I’m new to motorcycle roadracing, and really enjoyed yesterday’s MotoGP from Misano. But I’m trying to understand how a guy who hasn’t been up front all year, Dani Pedrosa, managed to suddenly badly beat all the riders he hasn’t been able to get anywhere near, including his teammate on the same bike, Marc Marquez? What the heck goes on?
San Diego, CA
Probably you’re no more surprised than Dani Pedrosa. According to one of our favorite motojournalist insiders Mat Oxley, this weekend it was all about the tires. At 135 pounds, Pedrosa is the lightest rider on the grid as well as one of the smoothest, and both of those factors mean he has a hard time generating enough heat to get his tires up to optimum temperature. In general, the hotter the conditions, the faster Pedrosa rides.
For Misano, Michelin brought a new front tire with a stiffer casing and thinner tread to reduce the heat generated by heavy braking into the Misano’s many tight turns. The new tire was available only in medium and soft compounds, though, and Pedrosa was one of only two riders to go with the soft option (Ducati-mounted Michele Pirro finished 7th on the other one).
Marquez’s team didn’t think even the medium compound would last the whole race given MM’s aggressive riding and Misano’s heat and abrasiveness, but Valentino Rossi finished second on the medium after running up front for much of the race.
For Pedrosa, who came all the way from sixth on lap one to pass Valentino Rossi into the lead with seven laps to go, it couldn’t have worked out better. With the track temperature up to 110 degrees F, Pedrosa sailed to an easy win, setting a new race-lap record on the last lap and lopping 22 seconds off the previous total race-record time, knocking out 28 laps of Misano in 43 minutes, 43.524 seconds. Just goes to show you, well, something. In the end, a stiffer tire designed to shed more heat at Misano actually helped the guy who usually needs to shed less heat win the race.
Next stop, Motorland Aragon in Spain two weekends from now. The Michelin Power Slick front Pedrosa used to such good effect was supposed to be a Misano-only one-off, but you know Pedrosa will be begging for more of the same. Eight different winners in the last eight MotoGP races makes this year’s MotoGP series a pretty dang compelling reason to spend more time on the couch this summer. And Fall.
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