Lorenzo: MotoGP pitstops unsafe without F1-style culture

Ducati rider Jorge Lorenzo says MotoGP’s ‘flag-to-flag’ rules for swapping bikes mid-race are dangerous because grand prix motorcycling lacks a “culture” of Formula 1-style pitstops.

Lorenzo: MotoGP pitstops unsafe without F1-style culture
Jorge Lorenzo, Ducati Team
Jorge Lorenzo, Ducati Team
Jorge Lorenzo, Ducati Team
Jorge Lorenzo, Ducati Team
Jorge Lorenzo, Ducati Team
Jorge Lorenzo, Ducati Team
Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Last weekend’s Brno race once again brought into the spotlight the debate over MotoGP’s ‘flag-to-flag’ rules, introduced in 2005, as the Czech race started on a wet-but-rapidly-drying track.

Aprilia rider Aleix Espargaro called for a change to the regulations post-race having been released into the path of Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone, who crashed in the pitlane in avoidance of the Spaniard.

Lorenzo, who finished in 15th after pitting before his second bike had been readied, said the Espargaro-Iannone incident highlighted that MotoGP team personnel are not as "prepared" for pitstops as their F1 counterparts.

“This is not F1, we don’t have the culture of changing tyres,” said Lorenzo. “They are better and more prepared. In bike racing this is a strange situation, and in MotoGP everyone in the pits is confused.

“I am against this situation because it is dangerous, look at what happened to Iannone. There was confusion, luckily nobody was hurt.”

The Spaniard nevertheless conceded that series promoter Dorna is unlikely to countenance any fundamental changes to ‘flag-to-flag’ given that it guarantees the race can be held in all conditions.

“At the end Dorna decides and we are the ones who have to race, even if we are able to discuss things in the Safety Commission,” said Lorenzo.

“I have proposed certain things [to change] in flag-to-flag. Others prefer to keep things as they are to maintain the spectacle. At the end Dorna prioritises the show but this also leads to many risks being taken.”

Lorenzo’s views were not shared by MotoGP’s other top riders, with Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi saying ‘flag-to-flag’ remains the best solution for races held in mixed conditions - even if certain rules regarding swapping bikes could do with being tightening up.

“We need to clarify the rules about changing bikes,” said Rossi. “Motorcycling is a bit new to this, and that’s probably why we should introduce clearer rules about how to proceed.

“Anyway, the alternative is to stop the race, but I think the current option is least bad, especially for the spectators.”

Marc Marquez, who won the Brno race with a much earlier swap to his slick-shod second bike than his rivals, acknowledged that the flag-to-flag format would always carry a certain amount of risk.

“Now it’s much less dangerous than before, but there will always be some danger, both here and in F1,” Marquez admitted. “Everything has to be well organised.”

Additional reporting by Oriol Puigdemont

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Series MotoGP
Drivers Marc Marquez , Jorge Lorenzo , Valentino Rossi
Author Jamie Klein
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