Let's Analyze Tires Change in MotoGP Pitstop!

We have been presented twice of MotoGP race at wet circuit in 2009 race season; France Le Mans Circuit and latest at Italian Mugello Circuit. The unique of the two races are the condition of the circuit which is wet but no longer rain falls, in this case the circuit is in semi-wet condition. When start, all riders use wet tires but there is possibility at middle of the race, circuit becomes dry. It is a dilemma that riders should face. So, what is exactly an obstacle for the riders which even this makes the race becomes more exciting?

In this condition, all riders still use wet tires because almost all circuit segments are wet. But sometime, riders can change their tires to be dry or slick tires. This is the unique of MotoGP tires change according to other race, F1 for example. The rider doesn’t only change the tires but also all parts of motorcycle, more precisely they change the motorcycle instead of just change the tires.

Differ from F1 or other car race which is already prepared of tire change condition even before the race is getting started, tire change in MotoGP is not defined by the team but depends on rider decision. Let’s we study advantage and disadvantage of tire change in MotoGP. First of all as I mentioned before that rider has the decision to determine correct time to change the motorcycle, the rider has to understand the circuit condition when he will change the motorcycle. His team only prepares the desired motorcycle but the rider has important role. This becomes his risk if it is not correct time to change. The most important question is: Is it better to change the tires earlier or wait until the circuit to be completely dry? Only the rider has to know it.

The factor that must be considered is circuit condition itself and rider position when he decided to change tires. Generally, riders at front position will delay until the circuit completely dry while riders at behind will get the tires changed and hoping to chase the race leader. In France, race leader Jorge Lorenzo still used wet tires while Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa changed their motorcycle. At dry circuit, slick tire can cut about two seconds time compared by wet-tire race leader. But if they change tires too earlier, it can be their boomerang as Rossi demonstrated in France. He had to fall when pushing too hard his motorcycle which part of the circuit was still wet.

Motor change condition has to be effective because if it is not, the rider will confiscate their time at pitstop. The team has to prepare the motorcycle well because when the rider changes the motorcycle, they have to move quickly. Example for non-effective team is motorcycle placementwhich is not good, so the rider has to run too far to reach the motorcycle. Motorcycle engine start can be gone off suddenly and it has to re-start. In F1, all item are prepared so well because the team is very professional for pitstop.

The second is motorcycle speed at pitstop. As we know that Rossi get Drive Through Penalty according to his speed at pitstop exceed speed allowed at pitstop which is 60km/hour. It is caused by the difficulty to control motorcycle speed under 60km/hour using motorcycle manual throttle control. Differ from F1 which has “Cruise Control” technology to maintain speed exactly under 60km/hour.

Next is engine and tires condition that is not already at their ideal temperature after get out of the pitstop. Motorcycle which has not enough warming up is not optimal to get its maximum performance. Example for this is Marco Melandri at Mugello Circuit, he came out from pit at same time with Dovisioso which had already change his motorcycle before. His Kawasaki can not yet reach maximum performance compared with Dovi’s Honda, that’s why Melandri could be overtaken easily.

Are those only things that become obstacles for tires change in MotoGP? No, there are many factors such as fuel tank condition. It sometimes is not considered by the rider. When preparing motorcycle, they don’t know when rider will come to pitstop, motorcycle is generally loaded by full tank fuel. This becomes negative impact for rider who takes decision to change motorcycle at last moment, because it is still full tank of fuel, the motorcycle can not reach maximum speed. Besides that, disc brake usage is also different between wet and dry circuit condition. For wet circuit, riders usually use steel disc brake while for dry circuit, they use carbon disc brake. Carbon disc brake is used when dry condition because its optimal temperature usage is about 300 degree Celsius and for steel disc brake is under. So, when changing the tires to be dry tires and using carbon disc brake at circuit and weather condition that is still cool, the brake performance becomes not optimal.

That’s all, many deliberations that have to be thought by a rider when he has to change the motorcycle. The decision to change his motorcycle is definitely needed to ride his vehicle become faster and get the dreamt podium so that correct decision from the rider become the key point, besides his ability to adapt from wet to dry tires condition. This hard decision has to be faced by all riders and this makes us, the viewers, will get more exciting show from MotoGP.

How about your opinion?

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