MotoGP Misano: Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming…

Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez judged conditions perfectly to take his fourth victory of 2015 in the Gran Premio TIM di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, crossing the line first ahead of British duo Bradley Smith and Scott Redding in a flag-to-flag race defined by mixed conditions.

MotoGP victory for the first time at Misano for Marquez

Photo: Repsol Honda
Hometown hero Valentino Rossi failed to capitalise on his race lead and came home fifth, fortuitously extending his points advantage over teammate Lorenzo as Rossi’s title rival crashed out from second after leading off the line. Earlier dry conditions in Misano allowed Italy’s Enea Bastianini to claim his first win in Moto3 and saw leader Johann Zarco extend his lead in Moto2, before the weather changed and set the stage for a chaotic MotoGP race defined by strategy and tyre choices. Full reports from Moto2 and Moto3 can be found here.
Report 
Lorenzo lead off the line, as the Majorcan rider does so often, and Marquez proved the only rider able to run the early pace of the 2010 and 2012 World Champion, with Rossi left behind in third. Although the white flag shown on lap 2 signalled that the riders could pit for wet tyres if they wished, the track remained dry enough for slicks for several more laps until Scott Redding crashed on lap 7 and the first riders to pit for wet weather tyres took the gamble.
The leading trio of Lorenzo, Marquez and Rossi remained on track together until pitting simultaneously, none wanting to make the decision first and consequently becoming the last three to pit of those who did. Of the three, Marc Marquez gained the most time in a characteristically quick and efficient bike swap and was able to exit the pits almost neck and neck with compatriot Lorenzo, who had held the lead, and the Majorcan gestured at his sparring partner to stay calm after the pair came close to a collision in the pits. Once back on track, the Spanish Yamaha rider again left Marquez to chase him down; his teammate Rossi’s slower bike swap leaving him back in third position and the Italian unable to run the pace of his two closest rivals in conditions causing differing confidence levels amongst the riders. The new, darker asphalt of the track made the grip levels even more difficult to judge, but once the track began to dry in earnest, Silverstone winner Rossi caught the leading Spanish duo and it became a three way fight for the lead, from which the rider from Tavullia emerged victorious. 
A missed opportunity for Rossi…

Photo: YamahaMotoGP

However, with less rain falling, the wet weather tyres began to suffer on the increasingly dry racing line and it wasn’t long until the first riders came back in to pit for slick tyres. Lorenzo, trying to close a 12 point gap at the head of the championship, seemed intent on keeping tabs on his teammate rather than taking his own gamble, and the Yamaha duo remained locked in an intense stand-off at the head of the race. Marquez, free of this championship pressure and more able to judge the conditions in their own right, broke rank first to pit for a second time, a decision that would prove decisive in his victory. It soon became clear which riders had made the correct choice as Forward Racing’s Loris Baz, one of the first to switch back onto slicks on his Open machine, began to outpace the leading factory Yamaha by over 8 seconds a lap. Lorenzo, having decided he’d continued on track behind his teammate for long enough, then pitted once again and re-emerged into the race behind Marquez until an uncharacteristic crash caused by cold tyres saw the Majorcan sliding off into the gravel. This promoted Bradley Smith to second after the Brit had made the brave decision to continue on slicks throughout the race, keeping his Tech3 upright and hoping for an improvement in the weather. Scott Redding recovered from an early crash in the wet to time his second bike swap perfectly and soon caught and passed the Forward Yamaha of Baz, taking the British rider up into a podium position that his Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Racing Team nervously hoped he would be able to keep. Redding, no stranger to the podium in difficult conditions, kept his cool and his Honda on track to secure the team’s first podium of their fledgling MotoGP project. 

Monster Tech3’s Bradley Smith, whose previous MotoGP podium came in Phillip Island last year in dry conditions, had to settle for second as reigning champion Marquez proved too far ahead to catch. Local hero and championship leader Valentino Rossi, after a masterful display in the wet at Silverstone, seemingly threw away an opportunity to fight for the win and eventually came home fifth to gain a further 11 points over teammate and title rival Lorenzo, who luckily escaped any serious injury in his crash. The points difference between the Yamaha duo at the top of the table has now extended to 23 points, with a maximum of 125 still available from the remaining five races.
Rider Reactions

Marc Marquez took his fourth win of the year, and his first in MotoGP at Misano, was he delighted? Well… “It was a very strange race but I’m happy with the end result. It is difficult to explain everything that happened during the race but I think the key was the second tyre change – from wets to slicks. That was where we made a difference and – believe it or not – it was not me who decided everything! The team informed me of the situation with the pit board and helped me decide when to come in to change bikes, and I have to thank them! Also Honda, because we keep working and doing our best, even though our title chances are slim, so our target to the end of the year remains; The more wins, the better!”

