Max Biaggi's first on-track victory of the 2003 season at Motegi was overshadowed by two controversial decisions by the FIM, which saw Makoto Tamada stripped of his third place finish, and John Hopkins banned from this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix.

Hopkins triggered a first turn accident which took out Carlos Checa and Troy Bayliss, amongst others, while Tamada made contact with Sete Gibernau while overtaking him on the last lap.

Both were adjudged by the FIM to have broken rule 1.21.2 of the Road Racing Regulations: "Riders must ride in a responsible manner which does not cause danger to other competitors or participants."

However many onlookers - not least the riders/teams punished - disagreed strongly with the decisions, and more specifically the harsh 'sentences' imposed. As a result Crash.net asked its viewers to assess the situation themselves and decide what action, if any, the FIM should have taken.

The response was overwhelming, with opinion's sent in from the UK, Australia, USA, Brazil, Poland, Germany, Russia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Italy, Ireland, Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada and South Africa - including several members of Hopper's family and friends.

So sit back, grab a drink, and read your fellow viewers' varied and interesting opinions - listed in the order they were received - after a controversial Sunday in Japan...

Were the FIM right to exclude Tamada and ban Hopkins...?

"While I agree that Tamada was a little aggressive, the suspension was a little too much. How many times do riders touch each other? The only reason why the race director meted out that punishment is simply because they do not want to be looked at as not doing anything about safety.

"They thought they can make things that have gone wrong, specifically Kato's tragic accident, right. They can't! In my opinion, a warning would suffice. At this point, I will seriously consider my opinion of Gibernau. If he is such a cry baby, maybe they shouldn't race at all. Is it because Tamada was a rookie that he can't do what he did? What if say Biaggi or maybe Barros did it? Would they have got the same punishment. I hardly think so

"As for Hopkins' suspension, 'ridiculous' seems mild a word. It happened so many times this year. Why now? Furthermore, while Tamada's action may be regarded as intentional, Hopkins's was clearly an accident!

"Wouldn't Hopkins know that if he should go straight into someone intentionally, that would bring him down too? Yes I agree that the message to ride with consideration should be driven through the riders, but then again, a warning or/and a fine is more than sufficient. I am also reconsidering my opinion of Checa. Is it because Hopkins is yet not senior enough?

"If this is how the FIM want GP's direction to head, then I am sad for everyone. With riders being overly cautious, overtaking manoeuvres will be a rarity. We are clearly heading towards absurdity."
Azhar Khamis.

"Both incidents were racing accidents and should not have resulted in the punishments given. The incident between Tamada and Gibernau, from my view, was that Tamada had given Sete room, but just barely. It seemed that Sete hit Tamada under braking because his bike moved a bit, and since there was very little room, they collided. This did not appear to be any more than a racing incident between two riders that do not have a reputation for over-aggressive riding.

"I did not see the Hopkins incident, but he also does not have the reputation for this. I do, however, think that this kind of thing needs to be monitored. If a racer does form a pattern of over-aggressive riding, they should be punished.

"I live in the US and have also watched the AMA Superbike series over the years. One of the top riders in the series, Aaron Yates, regularly knocks backmarkers out of his way and is never punished. It is done purposely, which can be seen by the way he positions himself on the bike before he hits the other competitor.

"He has also ran onto the track after a crash and lied down to force a red flag. This is a pattern for him, so when he caused the big crash at the start of race one at Laguna Seca this year in the World Superbike series, a similar situation to the Hopkins incident, he should have been fined."

Mark DiPietro - USA.

"No, the rulings concerning Tamada and Hopkins were completely unfair. If such rulings continue to be made in the future, the sport will become as boring as F1.

"Safety is important of course, but neither of these cases caused any injuries and were very common "incidents" in the world of motorcycle racing. I believe at least in the case of Tamada there may be "politics" involved..."
William Maxwell - USA, residing in Japan

"Despite trying to understand the FIM's hard line decision with the suspension of Hopkins and the disqualification of Tamada, I can't help but think that it really all is but a load of tripe.

"Tamada was not intentionally endangering the other riders any more than when one rider blocks a line mid turn and forces the rider behind to brake to avoid a collision. He was no more dangerous than Rossi twice nearly scuttling riders ahead of him because of irresponsible braking in this race.

"If anything, (Rossi) should have been suspended for deliberate contact with the rear wheel of Capirossi's bike at Catalunya with the intent of upsetting his bike mid corner. Again, irresponsible braking. There are far more incidents that have readily been deemed accidents that perhaps should have been looked at far more closely.

"Gibernau pushed Biaggi wide at Catalunya. Biaggi furiously bumped and pushed with Capirossi at Mugello. Rossi forced Bayliss into a crash at Assen. Sete very blatantly blocked Bayliss whilst being passed at Brno... What has the FIM been doing up until this point?

"I would have a lot more respect for the FIM had they taken to task the Suzuka officials who failed to red flag a race with a rider lying stricken in the middle of the track. I would feel better if the FIM had made some noise about unqualified track employees moving a stricken rider who nearly was dropped off the stretcher due to their incompetence.

"How can the FIM accept not having penalised whoever is responsible for failing to red flag the race, failing to handle an injured man correctly and still having failed to piece together the circumstances of the crash. If you are not last, someone is watching what you do on track. Who saw Daijiro (Kato's) crash? Why have they not spoken?

"In the interim, making Tamada and Hopkins the victims of FIM's newly vented 'dictatorship' will solve and fix nothing. Those who have actively endangered others have gone unpunished. These two men at Motegi displayed gentlemanly conduct of the highest order and were responsible and cooperative. Sad story."

Ngoli.

"Both of these decisions are completely outrageous! This is motorbike racing not chess!"

Donovan Le Cok - South Africa.

"I saw the race tape many, many times and could not identify who was responsible for the crash on turn one of the first lap. I'll pass on that one.

"But regarding the Tamada incident, every time I check the videotape I have a feeling that it was Sete who moved his bike to the right, not Tamada! I believe the punishment is NOT fair."

Nelson Ricciardi - Brazil.

"This suspension of John Hopkins is totally unjustified! I have known John for almost 15 years, and have seen him compete in Motocross, AMA, GPs, Baseball, Football and even on the playground at school as a kid. John is nothing more than an honest to goodness competitor, that wants nothing more than to race. I don't believe John would ever endanger another rider, he has too much respect for the sport. To make an example of someone over something so ridiculous will only hurt the sport. They have made a mistake!"

Lori Holmquist - USA.

"I think that for both John Hopkins and Tamada (especially him) punishment is stupid... racing is racing. It's dangerous, this is its nature, that's why we all love and admire these guys for what they do.

"I didn't really get to see what happened in John Hopkins' case, but to me it looked like f**kin Gibernau ran into Tamada: Looked like he heard him comin' tried to close off Tamada's line and bam - happens all the time. Hell, even Gibernau himself was saying how his eyes were watering and he couldn't see more than a few metres, so probably all he did was hear him and that was it...

"I think the reason why this is happening is because the FIM is cracking down on these guys because of what happened to Kato makes them (FIM, Dorna etc) look bad. They're doing this to save face especially as at the race they paid tribute to Kato, the man that was killed on 'their watch'. It's the same reason why they took Suzuka off the calendar; they've been takin' a lot of heat.

"I think we'll be seeing more of this unfortunately, hope it doesn't ruin the series now - I won't wanna watch a race where everyone's scared to pass each other..."

Chris - California, USA.

"I didn't see the first lap, first turn incident, so I can't say anything on that. However, I did see the move made by Tamada. While annoyed at what he did to Sete, I don't think it was that severe. Both riders should be aware of their surroundings and I would call this a race incident.

"In defence to the FIM, I would only say that if the rules are written, then they need to be enforced, but what of the penalties? Are these a flat, straight across the board set of penalties that are imposed for all or do they make them up as they see fit?

"If these penalties are written then so be it, maybe a bit harsh, but ultimately the race incident does fall on the riders and therefore they should possibly be more aware."

Mike Wilson - Canada.

"I am John's sister, and perhaps may have a bias opinion, but nevertheless here it is.
"John has never been marked as a 'dirty rider,' nor do I believe he will ever be a 'dirty rider.' He knows the importance of clean racing and has been on the victim side of both 'dirty riding' and 'accidents.' Banning John from Sepang is completely outrageous. He obviously went into the corner too hot and if anyone has seen video of the incident would also notice he tried to avoid going down and taking others down with him.

"When he noticed he had missed his braking point, both legs came down and he tried to save it. Was it intentional? Of course not. That is ridiculous. He made a mistake. Every race, there is a racer making a mistake. Whether they take others down with them or they are all alone, a mistake was made. First turn "pile ups" occur all the time in any type of racing.

"I could see punishing John if he straight out went into the first turn gunning for a particular rider. Then, yes obvious 'dirty riding.' That is clearly not the case. There have been countless incidents that could have been deemed 'infractions to Art 1.21.2' this year alone, using John's case as a basis.

