Opinion: Shifting Phillip Island's MotoGP date makes no sense

Amid last weekend's terrible weather at Phillip Island, there were calls by some to have the date of the Australian MotoGP race moved to March. Andrew van Leeuwen explains why that would be a bad idea.

Opinion: Shifting Phillip Island's MotoGP date makes no sense
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team
Cal Crutchlow, Team LCR Honda
Scott Redding, Octo Pramac Racing
Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda Team
Mike Jones, Avintia Racing
Scott Redding, Octo Pramac Racing
Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda Team
Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda Team
Jack Miller, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS
Cal Crutchlow, Team LCR Honda
Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing

In Australia, Melbourne is famous for trams, great coffee, and crappy weather. The city's two most famous cliches are 'four seasons in one day', and 'if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes'.

Unfortunately they are as true as they are unimaginative. Each and every day it might be eight degrees and raining, but it might also break 40 and melt the giant metal Ferris Wheel in Docklands (look it up).

Phillip Island cops it even worse. Being 140-off kilometres south of the Victorian capital guarantees it is generally a couple of degrees cooler than the big smoke, and the southern coastline of the island itself faces unsheltered out onto the brutal Bass Strait.

In other words, when the weather is bad at Phillip Island, it's generally really bad. And that's exactly what we were dealt over the last three days.

Between the washout on Friday and the mixed conditions on Saturday, a number of the MotoGP field decided it was time to once again suggest that the Phillip Island race should be moved to another time of the year. March seemed to be the consensus.

That would make sense if the race was currently held in, say, June. Or July. Or even August. But it's current late-October date is actually a pretty sensible one. It's the best part of eight weeks into spring, not the height of winter.

Some very basic research suggests that while the average rainfall is a little higher in October as compared to March. Fine, but it comes back to that fickle Victorian weather. I've been to Phillip Island a lot of times over the last 12 years, and I've seen every kind of weather. And believe me, it doesn't discriminate when it comes to the time of year.

If you want an example, just look at the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Melbourne. Its very own March date has thrown up all sorts of weather over the years, from cyclone-spec rain to absolute scorchers.

That's the other thing; with a March date you leave yourself exposed not only to the potential of cold, wet weather, but increase the likelihood of 35-degree plus stinker, also very little fun for all concerned.

Phillip Island is Australia's best and most beautiful permanent circuit. It's probably one of the best and most beautiful circuits in the world. A big part of its beauty is where it is, and the Catch 22 is that where it is is a wet and windy part of the world.

It really comes down to this; the Australian Grand Prix is not about the weather, it's about one of the most picturesque beachside circuits in the world. The relatively high chance of some wet, windy weather is worth it.

There is one thing that could be done to increase the chance of higher track temperatures – run the race an hour earlier. I understand the concept of trying to align with the core European audience, but with a 4pm start you're just asking for track temperatures to plummet during the race.

It was a point that yesterday's winner Cal Crutchlow pointed out, having watched Marc Marquez go down at Turn 4 on the hard compound front Michelin.

"It was getting colder and colder, the same as what it always does," he said. "We will have to put something to the commission to say run it earlier. It's ridiculous now.

"At Turn 4, over the years I've seen 200 people crash there. If you run that race an hour earlier, you're going to have seen 100 people crash there over the years."

That makes sense, and should genuinely be considered.

But the idea of shifting the date trying to chase better weather? That's just tempting fate…

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