The BSB Race Director’s Guide to Red Flags

By Gary Pinchin -

British Superbikes

 20 July 2009 11:51

In the light of the confusion surrounding yesterday’s red flag incident at the Mallory BSB round MCN asked BSB Race Director Stuart Higgs for the precise rules regarding stopping a race prematurely due to a crash or a change in climatic conditions, how the race stoppages affect the race results, and how BSB rules compare to WSB and MotoGP regulations.

THE RULES

MCRCB CODE – APPLIES TO BSB
2009 MCRCB Yearbook 1.10.1.3 (a regulation that has been in place since 1995 when the MCRCB was established):

"If a race has to be stopped after the leader has completed two thirds of the original race distance, rounded down to the nearest number of laps, it will be considered to have finished.

a) The order of classification shall be based upon the order of last crossing the finish line prior to the showing of the red flag, and only competitors who are racing at the showing of the red flag will be classified."

FIM CODE – APPLIES TO WSB
1.26 INTERRUPTION OF A RACE

1.26.1 If the Race Director decides to interrupt a race, then red flags will be
displayed at the finish line and at all marshals' posts and he will switch
on the red lights around the circuit. Riders must immediately slow
down and return to the pit lane.

The results will be the results taken at the last point where the leader
and all other riders on the same lap as the leader had completed a full
lap without the red flag being displayed.

At the time the red flag is displayed, riders who are not actively
competing in the race will not be classified.

Within five minutes after the red flag has been displayed, riders who
have not entered the pit lane, riding on their motorcycle, will not be
classified.

1.26.4 If the results calculated show that two-thirds of the original race
distance rounded down to the nearest whole number of laps have
been completed by the leader of the race and by all other riders on the
same lap as the leader, then the race will be deemed to have been completed
and full Championship points awarded


RED FLAGS TO GET A RACE RESULT FAQ

Q: Which rules apply to BSB?
A: The MCRCB code only

Q: What is MCRCB?
A:  MCRCB is the Motorcycle Circuit Racing Control Board, formed in 1995

Q: What does MCRCB do?
A: MCRCB is the governing and regulatory body for British and National championship series and events at permanent circuits in the UK

Q: How long have you performed your role?
A: I have been the either the race director/clerk of the course/deputy clerk of the course for MCRCB since its formation in 1995

Q: And before that…?
A: Clerk or deputy clerk of the course or race control for majority of British and national championship events 1992 – 1995

Q: How long has the British championship red flag rule been in place?
A: At least since 1995 and a little before – the rule was specifically changed to stop people faking injuries to prompt a red flag and yet still be classified – hence the term “only those competitors who are still racing”

Q: What’s main difference between FIM and MCRCB codes concerning race stop rule?
A: Before 2005 – the FIM rules did a one lap count-back and riders were classified whether they were on the track, in a gravel trap or in an ambulance (hence James Whitham’s recollection on TV of a 2002 situation in FIM World Supersport where he was credited with a podium finish despite sitting in a gravel trap).

This was reviewed at the end of 2005 by the FIM following the 2005 Japanese GP125 race where Thomas Luti crashed on the last corner, another bike hit him ridden by Sergio Gadea.

The race was stopped and on one lap countback Luti was still credited with a second place.

This prompted a lively protest at time headed by Harold Bartol of KTM (ref: 2005 Motocourse).

Q: What did the FIM change?
A: The FIM added a clause which is similar to the British rule but it adds a five minute window for riders to get up and get back to the pits: At the time the red flag is displayed, riders who are not actively competing in the race will not be classified.

Within five minutes after the red flag has been displayed, riders who have not entered the pit lane, riding on their motorcycle, will not be classified.

Under the FIM code this also applies to two part races meaning that if a race is stopped prior to two thirds distance you have to be able to get back to the pits under your own steam in order to eligible for the second part

Q: Are there any examples of the five minute rule being applied (or not being applied) in FIM santioned events?
A: At the 2008 Brands Hatch World Supersport the race was first stopped for rain and and several riders took the short route back to the pits and were not allowed to take part in the restart (applied).

Later in the race, when it was stopped for Craig Jones’ tragic crash, he remained classified in part two (not applied).

Later in the year at Donington in WSB race one it was stopped for rain and Xaus crashed after the red flag and was unable to get back to the pits.

He was deemed not classified and stripped of a podium place (applied).

Q: Do you agree with the FIM “five minute rule”?
A: I still think it has its own flaws as it too doesn’t distinguish between a rider who perhaps caused an accident through crashing or technical failure yet may still be able to remount and get back to the pits and someone who fell through no fault of his own and yet have too much crash damage or being injured.

You have to also consider that the circuit may be blocked and the route back to the pits obstructed. Bikes with crash damage may drop fluid on the drack or be in an unsafe condition.

Riders with injuries may remount and also be in no fit state to attempt to get back to the pits.

Q: What’s you summary of the Mallory situation?
A: The current BSB rule clearly didn’t give us the “moral” winner in a multiple crash situation where once person has basically started a chain reaction, but it does cover 99.9% of the situations of taking the “causes” of a red flag out of the result.

Ultimately the race was stopped because of multiple fallers, fluid on the circuit and the track partially blocked and at the exact point of the showing of the red flag those riders on the deck are not “racing”.

The interpretation and application of the relevant rule is correct. To deviate onto a “make it up as we go along” process to react to the emotions of the moment is not correct.

If the FIM five minute rule was applied its probable some could of got back to the pits, but would it of been fair if Walker and Hill could get back yet Simon Andrews couldn’t through crash damage.

Q: Why was Rutter classified?
A: At the exact point of the red flag order (which is time stamped on our data systems and the race feed is also digitally recorded) we can upon review precisely match and determine that Michael was in competition and had not fallen at that “exact point”.

Q: Will the rule be reviewed?
A: Of course anything that doesn’t give you a 100% satisfactory result prompts a process of what/how can we do better, if we can, without actually creating more scenarios for dispute.

However it is very difficult to account for every single scenario that may possibly happen. I have personally applied this regulation in the exactly the same way for MCRCB regulated events (at least 12 events a year since 1995) and this is the first time this situation has occurred.

Within 30 minutes of the race I had met with the team’s liaison group, a body established by MSVR to handle at-event situations formally and fairly and all accepted that the “long established” MCRCB British championship rules had been applied correctly.