21 October 2013
Australian MotoGP: Marquez explains Phillip Island black flag
“When I saw the black flag it was difficult to understand why” – Marc Marquez.
Rookie MotoGP title leader Marc Marquez put a brave face on his shock disqualification from Sunday's Australian Grand Prix.
Marquez had the first of three chances to wrap-up the title at Phillip Island - the tension increasing when tyre overheating troubles on the new asphalt saw the race reduced from 27 to 19 laps, including the first ever compulsory pit stops.
No rider was 'permitted to make more than 10 laps' without pitting for their spare bike, due to the tyre safety concerns, the new rules adding: 'In normal circumstances this means that the rider must change machine only at the end of lap 9 or lap 10'.
Jorge Lorenzo, Marquez and Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa were nose-to-tail when the pit stops began: Pedrosa on lap nine and leader Lorenzo on lap ten, but Marquez remained out.
A Honda statement read: 'The team made a mistake, understanding [Marquez] was able to complete ten [full] laps and come back in before completing lap eleven, and the 'box' instruction on his pit board was therefore one lap late.”
Unaware of the situation, Marquez swapped bikes and emerged from the pits back in the victory fight - even clashing with Lorenzo at turn one. Marquez was in second place when the black flags appeared shortly after and duly retired from the race, only his second non-score of the year.
“We made a big mistake in the plan with the team,” said the 20-year-old, speaking in the Phillip Island paddock. “It was a big confusion because we thought that we could [stop before the end of the eleventh lap] and I followed what the team said with the pitboard and when they said 'box' I went in, but it was too late. We thought it was possible to go in on that lap but we'll learn from that and go on to Japan.
“It was the whole team so you can't blame one person. We made the plan together with three or four guys. The biggest problem was that we thought that it was possible to pit on that lap. The positive thing is that we were there and fighting for the victory. When I saw the black flag and 93 it was difficult to understand why. I thought that maybe I was too fast on pit entry or maybe I crossed the white line on the pit exit.
“The penalty, maybe it was very tough but in the end it was the decision. I think that it was possible to give other penalties, maybe some seconds or a ride-through penalty,” he said.
The decision means that instead of potentially celebrating a title victory in Australia, Marquez's championship lead was cut from 43 to 18 points over Yamaha's reigning champion Lorenzo with two rounds to go.
“I know that the championship is so long, I have experience from 2011 [in Moto2], but we feel strong and on the second bike I was so fast and I could fight for the podium. So we're in a good position and we'll keep going like that.”
Gresini's Bryan Staring made the same error as Marquez and was also disqualified, while Colin Edwards tweeted: "Not happy with the [Marc Marquez black flag] decision. First time running this scenario & disqualified. We r not mathematicians... let us race & F off."
The Japanese MotoGP takes place next weekend.
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