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MotoGP Sepang February Testing

The “unsafe” tyre pressure rule that has MotoGP riders worried

A number of MotoGP riders have expressed concerns over the introduction of a new front tyre pressure rule for 2023, which Alex Marquez has called “unsafe”.

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

To close up a grey area in the regulations, MotoGP rule makers have mandated strict enforcement of minimum tyre pressures on the front and rear compounds for 2023.

Revelations that many riders had been operating outside of the front limit last year prompted the rule change, though most argued when quizzed on it that they did so on safety grounds.

For 2023, riders and teams must adhere to a minimum front tyre pressure of 1.9 bar (27.6psi) and 1.7 bar (24.7psi) on the rear.

This has led to fears of an increase in crashes in 2023, as many riders believe the risks of falling will greatly increase once the tyre reaches 2.2 bar (32psi) of front pressure – something that will affect those riding in packs.

Any riders found to have operated outside of the minimum limits could face lap time deletions in practice and qualifying, and disqualification from races.

Gresini Ducati rider Alex Marquez felt the front tyre pressure rule “has no sense” and noted that, had the rule been enforced last year, 13 riders would have likely been kicked out of the Australian Grand Prix.

“We worked quite a lot on the new rules of pressure, that are interesting,” Marquez said at the Sepang test last week.

“The front one, honestly, has no sense, especially for the race, because it can be unsafe.

“For the rear one, I totally agree. The whole weekend, time attack, everything [I was running above the minimum level].

“You can be disqualified [in the race]. In Australia, I think, 13 riders would have been disqualified, or something like this. Because you never know on the race where you will be.”

Marquez argued that there is “no advantage” to running front tyre pressures lower than the minimum 1.9 bar, and doesn’t believe the governing body for MotoGP – the FIM – will push forward with the regulation after the opening rounds.

“Also, being too low in the front will not be an advantage,” he added. “The first two races, that rule will not be on, so after two I think they will make the decision. But I think they will not do it [going forward].”

While rule changes always come with teething issues, one possible problem from the enforcement of the minimum front tyre pressure could ultimately be detrimental to the show.

Michelin tyres

Michelin tyres

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

With MotoGP introducing sprint races in 2023 in a bid to boost a dwindling viewership of the series, Marquez warned that every podium initially will be surrounded in doubt as no rider will know for certain if they will keep their result.

“If you are behind and the pressure goes more than 2.2 bar, you will crash,” Marquez stated.

“So, it’s not really fair. We will arrive in the podium and we will not know if we are on the podium, or we are with zero points.

“If you are really low, you cannot make nothing on the bike. It’s difficult at that point, it will be a bit difficult for everybody.”

Aleix Espargaro noted that the Sepang test highlighted a further problem with the spec sensors teams will use in 2023, as that system and the one Aprilia currently uses did not match in terms of numbers.

“We are running both systems,” Espargaro said on the opening day of the Sepang test.

“The McLaren one and this one [we will use in 2023]. For the moment, this test it’s just information for the engineers to use.

“We are not matching the same numbers, at least on the test team, the same numbers on the sensors.

“So, they need to understand how to pull it together, if it makes some sense or not. We need the data from the other ones, so it’s not going to be easy.”

Reigning MotoGP world champion Francesco Bagnaia echoed the safety fears raised by Alex Marquez, noting: “I did all the session with a very high front tyre pressure, because in this moment the [minimum] low is not fixed [or enforced], it’s not there.

“So, we can continue like in the past years. But, sincerely, if the low will be in the championship it will be a problem not just for us but for everybody, because if you follow someone it will become too dangerous because the pressure will go high.”

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