Tyre pressures: Why you can’t roll off at the end of a race

The risk of a tyre pressure penalty means that even riders who are out of reach of their opponents can no longer afford to back off in the closing stages of a MotoGP race.
Enea Bastianini, MotoGP race, Malaysia MotoGP, 12 November
Enea Bastianini, MotoGP race, Malaysia MotoGP, 12 November

That’s firstly because slowing down increases the chance of a tyre cooling and the pressure therefore dropping below the minimum for the specified 33% (Sprint) or 50% (GP) of racing laps.

But if a rider has already used up his one official warning and is later found to be under pressure, backing off would also increase the potential ‘damage’ to their race result from the resulting 3 second post-race penalty.

Likewise, if a rider drops more than 3 seconds behind the bike in front, he will not benefit if the rider ahead is later sanctioned for low tyre pressure.

Dorna’s Simon Crafar explained: “There are so many angles to this.

“You can attack to try and build up a 3-second distance in case there is a time penalty added, so it doesn’t matter, and you’ll keep your position.

“But also, crew chiefs have told me, you can’t afford to roll off at the end of the race.

“Because if you’re following someone and think ‘I can’t pass them, I may as well make sure I don’t fall off’. The problem with that is if the person ahead then gets a 3 second penalty, if you’re close you’ll move ahead of him [on the revised results]

“Secondly, if you roll off, you might drop back into the cooler air and won’t create as much temperature in the tyre and could get a warning or penalty yourself.

“There are a lot of things to manage, because if you push too hard, you’re likely to fall off.

“So these riders, apart from - I’ve counted - nine buttons and levers on the left hand of the handlebar for some manufacturers, are trying to deal with all this as well.”

13 riders - including title rivals Francesco Bagnaia and Jorge Martin, plus last Sunday's winner Enea Bastianini - have now used up their one available official warning.

Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro is the only rider to have so far received a 3-second post-race time penalty for a second pressure infringement.

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