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Drawing the Line – inspired by the Marquez v Lorenzo incident

The front tyres used in MotoGP now make it possible to enter turns so damn fast and half-lean-brake so incredibly hard into the corners that for me after watching WSBK all year, when I get to see MotoGP bike’s enter turns for the first time up-close at Jerez test, I get a big fright and yell “arrgh, they’re gonna crash!”. I don’t envy the riders trying to find the limits of braking when trying to overtake each other. It must be very difficult and a very fine line. The last turn incident at Jerez between Lorenzo and Marquez. I’d like to start by saying that I loved how that one pass made the race on Sunday more exciting for us all to watch.

I enjoyed reading Motomatters coverage of it, with their own views, views of some top riders and some well known team managers views also. It got me thinking about the fine line between a good ruthless pass and an outright unfair and dangerous attempt.

How do we tell the difference?
What I have written below is not about Jerez, its about the future. As it is now, it seems that if there is not a crash as a result of a pass, no one understands exactly where the line will be drawn by race direction. I don’t think rules should restrict riders to the point where they can no longer be creative and ruthless, but I don’t believe that it should be legal or encouraged to make passes that are not ‘reasonably in control’.

I have been ‘taken out’ by another rider who was not in control on the brakes, and quite badly injured. I have also been quite badly injured by not being in control on the brakes myself and was very lucky not to involve someone else in the incident. All racers experience it at some point, but I don’t think its fair that there are no firm rules of etiquette keeping a great rider who is leading a race on the last lap, slightly safer from an over enthusiastic and dangerous attempt.

Here is what I propose (not that I really expect anyone will listen ;-)…
For example, if a rider that uses the inside line, close to the paint mid turn on normal previous laps, then attempts a pass and gets up the inside of the rider he is trying to overtake, runs a bit wide mid turn, bumping into the other rider running him a little wider… No problem, this is acceptable. If the rider attempting the pass cannot get his bike stopped and turned until he runs himself and the other rider to the OUTSIDE of the track- a full track width wider than normal, in my opinion he has f****d up and is not ‘reasonably in control’.
So in short, running wide up until 50 or maybe even 60% track width is acceptable providing the overtakers bike is not on a completely different trajectory than the bike he is overtaking, keeping the collision to a minimum. A full track width wider than normal is not acceptable and means the rider is no longer ‘reasonably in control’ of his machine at that moment and is putting the other rider at risk.

Pretty much anyone in the race with a good bike setup can pass anyone else in the race if he gets a good drive onto the straight before, his bike has enough speed to be close when approaching the braking zone, and he knows he does not have the same rules as the guy in front, meaning he does not have to stop and turn his machine until the OUTSIDE of the circuit and can shove the other rider with him.
Now put yourself in the position of the imaginary guy in front who has done everything right. You are leading and are passed by someone that in my opinion is not ‘reasonably in control’ and shunts you right off the track. You stay on mainly because of the extra asphalt runoff circuits have these days and race direction say its all OK and the other rider is rewarded for it. There has to be a line drawn somewhere surely.