Despite public outcry, World Superbike Director Paolo Ciabatti is standing firm on the decision to penalize Max Biaggi out of the lead of Race 2 at Monza on Sunday. With fast entry speeds and collisions likely through the first chicane, new rules were put into place for this weekend’s round. In essence, a straight chute was made available as a run-off for riders who had nowhere to go or had missed their braking point, with a special set of lines painted on the surface that riders were required to use for re-entry to the racing line. It was these rules that forced Biaggi out of a five second lead and a likely sure win Sunday.
Ciabatti explained, “We had to disqualify 320 lap times in Friday practice alone because of riders breaking this rule. We also told the riders they could only cut through the runoff area three times during each race, otherwise they would be penalized with a ride through.” Riders were informed about the new rules at a riders’ briefing held Thursday, which Biaggi did not attend. Within the sporting regulations, those meetings are mandatory for either the rider or team to attend, and so a representative from the Aprilia team attended in Biaggi’s stead.
During the second race, Biaggi had more than five seconds on the rest of the field when he shorted the chicane, running straight on and failing to use the special white lines to rejoin the track. “He was outside the area marked with the white lines, as the TV images clearly demonstrated,” said Ciabatti, adding, “This was already enough to penalize him, but the data also showed he gained three tenths in the process.”
Because of this failure and the advantage gained, Biaggi received a ride-through penalty that completely negated his lead, and dropped the reigning champion to twelfth position. Despite previously hoping to regain points during this race meeting, Biaggi was forced to admit, “I have to accept this severe decision, blaming myself for not having been shrewd enough not to have touched that line.”
“The judging officials are there to take decisions. It’s our job to respect them and so we must accept the penalty which the judges enforced,” said Aprilia Sporting Director Gigi Dall’Igna. “However,” he added, “we cannot keep quiet about the fact that, from a strictly sporting point of view, Max drew no time advantage from cutting the turn.”
In the end, only failure to use the white lines while exiting was enough to accrue the ride-through penalty and lose Biaggi his first race win of the 2011 season. Similarly, Race Direction penalized Noriyuki Haga during the first race for violating the chicane rules, as the Japanese rider cut the chicane more than three times during that race.