World Superbike Championship director Paolo Ciabatti has taken the unprecedented step to respond to the controversy surrounding Max Biaggi's penalty during the second WSBK race at Monza and explain the actions of race direction.
Biaggi lost an almost certain win on home soil at Monza when he was handed a ride-through penalty for running straight on at the first corner and failing to return to the circuit within the confines of a painted line that ensures a safe and fair passage to the race track.
A penalty that Biaggi, Aprilia manager Gigi Dall'Igna and many fans felt was harsh given he was leading by a healthy margin, Ciabatti has chosen to explain exactly why the punishment was necessary in an open letter published on the official WSBK website.
Ciabatti points out that Biaggi was not present at the riders' briefing, though he was represented by a member of his team instead, adding that it was made clear that any rider who failed to return to the circuit within the designated area would be penalised with a penalty.
The full open letter reads as follows:
I kindly ask you to devote a couple of minutes of your time to this letter of mine, in which I would like to explain the facts that occurred at Monza during the weekend of May 8th.
First of all Monza is not like any other track, and Superbike has to share it with an extremely important event like Formula 1. It is simply not possible therefore to have gravel run-off areas at the chicanes because this solution does not go down particularly well in Formula 1.
The only exception to this is the Variante Ascari.
As can easily be imagined, if a rider makes a mistake on the entry to the Ascari and ends up in the gravel, either he crashes or he loses a lot of time in returning to the track, so in this particular case it is not necessary to adopt any special measure for the chicane.
The question of the first chicane (the Prima Variante) and the Roggia chicane is different, as they have tarmac run-off areas. For the last three years at Monza white lines have been painted in these areas. The lines take the form of a 'funnel' that ends with a 'pathway' about one metre wide that, if followed by the rider, forces him to slow down and return to the track outside the natural line of all those riders who have gone through the chicane in a normal way.
FIM homologation of the track specifically rules out the presence of barriers/straw bale chicane in the run-off areas.
The Race Direction, of which I form part together with Igor Eškinja and Giulio Bardi, for this reason decided to convene all riders on Thursday afternoon for an extraordinary briefing to explain to everyone (those who had already raced at Monza and those who were encountering the circuit for the first time) the correct way to return to the track in case of a mistake in these two chicanes.