bike first at the end of the second lap. His dry bike was ready for him and when, a few laps later, all the bike changes shook out, he had a lead of over 22 seconds. Job done.
Everyone else conspired to put absolutely pressure on Marc. Jonas Folger followed him intot he pits but found a wet rear still in his second bike. He had to do one more lap. IRTA say a drive through costs 28 seconds (they measure in case a penalty needs to be applied after a race when a penalized rider runs out of time). Deduct that from Folger’s race time and he’s second.
Andrea Iannone had an identical problem, plus he was skilled in pit lane by Aleix Espargaro’ unsafe release, for which Aleix had to give up three places.
Jorge Lorenzo arrived to find his bike wasn’t ready, still had the tire warmers on and had a crowd of panicky mechanics around it. He lost over tens seconds, add that back in and he would have been deep in the top ten and we’d have been discussing what was a new benchmark for Jorge in flag-to-flag races.
And Rossi? Yet again he stayed out too long while leading, in a group with Dovizioso and Zarco. Yamaha have the new text to dashboard systems but haven’t had clearance to use it yet, unlike Ducati and Aprilia, as they haven’t satisfied Race Direction that they will be able to read all messages. Neither, by the way, have Honda. Yet again he came in several laps too late, after which he, and Dovi, mounted a remarkable charge through the field. That could only get him to fourth, behind his team mate and the Repsol Hondas.
What happened? It looked as if some teams stuck with the idea of having a second bike identical to the starting bike in case it failed. When was the last time that happened? Some hadn’t finished converting the bike to dry spec, some simply just did not look organized. Note that the teams were ready for the first bike that came in: that’s Repsol Honda.
The one dignified thing today was that the three Spaniards on the rostrum were able to pay tribute to their maestro, Angel Nieto, who one national paper called “The Inventor of Spanish Motorcycling.” Some legacy.