Tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix will be the first in the history of the championship to involve compulsory changes of motorcycle due to concerns over the durability of the Bridgestone tyres. The newly resurfaced tarmac and higher-than-expected temperatures have resulted in tyres overheating, leaving them considerably short of the durability required to last the 27 lap distance. Jorge Lorenzo will start from pole position ahead of Marc Marquez who could be crowned the youngest ever MotoGP champion tomorrow.
Concerns had grown during free practice with many riders encountering overheating issues and following qualifying, race direction released a statement with the following rulings.
1. The race distance will be 26 laps (previously scheduled to be 27)
2. Every rider will be required to enter the pits and change to their second machine with fresh tyres at least once during the race.
3. No rider is permitted to make more than 14 laps on any one slick rear tyre. This means that a bike/tyre change before lap 12 would require a second bike/tyre change to finish the race
4. Riders using ‘Factory’ and ‘Satellite’ machines will be required to use the ‘hard’ option tyre (B51DR). Extra quantity will be allocated by Bridgestone
5. Riders using CRT machines will be required to use the CRT ‘hard’ option tyre (B50DR). Extra quantity will be allocated by Bridgestone
6. The pit lane speed limit zone will be extended both on entry and exit and the exit route to re-join the track will be marked by a white line in the runoff area; crossing this line whilst re-joining the track from pit lane will result in a penalty
Bridgestone weren’t the only tyre manufacturer affected with Dunlop also encountering problems in the intermediate class, causing the Moto2 race to be shortened from 25 laps to 13.