MotoGP: Improved run-offs taking away rider skill

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MotoGP world champions Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden reckon the drive to improve safety in MotoGP is taking away another element of rider skill.

Already angered by the significant influence that electronic rider aids have had in MotoGP, some riders now feel the increasing number of paved run-off areas before gravel traps is also detrimental to rider skill.

Stoner and Hayden believe riders are no longer punished enough for making mistakes, and it is too easy just to run off track and recover while losing minimal time.

Several times in Le Mans last weekend at new paved run-off at the tricky downhill Garage Vert right-hander, riders were running off and Ducati rider Stoner said: “For me all this extra run off that we have is not racing.

“I think you’ve got to keep it within the white lines. Unfortunately, it’s a safety issue. If you try and push into a corner too hard when you’ve run in a little hot it definitely does help the safety because you’re not always crashing trying to keep it in between the white lines.

“And when you do run it off the track you don’t just dump it in the gravel. But I still think racing-wise it gives people the opportunity to push beyond the limits.

“People just push that bit harder and push the boundaries too much. They make a mistake, pick up the bike and run on. For me if you make a mistake you go in the gravel, your problem, you made a mistake.

“I don’t believe so much in the run off area because people now are using it all the time and I don’ think its fair or racing. It is easy for people when they mistake. Normally you have to run into the gravel.

“Now they just pick the bike up, run off and come immediately back on the circuit. In the past you didn’t see so many mistakes because they knew that if you made an error you were in the gravel.

“Also in the wet, when you crash you don’t slow down until you hit the gravel and for me it’s a bit more dangerous.”

Repsol Honda rider Nicky Hayden backed the Aussie and he said: “With all the rider aids and the extra run-off you can get away with a lot more and it almost makes it’s too easy just to pick it up and run wide.

“If they didn’t have all that run off you wouldn’t have everybody running so wide. For cars it’s awesome because they can brake and even for us it’s nice but in the race when you make a mistake you should lose time.

“In Le Mans and Assen and some other places you can make a mistake and just run off the track, pull right back on line and be back in it without losing any time. It seems like you should get more punished for making mistakes.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt