Marc Marquez has been handed a penalty point for his role in the incident with Dani Pedrosa at Aragon. On Lap 6 of the Aragon race, Marquez braked a little too late for Turn 12, found himself running into the back of his teammate Dani Pedrosa, the picked the bike up to run it wide.
In doing so, he just touched the back of Pedrosa’s bike, severing the rear wheel speed sensor, and sending the Honda’s traction control system into full power mode, which caused Pedrosa to be thrown from the bike when he opened the throttle.
Despite initially dimissing the crash as a normal racing incident, Race Direction had held the incident under investigation after the Aragon race, while they waited for further technical data from Honda on the crash. That data was delivered to them at Sepang, and after examining it, Race Direction found both Marc Marquez and HRC culpable for the crash.
Marquez was found culpable for riding in an irresponsible manner (violating section 1.21.2 of the Disciplinary code, the catch-all for dangerous riding), and HRC was found culpable for endangering their riders by using a vulnerable design for a vital part of a system that is important to the safety and performance of the motorcycle.
Marc Marquez was given a single penalty point by Race Direction, bringing his current total to 3 points. The single point for the Aragon crash will have no immediate impact; once a rider has accumulated 4 points, they start from the back of the grid, and if they amass 7 points, they have to start from pit lane. Accumulating 10 points automatically incurs a race ban, although the penalty points are reset to zero for all riders at the start of each season.
Honda were stripped of the 25 points in the manufacturers championship which they gained from Marquez’s win at Aragon. Instead, they received 13 points in the manufacturers’ standings for Alvaro Bautista’s 4th place in the race. Neither Marquez nor Honda have said they will appeal the sanction.
Race Director Mike Webb told the media, including Spanish magazine Motociclismo, that Marquez’s punishment was meant to be a signal to the Spaniard that he has to be more aware of other riders when on track, especially in braking.
Webb said that they had checked the braking data from both Marquez and Pedrosa, and both men had braked at almost exactly the same point as on previous laps, but that the greater proximity between the two riders and the difference in riding styles – one braking early and carrying corner speed, the other braking late and turning the bike – had caused the contact.
Marquez, as the rider behind, should have taken account of his closeness to Pedrosa. It was the responsibility of the rider behind to ensure that he would not hit the rider in front entering a corner, Webb said.
Though contact was only minimal, Webb said, this was just one of a number of incidents which had happened throughout the year.
Marquez’s braking had left him uncomfortably close to riders several times during the season, and as Marquez had actually made contact with Pedrosa at Aragon, Race Direction had taken the opportunity to give him a single point as a warning.
This was a message, Webb said, to let Marquez know that he needs to show more respect to his rivals when racing with them at close quarters on track.
The penalty against Honda was an acknowledgement of the design flaw of Honda’s rear wheel speed sensor, Webb said. Most other manufacturers had dual rear wheel speed sensors just in case one failed, and Honda had been warned previously by some team engineers that the sensor was vulnerable.
If the manufacturers designed their motorcycles to be so utterly dependent on electronic inputs to be ridden safely, then they had a duty to ensure that those systems would function safely and not endanger their riders if there was a malfunction, Race Direction felt.
Honda had already taken steps to prevent a reoccurrence of the Aragon incident. At Sepang, all Hondas now had a small carbon fiber plate protecting the sensor cable. Furthermore, HRC were looking at the software component of traction control, Takeo Yokoyama, Technical Director of the Repsol Honda Team told the MotoGP.com website.
“From the software point of view, we of course do have a backup mode; if something happens with the sensor signal, the bike is supposed to go into the safety mode immediately. However, the strategy was not perfect, so for this race we have modified it so that we can detect such failures earlier,” Yokoyama said.
This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.