MotoGP Race Director Mike Webb says its Stewards Freddie Spencer and Bill Cumbow “can more or less do anything they want” when it comes to harder rider penalties in measures to resolve the touring trend which has grown in practice and qualifying.

Over recent seasons Moto3 riders have frequently caused problems for MotoGP’s race direction team by going slowly on either an out lap or first timed lap when looking to gain a tow from other riders to ultimately find lap time improvements. The problem originated in qualifying but has since spread to practice sessions with combined free practice times now counting towards the top 14 riders securing automatic entry into Q2.

Measures to halt the trend were introduced with stricter qualifying grid place penalties but the problem has still persisted, often resulting in embarrassing situations where the majority of the Moto3 field has grid penalties going into a race.

For 2020, FIM MotoGP Stewards Cumbow and Spencer held special meetings with all Moto3 riders on the eve of the Qatar opening round about the issue and laid out the stricter rules which will come into action this season. The Stewards also held an extra meeting with all Moto3 team managers on the same topic on the Friday of the Qatar Grand Prix as they looked to work with the teams to stop the problem.

“The message is always the same. The Stewards have every sanction available to them, they can more or less do anything they want but they want to tell the riders what to expect,” Webb said.

“It has changed a little this year, it isn’t so much reliant on grid penalties which in this class don’t really mean so much.”

Webb has explained the Stewards will rely on more video evidence and punish riders who disturb others on track rather than riders just going slow on track.

“Also, specifically looking at much more video evidence to see who the rider at fault is and not necessarily looking at riders who are just a little bit slow, rather if they are disturbing another rider, which is the key,” he explained.

“They will rely on video and if a rider is found to be at fault for disturbing other riders for causing a problem the penalties will immediately be a bit stronger.

“They can be suspended from a complete practice session and they can have penalties given during the race like a Long Lap, so the penalties are harder but the checking is a little bit different.”

Three-time world champion Spencer was appointed Chairman of the FIM MotoGP Stewards from the start of the 2019 season and has been integrating the role to work with both riders and teams to gain greater understanding on why on-track issues occur.

“Freddie Spencer was new last year and spent a lot of time understanding the riders, what they are doing and why,” Webb explained. “Then teaching them how to be a better rider, how they can do about avoiding the problems and also going about improving their own race performance.

“We saw a big improvement during last year from the riders’ behaviours. A lot of riders are learning and understanding what Freddie is there to tell them based on his experience.

“This year is a continuation of that. We say to the riders you can improve your own performance and you can help us by getting into trouble less and the teams can help by working with their riders.”

 

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