Apr 9, 2018

Posted by in Featured, Bikes

Noun: clusterfuck ˈklʌstəfʌk’ – Round 2 of the 2018 MotoGP World Championship

Noun: clusterfuck ˈklʌstəfʌk’ – Round 2 of the 2018 MotoGP World Championship

I haven’t written here for a while. And I haven’t written about MotoGP for a while, on any of the sites I used to write for because I’ve been insanely busy with the other side of my life. I still watch every race, I’m still extremely passionate about the sport, it’s just not been my ‘work’ focus for the past 18 months or so. So that’s just a sort of, ‘Where I’ve been’ note. Don’t call it a comeback as LL Cool J once said.

‘With great power comes great responsibility’, someone once told Spiderman. Or Batman. Or Superman. I don’t know, I don’t do superhero movies. The point still stands though. Michael Jordan understood that unless he made his teammates better, his great power was lessened. All Presidents bar one understand that just because you have access to the big red button doesn’t mean you should regularly threaten to push it. And just because you can ride a motorcycle a few seconds a lap quicker than everyone else, that doesn’t mean you get special dispensation for poor behaviour.

I’ve been watching MotoGP (or World Championship Grand Prix Motorcycle Racing if you want to get picky with the nomenclature) closely and passionately for over thirty years. That’s a lot less than some of the people who will write of this most recent round and I dare say a hell of a lot more than most of the people who will abuse me on social media for this blog. In that time I’ve seen a lot of sensational riders, in all classes, both on television screens and at circuits around the world. Both from the perspective of a paying member of the public in the stands, and as someone working with a lanyard in the paddock. In that time, this weekend just gone, the second round of the 2018 MotoGP World Championship, held at Termas de Río Hondo in Argentina, must rank as one of, if not the most, embarrassing weekends in the history of the sport. It was a clusterfuck of unparalleled proportions. Sepang 2015 couldn’t hold a candle to this. In fact, the only Grand Prix I can personally remember that comes close is Misano in 1989 for those who remember that. The famous shots of Eddie Lawson and co sat in the pits giving Frankie Chilli the Bronx cheer.

The first thing to say is, all things considered, that doesn’t take away from the achievements of many great successes of the weekend. Cal Crutchlow rode superbly to claim a third career victory and the lead in the title. Johann Zarco is closer than ever to a first win. Alex Rins kept his head for a first ever podium. A first ever pole and a fourth for Jack Miller was excellent, if unlucky. And in the smaller classes too. Super wins from both Marco Bezzecchi and Mattia Passini. And superb career best rides from the likes of Xavi Vierge and Remy Gardner. Those achievements should not be forgotten, although they will become subscripts to a larger story this weekend. That may seem unfair, but that was a theme of the weekend.

‘A Bonehead Move’

The craziness started on Friday. During FP1 for Moto3. Kazakh rookie Makar Yurchenko got in Aron Canet’s way on a fast lap. It wasn’t a bright move, but it was, for lack of a better phrase, a rookie mistake. Canet threw his arms about and got flustered as one might expect. What happened next beggared belief. Canet raced to catch up to Yurchenko and then, at high speed, dove, or rather forced himself, underneath the KTM rider. He then straightened the bike up, pushing his opponent wider and wider until they both crashed at speed. Luckily, no-one was hurt.

Yurchenko clipped Canet’s rear while which triggered the fall. There is no way he could’ve anticipated Canet coming over on him so far at speed. Because what Canet did was, and there’s no other way to say this, deliberately take another rider out. Actually, there is another way to say it. What Canet did was be a right dickhead. Whether he intended to make Yurchenko crash is irrelevant in my view. Canet made a premeditated decision to force another rider into that situation where a crash was, if not inevitable, likely. It was done on purpose. He didn’t just run wide. He didn’t lose the front. He wasn’t even turning in, he just went straight on, directly at Yurchenko.

On the world feed commentary, Matt Dunn expressed how they were supposed to remain neutral, but sometimes you can’t. Neil Morrison’s initial silence at witnessing it spoke volumes. And yet somehow, even in silence I had to adjust my speaker’s bass settings to process Neil.

