After one of the most dramatic and strangest races in MotoGP history a couple of weeks ago in Argentina, Round Three of the 2018 MotoGP World Championship takes place this weekend from the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas for the 2018 Grand Prix of the Americas, and the battle in terms of the championship is most certainly the widest that we have seen in some time!
Cal Crutchlow (38 points) is leading the championship for LCR Honda, becoming the first British rider since Barry Sheene in 1979 to lead the premier class world championship at any given time after his shock victory in Argentina, raising questions among many people as to whether he can win the world championship this year?
In my view, I don’t think Crutchlow against this field on his current machinery has what it takes over the course of a season to win the world championship in 2018, but if there are more crazy races like the last one, he could well be a chance!
Andrea Dovizioso (35 points) is second in the championship on his Ducati after finishing sixth in Argentina, a weekend where Ducati simply had no pace, with Johann Zarco (28 points) after his brilliant second-place finish on his Tech3 Yamaha in Argentina sitting third in the championship, ahead of factory Yamaha rider Maverick Viñales (21 points), who finished fifth at the Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo.
Then we get to Marc Márquez (20 points) who sits in fifth in the championship on his factory Honda after his trials and tribulations in Argentina, in which he was penalised in the race three times!
He was given a ride-through penalty for failing to adhere to the instructions of marshals/stewards after stalling his bike after the warm-up lap after the start of the race was delayed. However, after looking at the 2018 FIM World Championship Grand Prix Regulations, I raise the pertinent question of whether the start of the race should have actually have been delayed in the first place?
My answer to that question is No!
In my opinion, if the conditions are improving, the conditions are getting safer! So, why would you (race direction) delay the start of the race? Would it be to get more suitable tyres onto the bike?
After the bikes/riders get to the grid, according to Article 1.18.6 of the 2018 FIM World Championship Grand Prix Regulations: “The Race Director will, at this stage, declare the race as “wet” or “dry” and will indicate this to the riders on the grid and those who may still be in the pit lane by the display of a board. If no board is displayed the race will automatically be “dry”.”
And, according to Article 1.18.7 of the 2018 FIM World Championship Grand Prix Regulations: “Riders on the grid may at this stage make adjustments to the machine or change tyres to suit the track conditions.
“Tyre warmers may be used on the grid.
“Riders may use a generator to power tyre warmers on the grid. Only one generator per machine may be used. The generator must be of the “hand carried” type and have a maximum output capacity of two kilowatts.
“Starter engines may also be used on the grid.
“Generator and starter engines should be located at the rear of the motorcycles.
“All adjustments must be completed by the display of the 3-Minute board. After this board is displayed, riders who still wish to make adjustments must push their machine to the pit lane. Such riders and their machines must be clear of the grid and in the pit lane before the display of the 1-Minute board, where they may continue to make adjustments, or change machine in MotoGP only. Such riders will start the warm up lap from the pit lane and will start the race from the back of the grid.”
So, the teams and the riders had ample opportunity to make a decision as to what tyres they should start the race on, and the race was declared WET, so why did race direction decide eight minutes and 20 seconds later that it was best to delay the start of the race?
The conditions were not dangerous! If your choose WET/RAIN weather tyres, but believe that they are going to overheat, but you aren’t confident the conditions are suitable for slicks, then you do the warm-up, start the race, and come into the pit-lane to change bikes when the suitable time arrives!
Adding to this, only one rider, that being Jack Miller (19 points), who is sixth in the championship after finishing fourth on his Pramac Ducati after starting from pole position, could follow the rules and regulations as stated, and yet doesn’t get to reap the rewards of his decision because of race direction making seemingly, according to the rules and regulations, the wrong decision!
The conditions were not dangerous, the conditions were consistent and improving! It wasn’t like there was a sudden torrential downpour, or one particular corner having significantly different conditions compared to everywhere else. So, why was the start of the race delayed?
I could go on all day about the race that Marc Márquez had, including the subsequent penalties for the incidents with Aleix Espargaró and Valentino Rossi after the first penalty, but really, in my opinion, the race wasn’t run properly, and the FIM, Dorna Sports, and MotoGP need to have a very good, hard, and long look at themselves!
Completing the top 10 in the championship are Danilo Petrucci (17 points), Rossi (16 points), Álex Rins (16 points), and Andrea Iannone (15 points).
So, looking ahead to Round Three at the Circuit of the Americas, I cannot go past Márquez to bounce back and win in Austin after the disappointment of Argentina. He is undefeated at the Circuit of the Americas, and I can see him making it six wins from six appearances in Austin.