MotoGP riders have called for the introduction of an F1-style super licence to race in the premier class, after news that MotoGP rookie Christophe Ponsson would be replacing the injured Tito Rabat at this weekend’s San Marino Grand Prix. Never having ridden a MotoGP machine before, the Frenchman’s first experience of radically different carbon brakes and Michelin tyres was in this morning’s free practice session at Misano.
In Formula 1, drivers must qualify for a super licence before they’re allowed to race, with the previous year’s championship position in a host of other race series all allowing them to score points towards the licence.
Speaking yesterday before the weekend got underway, Aprilia rider Aleix Espargaro was the most vocal about the subject, telling MCN: “I’ve said this many times in the past, because MotoGP is a super difficult class. We can’t give a MotoGP bike to just anyone, because even in corner one it will be dangerous for all of us. It’ll be so hard for him to be competitive in just three sessions, and with carbon brakes and almost 300 horsepower it could create a disaster in turn one of the race.”
His comments were echoed by reigning world champion Marc Marquez, admitting that riding a MotoGP bike for the first time in a race weekend wasn’t safe.
“We’ve already said in the past that to be in a MotoGP race you need to be at a minimum level in your career. To arrive here because of money isn’t the way, because we’re the best championship in the world. I know some need to arrive this way, but it’s not the best way and we need to be safe.”
Ponsson finished this morning’s free practice one session seven and a half seconds from fastest man Andrea Dovizioso, missing out on the 107% qualifying time he needs to meet by a second. That could spell bad news for him, with rain forecast for both free practice two this afternoon and free practice three tomorrow morning potentially limiting his chances of improving.