Race director Mike Webb has explained why some jump-start penalties took much longer to be issued than others, during Sunday's season-opening Qatar Moto2 Grand Prix.

No less than eight riders, including numerous race favourites, were punished for jumping the start.

Ride-through penalties for Alex Rins, Johann Zarco, Sam Lowes, Marcel Schrotter, Robin Mulhauser and Takaaki Nakagami were issued within five minutes.

However Franco Morbidelli and Sandro Cortese didn't receive notification until the end of the race.

Both were then given a 20-second time penalty, which was most significant for Morbidelli, who had battled Thomas Luthi for victory and found himself demoted from second to seventh.

Webb firstly explained that Race Direction found no evidence of lights flickering or being held on for an excessively long time. "The red lights disappeared after three-seconds and the rule is two-five seconds".

However there was a 'technical issue' with the jump-start camera recording and playback system, meaning some images would not display correctly. This did not affect all riders, which is why six penalties could be given immediately, but the Morbidelli and Cortese jump starts could only be officially confirmed once the system was fixed, which took some time.

Because a ride-through penalty must be communicated before the end of the fourth lap, the pair then had to be given a 20-second time penalty instead.

That seemed less than the time lost by those given a ride-though and Webb confirmed: "We are aware that 20-seconds does not accurately reflect the ride-through time at every circuit, so we are asking the GP Commission to look at this rule."

Responding to comments that Morbidelli's jump start was obvious enough to be given immediately, even without footage from the dedicated camera, Webb explained:

"Clear evidence is required which is why we have a camera [500fps] on each rider with the red lights shown in the same frame, so it is clear and evidential whether the rider moves before the red light is out.

"The TV feed of the start shows the bikes but not the red lights in the same frame for every bike, so even if on TV it looks like a jump start, it is not hard evidence - a bike leaving earlier than the others could be just because the others were slow.

"And of course long gone are the days when we relied on a grid marshal to call in a jump start, so the dedicated jump start cameras are the only hard evidence, regardless of what the teams on pit wall see.

"A jump start is defined as moving forward at the moment the red lights go out, it's a matter of fact and there's no decision on whether an advantage has been gained or not.

"There is a judgement on advantage in the case of a rider who moves a little while the red lights are on, but stops again and is stationary when the red lights go out. In this case we look to see if they have moved a long way, i.e. what position they are in when they do actually start.

"All of the jump starts penalised in Qatar were that standard 'matter of fact', moving forward when the red lights go out."

By Peter McLaren
 

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