MotoGP Race Director explains Marc Marquez sanction

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Marc Marquez has been warned to show his MotoGP rivals more respect after his involvement in an incident with Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa at the Motorland Aragon track last month saw him hit with one penalty point.

Marquez made the faintest of touches with the back of Pedrosa’s factory RC213V at the previous round while the pair were chasing down Jorge Lorenzo in the early stages of the Motorland Aragon clash.

The contact though sliced through a rear wheel speed sensor cable and disabled Pedrosa’s sophisticated traction control system.

The result was less than a second after the contact, Pedrosa was viciously high-sided out of second position and the incident effectively ended his world title aspirations for another season.

Both Marquez and Pedrosa attended a hearing at the Sepang track in Malaysia this afternoon from which the outcome was the reigning Moto2 world champion being hit with a one-point penalty.

That takes his tally to three now after he was given two points for missing a yellow flag in the warm-up at Silverstone.

His RC213V flew into the gravel trap and just missed a group of marshals attempting to clear Cal Crutchlow’s Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 after he’d fallen just moments earlier.

Taken in isolation, it is clear that the Marquez and Pedrosa incident in Spain would have been dismissed as a racing incident and no action would have been taken.

But Marquez has repeatedly been involved in close calls on the brakes in his incredible rookie season and Race Director Mike Webb admitted it was time to send out a warning that his strategy must change in the future.

Marquez is now just one penalty point away from having to start a race this season from the back of the grid, so asked by MCN how the sanction was agreed in Malaysia today, Race Director Mike Webb said: “The simplest way to say is that Race Direction is sending messages. The one-point for Marc is a formal warning to people to understand the type of behaviour on track we are looking for. Even though the contact itself was quite minor, the consequences were rather large and it is a question of how close Marc can be, especially on braking to another rider in front of him.

It is the responsibility of the rider behind to make sure he doesn’t contact or get in the way of the rider in front. And after a number of instances this year we have finally had a contact because Marc has been quite close to another, so it is the right time to send a message and say that is not what we are looking for and please can you take more care. Marc can continue with the same riding style that we all love to watch but it is only a question of respecting the space and riders around him a little more. His riding style can continue as long as there is enough in reserve.

The incident we are talking about now where Marc is braking behind another rider, the responsibility is completely his to react to how fast or slow that rider in front is and that is the only thing he needs to learn. It is not a question a style but more a question of respect.”

Webb said Marquez had accepted his punishment but not been happy about it and he added: “He is obviously not happy because he feels it is a normal racing incident. But I have made the point quite clearly that it is a message to an intelligent rider that understands that he must improve the level of respect for the riders close to him.”

The four-member Race Direction panel, which also includes ex-racer Loris Capirossi, studied data from both Marquez and Pedrosa’s machinery to see if they had done anything to contribute to the contact.

But Marquez had not braked later or Pedrosa braked earlier and Webb said: “With the data we studied laps before and it showed where and how they braked in that corner and it was almost a carbon copy. Lap-by-lap where they braked and how they braked was almost identical. The braking style of the two is quite different. One is a late braker that stops the bike and turns it compared to an earlier braking and carrying more corner speed. The styles are a contributing factor but the rider behind that’s using the higher corner speed style, it is his responsibility to make sure nobody is in the way.”

As part of the Marquez sanction, the 25-points Honda got in the constructor world championship for his Aragon victory were stripped too.

As a result of the contact at the Motorland Aragon, all Honda machinery in Sepang features a temporary carbon protector over the previously exposed rear wheel speed sensor cable and Webb explained the HRC penalty.

He said: “The penalty for Honda is again a message. It is really that we are very concerned about rider safety and that in these days of a great deal of electronic control on the bikes we are sending a message that we all want to work together to try and make the machines as safe as possible. “

Rider safety is the number one priority and I have to say Honda is very much aware of that and they have made the point to us before the hearing that they have instantly improved after that incident the way their bike is built and it will be on-going to try and improve that. This is more of a message to everyone to say we want to see as higher standard as possible of safety on the machines.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt