The climax to Sunday's thrilling Austrian Moto3 Grand Prix saw Jorge Martin grab the final podium place from Livio Loi by just 0.008s.

However, just before reaching the chequered flag, the Gresini Honda rider crossed the white line running along the side of the track.

On Monday, during the private Moto2 and Moto3 test at the Red Bull Ring, MotoGP Race Director Mike Webb explained why Martin's move was not a penalty offence:

"A white line near the side of the track is not necessarily a 'track limit', so there is not an automatic penalty. But what you can't do is exceed a kerb.

"Kerbs are in places where people can gain time. The area beyond the kerb is usually painted green and you can't go further than the outside edge of the kerb.

"But if you happen to wobble down a straight piece of track and go outside of a white line - and there is not a kerb there - that is not seen as a place where you can take an advantage."

 

'Exceeding track limits'

'Lap time cancelled for exceeding track limits' is a message frequently seen on the timing screens during practice and qualifying of a grand prix weekend. In a race situation, the same offence can mean a rider being forced to drop position(s) or the addition of a post-race time penalty.

"The protocol for tracks limits is; if you take advantage by going out of the track - meaning you gain a position or gain time - that's an automatic penalty," Webb explained. "Typically a change of position or a time penalty, if it happens at the end of the race.

"If you go outside of the track limits and lose time, it's ignored.

"But what often happens is you go outside of the kerb and onto the green paint, but there is no way to decide if you gained or lost. There is no measurable advantage or disadvantage. That's what we call 'track limits' and we've got two or three full-time people watching for it.

"During practice and qualifying the lap time is cancelled, even if you didn't gain an advantage by going outside the kerb.

"In the race, it's a case that the asphalt run-offs are there for safety. If you make a mistake, go on the run-off and lost time, that's fine.

"If we can't determine that you lost or gained time - you stayed in the same position with the same relative gap to other riders - then okay, it was a mistake.

"But if you then do it two or three times…

"There are no hard and fast rules. What we decide is case-by-case and circuit-by-circuit because it depends on factors such as, where it is and what possible advantage you can get. Was it clearly a better run for the next corner, for example?

"So what we do is keep a running count of everyone who has been out of the track limit during a race and where they have done it. When it reaches the stage of what we consider 'you shouldn't be doing this', they get a 'track limits' warning on their dashboard. If they do it once or twice more after that, they get a penalty.

"So even if there is no clear-cut advantage; if you've run off too many times, you get a penalty. That's where we are at and everyone understands that."

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