Guest Blog: Mat Oxley: Rules The Hot Topic In MotoGP

MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We will be featuring sections of Oxley's blogs, posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website, over the coming months.


It’s ten days since a potentially thrilling climax to the MotoGP championship disintegrated to the sound of shattered carbon-fibre and a chorus of Spanish expletives. Time for a cool, calm reappraisal of the events.

It may have been hapless Hector Barbera who torpedoed title challenger Dani Pedrosa, but the thing that really did for Dani was the rulebook.

Sport needs rules, but wouldn’t it be nice if sport came first and rules came second? I was saying pretty much that as Pedrosa’s title hopes went awry on the Misano grid, but another journalist sitting nearby argued that I was entirely wrong. To him, the rules are what matters, and damn the romance of racing.

Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

Comments

The spirit of sport

If the 'spirit of sport' was there, wouldn't most riders have let Dani through once they started?
Or has sportsmanship gone the same way?

Discuss...

John

Total votes: 92

And risk the wrath of their sponsors???

Sadly, in what was a sport and is now a business dominated by television exposure, getting your bike in the same frame as Dani or Jorge etc is a big win for your sponsors. If you happen to be holding them up for 2 or 3 corners (or happy days, a few laps) then the sponsors are getting exactly the exposure they want for their products or services.
Look up sportsmanship and there will likely be a url to take you to the wiki for the dodo.

Total votes: 87

No

What's the point of putting one guy back if everyone should let him pass? The ones in front of him were not lapped racers! I don't see any sportmanship in letting go someone behind you just because he is a wc contender.

Nevertheless the rule doesn't make much sense as Otley pointed out and should be amended for the future. Pity Pedrosa had to pay the silly price of it to have it fixed.

Lorenzo's shortage of engines could square it up but so far we (fans) have been robbed of thrilling finale of season.

Total votes: 86

More time for mechanics

By taking the bike to pit lane, they get more time for the mechanics to work on the bike. I think this is the real reason for sending the rider to the back of the grid.

If anyone could roll off the grid to make whatever adjustments they want to make without any penalties, then why even have a time limit for the mechanics on the grid?

Total votes: 91

No

Of course but in the blog article he is talking about something different.
The point is about starting from the back of the grid just because you have started the warming up lap from pit lane. If you do have issues you start warm up lap from the pit lane.
In F1 since you cannot overtake during warm up now you have to start from the back of the grid, in the article it is considered that since in MotoGP there is no such implication you can/should rejoin your position.

Total votes: 94

In the blog

In the blog he is referring to this rule in relation to the resulting problems for Pedrosa:
"It seems like a daft rule to me, and if it wasn’t there in the FIM rule book, Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo would still be battling for the championship."

I think one of the points, if not THE point, of the rule is that if you start the warmup lap from pit lane, you potentially have an advantage compared to the riders starting from the grid - more time for your mechanics to make last minute adjustments - and that should be discouraged.
While the grid clears at the 1 minute mark, your team can continue working more or less up until the time where all grid starting riders have passed pit exit.

Total votes: 81

There would be no grid...

It is a pity what happened to the championship duel, but the rule Oxley wants makes no sense. If the bikes were not required to start the warm up lap from the grid, and had the option to start from pit lane, why would anyone go onto the grid at all? There could routinely be many (or all) bikes starting from the pits, after a last-second filling of the tank with chilled fuel.

I do agree with Matt that MotoGP and SBK rules need to be coordinated lest Jeremy Burgess' prediction comes true.

Total votes: 74

Bikes starting from pit lane

Bikes starting from pit lane are held until the field passes. It is worse than starting dead last, because you pay a bit of a time penalty.

Total votes: 93

The Warm-up Lap

Lew is talking about the warm-up lap, not the race.

Competitors would start the warm-up lap from pit lane.
All they would have to do is get in front of the safety car,
then take their assigned positions for the start of the race.

Total votes: 76

My point

Exactly my point in one of the posts above. Why give an advantage to teams (by not having a penalty) taking more time working the bike than the ones on the grid are allowed to have?

Total votes: 75

Very good point Lew

That then begs the question of the whole line up on the grid where they truck out the generators, starters, tires, laptops, etc, etc in the first place. Is the grid line up just pageantry? Why not just have a cutoff time for exit and run the warm up lap straight out of the boxes from pit lane? The bikes exit the pits, run the lap and then come directly to grid positions with engines running ready for the flags and lights to start the race?
For some reason I think the answer to those questions may have to do with umbrella girls and VIP's wandering the grid amongst the teams and riders.

Total votes: 80

Rules?

It wasn't the rules that put Pedrosa at the back of the grid, it was his mechanical problem, a simple fact that seems to keep getting glossed over. Everybody else on the grid endured the same circumstances and did fine. Rules exist for a reason, to maintain a fair playing field. Lorenzo didn't get a new engine when Bautista skittled him, where was the argument for the "sport" then? Pedrosa had a bad weekend. It sucks for him but that is racing. Rules exist in sport for a reason and you don't just throw them out because you feel like it. Race direction's job is to enforce the rules fairly, not pick and choose who benefits from them. When race direction starts changing outcomes by selectively enforcing rules is the moment the championship looses its credibility.

Total votes: 81

Another Excerpt, the rules need to be changed.

"The rule with which I take issue is that which states that any rider who has started the warm-up lap from pit must start the race from the back of the grid. Why? Why can’t the rider take the start from his rightful grid position? Unlike car racing, riders aren’t required to keep position on warm-up laps and they can easily filter through to the front of the grid, so if a rider gets out of the pitlane smartly enough, why should he be punished by being sent to the back of the grid? He has done nothing wrong, so he shouldn’t be penalised."
-Mat Oxley

Total votes: 86

Rule 1.18.7

"All adjustments must be completed by the display of the 3 minutes
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."
Dani was making adjustments to his bike (mechanics released brake pressure by opening the system). Dani went to the back because he was working on his bike after it was allowed. His team then pushed the bike back out to the grid which was a violation of the rules. Mat Probably needs to look at the rules again, because his commentary is full of holes.

Total votes: 80

What is being forgotten is it

What is being forgotten is it is not just the rules that scuppered Dani, nor was it all Hector (both in regards to the incident itself or the in the big picture) but a big part of it was the teams failure under pressure to fit & remove the tyre warmer.

Motorsport is a team sport. Last year Dani failed to win the title due to his refusal to bow to the inevitable speed on the day from Marco at Le Mans & poor bike prep by the team at Motegi. So 2012 was a 50/50 wash. This year Dani has ridden smarter & deserved the position of title contender, only to be the victim of a track day standard f@#k up on the grid with a tyre warmer. it was the team that put him on the back of the grid, not the rules.

Total votes: 87

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