MotoGP to test new flag-to-flag procedure following Iannone pitlane crash
Story: Donovan Fourie
The Czech GP was host to a somewhat rare incident in motorcycle racing, namely a pitlane accident. It started when riders left an ever drying Brno race track to swop to their dry set-up bikes, as is the spirit of the flag-to-flag rules. Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro had just climbed aboard his dry bike and was understandably in a hurry to rejoin the race, and thus dropped the clutch to pull into pitlane. This all sounds reasonable, except that Suzuki rider Andrea Iannone was just pulling into his pits to begin the same procedure, and was very suddenly inhibited by a retreating Espargaro.
Avoiding action was necessary by Iannone, requiring the sudden swerving of his bike coupled with pulling the front brake. At the time, his bike was still fitted with wet tyres that are wholly fantastic in the wet, but still have their limits, especially when strained while on still wet, virgin, pitlane tar and the odd painted line. Iannone went down and many of his pitcrew nearly went with him.
Thankfully no one was injured, but this incident did highlight the need to introduce further systems to make sure it doesn’t happen again, and during Free Practice 2 today, the first day of the Silverstone GP, these will be tried out. It will entail some small changes to the schedule, so FP2 will begin ten minutes later. After the chequered flag comes out at the end of FP2, riders will return to pitlane and swap bikes using the new, trial system. They will then exit pitlane to do one more lap of the track, and may do a practice start on that lap.
This new bike swap process will have signs on pitlane indicating the point at which riders may turn in, changing the angle of their approach to their pits and a new bike position for all teams. It will also include a mechanic with a lollipop whose sole task is to observe pitlane traffic during the bike swap and ensure his/her rider is released safely.
See Iannone’s the crash in screenshot picture form below: