MotoGP race director Mike Webb has explained the failures that led to inconsistent penalties for the horde of Moto2 riders deemed to have jumped the start in yesterday’s opening race of the season in Qatar.
There was outcry when one group of riders – including title favourites Sam Lowes, Alex Rins and Johann Zarco – were issued with ride-though penalties and others, including Franco Morbidelli, who finished second on track, were instead issued with a 20 second penalty.
But speaking to MCN via email this morning, Webb has held his hands up and admitted that the inconsistency in punishments was the result of a technical failure.
“We had a technical issue with the jump start camera recording and playback system. Some images would not display correctly, however we were able to identify 6 jump starts and these riders were informed immediately and made ride through penalties.
“When we had the system running correctly again we identified 2 more jump starts (Morbidelli and Cortese), but this took some time. The rules say that a ride through penalty must be communicated to the rider before the end of the 4th lap, and when a ride through is not possible, the standard time penalty of 20 seconds is applied.
“We are aware that 20 seconds does not accurately reflect the ride through time at every circuit, so we are asking the GP Commission to look at this rule.”
However, the Kiwi also stressed that other issues with the start – namely a concern by some riders that the lights had worked improperly and that some riders had gained no advantage from their movement – were inaccurate upon investigation.
“We heard the comments about lights flickering, but a check of the video shows nothing unusual, and I was unable to get them to misbehave when I tested them later. We also checked the length of time they were on and it was exactly 3 seconds - which is right where it should be (the rule is 2 - 5 seconds).
“A jump start is defined is moving forward at the moment the red lights go out, it’s a matter of fact and there's no decision on whether an advantage has been gained or not. There is a judgment on advantage in the case of a rider who moves a little while the red lights are on but stops again and is stationary when the red lights go out.
“In this case we look to see if they have moved a long way, ie. what position they are in when they do actually start. All of the jump starts penalised in Qatar were that standard ‘matter of fact’ moving forward when the red lights go out.”