Australia has welcomed MotoGP with open arms. The passion that can be felt at Phillip Island is always very strong, but unfortunately the weather started acting up, creating quite a headache for the race organisers. Wind has always been a potential problem on this magnificent track and the forecast ahead of Sunday presented a huge bill to pay: winds of over 70 km/h and strong gusts. Conditions that represent a massive problem with the current MotoGP bikes.
The aerodynamic appendages that have sprung up on every inch of the bikes allow for load to be generated, but are designed to deal with a 'clean' airflow. The strong crosswind imposes a variable in the equation which alone manages to throw off balance the entire motorbike-rider system. From this awareness was born the idea of moving the MotoGP Grand Prix to tomorrow and postponing the Sprint Race to Sunday. Because the Grand Prix is the highlight of the weekend, while the Sprint race is clearly 'expendable'.
However, it is sad to note how expendable Moto3 and Moto2 are too, which while maybe not being affected by the same problems as MotoGP when the wind blows at over 70 km/h, certainly put the riders up against similar risks. Except that while the Grand Prix isn't expendable, everything else is. It's not us who say it, but the facts. Would it have been possible to change the weekend program to also hold the Moto2 and Moto3 races tomorrow? The answer is yes, but in our opinion Dorna preferred not to take risks regarding MotoGP, perhaps trusting in a good dose of luck for Sunday morning.
But they did not consider it necessary to do the same for the other two categories, already widely defined as expendable in deeds and words. Here are the words of Carlos Ezpeleta in the press conference called this morning.
"The forecast for Sunday is really bad, we've talked about it a lot. Here things change very quickly, but after some discussions today we decided to bring forward the MotoGP race to tomorrow. Here when the wind blows very strongly it's dangerous for the bikes and the riders, we've already had red flags in some sessions."
Ezpeleta explained why safety comes first. When it comes to MotoGP, obviously.
"Safety always comes first, for riders and teams. This is why we changed the race for the Sprint Race. To safeguard the most important race of the weekend. Obviously we will think about Sunday's forecast, to do all the sessions and everything else scheduled. If the weather permits we will do them, otherwise we will stop. The decision was accepted by everyone, everyone wants to run the race in safe conditions tomorrow rather than risk it on Sunday."
Maybe even racing in Australia at this time of year is something that will need to change in the future.
"The program for 2024 has already been decided. As far as I know, here in Australia it is never very easy with the weather, it is perhaps one of the challenges. We would like to minimize this risk, in line with our possibilities."
When asked about Moto2 and Moto3, here was Ezpeleta's response.
"MotoGP is the priority, but in my opinion the program on Sunday will change a lot as the hours go by. Moto2 and Moto3 are less affected by the wind, due to the aerodynamics. We will see the forecasts and also how the warmups will go. I think that we'll talk to the teams, but we know that MotoGP is the priority. Often the weather isn't good for the top class, but maybe it allows the other categories to race. We'll only understand on Sunday morning."