The tenor of temper tantrums and drama in the MotoGP paddock seemingly escalates with each passing day, as the Warm-Up session at Le Mans saw further scuffles from MotoGP riders. Punching Randy de Puniet in the arm, Casey Stoner has been levied a €5,000 fine by Race Direction for the contact with the French rider. With such a physical act is clearly out of order and unsportsmanlike in any sort of motorcycle race, but the issue about slower riders on the racing line has also surfaced, with many in the MotoGP paddock looking for some intervention from Race Direction on that issue as well.
The incident came about as Randy de Puniet and Álvaro Bautista had slowed on the racing line (seemingly having their own moment with each other), with Stoner rapidly approaching on his Repsol Honda. With de Puniet looking back over his shoulder, the French rider seemingly moved to get out of the way of Stoner, who was on the inside of the two riders. However moving to the outside, Randy blocked Casey’s line, as the Australian went to the outside as well to make his pass over the slower duo.
Visibly upset about having not only slower riders on the racing line, but also getting blocked on his faster lap, Stoner punched de Puniet on the upper-arm/shoulder as he rode by, with the two riders exchanging other gestures that we haven’t been able to identify in the ASL dictionary. For this act, Race Direction has fined Stoner €5,000, though no penalty has been assessed to Randy de Puniet for his part in the incident, with the Frenchman simply getting a warning for his part. Slow-lappers on the racing line has been an increasingly problematic issue in MotoGP, and is a personal pet-peev for Casey Stoner, who doesn’t like riders latching onto his Honda and getting a tow around the circuit.
So far Race Direction has not handed-out fines or penalties for the plethora of riders sitting on the racing line and waiting for a tow, and many in the MotoGP paddock are waiting for the officials to step-in on the issue. There’s no doubt that lately there’s been a laissez-faire approach to the melodrama that has become MotoGP racing in 2011, with riders publicly scuffling with each other essentially from the Spanish GP onward.
After the qualifying session yesterday, riders lined up in the Safety Commission meeting to complain about Marco Simoncelli’s riding this weekend, as the Italian has also been under scrutiny for his aggressive riding at Le Mans. With racing at the French GP about to get started in several hours, we’ll see who has the largest handbag in the Le Mans paddock.