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MotoGP Australian GP

Why MotoGP had "no choice" but to abandon Phillip Island sprint

MotoGP race director Mike Webb has said that worsening wind at Phillip Island left organisers with no choice but to call off Sunday's postponed Australian Grand Prix sprint race.

Umbrella
Having already moved the sprint to Sunday and instead holding the main race of the weekend on Saturday in anticipation of bad weather, organisers abandoned efforts to hold the 13-lap race just half an hour before the scheduled start time of 1pm local time.
It followed the earlier Moto2 race that was red-flagged after just nine of 23 laps were completed, with 10 of the 30 starters crashing in that time in the treacherous conditions.
Explaining the decision to call off the sprint in more detail, Webb told reporters that race direction was constantly monitoring the speed and direction of the wind, and that the fact it had not improved since the Moto2 race was stopped was decisive factor.
"In the end we had no choice," said Webb. "We knew the forecast was bad, and strangely for here, it's been consistent all week that this was going to happen. That's why we changed the race [schedule].
"The rain was never an issue, it was the wind. We know from past experience here, with the wind in that direction [crosswind on main straight], in particular Turn 1, Turn 7 and 8, are very trying.
"All the way through the day we were monitoring the steady wind and what [speed] the gusts peaked at, and that number slowly went up through the day.

 

"Having red-flagged the [Moto2] race for the wind, unless it got better there was no way we could start another race, and it didn't get better; it got worse."
Webb pinpointed Celestino Vietti's crash on the ninth lap of the Moto2 race as the moment where race direction realised that the wind had reached unsafe levels.
"The first crash we could clearly identify was due to wind was Vietti's," said Webb. "There were a few others where perhaps the riders would say they were blown off line, but Vietti's crash was one we could clearly pin on the wind."
Webb acknowledged that while there were some riders who were eager to at least attempt a race, the severity of the conditions meant this option was not given serious consideration.
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"As you can imagine, there was a big range of opinions [among the riders] depending on their own circumstances," said Webb.
"We spoke to the teams to tell them the options, but to even do a sighting lap when the weather conditions were measurably worse than when we stopped the [Moto2] race, that's not an option.
"These days the responsibility and the duty of care [towards the riders] is not like 40 years ago. Having information about the weather, and knowing that we stopped a race because of it, we couldn't run."

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