By Peter McLaren
Despite the recent 'bike swap' compromise, the new for 2005 'flag-to-flag' racing rule - which spells an end to dry MotoGP races being stopped for rain - continues to cause some concern, and appears to contain a potential loophole.
During Thursday's UK MotoGP launch, Crash.net
canvassed opinion on the no stopping for rain directive, which most seemed to feel strayed a little too far from putting the needs of the rider first.
"I think it'll be quite exciting, in a way, but it could be quite... I won't say dangerous, as such, but I think it takes two totally different styles of riding to ride in the wet and ride in the dry," commented Team Roberts rider Shane Byrne.
"If you're riding in the dry and then all of a sudden the wet comes and you've got to go and jump on a wet bike then I think there's gonna be a few people tipping off. Everybody is going to be mad keen to get out of the pits and back into the race and it's going to cause a few little hiccups that's for sure," 'Shakey' added.
"I don't know what to think about that (rule) to be honest, it's a bit of strange one," said WCM's James Ellison. "I mean obviously it's there for the spectators - it's not there for our safety.
"The thing I don't like is the fact that they (race direction) get to say when it's too dangerous to keep going and when to put the white flags (needed if the race has not been declared wet at the start) out. That should be our decision and nobody else's; we're the ones risking our necks at the end of the day," explained James.
editor Michael Scott, who has covered Motorcycle Grand Prix racing since 1984, made his objections to flag-to-flag racing clear - and revealed how teams could potentially exploit the rule to gain an advantage.
"This sport is run by morons. Now that's not my quote - although I may or may not agree with it - that came from Jerry Burgess, Rossi's crew chief," began Scott. "I can't understand why they've been doing this 'rain dance' since, I think, '91. They can't settle on a regulation, they keep changing their minds.
"Now they've created this situation where they go flag-to-flag and so people are going to be racing in pit lane - and the mechanics are going to be racing each other in pit lane," he continued. "Obviously this is a perilous business; it can lead to mechanics' mistakes, it could lead to collisions in pit lane, so they had to introduce a 60km/h speed limit. The more daft rules you make, the more daft rules you have to make to make those rules workable."
But it's the blanket ban on overtaking in the pit lane that has created a potential loophole: