A few laps after the restart, world champ Pecco Bagnaia was battling for the lead with the KTMs of Jack Miller and Brad Binder in the best victory contest we’ve seen since Phillip Island last year. The KTMs were making all kinds of shapes using their awesome braking performance into Turn 6, when Miller went slightly wide and Bagnaia snuck through on the inside, lifting Miller, the pair making the gentlest of contacts.
A few laps later Bagnaia was told to drop one place for his move. Again, the penalty seemed unreasonable. Are riders no longer allowed to rub? Both riders embraced each other in the parc fermé, proving that both understand all’s fair in love and war.
Everyone has their own opinions about these incidents, including the MotoGP stewards. Some riders agreed with the sanctions, most didn’t. But I guarantee that any rider who agreed with any of the sanctions would’ve felt differently if it were the stewards hammering him. That’s how racers are.
Opinions, opinions… As Miller said to Jorge Lorenzo during an angry 2017 safety commission meeting at Le Mans: “Opinions are like assholes – everyone’s got one”.
However, not everything is opinion. Some things are facts, other things are written down and can be used in a court of law against you.
Let’s look at the case of Morbidelli’s penalty, issued by the stewards on Saturday at 5.24pm. It went something like this…
“Dear Sir… at Turn 2 you were found to be riding in an irresponsible manner, causing a crash with rider No73.
“This contravenes the specific instructions given to MotoGP competitors…” blah blah blah… “For the above reasons the FIM MotoGP stewards panel has imposed a long-lap penalty…”
Morbidelli guilty of “being ambitious”!? It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard in 4 decades covering MotoGP
Yamaha appealed the decision. Morbidelli didn’t turn up for the appeal because most riders have given up getting involved in these situations, because they always lose and the bosses always win. His place was taken by team manager Massimo Meregalli.
The appeal was rejected and the wording of the decision of the FIM appeal stewards was truly jaw-dropping.
“The appeal stewards agreed with the MotoGP stewards that Franco Morbidelli No21 was observed as being ambitious in his attempt to overtake, causing contact and crash with rider No73.”