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Slicks in wet scary, but flag-to-flag passes test.

The first test of the new MotoGP 'flag-to-flag' racing rule, which means dry races will no longer be stopped due to rain and riders instead have the chance to change bikes, passed without major problem at Estoril on Sunday – although nobody enjoyed riding on slick tyres in the rain.

The weather conditions, which saw the rain never much more than a gentle drizzle, were in effect the worst case scenario - since the conditions weren't wet enough to justify a bike swap.

That was because, even if the significant issue of a 50-second time loss for pitting is put to one side, a bike on wet weather or even intermediate tyres wouldn't have been as quick as a bike on slicks in those part wet conditions.

"They put out the white flag, but I didn't think about coming in for one moment, it wasn't raining enough for that, and it wasn't even worth putting on intermediate tyres," confirmed race winner Alex Barros.

So all riders stayed out and, with the exception of Sete Gibernau and John Hopkins, were able to bring their machines to the chequered flag (although the likes of Colin Edwards and Troy Bayliss also fell, but were able to rejoin).

The reality is that even if the race had been stopped, it would have been restarted with almost all riders still on slicks, for the performance reasons stated, making the stoppage useless in terms of rider safety.

In short, new rules or old, the riders would have been riding on slicks in the rain on Sunday. But that doesn't mean they had to like it...

"The most difficult thing was to see the flags signalling rain when I was on slicks at 300kmph. That was really scary!" said Ducati's Carlos Checa after finishing fifth.

"It is very difficult to ride a MotoGP bike on slick tyres on a wet track," confirmed Kawasaki Shinya Nakano, while former world champion Kenny Roberts used stronger language: "It was pretty dangerous out there and we just never knew what the weather was doing."

Related Pictures

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Start, Portuguese MotoGP Race, 2005
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Rossi, rain, Dutch MotoGP 2017
Rossi, rain, Dutch MotoGP 2017
Rossi, rain, Dutch MotoGP 2017
Crowds, flags, Italian MotoGP Race 2017

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