Ahead of the third round of the 2017 MotoGP season in Texas, several riders have expressed their desire to have the current qualifying format altered.
Introduced for the 2013 season in a bid to make free practice more interesting for spectators, MotoGP’s qualifying session is split into two 15-minute shoot-out sessions, with combined times from practice deciding who takes part in what session.
At the end of free practice three, the top 10 on the combined times make direct passage into the pole shoot-out session, while the rest contest QP1, with the fastest two from that session making it into QP2.
Last year, LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow called for the format to be changed, as he believed the mini qualifying runs at the end of each free practice were ‘a waste of time’, and that the majority of the field would prefer qualifying groups be decided purely on the times at the end of FP3.
Crutchlow argued that riders were disregarding tyre allocation for QP2 just so they could secure a place in the pole shoot-out group. To counter this, the Grand Prix Commission agreed to give the top two from QP1 an extra soft tyre for this season.
Former Tech 3 and Ducati team-mate Andrea Dovizioso has joined the Briton in asking for change, as has Pramac Ducati’s Scott Redding.
Dovizioso – who was caught out in Argentina by bad weather in FP3 having failed to set a top 10 time on Friday – believes, despite Friday’s running then being rendered boring for fans, it is ‘essential’ the format is altered as he feels riders are losing crucial set-up time in practice to trying to set a fast lap time.
“I am one of the riders who believes we have to change the system,” he said on Thursday at the Circuit of the Americas.
“I have pushed a lot since last year for it, but so far it hasn’t been taken into consideration. But In Argentina I went back to the subject once more, and this time I found enough support from all the riders.
“In my opinion, it’s essential that it happens. If we change the rule, Fridays become dull and worthless.
“But on the contrary, with the current system you don’t have time to work, because before the end of each session you have to set a time and get in the top 10 so you can progress.
“That means you have to use more tyres, and always work knowing that before finishing the session you have to set a time.
“In every session you make three runs, and if one of these you have to set a time, you only have two to work on the bike and you cannot try all the tyres.”