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MotoGP Catalunya: Lorenzo, Marquez disagree over track changes

Jorge Lorenzo 'missed' Safety Commission meeting, doesn't agree with Turn 10 change. Marc Marquez says meeting was usual time and place, decisions unanimous...
MotoGP riders back the changes made to Turn 12 at Catalunya, the scene of Luis Salom's fatal Friday accident in the Moto2 class.

Indeed, pole sitter Marc Marquez stated that the race would have been cancelled if modifications were not made.

But in the post-qualifying press conference a difference of opinion emerged between world champion Jorge Lorenzo and fellow front row starters Marquez and Dani Pedrosa over the decision to also replace Turn 10, at the end of the back straight.

The modifications were unanimously agreed by the Safety Commission and meant that the MotoGP event has switched to the full F1 layout for the remainder of the weekend.

However only 10 of the 21 MotoGP riders - Marquez (Honda), Andrea Iannone (Ducati), Pol Espargaro (Yamaha), Jack Miller (Honda), Bradley Smith (Yamaha), Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia), Aleix Espargaro (Suzuki), Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati), Tito Rabat (Honda) and Cal Crutchlow (Honda) - attended the Safety Commission meeting.

“Well I think the important thing this weekend is what happened yesterday,” Lorenzo began. “Unfortunately we lost Luis and everything else is secondary. But you know after what happened yesterday, the Safety Commission decided to change the corners, together with some riders.

“I miss a little bit not to be there, as world champion and leader of the world championship. But I didn't receive any communication and I don't understand why we weren't there together, all 21 riders, to take such an important decision. To modify the track after Friday. Disappointed, but it's like this.”

Lorenzo then declared that the slower corners have 'more benefit' for the Honda riders.

“With this condition we have to manage to get the best result possible tomorrow. It's not simple for us because the first gear corners, for our bike, are not the best ones. It has much more benefit for Honda.

“But I think the safety is very important. In my opinion Turn 12 should be modified - not only yesterday but a long time before. Because we needed much more gravel to stop the rider and the bike. But in my opinion Turn 10 was not worth to be changed, but we couldn't be there to decide.”

Pressed on his comments, Lorenzo responded:

“We all have the option to go to the Safety Commission normally, but yesterday what happened [to Salom] happened so was a special occasion. Also the safety Commission normally meets in the Dorna office and yesterday it moved to the corner [Turn 12] and I didn't know anything was happening in that area.

“Also I think Dani and Valentino didn't go. We went too late. I think for me it should be the normal procedure, to communicate this special occasion for such an important decision. Not only the riders but also the teams should have the option to at least give their opinion.

“As I said, Turn 12 should have been modified before, but sometimes you just modify when something like this happens. But for example [turn 10] was not for me necessary to change and these two changes make finally our life more difficult. But if it is just for safety, I agree. But for me Turn [10] was not worth it.”

But isn't a Safety Commission meeting held at the same time at each circuit?

“If I knew they wanted to change the two corners, for sure I would go. For such an important decision and special occasion for sure I would go to at least understand and say my opinion,” Lorenzo said.

“But I didn't know anything. I thought they would keep using the same track, as changing these kind of things after starting the weekend has never happened. In my opinion we should all have been there for such an important modification.”

Lorenzo's claims were swiftly countered by Marquez, sitting next to the Yamaha rider.

“One thing is clear; every Friday we have the Safety Commission meeting at 5;30 in the same place and yesterday it was the same riders as usual. Normally we are always 9-10 riders, not every rider [attends], and I think if we have the opportunity to try to improve the safety of the tracks every rider needs to go,” Marquez said.

“Okay, at some tracks we don't speak a lot and in 15 minutes the meeting is done. But in others it's important and I think thanks to Dorna for giving us the opportunity to give our opinion about the safety.

“So yesterday we were the same riders [as usual] there. First of all we planned to cancel the race because we thought that it was a hard moment, but Carmelo called the family [of Luis Salom] and they were agreed to continue with the grand prix. I think also if Salom was here he would like to race.

“After this we planned first to change that corner [Turn 12] and the solution was difficult because we modified [the chicane] as well, we painted some of the asphalt [marking the edge of the track] to try to gain more space.

“Then, two years ago, we had already tried the different Turn [10]. Everybody was agreed that for safety it was better, but for the layout it was worse. I also agree, the other corner is more fun to ride. But in the end every rider that goes straight-on there, especially Moto2 and MotoGP, arrives in the wall or very close to the wall because there is not enough run-off.

“Last year I went wide there and I was [leaning] the bike over in the gravel and people said 'why?' It was because the wall was here [puts hand in front of face] already, so to try to stop. Looks like if nothing happens we don't need to change anything, but it's better to think about it and change before there is an accident.

“So we did it for this reason and everybody that was there was agreed."

And where and when was Friday's meeting? “Yesterday from 5:30 until 6:15 we were in the Dorna office like always. Then we moved to the corners to check everything. Because on a map is one thing and to be there is another.”

While Lorenzo is far from alone in feeling that the event could have gone ahead without the Turn 10 change, his comments about first gear corners being 'more benefit for Honda' are controversial since they will be interpreted as meaning the change was not done purely for safety.

Lorenzo had been fastest in Friday practice, on the original layout, but only 14th in FP4 prior to pulling out a front row in qualifying.

Pedrosa rejected the suggestion that the slower final sector means the new track layout favours the Honda riders.

“It is only one section. The rest of the track is the same," he said. "So if [the last sector] is better for the Hondas, we have a negative in the other parts. It is clear Honda doesn't have the best bike, in acceleration or normal corners, and I think this change doesn't mean it's bad for others because in the end the track is balanced. It's the choice of someone else to cry or not to cry. I try to think on the reality, that yesterday we lost one rider and this is above everything else.”

Earlier in the day, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta held a press conference with FIM Safety Officer Franco Uncini, in which it was stated that there had not been any requests to change Turn 12 before the accident.

A blunt question from an Italian journalist ("obviously someone is lying, you riders or Carmelo and Franco") combined with the emotionally charged atmosphere brought an angry response from Moto2 pole sitter Johann Zarco: "It's a shit question. You are looking for a problem. Who is right and who is wrong. You must shut up."

Marquez stepped in to calm the situation: "Nobody lied. Nobody lied because we discussed this corner in the past, but everybody was agreed that we would put the airfence, that works really good, all around the corner.

"The riders were agreed. We say 'okay it is a good solution', because it is not possible to have more [run-off] space. We thought the airfence was enough. What we saw yesterday, nobody expected. This is so difficult to imagine, that it would happen like that with the bike in front [of the rider]."

A minute's silence will be held in memory of Salom at 10:15am tomorrow.

Tagged as: Lorenzo , Dani Pedrosa , Marquez

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June 04, 2016 7:13 PM
Last Edited 3 days ago

To qualify everything I say here - I am a Rossi fan AND a MotoGP fan. I think Marquez's response to Jorge was first class and I am impressed that a 23-year old attends ALL the safety meetings as seems to be the case. It is impressive - full marks to Marc on this one, and well answered. Secondly, I disagree with Neal - we have to move on so no need to hang Luis's shadow over Jorge's objection. What is right to say is exactly what Marc said to Jorge : "you should have come to the Safety Commission meeting, like all 21 riders can if they want to, and then you would have been heard and maybe your view would have prevailed. You weren't there so it is too late to complain.". Lastly - I love Zarco's response to that Italian journalist. BANG ! Well done, and well spoken Marc and Johann, AND Dani as well. The future of MotoGP is in good hands if 23 and 25-year olds participate so actively in these safety debates and handle them so thoroughly and so well !

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