In BT Sport’s commentary former GP podium man Keith Heuwen kept repeating, “That was just wrong”, and called Canet an idiot. Dual WSBK champion Colin Edwards called it a ‘bonehead move’ and said he should be penalised heavily. Former WSBK champion Neil Hodgson called for whatever the biggest penalty was available and said he couldn’t remember the last time he saw something this bad. Heuwen offered up ‘Probably Sepang 2015’ which we’ll get back to later…

In my opinion, it was a reckless, dangerous, appalling and out and out stupid move. A moment of madness. I am sure Canet now regrets it. He must. No matter how many times you watch the replay and try to give Canet the benefit of the doubt, it is just impossible. There is no other way to view that incident.

Or so you’d think.

Upon review, Mike Webb and the team at Race Direction declared it a racing incident and no penalty would be imposed. I honestly still cannot believe that as I sit here typing it. In almost every sense it was the same sort of incident as Rossi and Marquez at Sepang in 2015. Rossi was given a back of the grid penalty at the following race for that incident. At the time, and to this day, I maintain that was a criminally lenient punishment for what Valentino did that day. However, with that as a precedent you would think Canet ought to get, at the very least, the same punishment. But no. Mike Webb apparently used to play the ’90s video game Road Rash and call it ‘Racing Incident’.

There have been many a bad Race Direction decision over the years. That’s inevitable and part of sport. But this, this was something else. This made no sense on any level. I am sitting here now trying to think of what Webb saw in that incident that made him and his team declare this fair play. Is ‘Over the top retribution’ now in the rule book? It boggles the mind. It also brings the sport, and the quest for better safety, into complete disrepute. It would’ve been enough to tar the entire weekend. But to quote a popular meme of late, Webb looked at that incident and responded with, ‘Hold my beer’.

Too Much Talent

Later that morning, in MotoGP FP1, Marc Marquez was involved in an incident with Maverick Vinales. He arrived into the turn too hot, as he often does. There were riders not at his speed in the way so he stood it up, gassed it, and charged though the middle of the pack narrowly avoiding taking Maverick Vinales out. That Marquez managed to avoid everyone is quite remarkable and, yes, a testament to his quick thinking and skill. Marquez’s saves, including another this past weekend, in pit lane no less, have become a meme all to themselves.

Talking about the incident later, Crutchlow said, “It’s getting ridiculous now.”How does he miss Vinales this morning, when all of us would’ve just cleaned him up? And then, he played with it was well, it was great to watch, but I don’t think [Vinales] was too happy. Maybe he’s playing. I know the way Marc works”.

There’s a lot to unpack there, but I think it boils down to one thing. The way Marc works is now a problem.

In the aforementioned thirty years I’ve been closely following this sport I would say there are three riders that I have seen countless times on screen and in the flesh, that, to me, have always stuck out as those with having the most amount of sheer, unfiltered, immeasurable, near indescribable, raw and natural talent. They are Freddie Spencer, Casey Stoner and Marc Marquez.

The key difference between Spencer, Stoner and Marquez, I think, is all in the head. Marquez acts like he is indestructible. He rides like he can get out of any situation. It’s a belief that comes from a combination of his immense talent and, also, luck.  He has, for the most part, escaped serious injury even in major crashes like the one at Mugello. Even in his brief ‘calm’ period he always rode like he was on right on the edge of disaster.

Stoner and Spencer did this too, but with them, you never really got the feeling they weren’t in complete control. They had respect for their ability and those around them, even when that feeling was not reciprocated. Marquez on the other hand, to me, looks as though he’d rather get into a perilous situation and then trust he is good enough to escape it. Stoner and Spencer had a better understanding of their skill and were able to harness it more. There was a clearer picture of where disaster lay. There was less rolling of dice if you will. The danger was real and to be respected, not toyed with.

Every time Marc gets way with it, we all marvel. Me included. In isolation, he is a motorcycle racing genius. But every now and then he ‘gets away with it’ in close proximity to someone else. Instances in the past with Dani Pedorsa and Cal Crutchlow spring to mind. And now this in Argentina. But the question is, can you penalise that? Not really. Because it’s not really reckless riding if he never actually follows through on the error you could argue. Chaos is his style and it’s effective in going very, very fast.

