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Rossi escapes penalty

Published: 16 September 2006

MCN's MotoGP reporter Matt Birt is filing a daily blog to give you the best insight into the MotoGP paddock, and in his latest post, he reveals what has happened with the controversy at Phillip Island, when Valentino Rossi overtook during a yellow flag section of the track.

Yellow Peril Apologies first for missing some words of wisdom yesterday, but as you can imagine it was as frenetic in the media centre as it was on the track at Phillip Island. Im sure a lot of you were happily settling down to watch the race like me blissfully unaware of the incredible drama that would unfold. Aside from fantastic performances from Marco Melandri and Chris Vermeulen, the major talking point once again surrounded Valentino Rossi and an illegal overtake on Casey Stoner under a yellow flag. The full story and reaction will be in this weeks paper, but cutting a long story short, Race Direction missed the incident, as did trackside marshals and Rossi escaped unpunished. It provoked consternation at HRC and with Nicky Hayden, who had been right behind the incident. Having cleared Rossi of any wrong-doing during the race, Race Direction were powerless to impose a penalty on him afterwards under rules drawn up because of a previous yellow flag controversy involving Rossi. For those of you with a good memory, Rossi won the 2003 British GP but was demoted to third having been slapped with a ten-second penalty after the race had finished, and after hed already collected the winners trophy. Now if a yellow flag infringement takes place, a rider must be informed during the race, and if he hasnt already voluntarily reverted back to his position before the illegal overtake, then he will be told to do so by his pitboard. Failure to comply with that will result in a ride through penalty. Race Direction only discovered upon reviewing extra video footage after the race that Rossi should have been penalised, but that wasnt available while the 26-lap clash was going on. So Rossi escaped. Personally I doubt any punishment on Rossi would have had a major impact on the result. To avoid a costly ride through penalty all he would have needed to do was slow down and tuck in behind Stoner, thus surrendering the position he grabbed. Fair play to Race Director Paul Butler though. He was big and honest enough to hold his hands up after the race that it should have been spotted, and you can read exactly what he said in Wednesdays issue. I drove up to St Kilda in Melbourne this morning for a couple of days before I fly to Tokyo, and ho should be the first person I bump into in the lobby of the hotel but a certain Mr Butler. Small world and we had another interesting five-minute chat about the race. Butler and his colleagues certainly had a lot on their plate yesterday, as we saw history with the first ever flag-to-flag race. It was well received by the riders, though improvements will need too be made as it was carnage in the pitlane with bodies and bikes everywhere. There were a few close calls, but it was probably an exception with Phillip Island having a pitlane barely wider than my living room! The first ever flag-to-flag would have been enough to keep me busy but the yellow flag story then ensured there was no nice glass of chilled vino for me last night. When a story like that breaks you can spend hours tracking down and talking to the right people, to make sure that you have news, views and reaction that people wont have heard on the TV or will see on the web. It meant a rather late and lonely night in the media centre as I finished at 2am, with the only company a freezing cold security guard, a bunch of hardcore Spanish journalists pounding away on their Alvaro Bautista world championship specials, and a 12-hour old egg salad roll. Later. M.

To see more of Matt's blog posts and even subscribe, click here (external site)

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