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GP Week : Issue 13
Ground-loop disaster to revive lever-guard proposal? HECTOR Barbera’s horrific crash in the 250 race brought back bad memories for the MotoGP class, and is likely to revive a safety discussion that dates back to 2006. Sunday’s crash was caused when he was dicing with Marco Simoncelli. The latter swerved as he got onto the front straight, meaning to prevent his rival from taking his slipstream … he was already down on top speed. Barbera was closer than he thought, and hit him from behind. His brake lever caught Simoncelli’s seat, locked the front wheel and threw him over the handlebars as the bike looped end over end and chased him down the track. Something similar happened in MotoGP in 2006 at Catalunya just after the start. As the bikes braked for the first corner, Sete Gibernau’s brake caught Ducati team-mate Loris Capirossi’s seat. Gibernau looped, Capirossi was sent flying, and the subsequent mayhem also brought down John Hopkins, Dani Pedrosa, Randy de Puniet and Marco Melandri. Gibernau, Capirossi and Melandri were quite badly hurt. The immediate proposal was for the introduction of some system to prevent front- brake snarl-ups. A bigger enclosing fairing was one suggestion; bush-bike-style lever guards another. But the idea was quashed by the manufacturers’ association, the MSMA, confirmed race director Paul Butler. “I think we might be discussing it again,” he said. Footnote: Earlier, race direction had elected that neither Barbera nor Simoncelli should face any sanction for what was a pure racing accident. 34