A jump-start chain reaction resulted in costly ride-through penalties for Andrea Dovizioso, Marco Simoncelli and Cal Crutchlow in Sunday's Japanese MotoGP.
Dovizioso, starting from the outside of the front row, was first to move - with Simoncelli, directly behind him on row two, then reacting. That in turn caused Crutchlow, also on the right side of the grid, in twelfth, to move early!
The penalty hurt Dovizioso the most, the Italian having just taken the race lead - after team-mate Casey Stoner ran off track - when he was informed of his 'expected' ride-through.
“I cannot believe it," said the Repsol Honda rider. "I have never had a false start in my career and it happened today, in a race where I felt that I could fight for the win! I don't know why the bike moved a little before the green light but I realised it immediately and expected the ride through."
An 'angry' Simoncelli was left 'kicking himself' for his early start.
“I made a stupid mistake on the start line. The red light was slow to go out and out of the corner of my eye I saw Dovizioso move and let the clutch out just a tiny bit but enough to be given a ride-through penalty," he said. "You can't afford to make this kind of error. I am angry with myself and kicking myself especially after the race I put together following the penalty."
Simoncelli had been running fifth at the time of the ride-through, which all three riders served at the end of lap 6 (of 24).
Dovizioso rejoined in tenth, with Simoncelli eleventh. The pair then moved up through the order together, helped by accidents and incidents ahead, before spending the closing stages in a bar-to-bar brawl for fourth.
San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Simoncelli overtook Dovizioso with two laps remaining and held his fellow Italian off by just 0.141sec at the line.
"Today could have been a great day for us, the podium was there for the taking and maybe even more than that," sighed Simoncelli. "I had great fun on the last few laps with Dovizioso though - yet another battle between us - and I am happy to have beaten him. It was great!"