Monthly archives: September, 2014

MotoGP 2014, Aragon: a tale of what-ifs

What an absolutely fascinating race the 2014 Aragon MotoGP presented. It had it all – lots of battles, drizzle slowly getting heavier and some clangers of decisions made in terms of a flag-to-flag race. Lorenzo scooped up after the Repsol Honda boys binned it trying to hang out too long on slicks. The race itself is covered extensively everywhere else, what I thought I’d do here is present a race history chart and then, below the jump, look at the what-if scenarios for Marquez had the weather been a touch more favourable. First up, the race history chart

MotoGP 2014 Aragon: race history chart
This chart is fascinating for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the big thing is you can see the effect of getting the call right in terms of lap to pit. The rain steadily increased, making it a tougher call. Even the fastest guys on wets, e.g. Lorenzo, were only doing 2’02-2’04 laptimes, and until lap 18 Marquez and Dani were increasing their lead.

Nevertheless, slicks don’t keep their heat forever and the rain steadily increased, catching out those who stayed out a bit later… the biggest losers here were both of the Repsol Honda runners who really screwed the pooch in this race. That said, it was far from a clear-cut decision because the decision was being made only a couple of laps from the end. Looking at the lap times, the cost for pitting was about 28-30 seconds; with 4 laps to run you just have to be doing 7s/lap slower on slicks to still end up winning by not pitting. Below, let’s look at what would have happened had the weather gods smiled a bit more on Marquez.

MotoGP 2014: Aragon pit stop analysis

Just a quick one while I look at the madness that was the 2014 MotoGP race at Aragon. This is a quick look at pit stop times for each rider and their rankings.

MotoGP 2014, Aragon: pit stop rankings

First up we have the rankings. Aleix Espargaro ended up with the fastest combined sector 4 and sector 1 time, which includes the time in the pit lane. Hector Barbera had a hugely long stop as he only had 1 bike available and had to swap wheels. Of note is that Marc Marquez didn’t end up with a blistering fast time, although he would have been riding gingerly back to the pits after crashing due to staying out on slicks too long.

If Cal Crutchlow had stopped 2 seconds faster, he would have easily beaten Aleix to 2nd… this is the difference between a slightly tardy and a speedy bike swap.

Of interest for me was if there was a trend of slower pit stops the later the riders stopped. This didn’t really seem to be the case. Maaaaaybe there was a slight trend as the wetter the track got, the slower the riders had to approach the final few corners before negotiating pit lane but still, there is very little evidence for a major difference. Certainly the spread due to how gingerly or aggressively the riders took it on their in and out laps, and their speed swapping bikes, has more of an effect than the increasing amount of rain on the track.

MotoGP 2014, Aragon: pit stop time versus pit lap

Review: Pro-Lift rolling creeper stool / toolbox


Something you find after owning a 2-stroke race bike for more than half a minute is that you need to fiddle with them. While kneeling on the ground is a glam way to show your bike the respect it deserves, a rolling stool is a way better way to do it. I’ve been on the lookout for one for a while, and below is a review of the pro-lift toolbox stool I bought from ebay last week. I’m gonna call it the Stoolbox.

It’s a pretty good buy at $80, and it took me 2 days from ordering it to delivery. Can probably find them cheaper but I didn’t want to wait 8 years.

Read below the jump for my full review, or check out my video testing its rolling capabilities.

Scott Jones: tips for photographing motorcycles

This is a quick one, but one of the best MotoGP photographers (Scott Jones) has written up a little guide on the effect of shutter speeds and photographing motorcycles. It’s one of the better discussions and is straight to the point:

Mick’s PCRA 1 Hour 2014 Race Report

Sunday was shaping up to be a perfect day for racing with clear skies and nice spring temperatures forecast for the endurance events. I’d bullied Richard into letting me partner him on the LC in Race 1 in exchange for him partnering me on the ZX6R in Race 4. I definitely got the better end of that deal as I knew the LC well and just had to re-familiarise myself with it, whereas he was going to have to learn a totally new bike.

