FIM Introduces Punishments for Exceeding Track Limits on Last Lap

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The last lap of last weekend’s Moto2 race remains controversial. Augusto Fernandez ran wide at Turn 11 in Misano, and used that space to get a run on Fabio Di Giannantonio into Turn 14, passing the Italian to take victory. The Speed Up team appealed the decision, but eventually it was upheld.

That decision did not sit well inside the paddock, however. At the pre-event press conference for the Aragon round on Thursday, Marc Marquez said the riders intended to raise the issue in the Safety Commission.

“In the end the green part is something that is out of the limits of the track. The way that this time Fernandez, but it doesn’t matter which rider, uses the track is not fair. It is not fair because he used a lot on the exit of Turn 6 and you gain a little bit and it is the last two laps when the front guy is pushing.”

“If you keep these ‘jokers’ for the end of the race it is not fair to use them at the end of the race. The overtake at Turn 14 started at the fast corner Turn 11, and this is when you are riding in Misano it is very easy to understand.”

The discussions in the Safety Commission on Friday night between the riders and the FIM have already borne fruit. Today, the FIM announced new rules for the last lap of the race, which will see any rider exceeding track limits and appearing to affect the outcome of the race as a result subject to punishment.

What that punishment will be is up to the FIM Stewards. They will be able to hand out a time penalty, a change of position, or a long lap penalty. The long lap penalty is likely to be unused, given that riders will only be punished for infractions on the last lap. 

Importantly, there is no right of appeal against the penalty. Once adjudicated and awarded, the penalty will stand.

Below is the press release announcing the rule change.

FIM MotoGP™ Stewards update track limits protocol
New guidelines come into force for infractions on the last lap

Saturday, 21 September 2019

In previous eras of the Championship, the limits of the track were defined by a wall/barrier, which meant riders had no margin for error. As circuits got safer and run-off areas were created, kerbs were installed to signal the limit of the track. They were also intended to be detrimental for riding on as they were not flat. However, in time, the machines developed and improved, meaning they no longer lost any traction on kerbs.

Therefore, with the aim of improving upon natural grass but without providing good traction, artificial grass was installed on the outside of the kerbs. However, this was found to be dangerous after rain as it wouldn’t dry as fast as the track, causing crashes.

Now, artificial grass has been replaced by a concrete edge, giving the riders a safe margin to be able to push for the limit, make mistakes and fight for positions. However, there are clear advantages to exceeding the limits of the track, and therefore it must be discouraged.

Exceeding track limits means a rider has both tyres outside the track at the same time. If an infraction occurs at any time other than during a race, it results in the cancellation of the sector time and therefore cancellation of the lap. If an infraction occurs during a race, there can be a number of different outcomes.

If the rider loses time and is clearly disadvantaged, no action is taken and it’s not recorded.

Some mistakes are allowed if a loss or gain is indeterminable, but too many incidents are deemed an advantage because the rider is not using the same track as their competitors. If a rider makes three infractions, a warning message is sent to their dash. Once there are five track limit infractions, a Long Lap Penalty is issued via a signal board, with a message sent to the rider’s dashboard as well.

In MotoE™, races are much shorter. Therefore the number of permitted track limit incidents has now been reduced from five to three, with a warning after one.

If the FIM MotoGP™ Stewards deem a rider to have gained a clear advantage in one single track limit infraction, a penalty can be issued. This can vary from a Change of Position, a Time Penalty or a Long Lap Penalty. These instances are recorded but not included in the undetermined count, as a rider will already have been penalised for them.

At the Gran Premio Michelin® de Aragon and following consultation with the Safety Commission, it has been decided to update the protocol for track limit infractions that occur on the last lap of a race.

From now on, an infraction on the last lap that has affected a race result must indicate that the rider in question was disadvantaged by exceeding track limits. If the Stewards deem there is no clear disadvantage, the rider will be penalised with a change of position or a time penalty. This is to ensure that any rider exceeding track limits on the final lap must be in a worse position than the rider or riders with whom they are directly competing for a finish position.

Decisions regarding track limits are the sole responsibility of the FIM MotoGP™ Stewards Panel and are final, with infractions confirmed by video. There is no possibility of protest or appeal.

Source: Dorna

David Emmett

One of MotoGP's most respected journalists, David Emmett is the proprietor of the esteemed MotoMatters. We are very grateful to republish David's work here on A&R...though dread the day we ever again get in a car with him.