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Argentina GP FP4: Red Flags, Tyres and Dramas…

April 3, 2016 - Races
Argentina GP FP4: Red Flags, Tyres and Dramas…

Marc Marquez led Free Practice 4 from Iannone and Rossi, the session disrupted due to an incident with the rear of Redding’s bike.

MotoGP™ Free Practice 4 got off to a calm start, riders heading out to get a feel for the track ahead of Qualifying. Several riders practiced bike swaps as the threat of rain looms over race day. With 19 and a half minutes remaining, Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) encountered an issue with the rear of his bike at Turn 6. The Brit was able to ride his bike off the track, but debris brought out the red flag. After a brief pause the session resumed.

After discussions with his team, Redding was back out on track with over ten minutes of the session remaining. The Brit would soon go faster than before, his issues clearly not denting his confidence.

The session was then brought to stop again as with four minutes remaining, the red flag was deployed again on safety grounds. Race Direction chose to investigate the Redding incident fully. At 14:25 Local Time the session was resumed for the final four minutes. Riders headed out to make the most of the time remaining.

Disaster struck for Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) at Turn 1 as he slid off, his bike tumbling through the gravel and sustaining serious damage. Whether his team will be able to repair it for Q2 is still an unknown, but the World Champion was uninjured in the fall fortunately.

Fastest of them was Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) who improved to a 1’39.882 on his penultimate lap. This saw him over 0.8s ahead of the rest of the field, his Honda working not only in the slippery conditions of Friday but also on the improved Saturday surface.

Second was Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team), the Italian choosing to remain in the pits for the final four minutes. 0.024s behind was his compatriot Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), three different bikes making up the top three.

Despite his fall, Lorenzo was fourth, ahead of Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team). Riders now prepare themselves for Qualifying, the Q1 session will see riders battle to transfer into the Q2 session for a chance to land on pole position.

Redding: “It was really scary”

Scott Redding was able to remain upright after an issue with his rear tyre at Turn 6 destroyed the back of his bike in FP4.

After a difficult start to the weekend, Scott Redding headed into Free Practice 4 at the Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina with a clear direction to head in. It was progressing well until at Turn 6 his rear tyre suffered an issue, damaging the back on his Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati GP 15. The Brit was able to stay upright and ride his bike off the track, avoiding any serious injury. The red flag was brought out to remove debris from the track, Redding headed out on his second machine when the session resumed. With four minutes remaining the red flag was again brought out to allow Race Direction and Michelin to examine Redding’s rear tyre ahead of Qualifying.

Despite the issues, Redding headed into Q1 determined to do well but found himself lacking confidence through Turn 6 after the incident. Try as he might, he was unable to advance through to Q2 and will line up 14th on the grid for Sunday’s race. his 1’40.759 saw him miss out on the top spot in the session by 0.198s. Both of Redding’s previous visits to the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit have yielded points, ninth in 2015 his best result at the track.

vlcsnap-2016-04-03-00h44m52s108Scott Redding: “It was not a good day for me since the beginning. FP3 didn’t go well. And when I began to glimpse the right path in FP4, the problem came. It was really scary. I felt some chattering with the rear tyre then something hit me. I saw pieces of the bike fly everywhere. I thought the tyre had exploded and I was getting ready for a nasty crash. But a few moments later I felt that the tyre working again as there was still air in. I managed to run off the track without falling and I feel lucky to be standing here to talk about it. I went out in Q1 determined but it is clear that my confidence, especially in that turn, wasn’t at the maximum. To be honest I feel good for tomorrow. This morning we struggled a lot but in the afternoon I was close the Q2 lap times. Tomorrow will be a long race, if I can find consistency then everything will happen.”

Lorenzo: “Let‘s see what happens”

Jorge Lorenzo salvages a front row start at the Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina after a crash damaged one of his bikes.

During the final moments of Free Practice 4, Jorge Lorenzo became yet another victim of the tricky Turn 1 at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit. While he was uninjured, his Movistar Yamaha MotoGP M1 sustained significant damage and was out of commission for Q2. This made the Qualifying session very tense, a fall, even a small one, could have spelt disaster for the World Champion. Fortunately no such issues occurred and Lorenzo set a 1’39.944 to secure third on the grid, Lorenzo one of only three riders under the 1’40 barrier.

He knows it won’t be easy on race day as Marc Marquez’s (Repsol Honda Team) race pace is looking formidable, on the previous Michelin tyres at least. After the session Michelin withdrew their rear tyre choices and introduced a third option with a harder carcass to avoid concerns over further issues. Never in the premier class has Jorge Lorenzo won the opening two races of a season. No Yamaha rider has won the opening two rounds of the year in the blue ribbon class since the legendary Wayne Rainey won the first two 500cc races in 1990. Having completed a perfect race day in Qatar, Lorenzo’s Sunday in Argentina looks to be a more difficult task but the five-time World Champion has climbed steeper mountains before.

vlcsnap-2016-04-03-01h28m13s13Jorge Lorenzo: “Today we got a better day overall and we could make some important improvements with the set up and especially the track improved a lot so we had a very good first session. Unfortunately in the afternoon during FP4 a tyre issue put the session on stand by, due to the red flag and after that I crashed so we lost the opportunity to swap the bikes in the qualifying, but despite this the first row was the main goal and we were able to achieve it so I‘m quite satisfied.

“It‘s a very strange situation that I‘ve never encountered before. Unfortunately we had some issues in the recent past and it‘s definitely not a comfortable situation for the riders and the teams, but things are like that. I have great respect for Michelin and for the efforts they have put in these last few months to improve the 2016 tyres. Even considering this last inconvenience, I‘m sure they will keep on working because safety is the first priority in racing. Tomorrow the race will be extremely difficult. We‘ll have to start from zero but at least this is the same for all riders. Let‘s see how it goes tomorrow morning.”

Rossi: “I‘m not so bad”

A strong Q2 at the Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina saw Valentino Rossi secure his best grid position since the Japanese GP.

Throughout his career, Valentino Rossi has never excelled in Qualifying, especially in recent years with the new shorter format. But on Saturday at the Argentina GP, ‘The Doctor’ produced one of his best, and perhaps most crucial, results. A 1’39.786 put the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP man second on the grid and saw him finish as the only rider able to get within half a second of Marc Marquez’s (Repsol Honda Team) pole position time. The time came as a result of immaculate planning in Q2, Rossi waiting for the majority of the field to leave the pits to ensure clear track.

Rossi has managed to finished the last 23 MotoGP™ World Championship races in the top five, the Italian GP back in 2013 the last time he failed to score points. The Italian’s consistency come race day is his greatest strength, when he is able to attach to a group of riders ahead, Rossi has the ability to attack at almost any moment. Qatar proved that Rossi has the pace to stay with the podium fighters, the nine-time World Champion aiming to step back onto the box in Argentina. Few will forget Rossi’s victory in 2015, closing an almost impossible gap to snatch victory from Marquez. A repeat performance in 2016 would cement Rossi as a title contender once more, but Sunday will again be a step into the unknown as Michelin announced they would be introducing a mandatory rear tyre option.

vlcsnap-2016-04-03-00h38m10s192Valentino Rossi: “Last year in Qatar and also here in Argentina the qualifying was bad, but on the other side the races were fantastic. Now we have done a good qualifying, but the race will be tomorrow. Anyway I‘m quite happy because we worked well on the bike and also the track improved a lot today, we can push more and also have a good pace. I think battling with Marquez will be hard because he is faster, but I‘m not so bad and the most important thing is to fight for the podium and make it a good race.

“This new allocation changes the situation a lot, because I thought they would pull the soft tyre and we could race with the harder option, but unfortunately we have to race with a tyre that we never tried before. With this decision we have to start from zero, so we have to hope that tomorrow morning in the half hour warm-up we can understand the situation and that this tyre is safer. Everybody is in the same boat, so we will see what happens tomorrow.”

Marquez: “Tomorrow will be a bit of an unknown”

For the third straight year, Marc Marquez is set to start the Argentina GP from pole position thanks to a 1’39.411.

Never has a rider other than Marc Marquez started on pole position at the Argentina GP in the MotoGP™ World Championship, the Repsol Honda Team rider once again producing a little bit of magic on Saturday. His pace was dominant in the session, no rider able to get within a third of a second of his time. He was unable to improve on his fastest lap time due to a late crash at Turn 1, the heavy fall shaking him slightly but resulting in no serious injuries. Turn 1 has caught out a number of riders over the course of the weekend, including Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP). The result offers some hope for Honda after a difficult time in testing.

After the session it was announced that Michelin would withdraw the Medium and Hard compound rear tyres due to safety concerns and replace them with a new third compound. An additional Free Practice session will also be held ahead of Warm Up to allow riders to adapt to the situation. It may be an unusual circumstance, but it is a critical one as rider safety is paramount. In total, riders will have 50 minutes to gather as much data as they can about the new tyres.

vlcsnap-2016-04-03-00h36m13s46Marc Marquez: “I’m happy with how the bike is going and with the pace we have. We know what my crashes today were due to; the first was down to changing the setup but the second was because we pushed too hard. That is what happens in the qualifying session. Tomorrow we’ll give everything we have in the race.

“After this decision from Michelin, I think that tomorrow will be a bit of an unknown because everyone will have a different tyre spec from what we’ve used for the whole weekend. We’ll wait and see how it works. We’ll have two warm-up sessions, one of 30 minutes and the other 20, to gather information, and we’ll have to see if everything goes well. Let’s hope there won’t be too many differences from the tyres we’ve been using so far.”

 

Statement regarding the Argentina GP
following team meeting

 

An extra Warm Up and a new rear tyre will be introduced on Sunday morning to avoid any issues with the Michelin rear.

  • The cause of Redding’s FP4 tyre failure is still under investigation
  • Both rear tyres to be withdrawn and replaced by an extra “special” rear
  • An extra 30 minute Practice Session will take place at 09:00 Local time for MotoGP™

Following the incident in Saturday’s FP4 at the Gran Premio Motul de la Republica Argentina at Termas de Rio Hondo involving Octo Pramac Yakhnich’s Scott Redding, during which the rear tyre suffered a failure on track, specific actions will be taken for Sunday’s race.

Redding’s tyre – a medium compound with seven laps on it – is still being examined by Michelin’s technicians to determine the cause of the fault. Until this can be determined, Michelin has decided to withdraw both rear tyres on safety grounds, and introduce the extra “special” rear compound brought for such an occasion. Each rider will have four of these rear tyres for Sunday.vlcsnap-2016-04-03-00h41m01s106

The reason both current tyres must be withdrawn is because they are both of the same construction, meaning that there is a possibility of a similar failure on the harder tyre. Michelin’s new rear tyre to be introduced from Sunday is of a harder construction, and will cope better with the hard strains and temperatures put through it – albeit at the expense of lap times.

To help teams and riders adapt to this complicated situation, Race Direction has decided to add an additional 30-minute practice session for MotoGP™ to the morning schedule at 9am. After this, the schedule will continue as previously planned. For this additional track time, all riders will have one additional front tyre added to their allocation.

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