Riders Question Catalunya 125GP Penalty

June 6, 2011
Scott Mathews
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There are few people worthy of getting an audience with Mathews but he makes himself available on occasion to the racers of the Grand Prix paddock. If they’re lucky, he might even mention their name. He’s Scott Mathews, and he’s bringing you the inside scoop on MotoGP.

Johann Zarco
Johann Zarco’s 20-second penalty in the 125GP race at Catalunya was questioned by a few key MotoGP riders.

The decision to penalize French rider Johann Zarco 20-seconds for an illegal overtake in the closing stages of yesterday’s Catalunya 125GP was too harsh, according to Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo. Zarco thought he had claimed a dramatic debut victory when he crossed the line just ahead of runaway world championship leader and home favorite, Nicolas Terol.

But he was relegated to sixth position having made contact with Terol on the approach to the finish line, with the Aspar Aprilia rider nudged onto the grass while flat-out. The incident was almost an exact replica of an infamous clash between Valentino Rossi and Max Biaggi during the Suzuka Grand Prix in Japan back in 2001. Exiting the final corner Biaggi elbowed Rossi onto the grass at 150 mph.

The decision handed Terol his fourth win in five races but while most in the paddock agreed Zarco’s move was incorrect, the consensus of opinion was that the penalty was excessively harsh.

Repsol Honda rider Casey Stoner, who dominated the MotoGP race, said: “I don’t think it was correct. I haven’t seen Zarco do anything like that before but I also think the penalty was pretty harsh to be honest. They’ve been saying it is okay on the last lap of the race to have some fights but early on it is a different story. Maybe ten seconds would have been better because 20 seems a bit harsh, or put him back one or two positions was a better idea.”

Reigning MotoGP world champion Lorenzo said: “I think the move from Zarco was not very clean, but I also think it is not fair to give him a 20-second penalty. Maybe it would be fairer to put him into second position where he would finish if he didn’t make this move.”

The GP paddock has been on high scrutiny regarding rider aggression and on-track maneuvers ever since Marco Simoncelli and Dani Pedrosa’s notorious get together at the recent French GP. The move left Pedrosa, a title contender, out of contention and missing the Catalunya GP due to a broken collarbone.

2011 MotoGP Catalunya Photo Gallery