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The issue with heavily televised replays of crashes

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

A mixed Mugello weekend for all

It’s race day in Mugello, and so far, we have seen the continued impressive form of Pedro Acosta, the rookie who leads the Moto3 championship. The prominence of Raul Fernandez, another impressive rookie who is very much part of the Moto2 championship fight. Lastly, the sensational 5th round of Fabio Quartararo’s Yamaha vs the 3 Ducati men.

Today looks set to provide us with an excellent day of racing action, but it feels challenging to greet today with a jubilant attitude.

Jason Dupasquier
Jason Dupasquier was involved in a horrific incident yesterday – MotoGP

In yesterday’s qualifying session for Moto3, the Swiss rider, Jason Dupasquier #50, was involved in a horrific incident with Ayumu Sasaki #71 and Jeremy Alcoba #52. As it stands, Sasaki and Alcoba have been declared OK. Jason Dupasquier was airlifted to hospital, where the latest update on his condition stated that he was in very serious condition.

Since then, Moto GP announced that Jason Dupasquier passed away from the injuries sustained in the accident. RIP Jason

Is there too much crash coverage?

While crashes are part of motorcycle racing, and all riders know the risks of getting hurt when on the bike, the main issue with yesterday’s incident was the coverage of the crash.

The endless coverage of, not only replays of the horrific incident, but the filming of the marshals and medical professionals attending to the riders, was a depraved glorification of human pain and misery. The marshals even brought out privacy screens to protect viewers from the images, and as there were no fans at the circuit, this was entirely done to block the lens of the host providers cameras. Of course, Dorna has stated (to The Race) that they “acted according to our on-track incident protocol and have broadcasted images that respected the rider and his family’s privacy.”

Jason Dupasquier Moto3
Dupasquier battling in Le Mans – MotoGP

Not only was there endless TV replays, but Youtube leeches have also amassed thousands of views by sharing online the video to make a quick buck, and normal news sites which are never bothered about motorcycling now are. The BBC has written an article about the accident, their last article on MotoGP, well there wasn’t one. Crashes must be good for numbers. Poor form. The same goes for Sky, their last motorcycle post…yup you guessed it, the tragic death of Fausto Gresini at the end of February.

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Many have and will argue that when images of crashes and footage of the riders being attended to grace our screens, it is done to show that the rider is not in a terrible state. However, this can’t be the case for Dupasquier, as I stated before: he is in very serious condition.

There is also the issue of the mental impact such footage has. As fans of the sport at home, it is horrible to watch any riders getting hurt – after all, none of us watch races to see crashes. However, if we want to, we can stop seeing the images by turning off the tv. The riders at the track can’t do that.

Should the broadcaster replay serious incidents?

When such footage is played as consistently as in yesterday’s incident, the riders are subjected to seeing their friends, or sometimes family, in pain or seriously injured, all in the name of financial gain for the broadcaster.

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Those same riders then have to get on their own bikes and push hard for a lap time whilst trying to forget or ignore their feelings about the crash and its aftermath that they have just been forced to watch on continuous loops.

Mugello pole position
Fabio Quartararo dedicated his pole position to Jason Dupasquier – MotoGP

Fabio Quartararo, the pole-sitter for today’s premier class race, has been very vocal before about wanting a change to the broadcasting of crashes. He tries not to look at big crashes, such as the red flag incident in Austria, where he went out to the back of the garage to avoid the crash footage. He was also quoted yesterday saying:

It’s not a nice thing to see when you’re going to be going at 350kph a few minutes later. It’s not easy for us… You have to make a reset when you restart, but today it wasn’t easy and when I went on track I made a mistake straight away. I wasn’t focused at all; it wasn’t easy.

Fabio Quartararo, The Race

Other riders also expressed dissatisfaction over how the footage made them feel, with Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro (who will line up 4th on the grid today, with an epic qualifying) stating that he felt “not motivated at all” to get back on the bike during the session that followed the crash.

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Ducati’s Pecco Bagnaia (who lines up in 2nd for today’s race) also had his say, echoing the statements of his fellow riders:

The only strategy for me was to ride the bike again… It was very difficult, and at the start I wasn’t so concentrated in the first few laps… It’s been a long time since we’ve seen an incident and it wasn’t easy. This is our sport and you have to focus on your riding, but in situations like this it’s always very hard for me to focus on my bike.

Pecco Bagnaia, The Race
Pecco Bagnaia mugello
Pecco Bagnaia speaks on the incident – MotoGP

With this not being the first time anger, distress or outrage has been recorded by many over the broadcasting of crashes and their aftermath. Famously Daniel Ricciardo of Formula 1 registered his “disgust” with the way Romain Grosjean’s fiery crash was broadcast. It would seem that many more professional motorsports athletes are gaining the confidence to air their own dissatisfaction with such footage.

Combined with the massive outcry of reporters, fans and other motorcycling professionals who called for a cease of broadcaster footage during the incident, to no avail, gives me hope that the vehemently cavalier broadcaster’s attitude to presenting footage of crashes will change.

My thoughts will remain with Jason Dupasquier, his family, and all of the riders as we await news of his condition. Keep fighting Jason – we’re all with you.

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