Marco Simoncelli to face Race Direction in Catalunya

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Marco Simoncelli has been summoned for talks with Race Direction ahead of this weekend’s Catalunya MotoGP clash near Barcelona.

The Italian was embroiled in a storm of controversy after an aggressive overtake on Repsol Honda rival Dani Pedrosa during the recent French Grand Prix at Le Mans left the Spaniard with a broken right collarbone.

Simoncelli was fighting for second place with 2011 title contender Pedrosa in Le Mans when the pair collided on lap 18. Pedrosa crashed in the incident and the aggressive move by Simoncelli was widely criticised in the paddock.

Even close friend and staunch supporter Valentino Rossi found it hard to defend Simoncelli in France, the nine-times world champion saying his compatriot had probably been too ‘hard’.

The incident though split public opinion, with some fans fearing Simoncelli’s reputation landed him in hot water in France as the San Carlo Gresini Honda rider was penalised with a ride through penalty that robbed him of his chance to secure a career first premier class podium.

Race Direction though clearly feel they need to meet Simoncelli in person in Catalunya after the former world 250GP champion launched a vigorous defence of his overtake on Pedrosa.

In a recent exclusive interview with MCN, Race Director Paul Butler said: "On face value the broadcast image that everybody saw it pretty much looked like it was a racing incident in that Simoncelli was very hard but not overly aggressive. But the other view we had clearly showed that Dani had actually got in front going into the corner.

"It was only marginal but he was on the inside line and our judgement was, the fact that Marco was looking across and could see he was there, he should have given him room. The end result was more or less inevitable. If you’re aware that you’ve got a rider inside you then you should give him room. And clearly Marco didn’t. What we automatically do if there is any incident that is questionable, we pull up as much visual information as we possibly can and then make a judgement.

"Quite clearly because it resulted in a crash, we pulled up all the images we could and we spent a few moments reviewing collectively and we all came to the conclusion that it was worthy of a ride through. We thought he had the option to give Dani space rather than complete the manoeuvre and he didn’t."

Simoncelli’s aggression has been the subject of intense scrutiny lately after a public bust-up with Jorge Lorenzo during the recent Estoril round in Portugal.

But Butler denied reputation or past indiscretions had influenced the decision to penalise Simoncelli and he added: "We always try and have a clean slate at the beginning of the season and we judge each incident on its merit. The fact that there’s been a lot said that would seem to hark back to previous history between some of the riders.

"We have to judge on what we see. Maybe some of the comments are based on experience this year but not that we’ve witnessed, so we have to judge incidents as we see them. We don’t want to stifle people racing, but at the same time we want to avoid unnecessary accidents and in this particular case, the form of opinion suggest that we were right. A lot of people have supported that it was time to put a bit of a mark in the sand. That means we’ve got to be consistent in the future but that’s our job."

Pedrosa will certainly attempt to ride his factory RC212V in his home race this weekend. Dorna confirmed the list of riders due to attend the pre-event press conference on Thursday in Catalunya with Pedrosa’s name on it.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt