13-time 500cc grand prix winner, Randy Mamola, believes Marco Simoncelli's reputation was the main reason for the Italian being penalised for the collision with Dani Pedrosa during the French MotoGP at Le Mans.

The two factory Honda riders, Simoncelli for Gresini and Pedrosa for Repsol, tangled as they fought over second place with ten of the 28 laps remaining.

Simoncelli, who had caught Pedrosa, dived ahead on the brakes, only for the Spaniard to accelerate back past along the following straight.

As the pair headed towards the Esses, Pedrosa maintained his tighter inside line as they hit the brakes, while Simoncelli - on the (outside) racing line - moved marginally ahead.

The collision occurred when Simoncelli turned across Pedrosa, who clipped the back wheel of the Italian and fell.

Estoril winner Pedrosa suffered a broken collarbone, leaving his title hopes in tatters. Simoncelli didn't fall, but was denied a debut MotoGP rostrum when he was given a ride-through penalty by Race Direction.

Simoncelli insists he gave Pedrosa room and that the penalty was more a result of the previous complaints made about his riding than the move itself.

A Crash.net poll, in which almost 6,000 individual votes were cast, saw 67% of fans declare that Simoncelli's penalty had been unfair and that it had simply been a racing incident.

Mamola certainly didn't absolve Simoncelli of blame, but does believe that the decision to penalise the Gresini rider was not based purely on the incident itself.

"The machines that we're racing on are not toys and if you saw the Stoner/Rossi battle at Laguna Seca 2008, or Lorenzo and Rossi in Japan last year, you went 'wow, that is the fine line of hard racing'," Mamola, a regular in the MotoGP paddock, told Crash.net.

"There are some people who say they don't agree with that kind of racing and others that want more of it.

"What happened with Simoncelli and Pedrosa - there are so many people pointing at Simoncelli, saying that he is a hard rider and doesn't give you room. Unfortunately that reputation bit him.

"If it was Valentino [Rossi] that turned in and somebody hit him, I don't think they [Race Direction] would have done the same thing."

Mamola, like fellow 13-time race winners' Max Biaggi and Dani Pedrosa, is the most successful rider not to win the 500cc/MotoGP title. The American retired from grand prix racing in 1992.