The first 20 minute qualifying session was up for the LC and Richard went out first to set a couple of lap times and make sure everything felt good, then he came in and let me run it around until I felt comfortable on it again. I’m pleased to say that he’s got the mighty LC running as good as it ever has and I settled in on it very quickly, banging out some reasonable times and trying to remember where its limits were. We ended up 14th on the grid overall and the first in our class by a narrow margin, so we had to be pretty happy with that as a good setup for the main race.

The next qualifying session for us was on the ZX6R, but it took a while to get to as there were some delays after a big crash in another session. This meant the session was cut to 15 minutes and it was Richard’s first chance to have a run on the bike before the race, so I knocked out 3 laps to get a time on the board and then handed over to Richard to just go out and get comfortable on the bike with the instruction that it’ll feel a bit funny in the corners but it goes away if you push a bit harder. He had a couple of laps coming to terms with it and then settled in and managed to knock out some pretty reasonable times. This put is into 13th overall and 3rd in our class, but I knew we could be competitive against the guys in 2nd so was hopeful I could get in front of them and build a bit of a gap in the race.

With qualifying over we were pretty much straight back out on the LC for the first endurance race, so we threw the 6 back up on its stands and headed straight to the dummy grid with the LC. Richard was out first for the now 50 minute event and got a blinder off the LeMans start, but was passed under power by Roger Ward on his number 98 RD350LC towards the end of the first lap. However he put his head down and slowly set about reeling them back in, getting the gap down to a very small margin before pitting and handing the bike over at bang on the half way mark. We had a smooth changeover and I was straight out into it with the aim of chasing down number 98 which appeared to be our main rival. The LC was singing like a banshee and within a lap I caught and passed them, then set about setting a nice comfortable gap and a steady pace to get to the end. Number 98 expired with mechanical issues about 5 laps later, and this left us with a clear lead over our next rivals, finishing the race over a lap up on them and 1st in class.

We had a reasonable break until the final race of the day, so got to watch some of the racing and try to keep the energy levels up before heading back out again on the ZX6R. I was first out this time and got the honours of running across the track in full leathers, however I didn’t do such a good job of it and only got an average start off the line. I had the number 86 in my head as the one to look out for and by lap 2 I’d already passed them and got us up into 9th overall and on the back of a group of F1 bikes. I settled in behind them, looking for a chance to pass and trying to build up as big a gap as I could on our our other rivals, knowing Wade would be steadily pulling away at the front given the pace I was on. Just as we started catching some of the backmarkers and about 9 laps in, we were coming down the hill into T6 and could see a huge cloud of smoke along the main straight. I made sure I got in front of the backmarkers before we hit the yellow flags, then kept my eyes open down the main straight for the oil that was most likely going to be somewhere on the track.

It turned out that it was across 2/3 of the outside line on T2 and another bike had already gone down in it, so we had to cautiously ride through past it and then get back on pace at the green flag. After a couple of corners though, it was full course yellow flags with the safety car coming out. We continued this way for a number of laps before the red flag came out as the clean up job was turning out to be pretty big. We waited in the pits for updates, at one stage being notified that the race would be restarted with the second riders from a grid start for a 20 minute stint, which got Richard’s nerves up to fever pitch, but finally the notification came that there was no way the track could be made safe in the time left and the race was declared.

So the final position for us was 8th overall and 2nd in F2 class, which we were pretty happy with.

Now to the important stuff! I want to say a huge thanks to Richard for stepping up and not only agreeing to race on Saturday and enter the LC on Sunday, but also taking on the challenge of riding the 6, a bike he’d never even swung a leg over before those laps in qualifying. Hopefully next time you actually get to ride it for a few more laps. Also thanks for your help and support over the weekend and for letting me ride the mighty LC again.
Another big thanks to all the guys in the pits, Rob, Supa, Gos, Nelso and Leanne, it made for an entertaining weekend and a great atmosphere. Also thanks to everyone who came up to support us in the pits and on the track, including Keira, Julian, Jonesi, Jessa, Lee and Binksy (I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone there), and congrats to all the others from CR who were racing including Adam and Andrew.

