2013 MotoGP Australia
While Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo crossed the finish line in first place and took the points, the Australian round of MotoGP 2013 will be remembered more for the circumstances in which it was run.
Practice and qualifying had revealed that the officially supplied Bridgestone tyres were not going to last the race distance. In the interests of rider safety, the race was reduced to 19 laps with the extraordinary requirement that riders pit in a two-lap window to change bikes. This is the first time this has ever happened in MotoGP and confusion reigned. Some teams struggled to have a second bike ready and riders had to come to terms with getting used to two bikes in the same race.
It worked for some better than others. Dani Pedrosa, who ended up in second place, executed a smooth changeover but wasn’t as fast on the second bike.
“I decided to stop [for the change] at the first opportunity and my change was fast,” he said.
“But I didn’t have the same feeling with the second bike and when I got to Jorge and Marc, I wasn’t fast enough.”
Rossi, who finished third, preferred the second bike. “I was not strong enough in the first part because I was sliding too much but we did a good job in the pits and I was able to overtake Cal and Bautista. I was faster in the second part of the race.”
Marc Marquez was at the centre of the biggest controversy. He was fighting for the lead when Lorenzo, Crutchlow and Rossi all pitted on lap nine, the last available opportunity. Marquez continued to circulate and changed bikes on lap 10, outside the regulation period. He re-joined the race, accelerating onto the racing line for turn one just as Lorenzo turned up. The bikes made contact and it was miraculous that neither crashed. Marquez slowed and Pedrosa stole second spot but it didn’t matter anyway as Marquez was black-flagged four laps later.
His pit crew had misunderstood the new, hastily contrived rules relating to the compulsory bike change and Marquez suffered the consequences.
There was further confusion when Australian riders Bryan Staring and Damian Cudlin were also black-flagged, in Cudlin’s case, wrongly.
The most spectator pleasure during the race was the fight between Crutchlow, Bautista and Rossi for third place. It alone was worth the admission price.
Overall crowd numbers were down, as expected, but still healthy. Casey Stoner’s retirement race the previous year had attracted a record attendance and, with no Australian in contention among the top runners, organisers were expecting lower numbers. The weather was generally good and there wasn’t the usual struggle to find a vantage point on the fences.
Ace shooter, Russell Colvin, had his trusty Nikon with him and you can see some of the results on the following pages. Roll on, 2014!