Riders Split on New Flag-to-Flag Procedure


Cal Crutchlow trialling MotoGP's proposed new flag-to-flag procedure (Photo Credit: MotoGP.com)

Opinion was divided in the MotoGP paddock today after the first test of a new procedure which may be used in flag-to-flag races in the future. The move comes as a response to incidents in the recent Czech Republic Grand Prix at Brno which saw Aleix Espargaro and Andrea Iannone tangle while Loris Baz also slid off in the pit-lane.

The new system, which sees signs on the tarmac indicating which point riders should turn into their pit-boxes, as well as a mechanic carrying a lollipop determining when the rider can exit the box, was not endorsed by Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa.

“For me, it wasn’t a big difference, the angle of the bike is much closer. What isn’t good is the markers on the track on the floor. It’s difficult to see which one is yours and difficult to know whether to go after or before the sticker. You have to be looking at the floor instead of your mechanics. It’s a bit different from what I’m used to before.”

Cal Crutchlow, who was fastest in free practice was even more outspoken on the issue and doesn’t believe any changes are necessary.

“It’s a waste of time. If you crash in pit-lane in a flag-to-flag race, as far as I’m concerned, it’s your fault. You’ve just got to open your eyes. All this stuff, making us come in at a certain angle, works here but wait until we get to a pit-lane like Phillip Island. People in the garages are gonna be cleared out. We don’t have much steering lock I can tell you that.”

In contrast, KTM’s Bradley Smith was in favour of the change and believes it will make the rush to change bikes in a flag-to-flag race much safer.

“I think making a rule of where to turn should always have been part of the system. Some guys were going really close to the other bikes, some guys staying close to the pit-wall. The lollipop system I don’t think is a bad idea. There’s always a short hesitation but it’s for the rider so he can look left and exit in the right way. I think it’s the safest option we’ve had so far.”

Valentino Rossi was relatively relaxed on the matter, seeing positive and negatives to both, but he isn’t sure it will solve the problems seen in Brno.

“For me, I’m cool to speak with the other riders in the safety commission and understand the idea. I’m happy with both (systems) but if this rule is made to fix the problem of Iannone and Espargaro, for me it doesn’t fix nothing because we don’t see the other bike anyway.”