Wet Weather Races Are More Interesting


Motorcycle races in wet weather conditions are much more interesting than those in dry weather.

The first reason, it removes the technical advantage held by the big factory riders, especially with the use of control tires. Every rider is always living life on the edge, even the guys coming last; but when it's wet the edge comes back to meet all riders on more equal terms.

The second reason, and this is a consequence of the first, it emboldens lesser rider to feats of derring-do that might normally seem out of reach. With predictably hilarious results sometimes.

The third reason, it gives the mechanics something to do, other than leaning over pit wall grinning and whooping inanely when their rider comes by after a half-decent result.
Motorcycle races that go dry-to-wet midway through, or vice versa, are reliably even more entertaining. Certainly so since the advent of flag-to-flag bike-change rules, which did away with much confusion. Previously, races were stopped, restarted, then results calculated on aggregate times, so the finishing order was not necessarily the same as the order on the track.

The race in Misano 13th September added a new twist. It's the first race since the flag-to-flag rules were introduced that has occasioned not the one change to a differently equipped bike, but two changes. A dry-wet-dry race, with a most unexpected podium, with Britons Bradley Smith and Scott Redding sharing the champers. And just short of 40 dramatic minutes of variety and adventre for a record crowd at the Simoncelli circuit close to the Italian holiday beaches.

A crowd that did, admittedly, have the disadvantage of having to sit out in the open in the rain. But hey, it's only water. It was definitely worth it.

This time Marquez won after timing his tire changes just right; Valentino Rossi cam way down in fifth when he too might have won, had he not got his timing all wrong. And Jorge Lorenzo crashed out. The result gave another twist to a fascinating championship battle that increasingly looks like it will go to the last round.

Jorge Lorenzo may need Valentino Rossi to non-score and with a 100-percent finish record this year and only one no-score all last year, the old fox doesn't look as though he's going to chuck it all away in a fit of misplaced enthusiasm. Not just yet, anyway.

Misano has particularly entertaining rain record. Way back in 1989, when the circuit was very scrubby and patched, race-day rain brought out the worst in the surface, and precipitated the only effective premier-class rider strike since the 1950s. All but one of the factory guys did a single slow lap and retired. The exception was Pier-Francesco Chili, under the threat of certain death from his Italian sponsors should he fail to take part. He won, and made a sorry picture, weeping tears of shame alongside his once-in-a-lifetime privateer companions.

There was another astonishing wet race in the same year, in Belgium, when rain stopped it twice. Results were declared on an aggregate of three legs, only for the FIM stewards to declare the third leg illegal. Which was rather bizarre, considering the major risks to life and limb to the riders whoi took part in it, on a streaming wet Spa Francorchamps, which was dangerous enough under dry conditions.

There have been any number of rainy mayhem races at Assen over the years. And at Silverstone, with a particularly notorious incident in 1978 when lap scores, unsighted in the mist and spray, miscounted as riders pitted to switch from slicks to wet tires, and wrongly declared Kenny Roberts the winner. At least that's what Barry Sheene insisted, waving his own lap chart, until the day he died.

Things are run with a great deal more organization and control nowadays, and the track surfaces have, for the most part, improved likewise. Even Misano, eventually. Mainly thanks to an evergrowing book of rules and regulations.

The only thing that the cohorts of Dorna can't control is the weather.

Which is a pity, because if they did, they would be fools not to make it compulsory for it to rain for some races.Tag: MotoGP Misano Dorna Kenny Roberts Barry Sheene Valentino Rossi Jorge Lorenzo Rules Racing Weather
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