Photo Courtesy of MotoGP
Dorna Boss Carmelo Ezpeleta outlines the outcome of the latest Grand Prix Commission meeting at the FIM headquarters in Geneva, Switerland. The next meeting to be held at the upcoming Phillip Island test on February 17.
Today the Grand Prix Commission met at the FIM headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland to continue talks on technical and sporting code matters. The bulk of the technical matters will be outlined in a press relate at a later date, but the decision to have tire pressure sensors in the tires was addressed straight away. It was a thrift response to Loris Baz’ rear-tire failure at the first pre-season test of 2016 on the front straight of Sepang on February 2.
“We discussed different matters, we discussed about different technical matters, which will be issued in a press release regarding unified software and things like that,” said Dorna Sports CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta. “Also, after the problem with the rear tire in Sepang we decided to include, and this was approved very fast, that we will, from the first Grand Prix of this year, we’ll have tire pressure sensors in the tires. The system to do this will be proposed by the MSMA members in Phillip Island and this issue is something to resolve immediately this problem regarding the situation with Loris Baz in Sepang.”
The second matter to be dealt with – sporting codes – was also in response to an incident at Sepang, the clash between Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez at last season’s penultimate round at the Malaysian circuit. Rossi was punished with points that had him starting the season finale and championship-deciding race from the back of the grid. It was what was arguably the biggest controversy in MotoGP in recent memory.
Three-quarters of a million people signed a petition to release Rossi of the penalty. The fervor was fever pitch, including some really ugly social media shaming, and the pre-race press conference was cancelled. All parties involved felt the need to maybe reevaluate the process. As such, the commission agreed upon a new panel of stewards independent from race direction to make decisions on how to apply penalties to the riders.
“Also, subject to the proposal of Dorna to the FIM, after the incident of last year, we as Dorna decide not to be involved in the committee who put the penalties on the riders for any infringement of the sporting code during the race,” said Ezpeleta. “After that there has been a system created to differentiate between Race Direction and the panel of stewards.”
Photo Courtesy of MotoGP
FIM President Vito Ippolito feels the new panel for judging penalties will be an improvement.
FIM President Vito Ippolito further explained how sporting decisions are to be handled with the creation of an independent stewards panel.
“Well we had a meeting in the Grand Prix Commission where Dorna and the FIM, IRTA and the MSMA were involved and we made a lot of important decisions,” Ippolito explained. “One of them is regarding the management of the Grand Prix itself and in particular we decided to separate the duties and tasks of Race Direction and the judges, the panel of stewards.”
Ippolito argued the practicality of it.
“We want to let Race Direction focus on managing the races because there are a lot of responsibilities and delicate matters to do,” he said. “We want to let them be free to manage the race but not to involve them anymore with the task of penalizing riders. It needs more time and special dedication.”
The new panel will include three stewards: the Race Director (currently Mike Webb) and two representatives from the FIM. Ippolito is confident that this panel will improve the process.
“One will be the Race Director themselves because they will be there throughout the season and Grands Prix,” Ippolito said. “[Another] one of them possibly also a permanent steward as we think with this structure – with this panel of stewards completely dedicated to judge the behavior of riders during the races and practice – we can achieve a very high level of decisions.”
As far as the sort of rulings that can be made by this panel, he was a bit vague.
“We have a wide range of penalties, enough to let the judge decide which kind of penalty can apply best,” Ippolito said. “This is not a major concern, of course we used during the last few years a penalty point system but right now this is under discussion. We’ll have the final decision as to whether we continue to use that or whether we change it or if we use it at all.”