"I do agree with Des' opinion that John is being punished for being honest and a decent person for excepting blame and apologizing for it. If it indeed was a mechanical failure, we would not be having this discussion.

"I know the FIM have to make tough decisions from what I would call 'grey areas.' My question, " What is their objective, to make an example out of John?" There are always "ifs" to a situation, but what if he had had a better season, what if he was a points contender, what if ... would he have been banned then, or would he only be on probation?

"Would they ban Rossi the same way for the same incident? I doubt it.

"On Tamada's incident, I watched it several times on television. That is a tough situation. It looks to me like Tamada moved into Gibernau, but I don't know that it was intentional. As for punishment, I don't know of many others being punished for the same incidents.

"Were Rossi or Biaggi disqualified for their theatrics on several different circuits, numerous times? Possibly fined, but not disqualified.

"My next question is, " Why now?" Was it because they were back in Japan for the first time since Kato's untimely death? Was this why they decided to 'enforce their rules' and make examples of John and Tamada?

"I am sure I am not alone in my opinion and I am also sure I am not the only one asking these questions. Although, as I stated before, I may be biased. I try to think about it from a different angle in which John has been victim to racing incidents and in those situations, the rider was never banned from a race. And my point, I would not have expected them to be.

"Fined, maybe, banned - definitely NOT. It's ridiculous. Where now, do you draw the line between racing and rough riding? It has always been a grey area, but the FIM overstepped boundaries here. It is going to be interesting to see how future incidents are looked upon. I will be watching, will they?"

Susanne Hopkins - British, US resident.

"I believe both Makoto Tamada and John Hopkins were treated to harshly by FIM. Neither intentionally caused the incidents.

"How many riders this year alone in al three MotoGP classes have made silly/dangerous moves on other rider with no punishment in some of them riders were injured.

"Now the FIM has implemented these punishments they must treat all riders equally in future i.e.; if there are any incidents involving two riders or more fine and suspend them regardless of nationality or their standing in championship.

"What will happen now will all riders have to have a six foot exclusion zone that no other rider must encroach on?

"Will riders be unwilling to overtake other riders as they do now for fear of suspension if they are deemed to have made a too close pass .

"Every rider that goes out on to a racetrack knows the risks involved so they would never attempt to take another rider out as the risk of themselves crashing is too great!"
Ron Ca$hman - competition secretary, Caf? Racer Club, South Australia.

"The FIM Race Direction's decision banning John Hopkins from the Malaysian GP, and disqualifying Makoto Tamada from the race in Motegi was very unfair to those two riders!

"With all the respect - that was a motorcycle race - not a chess match! If the FIM would want to DSQ riders for irresponsible riding, they would have to DSQ half of the MotoGP grid (racing wheel to wheel at the speeds well above 180mph isn't much responsible, but that is they way this sport works!).

"There where many similar situations in MotoGP in the last couple of years:

- First corner crash in Catalunya '98
- Max and Vale incident in Suzuka '01
- Valencia grid pile-up in 2002
- Mugello '03 - KRJR taking Hopper out on lap 3
- Pitt, McWilliams and Yanagawa crash in Catalunya '03

"... no-one was disqualified or penalised!

"Tamada made a clear pass. Sete was ill... He shouldn't been out there even if he was fighting for the championships.

"Hopkins just missed his braking point - it happens every single day, no-one was penalised yet though! The American apologised to the other riders involved in the
crash, and every one said "Ok, this is racing". Hopper hasen't done that with premeditation, Max putting his elbow out was premeditation at Suzuka in 01 (pushing Rossi in to the gravel) - yet he wasn't disqualified.

"Very stupid decision was made by the FIM on Sunday - shame on ya guys!"

Mick Fialkowski - Poland.

"Tamada should not have been disqualified because:

"a) He was faster and was catching Sete and attempted a passing manoeuvre. He was not holding up or trying to block Sete (unlike Max at Suzuka in 2001).

"b) He moved over at the braking point to the racing line. Gibernau knew he was passed (or at least knew he had Tamada right next to him), and should have shut off on the throttle and safely let Tamada proceed with the pass.

"c) Sete was not in a good condition. He was sick, and after exhausting himself for 45min he was most certainly not capable of being fully focused and didn't do a single thing to avoid the "touch". The video recordings show that Sete had space on the left side of him where he could very well had moved over.

"d) It was a racing incident. Enough said."

RedRaceR - Sweden.

"I totally disagree with FIMs decision to ban John Hopkins from the next race, and taking away Tamada's well deserved podium. He is a very good racer and is doing incredible things with that customer RCV and Bridgestone tyres.

"There were way more serious incidents which caused nothing at all or just a warning. Remember Suzuka 2001 (Rossi/Biaggi)? That was dangerous riding, but they just got a simple warning and nothing happened afterwards.

"There are many examples: Philip Island 2001 (I think ) when Barros and Rossi were on the start finish straight in the middle of the race touched each other on the straight at top speed... and many other incidents that caused no penalties.

"They made it look like John made that mistake on purpose, of course nobody wanted it, but its racing and it's an accident. Accidents happen, they are "accidents" and you can't really blame anybody. What especially doesn't make sense to me is banning him from the next race!"

Jin - Russian.

"The stewards have finally got it right, these are fast motorcycles, swerving, moving over on someone before cleanly past and the ilk have no place in the sport. (Tamada) made a deliberate block which he got wrong, I'm sure no contact was even intended but you can't have heroes with the red mist before their eyes allowed to get away with these sorts of stunts.

"As for Hopkins I also agree with the decision, but the lack of consistency on the FIM's part over this sort of incident leave the Suzuki team with good reason to wonder why they alone have been singled out.

"Any rider, before trying to make 15 places into the first corner, should have it in his mind the consequences, whether someone is hurt or not does not change the crime.

"Finally cast our thoughts back to the first race of the year watching a 125 (Cecchinello) skirting the guard-rail at 200+k's due to a 'racing incident' at not a word said. Why so long to act?"

Michael Gunter - Australian, Swiss resident.

"No, the race direction is wrong with both riders.

"It was hard to see what Hopkins did, but you said all, he is a first time offender and no-one wants to leave the track at the first corner!

"Tamada was very aggressive, and he squeezed Sete, but, to my eyes, he did not touch Sete. When Sete started to open his knee, he found Tamada very, very close.

"I'm very upset with the race decision and I sure about the result of your research. More than 80% will consider the decision wrong. Many thanks for your initiative."

M?rio Barreto - Brazil.

"I saw both incidents on the television broadcast and feel that the FIM made the right decision.

"Obviously, they feel that this kind of irresponsible riding is happening to often and, in light of Kato's tragic accident, feel that they need to start sending a message. It would have been more consistent if race control had been enforcing these rules right from the beginning of the season, but, better late than never, I say.

"On video, it looks like Tamada hit Gibby's bike so hard that the brake lever broke. Hopper had no chance of doing well in the race (as usual) but took out Checa and Bayliss (both possible contenders for a podium) and Edwards. I know that I am probably in the minority but this is my view of the situation."
David.

"I watched the Motegi race live and read the articles on Crash.net as well as in other web sites afterwards. It is sad and at the same time appalling to see the FIM acting like that.

"I have no doubt that had Gibernau and Checa not been involved in those crashes, these would have been classified as normal racing accidents. Instead the FIM actions taste far too much of Spanish mafia.

"It's disgusting to see politics prevailing over common sense, and even more disgusting to see MotoGP looking more and more like Formula 1 every day.

"I hope that both Tamada and Hopkins will be able to put aside their feelings and prove their worthiness on the racetrack."

Luca Leonardi - Italian.

"I can't comment on the John Hopkins decision, but the Makoto Tamada decision was clearly the right one. He slammed into Sete and by all rights should have been disqualified and in my opinion suspended for another rice. However, as big a Nicky Hayden fan as I am, Sete should have been awarded the podium."

Photo Tim - California, USA.

"I've known John Hopkins for at least 10 years. I even raced against (behind) him years ago in the USA.

"In all the time I've known John, he has always been a fair, clean and honest competitor. Trust me, if John says it was an accident, it was an accident.

"I think it takes a big man to admit when you've made a mistake, especially in front of a world wide audience."

Brad Glustoff - USA.

"I agree that the conclusion is a bit controversial. Nevertheless I believe that (the rules) have been applied gently and can be perceived as a warning to the pilots to not take their objectives excessively and keep in mind that their lives and health must be preserved for the sake of themselves, the ones that love them and the sport itself.

"I still have the impression that Daijiro Kato died due to excessive pressure on him. He eventually took excessively the need to prove his supremacy. I felt that a fraction of this was again being felt by Makoto Tamada.

"Perceiving that these punishments haven't downgraded or diminished the pilots I accept that they may be very rewarding and, as such, I agree with it.

"Let me add that I don't agree with Crash.net's description of the Tamada/Gibernau incident. From the images that I saw on TV, Tamada is behind, braking very late to overtake and, suddenly, moves excessively to the left, to have a larger arch, and touches Gibernau. (Our race report simply stated that Tamada pulled alongside Gibernau then "the pair collided at high speed," we stand by that - Crash.net).

"What matters though, is that we love motor racing, the pilots, the teams and the technique. It is a sport were the pilot counts really what doesn't happens in similar sports like F1. So, it is important that they stay well."

Fernando.

"The FIM have decided to make a point, and it seems they chose this GP to make it, regardless of whether there was a serious incident or not. Hopkins arrived at the first corner too hot, and since the riders never have the opportunity to practice a start, from the start line with a full tank and on cold tyres this is hardly a major surprise to anyone, it happens - as Bayliss and Edwards have said.

"Checa, on the other hand, spat his dummy which, coming from someone who was nicknamed 'Careless Chucka', is a bit rich. (When are the FIM going to penalise a motocross rider for a first corner pile-up? Maybe someone should ask them).

"Gibernau was simply squeezed by Tamada, this happens all the time, you just have to look at Rossi's hard passes. Gibernau had room to breathe, but it appeared he wanted to fight for the position (being the last lap) and tried to brake later than Tamada, who moved over to make his pass stick and got hit by Gibernau. This is also a racing incident, no question.

"On the question of dangerous riding, Gibernau has admitted to running a temperature of 38 and nearly hitting a rider several times because he couldn't see. Is this not dangerous? And it begs the question, did he see Tamada? Was this incident more to do with Gibernau's health than Tamada's so called dangerous riding? Only Gibernau knows that.

"If a rider has a complaint about another rider he should be able to bring it up before a committee of his peers and ex-racers, who can look at the TV evidence and come to an informed(!) decision, and maybe a points system could be introduced, with a one race ban given to any rider with sufficient points.

"The Stewards and FIM have set an absurd precedent for themselves and if I were Suzuki or Pramac I would be reviewing all the video from this and previous weekends, finding the dozens of dangerous passes, and presenting it to them and asking why they too were not penalised.

"Would Rossi have been penalised for either of those manoeuvres? No."

Stevo - Irish.

"I think if Tamada had a European nationality, he would not have been punished. If I look back at Le Mans this year as Sete and Valentino touched (in my opinion a rough move by Sete) no one was penalised.

"There are also some decisions in the past I cannot understand: In 1998 Barros and Biaggi passed under yellow flags. They had to come in and make a 10 second stop and go, and lost clearly 30 seconds. This year at Donington, Rossi passes under yellow and only receives 10secs added to his race result.

"So this shows some riders have special rights in the MotoGP class and others not. I hope this changes in the future, or some FIM Stewards should be replaced."

A German race fan.

"My opinion is that FIM and Dorna seem to be sending the wrong message here. Why has it been alright all year for other riders to do the same thing and not be punished? They need to address this situation and admit that they make mistakes too!

"Both riders were doing what they are contracted to do, race powerful machines. Adrenaline runs high, mistakes are made!

"In closing, I must say how proud I am of my son for his honesty and integrity. Thank you for allowing us to air our views."

Linda Hopkins - British, residing in the USA.

"Why give Tamada a penalty like that. Sete said he nearly collided with other riders because he could not see, he should not have been even racing in such a dangerous condition. Give Tamada his points back, or is it just to give Sete a chance of the championship? It stinks."

Alan.

"I think the first thing is that the FIM should really try to achieve some consistency with their decisions and also to make the riders and teams aware of their standpoint.

"If riders are to be penalised for ever contacting another rider then maybe that's ok, as long as everyone knows that. But how many times in the past have there been big incidents which have gone unpunished?

"In 2001 at Suzuka Biaggi elbowed Rossi off the track - no penalty.
In 2002, Barros took out Jacques at the Sachsenring - no penalty.
At Mugello this year, Kenny Roberts took out Hopkins - no penalty.

"So there's clearly a precedent for no action being taken.

"If the FIM have now decided that such contact is punishable then they should have announced their new point of view up front, not just surprised the riders and teams with it retrospectively as a result of the weekends incidents.

"Regarding the incidents themselves, I think John Hopkins has been unfairly punished. Motorcycle racing is inherently dangerous and first corner incidents happen frequently at all levels of the sport. As Max Biaggi famously once said "This is motorcycle racing, not Classical dancing". With Hopkins admitting liability and apologising nothing more should have been done.

"I'm not so sure about the Makoto Tamada incident. I'm sure he didn't mean to contact Gibernau, but clearly it was a potentially very dangerous situation for Gibernau and a dangerous move by Tamada. I think however that a warning would have sufficed and that the FIM should then have announced that such moves would not be deemed acceptable and that in future riders could be excluded.

"In the long run both Hopkins and Tamada will get over it, and the only lasting memory will be that once again the FIM acted hastily and inconsistently."

Andy Whyte.

"I feel that the sentence handed down to both riders is a joke. How can the FIM penalise two riders for making a mistake having turned a blind eye to similar situations for so long.

"Admittedly both riders did infringe the rule in question, but as Crash.net says this warranted no more than a reprimand. Was there a warning issued to all riders saying that this rule was going to be enforced prior to the race? I doubt it.

"In Tamada Sans situation I feel that he did nothing to deserve this penalty. I know he put the squeeze on Gibernau but this is a racing tactic, it might not be very gentlemanly or a nice thing to do, but squeezing out a competitor is an age old method of persuading someone that they really don't want to try and repass you.

"As for Mr Hopkins he too does not deserve the punishment he has been given, and in fact has been on the receiving end of more than one such mistake himself in the not so distant past, why then were these other riders, including an ex world champ, not penalised.

"It is my opinion that the FIM has decided to make an example of two lesser known riders for this and are attempting not to upset the major manufacturers by using these two as scapegoats.

"Recently the racing in the MotoGP class has become more aggressive as a necessity due to the similarity of all the leading bikes there is very little difference in power output between all the Honda's for example, in this situation it will always be the most skilled rider that wins out but a little aggressive riding can make a lot of difference to the outcome of the race and it is this that has the FIM worried.

"They do not want another Daijiro Kato (RIP #74) type incident to blight the rising image of the series. Please note that I mean no disrespect to the late Kato San by saying that."

Mark Dagger - Eire.

"I totally agree with Crash.net! It's best for the sport that races are decided on the racetrack and not afterwards over some desk."
Bente Mouritzen - Denmark

"1. The decision to DQF Tamada was totally inappropriate. In my opinion he had already established the line and ownership of race track at that point. It was a typical block pass, albeit at high speed. Gibernau has admitted that he was not on top form and "could hardly see 2m in front " as such should he have been racing at all?

"2. Hopkins was in error and has said as much. He should not however have been DSQ'd from the forthcoming Sepang round. A fine and a warning would have been sufficient.

"There have been several similar events during this season and no action had been taken, so much for consistency in applying the rules."
Geoffrey Wells - United Kingdom

"I feel Race Direction has the right to penalise any rider who is found to be riding irresponsibly, so long as the same penalties are levied at all riders found committing the same offence.

"I saw Tamada's move on Gibernau and did not find it aggressive or irresponsible. It appears Tamada pulled out of Gibernau's slipstream to overtake, but pulled back over too early and the two bikes touched. This type of incident has occurred many times in racing and is part of what sets motorcycle racing apart from all other types of motorsport. It should have gone unpunished.

"The Hopkins incident is different, partly because TV cameras didn't capture it close enough to see what exactly happened, but mainly because it is this type of incident that does need examining.

"It is now clear that Hopkins by his own admission missed his braking point and swept two other riders, Bayliss and Checa off into the gravel, with Edwards following trying to avoid the falling bikes. I feel this type of action does require some form of penalty, but it needs to be subjective.

"He could have been docked some points, but as he doesn't exactly score big points each race, that could be equivalent to two or three race bans (!). I reckon a personal fine is more appropriate. A ban from next weekend's entire meet is probably the harshest punishment for an outfit that can ill afford to miss out on track time.

"However, the problem arises when similar incidents are not treated with the same stroke by the FIM.

"Earlier this year Andrew Pitt missed his braking point and t-boned McWilliams and Yanagawa off the track. McWilliams was visibly very angry and we all expected a few punches to fly, but more importantly Yanagawa was hospitalised and we haven't seen him since. Clearly Pitt's irresponsible riding did cause danger to other riders, but no punishment was handed down by the FIM.

"This inconsistent approach to the rules by the FIM and Race Direction gives no credence to the sport's governance and leads people to believe that the actions of the FIM and race direction are influenced by the sport's bigger players."

Mark Guiver - England.

