MotoGP’s Grand Prix Commission has pushed through its decision to introduce the Long Lap penalty for the start of the 2019 season.

Following trials on a Long Lap penalty at the Qatar pre-season test – effectively making riders use a longer circuit route to serve a penalty – the rule-makers have opted to implement the system for this season.

It means any rider penalised for exceeding track limits, unfair or irresponsible riding can be handed a Long Lap penalty during a race and must serve the penalty within three laps of it being issued. Place drops and time penalties will also remain available to race direction.

“At every circuit a route will be defined and marked at a safe point around the track, (usually an asphalt runoff area outside of a turn), which is some seconds slower than the normal racing line,” the Grand Prix Commission statement confirmed.

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Having seen the idea in action at the Losail International Circuit during the final pre-season test, Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso gave his backing to the system having assessed the pros and cons.

“We spoke in the Safety Commission. I think it's a really good idea. It looks like nearly every rider thinks this is a good idea,” Dovizioso said. “And I think for [Race Direction] it could be much better to manage than when you have to drop a position.

“It's more clear what you have to do, what you lose. It's the same for everybody. You know before the weekend.

“I don't know if it's easy to create this situation at every track, but I think it's a good idea. Unfortunately, I didn't test it, but I think the only problem can be that outside the track is dirty, which means slippery.

“But anyway, when you have that penalty, it's because you made a mistake. So at the end, I think it's a good idea.”

Full FIM Grand Prix World Championship Commission statement:

Long Lap Penalty

“When the FIM MotoGP™ Stewards impose a Change of Position penalty on a rider, for Track Limits, or any other reason, there is a possibility of it being unfair, (depending on whether a rider is close to others or not) and it is also difficult to monitor when there are multiple infractions.

“To make a more fair and verifiable penalty, the Grand Prix Commission, after consultation with the Safety Commission, have agreed to introduce a new “Long Lap Penalty”.

“At every circuit a route will be defined and marked at a safe point around the track, (usually an asphalt runoff area outside of a turn), which is some seconds slower than the normal racing line. The penalised rider must ride through the defined area within 3 laps of being notified, thereby suffering a penalty equivalent to several seconds, (typically 2 or more seconds), on that lap. Procedures will be in place to enable the Stewards to use an equivalent time penalty in case the rider is unable to complete the Long Lap, (e.g. in case of a red flagged race).

“This penalty will be added to the list of sanctions available to the FIM MotoGP Stewards, and whilst it is primarily intended for track limits violations, it may be used in any circumstances deemed appropriate by the Stewards. The drop position penalty will continue being available to the Stewards.”

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