Marc Marquez will have to start from the back of the grid for Sunday’s Australian Moto2 race after he caused a horrific high speed collision with Thai rider Ratthapark Wilairot at Phillip Island earlier today.
One minute will be added to the Spaniard’s qualifying time after he ploughed into the back of Wilairot at the high speed Turn 3 after the end of this morning’s opening free practice session.
The chequered flag had already been waved but the reigning 125GP world champion was still riding close to racing speed, while Wilairot had slowed down. Wilairot didn't even see Marquez when he was struck with a sickening impact and the Thai Honda Singha SAG rider was transferred to a Melbourne hospital with back and knee injuries, but miraculously he suffered no broken bones and escaped serious injury.
Marquez had already suffered an earlier crash when he returned to the track with less than a minute of the session remaining.
It appeared he saw French rider Valentin Debise at the last moment on the inside at Turn 3 and as he tried to take evasive action he then couldn’t avoid Wilairot.
Race Direction imposed a time penalty of one minute to be added to Marquez’s qualifying time and a statement read: “On Friday 14th October after passing the chequered flag at the end of the first free practice rider Marc Marquez, rode in an irresponsible manner, causing danger to rider Ratthapark Wilairot which is an infringement to the Art 1.21.2 of the 2011 FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix regulations. The Race Direction has decided to impose a time penalty of one minute to be added to the qualification time of Marc Marquez.”
Marquez’s team lodged an appeal but the FIM stewards confirmed the decision of the four-member Race Direction, led by Briton Paul Butler.
The penalty inevitably means Marquez will have to start from the back of the grid, handing a massive chance for title rival Stefan Bradl to reclaim the world championship lead.
Marquez only moved into the lead in the championship for the first time this season when he claimed second place at the previous race in Japan.
The 18-year-old holds a one-point lead over the German going into the Sunday’s 25-lap race.