"I've been involved in motorcycle racing for over 45 years and have witnessed many incidents involving the first turn at the start of a race. Everyone knows at the start of a race the adrenaline is pumping and the desire to get a good start is foremost. There is always some pushing and bumping going on for position. Whether it's FIM, AMA, or club racing, this happens.

"Also, I've known John for over 12 years as a friend and as a race team owner. Not once in all the years that John rode for me did he ever set a poor example or display any un-sportsmanlike demeanour on the track. John has always been one of the cleanest riders I have encountered. Yes, John is aggressive , but what rider isn't? That's racing!

"Why is it that if Hopkins and Tamada both violated Art 1.21.2, both of them were not disqualified and banned? The punishment to John was totally out of proportion to the incident. John admitted he got carried away and went into the turn too hot, but that shouldn't be a reason to ban him from the next race.

"After watching the Tamada incident a few times it was clear that there was a deliberate attempt to take out another rider. But apparently, since they were in Japan and it involved a Japanese rider the powers to be were blind.

"I know that the unjust punishment will not change, but I felt that something had to said in defence of John Hopkins."

Al Lyons - California Motorcycle Road Race Association, USA.


"I cannot believe that John has been victimised for telling the truth. I have read all that has been printed about the incident and fully agree with Des's article listing all of the other "incidents" that have been brushed aside as exciting racing.

"I have nothing but admiration for Troy who shines through as a true professional rider. I listened to him speaking to Randy after the race and as he said, that's racing, but as for Checa very amateurish but he has got what he wanted I hope he feels good.

"John said that he will come back a better rider and having known John since he was born I know he will. When he does get up on that podium (and he will) there will be a few thousand people in England cheering for him and it will make his success so much sweeter.

"In the meantime he has to put it down to experience on his part and red tape and jobsworth on the FIM part. If they try to pass it off as a safety issue they shouldn't be in the sport in the first place."

Janet Western.

"We were very shocked to hear, that the FIM has decided to suspend John Hopkins from the next GP in Malaysia, and have put him on probation for the rest of the year. Worst of all, that he will be labelled a 'dirty rider'.

"What justifies this? I'm sure John's main objective, is to try and remain safe during the race, while doing his best to earn points for his team Suzuki. Do they honestly believe that John would intentionally try to endanger himself or his fellow riders?

"What these riders do is admirable. I've even known some people call them crazy! What they've done to John is purely an insult to his riding skills. He has rightfully earned his place in MotoGP, racing alongside the best riders in the world. I'm sure he did everything in his power to prevent from happening what was possibly an unavoidable situation. It just goes to show that honesty is not always the best policy.

"This has happened many times before, of which we have witnessed. John himself has also had the disadvantage of being on the receiving end of someone else's mistake very recently. We can only assume that maybe in this kind of situation, you don't admit to 'anything' even if it is your fault. We agree there should be a code of safety in place. Perhaps though, they should have had a more thorough investigation into earlier incidents. All mechanical faults? - We don't think so!

"Since joining MotoGP, John has shown his potential. He is a very talented rider who has a promising career ahead of him. I know we will be hearing a lot more about him in the future. I hope John knows he has the full support of his fans, who feel very let down by his unfair treatment. Unfortunately for John, he has had to pay the price, whereas other riders in the past have walked away with their reputations unscathed."
Karen, Marie, Linda, John, John, Carl and Laurence (John's number 1 fans) - London, England

"Hopper: I didn't see the Hopkins incident clearly on Eurosport but I have to say this rider has no form in irresponsible behaviour whatsoever. He's a squeaky clean sportsman in my opinion, compared with some of the antics of Xaus for example in last years Superbikes this judgement seems especially unfair.

"If Rossi had taken out the back wheels of Hayden or Biaggi with his corner antics would they have dared to pick on him in this fashion because he was really close to doing so. If Hopkins should indeed be punished then possibly an extension of his contract with Suzuki would suffice.

"Tamada: Outrageous decision in my opinion, if Sete didn't want to be overtaken then he may consider going faster, braking later or moving to WCM or Kawasaki who almost never get passed. In terms of intent I have no doubt that Tamada was only intending to race as he is paid to do, poor guy must be feeling sick to his alpine stars."

Phil Gardiner

"I was certainly surprised to hear of Tamada's penalty in the Pacific Grand Prix. From the near overhead camera position that I watched the Gibernau/Tamada incident, it looked like a typical last-lap outbreaking scenario. I doubt the authorities would have given the same penalty for the same situation in the 125cc class."

Chris Pile - Australian.