The smartest man on the grid?

Photo: Monster Yamaha Tech3

An emotional Bradley Smith talks us through how luck favours the brave: “I am thrilled with this finish as I feel that I earned it today even though it was a big gamble! It was very difficult to make the right decisions in the race and I tried to make a few calculations in my head. I looked at the sky before it started and I said to myself that if it rains, it will only be for a short while and I hoped it would dry quickly. However, I still didn’t know how the new surface would be in the wet. My decision to stay out was initially because I missed the lap when Jorge and Vale pitted so I carried on and I believed that the rain had slowed down slightly. At this point, I already had lost a lot of time, therefore I thought it would be best to wait a few laps and see what happens and when it stopped I knew the gamble could work as I realised that they might have to pit twice. Furthermore, I kept saying to myself that luck favours the brave which motivated me even further and here I am! My race position kept going up and to finally come home in 2nd is very special. This result is one of my greatest and it’s a truly emotional moment. In Phillip Island I just finished the race and got the podium but here I had to ride really smoothly and with skill as well as talent in these conditions. We have to take opportunities like these because as a satellite team we work really hard for 5th or 6th every race, but the rostrum is just out of reach. So, I’m even more delighted to give this finish to the team and the sponsors and I can’t wait to get back out on track at the next round.”

Scott Redding was clearly astonished by his recovery from his lap 6 crash: “Where do you start after a race like that? When it started to rain I knew I had nothing to lose and pushed hard on the slicks. But I pushed too much and couldn’t stop the bike before I entered the gravel and crashed. I thought that was race over but got back on as quickly as I could and I could see that a couple of guys still hadn’t passed me, so knew I was still in a good position. I changed to the rain tyres and had a really bad feeling. I couldn’t get them to working temperature and when I did the track had already started to dry. I switched back to slicks thinking I’d got no chance and then suddenly I saw P4. I thought it was a mistake but then saw seven seconds to Baz and got my head down to catch him in case it rained again. Then I’m in third and I certainly didn’t expect that when I woke up this morning. It’s a great feeling for me and especially the team because they have deserved this for sticking by me all season.”

They still love him all the same…

Photo: YamahaMotoGP


Despite his questionable tactics, Rossi was pleased to extend his championship lead on home turf: “It’s true that the championship is a lot more important that winning this race, it’s the main target. Unfortunately Jorge crashed and I was able to gain another 11-points. This is good for the championship, but it’s a shame to miss out on the podium, because I wanted to arrive in the top three in front of all the spectators. It was a crazy race and when you have to change the bike, in this case twice, you need luck and rapid thinking to understand the situation. Fifth is still a good result and we’re looking forward to the next race in Aragon. There are still five races left and unfortunately Lorenzo has the ability to win at every single one and Marquez is also always strong, so there are still a lot of points left to fight for. Aragon is always a difficult track, but we did some tests there and my lap times weren’t so bad, so we have to try to do a good race and arrive on the podium.”

Lorenzo will be spending his off-time between now and Aragon researching ‘anti rain dances’: “Two races with bad luck in a row, because the circumstances were wet and abnormal. In Silverstone I didn’t have the confidence and here I didn’t have the pace to warm up the tyre well, so I entered the corner with slicks that were still cold and lost the rear. I think I’ve been unlucky this year in general, but especially these last two races, because I could have won both or finished second, but that’s racing. In previous years, my rivals in the championship crashed and this year it’s me who’s unlucky, but all is not lost. If I win all the coming races I can still become the World Champion and it wouldn’t matter in what position Valentino would finish in.” 

Podium joy at last for Redding

Photo: MarcVDS

Championship Standings

1. Valentino Rossi 247
2. Jorge Lorenzo 224
3. Marc Marquez 184
4. Andrea Iannone 159
5. Bradley Smith 135
6. Andrea Dovizioso 128
7. Dani Pedrosa 109
8. Danilo Petrucci 93
9. Pol Espargaro 81
10. Cal Crutchlow 79

Tweets of the Weekend

Some slightly less serious social media contributions this weekend…

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//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Lorenzo and Rossi brought out new helmets for the Misano GPs, one slightly more inventive than the other…

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It was a tricky race with lots of confusion going on, mistakes can be made…

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js For the first time since 1979, two British riders graced a MotoGP podium simultaneously.

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//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Next Round

Round 14 – Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón – Aragón, Spain – 25-27 September 2015 

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