When competing on the limit in the MotoGP World Championship, the line between staying on your motorcycle and coming off it is an extremely fine one. That said, there were fewer falls in 2013 than there had been in 2012. We examine the facts…
Across the three classes of the World Championship, there were a total of 863 falls this season. This may be 42 less incidents than a year earlier, despite the number of Grands Prix having not changed, although when it comes to crashes in the MotoGP class alone 2013 has seen an increase on 2012 by 19, rising from 186 to 205.
Moto2 leads for falls once again
In the MotoGP tier, the general experience of leading riders paid off as the mean crash rate per premier class race was only 11.4; this comes in stark contrast to the 18.5 of Moto3 or 20.2 of Moto2, although it must be taken into account that the average number per race is slightly more in the lower classes due to the fact that there was one less race (Moto2 and Moto3 did not compete at Laguna Seca). Nonetheless, this marks the fourth year in succession that the most crashes came in the intermediate class (the lightweight 125 class had been top in 2009).
Watch out for trouble in Free Practice 2…
A particularly intriguing area involves the sessions in which riders tend to hit most trouble. Across the three classes – with the exception of the race – it was Free Practice 2 which witnessed the most incidents, as the field began to experiment with race setups on a Friday knowing a mistake would not count for as much as it might on a Saturday. Sure enough, even double premier class World Champion Jorge Lorenzo – who only fell three times across the whole of the season – experienced his collarbone-injuring accidents of Assen and the Sachsenring in the second practice session.
*Assen: Free Practice 2 took place on Thursday afternoon before the Saturday race
The pressure of the occasion
For all classes, it is no great surprise to learn that more incidents came in races than at any other time in the weekend. However, prior to the racing action, it was not always Free Practice 2 that saw most drama; this may have been the case in MotoGP, but in Moto3 more incidents came in Free Practice 3, whereas in Moto2 there were more crashes in Qualifying than in any other session. Perhaps this demonstrates the inexperience of younger riders while under extreme pressure to deliver a rapid flying lap. Granted, the Moto2 field may be larger than that of MotoGP, but no less than 69 falls took place in Moto2 Qualifying in 2013, whereas the combined number of crashes in Q1 and Q2 for MotoGP was under half this number (30).
Marquez the leading championship challenger…for crashes…
Of the title contenders, rookie World Champion Marc Marquez was far and away the rider who crashed most in MotoGP. The Repsol Honda Team rider suffered 15 falls across the season, although – unlike the aforementioned Lorenzo (three falls) or teammate Dani Pedrosa (six falls) – the newcomer would never suffer a broken bone.
In Moto2, World Champion Pol Espargaro hit trouble on eight occasions over the year; this is double the four of rival Scott Redding, although the Englishman suffered the misfortune of a fractured wrist at Phillip Island. When it comes to Moto3, World Champion Maverick Viñales crashed five times during the season, comparing to only two for championship runner-up Alex Rins and six for long-time championship leader Luis Salom; incidentally, half of Salom’s falls for the entire campaign came courtesy of crashes in the final two races alone.
Le Mans rain takes its toll
Predictably, it was Le Mans that claimed most crash victims in 2013 as the French Grand Prix took place amid mixed conditions. There were 68 incidents over the weekend; two more than the 66 of Misano and seven up on the 61 of the Sachsenring, when riders were constantly affected by the low number of left-handed corners which resulted in numerous crashes due to cold tires. Laguna Seca’s 11 incidents cannot be compared equally – as only the MotoGP class competed in California – meaning it is the Qatar evening GP weekend that featured the lowest number of crashes (34), despite this being the season-opener when bike and rider combinations are freshest.
Beware of the Barcelona stadium!
When it comes down to the statistically most hazardous corner of the season, more riders hit trouble at Barcelona’s Turn 10 (La Caixa) than at any other corner.
‘La Caixa’ is located at the end of the back straight at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Heading into the popular stadium section that is always packed with fans, it is a popular place for overtaking – not least on the opening lap of a Grand Prix. In the MotoGP race alone, three riders crashed at ‘La Caixa’ on the first lap of this year’s race, before Nicky Hayden followed suit later in the afternoon. Perhaps the most memorable incident was that of Lap 1, as Alvaro Bautista went down while attempting to avoid another clash with Valentino Rossi; this followed their infamous coming together on the opening lap of Rossi’s home Italian GP at Mugello just two weeks earlier.
Joining ‘La Caixa’ in the top three of corners for most crashes in 2013 are Le Mans’ Turn 7 (Musée), with 18 falls, and the Sachsenring’s Turn 1 and Turn 3, with 14 incidents apiece.