"You ban someone for unsportsmanship behaviour. Not for an accident. In my humble opinion, the application of FIM rule 1.21.2 did not apply in both cases. Sure safety is important but being this alarmist has no place in motorcycle racing.

"The FIM has made a big joke of the situation, and nobody is laughing. I hope very much that a complaint from one of the riders involved hasn't been made as that would be just plain hypocritical. Very disappointed for Tamada and Hopkins."

Steven Nassibian - Sydney, Australia.

"I have personally known John Hopkins for many years and have always been impressed with the professional attitude shown by him. I class myself very lucky to be associated with John and his family, his Mum is one of the proudest in the world when she sees how her son portrays himself and if his Dad was still alive then he would be the happiest person walking a pit lane ever.

"Having said all that I cannot believe that John has been punished for showing the professionalism that sets him above many others, he is not nor has he ever been a dirty rider but is one who owns up when he is wrong on the track.

"I have read as much as I can regarding the incident at turn one and I agree with Des when she says that John could have lied but instead told the truth and got punished, the other incidents she points out that occurred earlier in the year make a mockery of this decision.

"I would like to say that Troy Bayliss is a credit to Motogp for the way he handled the situation saying "that's racing" but Carlos Checa must have trouble looking at himself in the mirror for the way he took it (talk about toys being thrown out of the playpen) if he is so concerned and childish not to accept Johns apology then he should not play with the grown ups and instead go back to Spain and sell deckchairs or something safe.

"When I and the many other bikers go out on our bikes each day we too face the risk that we could finish the day hurt or injured but we get on with it and accept the risks and when a car/lorry driver pulls out on us having not seen us we just shake our heads and as Troy would say "o'well that's biking not like Mr. Checa reacted.

"Once again I would like to say that I am proud to know and be associated with John Hopkins, Lin Hopkins (his mum) his family and the small amount of time I knew his dad Roy. John is, and always will be, a true professional and if he is punished for being so then the sport of MotoGP will be the loser not John, and if we carry on punishing talent like this then the true fans also lose."

Patrick Davis (Paddy).

"I agree with both decisions:

"1. Gibernau was on the racing line, Tamada was not! He tried to move across onto the racing line where there was no room for both motorcycles. He 'pushed' Sete off line. To me this is dangerous.

"2. Hopkins deserves to be banned. It was reckless driving again by the back markers. Yanagawa was hurt (by Pitt) in a similar incident earlier in the year.

"Riders need to know the punishment is severe if they continue to be reckless and dangerous. Someone could be seriously injured if incidents like these are ignored!"

Jimmy Edge.

"I think the touching between Gibernau and Tamada was a racing accident and those things happen. In the past, riders have done much worse things and didn't get a penalty for it and Hopkins could have been a little bit more careful in the first corner. But it's going too far to punish them like they did. Give them a fine for it, so they can learn form it, but don't disqualify them."

Marco Horstink - Holland.

"I saw the Tamada/Gibernau collision, and from my point of view, the decision to disqualify him was just."

Heather Briggs - British.

"I don't think Tamada had to be disqualified because of the incident with Sete, it was a normal GP incident. If you see Formula 1 there are more of these "incidents" and they are accepted as normal."
Herman Geysels - Belgium.

"Whilst I understand the reasons for the penalties I fail to grasp why a suspension was given (to Hopkins) for the same type of incident that has occurred many times before. FIM should be independent and I believe should make impartial decisions based on evidence and apply fair penalties based on previous scenarios. This suspension to me appears to be a precedent influenced by judgemental beliefs of others."

Rosemary Neale.

"The race at Motegi had a few racing Incidents, but nothing that would warrant a DSQ or a suspension for the next race.

"For example, a few races ago, didn't Andrew Pitt take out McWilliams and Yanagawa, and send Yanagawa to the hospital with a cracked pelvis? And on Tamada's DSQ, what about a warning, or probation, or even a penalty of time or a few positions?

"In WSBK, MotoGP and, I am sure, in BSB and AMA, we have seen close races where one rider has bumped another and someone has crashed, but Gibernau just ran off and rejoined, and even salvaged 5th place!"
RTW - Canada.

"An over the top reaction on both incidents from the FIM. A warning would have been sufficient in both cases. Hopkins has most to feel aggrieved about - he just made a mistake!"

Cliff Rogers - England.

Crash.net would once again like to thank all those that replied to our "...Have your say" request for taking the time to share their opinions with the rest of the two-wheeled world. Without you, this article would not have been possible.

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