In the past, Valentino Rossi has been guilty of being what I’d call the same sort of reckless and getting away with it also. Marco Simoncelli too although he was penalised after multiple offenses and, I believe, rightly so. I think Simoncelli was guilty of overzealousness. Whether Rossi’s actions were more due to his incredible talent, or as deliberate strategy or tactic is less clear. In cases with Stoner and Sete Gibernau it’s probably more of the latter mixed with a refusal to be beaten at any cost. In the case of Phillip Island in 2003, that’s more skill.

There have been some instances in the past where Marquez has not gotten away with it though. The incident at Phillip Island in 2011 with Ratthapark Wilairot was certainly more complex than is often made out, but Marquez was unquestionably riding irresponsibly, ignoring the bigger picture of where the session was at. Wilairot was lucky he was not severely injured in the crash. Marquez received a back of the grid penalty. A year later in Valencia 2012 he cleaned up Simone Corsi in Valencia FP and was forced to start at the back of the grid once more. He finished both those races in third and first respectively. See, when you have the talent Marquez does, a back of the grid penalty isn’t really a penalty. And here in lies the problem. We’ll return to this later.

For now, let us focus on the start of the MotoGP race.

The Almost Literal Definition of a Clusterfuck.

Wet or dry, wet or dry. It was a tense time on the grid for the MotoGP race as teams worked out what to do. The track was a bit dry, a bit damp and there were one or two proper wet patches. Jack Miller had secured pole by taking the gamble on slicks in qualifying. He decided, on the grid, it was worth taking the same risk in the race. A calculated gamble. It’s what riders do in these situations. Lawson in Hungary in 1992 anyone? So Miller sat there on his slick shod Pramac Ducati at the designated time. The race had been declared, by Race Direction, as a Wet Race. In the rule book, rule 1.20.2 states, ‘After a race has been declared a wet race, “A race will not be interrupted for climatic reasons and riders who wish to change machine (when allowed), tyres or make adjustments must enter the pits and do so during the actual race’. Fine. Here is where it gets tricky.

Following the declaration Rule 1.18.7  states that ‘Riders on the grid may at this stage make adjustments to the machine or change tyres to suit the track conditions’ and ‘All adjustments must be completed by the display of the 3-Minute board. After this board is displayed, riders who still wish to make adjustments must push their machine to the pit lane. Such riders and their machines must be clear of the grid and in the pit lane before the display of the 1-Minute board, where they may continue to make adjustments, or change machine in MotoGP only. Such riders will start the warm up lap from the pit lane and will start the race from the back of the grid’.

Of course, this rule doesn’t work if the entire grid (save Miller) abandon the start. What happened, in truth, was the grid staged a rebellion. Like they do in Star Wars. Probably, I don’t know, I haven’t seen it but I’m lead to believe there’s a rebellion.  Whether teams knew the rules or not (I’m sure they did) they knew they could head back to the pit, change and then start from the back of the grid. This is of course irrelevant if everyone does it. It was an unconscious ganging up and Jack Miller’s gamble and bravery was negated.

Everyone starting from pit lane was not an option after the Sacshenring debacle a few years ago. Well, it was an option technically because the rule for this situation only exists in the reverse, dry to wet, as a safety issue.

One option, and the one I favoured as a fan of fairness would’ve been someone from Race Direction to quickly identify what was happening and put a stop to it. To say, ‘Righto chaps, I see what’s happening here and we aren’t going to be bullied into this bullshit. Back you go you little scamps’. At that point we refer back to the original wet race rules meaning they all head back to the grid and pit if they want to change. I like this for two reasons. One, Miller maintains an advantage based on his tactical decision. And secondly, it alleviates mob rule.

If we’d stuck to the actual rules, in fairness, this may’ve been fine too.

Because what happened next was RD called for a delay of start on safety grounds. Which is, let’s be clear here, horseshit. They didn’t want people hammering out of pit lane trying to sneak in the window of the start of the warm up late. Or a mass start from the pit lane. These are not situations that were unavoidable safety concerns if someone in RD, like Mike Webb, has the courage to stand up to a group of riders who, in essence, took the race and rules into their own hands and dared RD to punish them. Webb flinched, and they got away with it.

So the solution was to delay the start, and leave three blank rows between Miller and the rest of the grid. It was a farce and for thirty minutes the whole show looked like an amateur club meet rather than a premier motorsport. It was embarrassing and worse, entirely avoidable in my opinion.

They were making the rules up as they went. And poorly. You can make the argument, and can argue it well, that it was a unique situation. You’d be right, and while there were no specific rules in place for this situation, an oversight in and of itself, there was enough clarity in the current rules for an official to make a decision that was right and fair by all competitors not just one that gave the illusion of it at a sideways glance.

But if Friday proved anything it was that Mike Webb and Race Direction lacked conviction.

As such the message sent was that the riders are bigger than the rule book and race direction. That taking a chance, as Miller did, is irrelevant if the rest of your competitors gang up up at the eleventh hour. That Miller maintained his jovial attitude and mucked about with the crowd during the unnecessary delay is a huge testament to his character. That he finished the race fourth and didn’t throw a chair through Mike Webb’s window even more so. He described it later as ‘chaotic’ and ‘confusing’. Which is PR speak for an ‘entirely unfair, cobbled together clusterfuck’.

Imagine this was your first MotoGP race and you turned on the TV to see this. You’d flick back to the Commonwealth Games in a heart beat. Then presumably turn the TV off completely a heartbeat later and read a decent book. I’ve just finished Ross King’s latest history of Water Lilies called Enchanment and I’d highly recommend that.

I was just about the move on to the race itself before my brain reminded me there was another balls up before the green light.

Marquez stalled on the line right before the start. To the rule book. “Any rider who stalls his engine on the grid or who has other difficulties must remain on the motorcycle and raise an arm. It is not permitted to attempt to delay the start by any other means”.

When he arrived on his grid spot, Marquez stalled. He correctly and instantly raised his arm. But then he jumped off the bike and attempted to re-start it himself. That’s a no-no. Nine times out of ten a rider won’t be able to bump start a MotoGP bike unassisted and so you’re looking at a clear delay of start. The fact he did get it started is, honestly, neither here nor there.

At this point it’s unclear what the marshal who runs out tells him. He appears to gesture to the pits, but it’s unclear. Marquez would later claim he asked if he had to go and was told no. So either one of two things have happened here. Either Marquez is lying, or Race Direction don’t know their own rules in a pinch. And if Marquez is lying, why didn’t RD make it clearer, or more forceful, that Marquez MUST start from pit lane? Either are unacceptable situations. Marquez then rides the wrong way back to his grid spot, another violation of the rules. Either way, it’s a clear delay of start. What’s one up from a clusterfuck? Where’s an omnishambles on the scale?

So after fuck up after fuck up, the race gets underway. Jack Miller’s had his advantage ripped from his grasp, Marquez is inexplicably still on the grid and, somehow, the chaos is only just starting.

Just Not Cricket

It doesn’t take long, although longer than it should, for Marquez to be given a ride through penalty. Marquez would say in his debrief this confused him as he’d been told not to go to pit lane by officials on the grid. As above, if this is the case, and then they penalised him it’s another example of RD cocking it all up. If it was just confusion between Marc and the official, why did it take so many laps to penalise him? Nothing makes sense at this point.

Before this penalty though, Dani Pedrosa crashes. There’s a lot of social media fury about this, because that’s what social media is for. It was especially angry after the race as to why Zarco’s pass on Pedrosa that led to his Pedrosa’s fall was not penalised. Firstly, if you’re looking for some sort of consistency from RD at this point, you’ve clearly not been paying attention. Secondly, I don’t believe Zarco warranted any sort of penalty. Unlike Marquez’s passes which we’ll get to, Zarco’s was not a dangerous or reckless move. There was a decent gap and he went for it. Pedrosa was a little wider than the normal racing line and they were fighting for third. Zarco didn’t want Marquez or Miller to escape up front. It was a hard, but fair, racing move. Pedrosa sat up when he saw Zarco up the inside, no harm done. He closed the door a little too late. The problem came when he drifted a little too wide, onto a damp patch and then twisted the wrist. Zarco did not force Pedrosa off the track. He passed him, cleanly, held his line. They did not touch. The wet line is still part of the track, there is nothing untoward about what Zarco did. In fact, if Dani had rolled it off a little he most likely would’ve lost another position but not fallen. Ever since Rossi said Zarco was too aggressive a large portion of the MotoGP internet (you can guess which portion) have decided Zarco is reckless. There was, nor will there ever be, anything reckless about that pass on Pedrosa. I’ve watched it about a dozen times from all available angles at this point and still find nothing untoward. I’d suggest an insistence here that Zarco be penalised is one being made through a lens other than that of objectivity. Pulling in various arguments that, in truth, are not relevant.

Moving on, Marquez now begins his charge through the pack. He’s quick, obviously. The first incident comes with Aleix Espargaró, a move that, to my mind, dwarfs the one on Rossi for seriousness. The move on Espargaró was not a racing manoeuvre on any level. There was not a gap of any size that Marquez went for. He literally barged into Espargaró. He rammed him out of the way. He was bumper cars at the steam fair. It was one of the most blatantly disrespectful things I’ve seen on racetrack since, well, Friday actually. Race Direction told Marquez to drop a position. This was, and look, I’ve tried to think of another way to put this but I can’t. This decision was fucking pathetic. You have effectively said, ‘Try again’. If that is not, at the very, very least a ride through penalty I don’t know why we have rules. Personally, I would’ve black flagged him then and there. Then I would’ve put him to the back of the grid in Austin as well. Because here’s what’s happening. Race Direction has got caught up in the hype. If they continue to let him get away with this, something bad is going to happen.

What’s happened here is they’ve caught Cameron Bancroft with the sandpaper and said they’ll just get a new ball, don’t worry about it. It’s just not cricket. If there’s a spirit of MotoGP this is the opposite of that.

Marquez quite simply did not care. He was quick. He had time to catch up. He was mad. Waiting one more corner was not an option. Marquez is seemingly unaware of the consequences of his talent. With great power. Just because you continue to get away with it, doesn’t mean you should.

My wife was on her laptop next to me watching the race. She is not an avid follower of MotoGP, but being married to me for eleven years, she’s picked up a few things. She’d paid attention to the start and declared it ‘totally unfair’. She looked up when I exclaimed something at Marquez’s move. She watched the replay, calmly said, ‘What a wanker move’, and went back to work. I’m gonna hit 3500 words in a minute and she’s summed it up perfectly in four.

Marquez would pull similar moves on other riders throughout the race. A review of the onboard footage from Marquez’s bike shows this. Some are, like Zarco’s, hard but fair. Some involve more barging and contact. They are moves he did not need to make, there’s another point. He was so much faster than everyone else, he would’ve got past cleanly one or two corners later. Impatience and stupidity took over.

Go back and watch the Espargaró collision again. And then find a way to justify the lack of a penalty given to him. It’s like Canet all over again.

Espargaró would later say he was barged in a similar manner by Daniello Petrucci and nothing was done about it because it doesn’t affect the championship. If this is true, I’ve not seen the incident, it’s further proof RD have completely lost control of the plot and the series.

The Rossi move will undoubtedly gain the most attention because it resulted in a crash and also because it’s Rossi. They have some history, you may recall. Firstly, let’s be clear here. If we’re ranking the dangerous moves of the weekend, this sits easily below the one on Espargaró and Canet’s in FP1. Easily. I don’t believe this was an intentional attempt to knock Rossi off and those saying it was, or it was retribution, are quite simply banging a drum that doesn’t exist. What is was though was reckless, stupid and above all preventable. Rossi left a small gap and Marquez went for it. He went for it from a long way back. A looooong way back. An ambition outweighing his talent distance one might suggest. And he went for it too hot. There was no way Marquez was going to make that corner. That’s where the contact comes. Marquez has to run wide or crash. So he runs it a bit wide, after a slide because he’s in too hot in the first place, collects Rossi which forces them both wide and then Rossi hits the wet grass. That’s not intentionally taking someone out, or having the malicious intent of running them off the the track as Canet did on Friday and, yes, as Rossi did in Sepang, but it is someone crashing out as a direct result of you being a fucking idiot. There’s a difference, marginal though it may be. This is more a Simoncelli type incident.

In a normal race situation, even if this is fighting for the win on the last lap, it’s worth a ride through penalty, no question. Factor in that Marquez could’ve easily and safely got by a corner or two later, and previous indiscretions and it’s another example of Marquez losing his mind this weekend.

And yet, that’s not why I think it was preventable. It’s preventable because Marquez should’ve been black flagged long before this. For the Espargaró collision. Or the recklessness that followed. Marquez received a 30 second penalty for the Rossi clash which is, again, horseshit. Firstly it’s saying this is worse than the earlier attack on Espargaró which it clearly isn’t. Is it worse because the penalties have compound interest? Or because someone crashed? Or because it was Rossi?

Yes, the penalty moved him out of the points,, but a DQ carries more threat and weight. If he’d done this at the start of the race, got the same penalty, he would’ve made it up again. He’s that good. And he would’ve possibly caused more chaos in the process. No. A black flag says, ‘Your talent be damned. This is not on’. It sends a message. It sends the message that with great power comes great responsibility. This weekend, amongst all the other clusterfuckery, RD told Marc Marquez that the spectacle is more important that the rules or the safety of other riders. This is a huge worry.

The aftermath by both Rossi and Marquez hasn’t helped either. Kudos to Marquez for going to Rossi to apologise. Yet in his umpteenth stupid decision of the day he took Alberto Puig which was always going to inflame things. Rossi’s assistant Uccio having a tantrum and sending Marquez away is also a bad look. The amount of high ground available to Rossi here was huge. Come out, shake hands and then express his concerns later. Or speak to Marquez then and there. Having your PA, not even a team manager, shoo Marquez away just looked childish.

Obviously no-one was admitting blame afterwards either.

Marquez claiming everything was just racing is nonsense, although given his continual lenient treatment you can see how he’d think that. If he is telling the truth about the instructions he received on the grid, he has every right to be annoyed there however. What was missing was him simply saying, ‘You know what, I was probably a bit angry, got a bit carried away’ etc. You had a shocker Marc, just admit. Take the blame. Own up to it. I must say, I lost a lot of respect for Marquez on Sunday.

Rossi went on to claim Marquez was a detriment, that he was wrecking the sport, which is a bit much in my opinion, but also, fair enough, Rossi was pissed off. He claimed Marquez coming to his garage to apologise was nothing more than PR. This too, coming from the man who went to Stoner’s garage still in helmet is a bit rich. But his claim that he doesn’t feel protected by Race Direction, now there I am in agreement with him. It’s hard to feel protected when you can’t fathom what their process even is. He finished by saying Marquez has no respect for his fellow rivals. In this, it’s also easy to see where Rossi is coming from. I’m sure it’s a lack of respect as much as it is ego and arrogance. He knows he’s the best and doesn’t care. Motor racing is a sport where that attitude is dangerous.

The next round will be interesting to see how other rider’s react. What will the likes of Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo have to say? On that, what the hell happened to Lorenzo this weekend? Any other round that’d be headline news.

Dorna have not helped in settling this matter either. Within moments they had a hashtag for the incident on Twitter, fueling the fire. They live broadcasted Marquez and Rossi’s debriefs. Poor Crutchlow, Zarco and Rins had a half full press conference. Today the motogp.com site and accounts are plastered with Rossi v Marquez round 2 propaganda. I appreciate the irony of me complaining about that while writing an article about it but I’d like to think I’m trying to contribute to correcting a wrong rather than cashing in on chaos. I’ll let you be the judge of that. Given the stakes here, I’d suggest Dorna have acted a little too much like cable news or Don King than the face of a massive sport that’s just had a right shambles of an event.

Many former riders and riders in other championships have been hugely critical of the weekend, of Race Direction, Canet and Marquez too. Ben Spies was very vocal on Twitter. Simon Crafar didn’t seem to care who was signing his checks when he criticized the lack of a black flag for Marquez. Hodgson called Marquez arrogant, something I’ve echoed in this article. A real, ‘I’m better than you, out of my fucking way’ attitude. It’s not on. Edwards, James Toseland, Gino Rea, Alex Lowes and plenty of others weighed in as well. Even Marquez fans were holding up their hands.

So, my over-riding point of all of this is that Mike Webb and Race Direction need to be, not should be, must be held to account and made to answer some hard questions over this weekend. We are moments away from the inmates running the asylum. The start of the MotoGP race, Canet, Marquez, all of it. It wasn’t just a bad look for the sport, it was disgusting. I thought long and hard about labeling it that, whether it was an over-reaction, or a hyberbole, but I think it’s the right word. I’m disappointed, I’m angry, I’m disgusted.

And yes, at Race Direction more than anyone. Canet made a massive mistake and he had the look in the sand trap of a man who knew he’d fucked up and was awaiting sentencing. None came. Why should Marquez behave any differently when he consistently is told his behaviour is fine? Because you’d hope he’s a bigger person than that, yes, but his attitude while in no way acceptable, is at the very least quantifiable. No, this is on the weak spine of Race Direction and Mike Webb. It’s not an easy job, of course, but sometimes you have to make unpopular decisions for the greater good. This weekend Mike Webb and his team repeatedly showed they are not up to the task.

To end this near 6000 word rant, I guess I must ask, what would I do? I’ve said what I would’ve done at the time, but what would I do now?

Firstly, I’d tell Mike Webb to get his shit together. Grow a spine. I’d make it clear in the rules that once there is 3 minutes till the start, unless it is a cataclysmic mechanical failure, bikes cannot leave the grid. I’d send Canet to the back of the grid, at least, for Austin.

And I’ll tell Marquez to not bother coming at all. You are suspended. Your immense skill is no excuse for irresponsible, reckless, arrogant, dangerous riding. I’d say sorry this wasn’t done sooner. I’d say sorry you weren’t given this lesson years ago. The last guy was a bit shit. But enough is enough. Take a week off, have a think about it. Viagra eyedrops and all that.

Marquez pushes the front, and pushes it hard, because he always manages to save it.

He is impatient and overly aggressive on the track because no penalty on track can stop him. He can out ride any penalty. So it’s time to give him one that denies him even the opportunity.

Miller on the grid photo credited to Pramac Racing. Crutchlow photo credited to Team LCR. Other Argentia shots copyright motogp.com Marquez Moto2 Photo by T.Tanabe on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND 

  1. The Dandy Highwayman says:

    Whilst i’m not entirely in agreeance with the Sepang 2015 opinions (Yes, Rossi completely broke the rules running Marc off track, but there was no kick and frankly the little shit had been asking for a telling off all year) the rest of your article is completely spot on.

    I think the worst bit about the Canet incident was, during one of the other FP sessions Matt Dunn brought up that Race Direction had said that Canet’s incident was due to retaliation, like that made it okay?? Surely it makes it worse!

    As for Marquez… Bullshit. He KNOWS the rules. YOU know the rule for stalling on the grid. I know the rule for stalling on the grid. My wife knows the rule for stalling on the grid. There are literal kids in the Red Bull Rookies who will tell you that they’ve known the rule for years. Marquez knew damn well what he was meant to do, and decided to flaunt the rules, because he’s Marquez and he can get away with it.

    And then he rode backwards down the circuit. Because he’s Marquez, and he can get away with it.

    And then he spent the rest of the race riding like an absolute idiot. Because he’s Marquez… And he got away with it.

  2. One of the best write ups and the weekends shit happenings, I have watched MotoGP / Bike racing for years, my grandfather pretty much lived for it, so was hard to avoid, in 2015 I was ashamed of it and of Rossi and the circus it became for the last race.

    But with Argentina, I was left disgusted time and time again, the Canet move set the tone of the weekend, and it never recovered only ever got worse!

    one thing that needs a mention has well is how Valentino a seasoned veteran can be so Immature when it comes to Marquez, yes the move was horrible and out of control but to blow it so wildly out of proportions just adds fuel to the fire when he could calm it down and be the proper ambassador for MotoGP that he should be, being the elder statesman..

    • Yes, I kind of touched on this, but didn’t go into it too deep because I understood his frustration. If he doubles down on the ‘Marquez aims for the legs’ stuff in Austin I’ll be disappointed although not in the least bit surprised.

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