Rider behaviour has been a huge issue throughout the year with Moto3 rider sitting back and waiting for a tow from a faster rider. The practice is deemed necessary by the riders because at some circuits, such as Mugello, a slipstream on the start finish straight is worth over half a second.
As a result it's easy to see why riders will look to take advantage of this but we've also seen plenty of incidents in qualifying this year as a result. At COTA Niki Ajo and John McPhee clashed during the session and there has been plenty of other incidents and accidents caused by it.
As a result in Assen Race Director, Mike Webb, held a briefing with all Moto3 riders outlining the dangers and that in future there would be strict penalties handed out for anyone deemed to be riding dangerous. Race Control would monitor laptimes and anything that was outside of 107% of a riders fastest time would be investigated.
At the Dutch TT it worked and the qualifying session was much smoother than we had grown accustomed to. However, the Sachsenring was a very different story with a string of riders handed penalties. Webb relegated every violator three spots on the grid and suspended them from the opening half of Sunday morning warmup.
When speaking to MCN after the race Webb gave his view on the sanctions.
"I think that the penalties worked well," said Webb. "We debated the grid penalties to decide what was the right amount to penalise people and I think three places was fair. The decision to suspend riders from the first ten minutes of warmup was an interesting one but it was another that I thought was effective. No rider likes to be kept off their bike. We'll see if this leads to a change in Indianapolis."
The disadvantage of losing warmup was felt by many with McPhee amongst those penalised. The Scot wanted to try a setup change in the session but ultimately didn't have time. The penalties also have a double edge because it offers the other riders the opportunity to take advantage of grid penalties to move up through the grid. Brad Binder was one such rider and he moved from 11th to eighth on the grid and was immediately in the fight for the win.