by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 49
Crime & pu I Transgress in bike racing and you’re in the lap of the gods punishment-wise. MICHAEL SCOTT explains f the punishment were to fit the crime of dangerous riding, then the perpetrator should be sentenced to a random range of penalties, selected by a computer on a sliding scale of likelihood. The most likely would be to escape scot free, or with a sprained ankle. The rarest but most dramatic would be the death penalty. But Race Direction is a kangaroo court, and justice is far more practical. Those judged guilty of “riding in an irresponsible manner, to cause danger to another competitor”do find themselves on a sliding scale, ranging from a warning and possibly a fine all the way to suspension of the rider’s racing licence. Marco Simoncelli found himself before this court, and not for the first time, after the Italian GP, for a doomed and admittedly questionable move that took him and frequent sparring partner Alvaro Bautista right off track and into the Mugello gravel. On this occasion they were both able to rejoin without even a sprained ankle, and both finished on the rostrum. Shortly afterwards Simoncelli found himself US $5,000 poorer, and gazing at a yellow card, saying: Do it again and you’ll be suspended. He came to the Press room straight afterwards to protest, and he had a point: it was a normal racing move, and sometimes riders make mistakes. The same case was rather more succinctly argued by Max Biaggi back in his 250 days, after a hard move in Germany against countryman Doriano Romboni: “This is motorbike racing, not chamber music.” Yet Simoncelli’s protestations had 38 a rather practiced, world-weary air. He’d been there before, escaping with nothing more than words of warning after a similar incident in Britain last year, also diving inside Bautista, knocking him down. Not to mention his notorious pitching off of Hector Barbera on the main straight at Mugello earlier in the season, when his swerving line caught his seat on the Spaniard’s front brake lever and sent him looping at close to top speed. He was called before the committee that time as well. After the Donington incident, he got a yellow card. That lasted only until the end of last season, and he did not offend again, leading race director Paul Butler to the conclusion that the penalty is generally effective. Although as Butler confirmed, “they all start a new season with a clean slate”, his record still told against him. Also his fierce rivalry with Bautista, evoking strong national passions in the Spanish and Italians. “We think it is important not to let that escalate,” he said. Past offences were one reason for his Mugello punishment, in a decision taken behind closed doors by Race Direction, comprising Butler, a Dorna man, the FIM’s Claude Danis, and safety representative Franco Uncini, the only actual racer among them. Another factor, Butler agreed, was the fact that Simoncelli is reckoned to be the Next Big Thing in MotoGP. His misdemeanours are to be taken seriously, in his own interest. But there was another factor: an intention to tighten up on all riding standards especially in the 250 class this year, in preparation for the anticipated very close racing of Moto2 next season. There are many cases in the past where judgement has been