MotoGP riders have a choice of engine maps which they can switch between, via a handlebar buttons, during a race.

While the obvious choice might be to start with maximum engine performance and then reduce as tyre grip drops, it can sometimes be more beneficial to start on a lower setting - saving the tyre and fuel - then turn the engine up for the end of the race.

"The problem was that we started with too much power," Pramac's Danilo Petrucci explained after last weekend's Brno race. "The difference between the two maps was not so big, but maybe it was too much [power] at the beginning.

"In the Sachsenring, where the tyre consumption was even higher, and we cared more about the electronics, and we started really, really low [power] and this makes the difference at the end of the race.

"But it's not easy, because at the beginning you have a lot of traction from the tyres, and you feel the bike is very, very low power. But the difficult thing is to go fast with low power.

"You saw at the beginning of the race - we were all together, but trying to stay together. It was incredible what the first three riders did on the last lap," the Italian added, referring to Andrea Dovizioso, Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez setting their best lap of the race on the final lap."

On Thursday in Austria, asked a selection of riders about how they use engine maps during a race...

Petrucci's team-mate Jack Miller confirmed he also often uses the 'start low, end high' tactic, due to the low grip caused by tyre rubber from the previous Moto3 and Moto2 races.

"Especially with all the Dunlop rubber on the track, you can't use all the power we've got. So you do have to start off sometimes a little bit lower otherwise you just kill the tyre," said Miller, who rides a GP17 compared to Petrucci's GP18

"Not through your own fault, you are being gentle on the throttle, picking the bike up and everything like that. But it just seems that you just can't find the grip. Even in a straight line, with the bike upright, you're just spinning the tyre. So you have to try and manage it as best you can.

"It's been like that for a while but seems like this year it's more sensitive; the [Michelin] tyres with the Dunlop rubber. Bridgestone's were always very slippery on the first couple of laps, but after the first 4-5 laps the track was fine, the tyres were fine and you could get going.

"Where as now, the track is slippery on the first lap, but if you make the mistake of trying to give it too much - or in my case at Brno, being further down the grid and then held up by the crash between Bradley and Stefan, just trying to close the gap.

"I feel I made my tyre too warm and it just never recovered. It just sort of stayed average the whole way through. My lap times never faded. High '57s. But wasn't able to go any quicker."

Aprilia's Scott Redding said he sometimes changes maps on the way to the grid.

"It depends on the situation you are in. Some races I start with Power Map 2, but if on the out-lap it feels like ice I come down with the power. And then I think to go back [up] later, but then you are in a rhythm and for what you're going to gain it's very minimal," he said.

"It's more for the beginning of the race, because once you've done the first half of the race it's more-or-less about keeping the same rhythm to the end. So if you change the map, you could put yourself in a little bit of a tricky situation.

"Sometimes I start with the full power map and work down, if it [grip] starts to drop away. Like at Sachsenring, I had to work down a lot but it still wasn't enough."

Redding added that the close racing and constant passing in MotoGP recently can also mean pre-race tactics are harder to initiate.

"Now they've started to battle a bit more and the racing is closer, it's taken the tactics back out again," he said. "It was becoming, 'Okay I know I can do this pace, this lap time, the tyre will last that long and when the fuel comes down to here, I know I can go there [with the map]'.

"But now they start to battle, like in Assen, which was a perfect example, nobody could really put their rhythm into place. It's not big things, but tyre wear - if you are at the front, you know you need to save the tyre to push at the end."

Countryman Cal Crutchlow and fellow Honda rider Dani Pedrosa said they sometimes keep the same engine map for the whole race.

"Sometimes I don't even press them," Crutchlow said. "I've some races this year where I've not even pressed any map at all. And I've had the last race [Brno] where I was trying to press it to get some traction, I tried to calm the bike down and probably shouldn't have because it allowed Valentino in the last lap to really get a good slipstream."

Crutchlow added that, while it depends on the track and manufacturer, "normally what [Ducati] do is, if they have fuel left, they try to use the rocket at the end of the race."

Ducati claimed a one-two finish at Brno with Andrea Dovizioso just holding off team-mate Jorge Lorenzo and Honda's Marc Marquez.

"Dovi was cruising! I was thinking, 'Just get out of the way'. I actually thought he had a problem, as in not going to win the race, and then suddenly started to light it up and I thought, 'he's just been playing with us for the last ten laps'," Crutchlow said.

Pedrosa meanwhile usually only changes map if he has an unexpected grip issue during the race, having refined the power and torque map throughout practice.

"Normally I start practice with the base power, which is from last year at the circuit," Pedrosa explained. "But of course all the time you are adjusting because the track condition is improving or the grip is decreasing. If rain or whatever. You must adapt all the time your power to the current grip."

"In the race you have some spare maps in case you have some problem with the tyres or some extra problem with the track or something is not perfect.

"But if, let's say, the weekend went quite okay - dry sessions and so on, then you have pretty much your base map well fitted. Sure you have a drop in the tyre and maybe you have one time to switch, but not every [race]."



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