The legendary Sachsenring has been the site of Marc Marquez’s ultimate domination, as this is where he has a decade long record of taking pole position and the race win across the three different world stage classes. However, with his latest struggles as he makes his comeback from the devastating injury he received in Jerez last year, many contenders are lining up to rob the king of his crown.
This has led to some impressive displays of dangerous riding during yesterday’s qualifying sessions, which gave us a few shock results. Recently, Race Direction decisions have come under fire as many are becoming more aware of just how dangerous racing motorcycles can be.
Are race direction making the right calls?
After the terrifying Moto3 race in Catalunya where the entire field of contending riders was shown to be touring on the racing line during the penultimate lap, and then of course ‘leather gate’ with Fabio Quartararo, it seems that Race Direction has dropped the ball when it comes to penalising riders.
Of course, no one wants to see unnecessary penalties – it ruins the competitiveness of the racing, not to mention the entertainment factor. However, Race Direction‘s penalties exist, not just to punish riders, but they are also in place in order to keep the riders safe. Many riders have agreed with this edict – with Marc Marquez himself stating that often riders need protecting from themselves, as their instincts are to race no matter what.
That said, yesterday’s qualifying sessions in both the Moto3 and MotoGP classes have left a lot to be desired when it comes to stewarding decisions.
Are black flags shown enough?
Firstly, in the Moto3 class, Darryn Binder, who was competing in the Q1 session, created some controversy by securing his passage into Q2 and then misjudging the time to get himself out for another go at a time attack lap, crashing on the out lap with another rider and earning himself a black flag for the eventual Q2 session.
Whilst a stupid decision, which did slightly encumber another rider, many have argued that Binder penalised himself, as his crash meant that he destroyed his bike. However, at the time I was pleased that Binder was shown a black flag (thus disqualifying him from participating in the Q2 session) because it showed that RD was taking penalties seriously and Binder was being punished for a silly and unnecessary incident.
a race already ruined, ruined again…
However, hours later, Binder also received another penalty – a ride through the pit lane to be taken during the race. This seems unnecessarily ruthless and does nothing to account for rider safety. Binder already served his punishment with the black flag, and this further action will ruin his race entirely – and very possibly his title aspirations for this year.
I would be willing to accept the punishment if RD were showing such strict discipline across all classes, and would even understand it as a tactic of making riders toe the line of safety by inflicting the fear of harsh penalties on them.
However, this does not appear to be the case.
In MotoGP, which is supposed to claim the best riders in the world, we witnessed several different incidents of riders touring and riding slowly, just next to the racing line. In one such incident, Miguel Oliveira the most recent race winner was shown to be going so slowly that he was almost toppling off the bike.
In Moto3, this would have resulted in pit lane starts or at the very least, grid position demotions, and yet the only rider to be penalised was Enea Bastianini, who compromised Danilo Petrucci’s flying lap in Q1 and has thus received a three-place grid demotion for today’s race.
The discrepancy in penalties across classes has made a mockery of the penalty system.
If RD does not have a clear and consistent approach to awarding penalties for dangerous riding in Practise and Qualifying sessions, then how will riders know where to toe the line, and what to be wary of doing? Of course, no rider sets out to be a danger to others whilst on track, but riders are limited to what is in their field of vision whilst on the track. RD have multiple screens available for them to review all the footage of on-track action – thus they have a clear view of who is riding dangerously and how they should be penalised for it.
Surely penalties have to be consistent?
As well as this, MotoGP is the pinnacle of the sport, every rider in the lower categories want to emulate the men who ride in the premier class. How will they learn what is and is not to be tolerated when MotoGP riders do not receive punishments for dangerous riding in the same way as those in the lower classes would be punished?
There are many discrepancies and worries at the current moment when it comes to steward decisions but nonetheless, I am certain that today’s race will be a spectacle, with all those on the front two rows looking as though they have a chance of fighting for the race victory.
Who will claim the crown of King of the Ring in today’s race? Only time will tell: this is one race you do not want to miss!
This article was written by the fantastic Rebekah Lee, our resident Motorsport nut and MA Creative writing graduate. She’s been fascinated by all things motorsports since childhood – follow her on Twitter at @bekahjlee
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