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GP Week : Issue 116
THE crash that scuppered Dani Pedrosa’s championship chances and earned Marco Simoncelli a ride-through penalty came as a climax to two weeks of controversy, name-calling and consultation with the Safety Commission. The pair collided after Simoncelli had rapidly caught Pedrosa, who was lying second. Simoncelli passed him before the back straight but ran a little wide; Pedrosa got back ahead, then Simoncelli outbraked him into the subsequent left kink, but cut across in front. Pedrosa had nowhere to go, touched his back wheel, and crashed. It could not have come at a worse time for Simoncelli, after two weeks of controversy and name-calling following his public argument with Lorenzo at Estoril. Most riders had joined in criticism of Simoncelli’s brusque overtaking, with Rossi standing up for his friend, and saying that modern MotoGP riders were “pussies”. The matter had been raised at a well-attended riders’ Safety Commission meeting on Friday evening, which Simoncelli had not attended. Rossi again poured scorn on the complainants. “If a rider make a complaint about somebody, about Simoncelli say, about an incident or some incidents, I can understand. But if it is just general, then I don’t understand how to make a rule about how to overtake in motorcycle racing,” said Rossi. “Whether we have to overtake on the left side, or the right side, only on the straight ... or do we need to show an arrow when we want to pass?” After the French race, though general Press-room opinion was that Simoncelli's move had been hard, he was in front at the time. Other riders were not so sure, with even Nicky Hayden, who had so far avoided the controversy, saying: “I haven’t seen the incident properly and I don’t want to comment .. . but he (Simoncelli) does close the door.” Frequent Simoncelli critic Dovizioso also said he hadn’t yet seen the footage, but added: “I can imagine.” Significantly, Rossi also now criticised the impetuous former 250 champion. “For me, I think this time Simoncelli was too hard, and doesn’t leave space for Dani. Also, in that part of the race Simoncelli was strong, so he did not need to attack there.” Simoncelli said the overtake was unintentional, that Pedrosa had braked early, and that he had tried to leave him enough room. He believed the penalty was “the result of all the talk over the past few days”, rather than the incident itself. Riders reluctant to race in Japan Moto GP news >> PLANS for the rescheduled Japanese GP on October 2 are still not finalised ... but riders have serious reservations, and expressed them in a lively discussion at the Friday evening riders’ Safety Commission meeting with Dorna and race direction. Dorna are planning for the race to go ahead, though there will be no final decision until July. The earthquake caused some damage to the track, which needs repair and then approval, but the organisers are also keen to go ahead. The issue for the riders is radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant, some 100 km from Motegi. Lorenzo, Stoner, Barbera, Elias and Dovizioso were at the meeting, along with regular Rossi. Stoner said he was surprised to be told the race was going ahead: “It was news to us that we’re thinking of going there. We thought the opposite,” he said. “We were told there is no risk, but the situation is still not contained. Anyway, the race seems quite unimportant, compared with what happened there.” Stoner and the other riders pointed out it was not just the riders who were affected, but teams and mechanics and everyone else involved in racing. Rossi reflected the common view: “I am scared a little bit to go to Japan.” Simoncelli explained why. “For me, to take the risk is not good. We are still young. If I was 70 years old then I wouldn’t mind.” Simoncelli/PedRoSa cRaSh conTinUeS RidinG STandaRdS conTRoveRSy 15