I’m hoping that next year will be a lot more active racing year for Team Ghetto Racing (I’d better make sure I don’t drop any more valves I guess), so I look forward to seeing everyone out there either racing, flagging, pit bitching or watching from the fence. It’s amazing the support that’s out there and it’s greatly appreciated.

Mick’s PCRA Rd6 2014 Race Report

This was my first race meeting back after missing most of the season as a result of dropping a valve on the ZX6R earlier in the year, so I was keen to get back on track and see how well the replacement motor would go. There were a few delays in the morning with fog and then a rider down in one of the sessions that required a helicopter pickup, so it was late morning before we even got out for qualifying.

My first couple of laps were a bit sketchy and the front end of the 6 was feeling like it was bouncing around everywhere, but I knew I was still off the pace and that I hadn’t changed anything with the settings, so I bit the bullet and took a punt on pushing it harder to see if that would improve things. Fortunately it did and I started to settle into a nice rhythm and feel more comfortable on the bike. After a good number of laps I was confident I had a reasonable qualifying time without breaking any records.

Unfortunately it appeared there were problems with the timing loops and no times were recorded for most of the qualifying sessions, so they had to revert to another system to work out grid positions based on championship points. As I’d missed most of the season, this meant that I was starting down in 26th on the grid, so there was a lot of ground to make up. Nelso was beside me on 27th and Gos was a couple of rows in front. I needed a good start, but only got an average one, also dodging a stalled rider on the grid, so had to slowly work my way back up through the field in the following 5 laps. There were a few interesting moments with some unorthodox lines being taken by some of the other riders, and a moment tipping into turn 4 just after I passed Gos which felt like I’d run over something (but can’t see anything on the videos which is weird). I’d worked my way up to 13th and I managed to pull a gap on the other riders after the first two laps, then put my head down and tried to chase down the lead group. I caught them on the final lap and finished in 13th and 3rd in class by less than a second. Apparently I also got the fastest laptime of a 1:06.8 but my Racechrono didn’t agree so I’m not sure about that one.

The second race was cut down to 4 laps and again the pressure was on for a good start. In retrospect realised I needed to adjust my clutch after putting the other motor in as the friction point was too far out and this caused slipping problems the following day, but at the time I thought it was just me being shit. So not a great start and again some sketchy passing required to dispatch some of the slower riders. One 750 rider in particular seemed to not like my attempted pass between T4 and T5 and he almost took my front wheel out trying to cut me off. Trying to pass him again down into T8 and we came up on a slower lapped rider, so that blew that chance. I still finished tenth overall and second in class though, but my times were still as fast as the front runners were doing, so it was a bit frustrating to be stuck back in all the traffic.

The final race was now cut down to 3 laps, so not a lot of time to do anything other than finish. I had a bit of a run in with the same 750 rider that had given me problems in the previous race, the worst of which was in the final lap on T9 he decided to change lines to try to pass another rider (unsuccessfully) and parked it on the entry, stuffing my faster run and making me drop two places by the finish line. Again the frustration was knowing I was lapping faster but having too much traffic to deal with to capitalise on it, but that’s racing and at the end of the day I wasn’t fighting for the championship and it didn’t have a huge impact on the final results. It’s also a huge motivation to improve my starts and push harder in the races.

So the final result of the day, which we didn’t find out till the next day after the hardworking officials stayed back late in the night to work them out, was that I ended up with 2nd in PM F2 behind Wade Lewis in 1st and in front of Grahame Percy in 3rd. Definitely better than I thought it was going to be after not knowing what the actual finishing positions were in class on the day, so I was pretty happy with that.

So up next is the 1 Hour report.

PCRA 2014 1-hour enduro race history: Commuterlites

[visualizer id=”465″] Check out the race for 2nd-5th position! Close.

Full resolution printable version also available.

PCRA 2014 1-hour enduro: race history, race 1, P4 P5 126cc-500cc/P6 250cc/P6 500cc & Pre-Modern F3

[visualizer id=”461″]

This is the race history chart for the 2014 PCRA 1-hour enduro (cut short to 50 minutes) for P4 P5 126cc-500cc/P6 250cc/P6 500cc & Pre-Modern F3 bikes.

Much larger version, generated differently, is available here.