Morbidelli penalised for Jerez MotoGP pile-up
Franco Morbidelli will serve a long-lap penalty in the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez for his role in the incident that caused the MotoGP sprint to be red-flagged.
He was judged to have been “riding in an irresponsible manner, causing a crash”. According to MotoGP, Yamaha appealed the sanction but had the appeal swiftly thrown out.
Yamaha rider Morbidelli collided with Alex Marquez on the opening lap of the Saturday sprint coming out of Curva Michelin. He was then tagged by Takaaki Nakagami, while his Yamaha bike launched points leader Marco Bezzecchi into the air.
The incident, which also caused Augusto Fernandez to check up and crash, brought out a red flag that – because everyone subsequently took the restart – effectively nullified the competitive impact of the initial start.
Marquez made it pretty clear in the aftermath that he felt Morbidelli warranted some sort of sanction, believing that he was too aggressive trying to pick up the position on the inside line after Marquez had been sent wide by the other Yamaha of Fabio Quartararo.
“But, I mean, race direction [stewards] is a lottery,” he added sardonically. “So we will see.”
For his part, Morbidelli insisted he wasn’t trying to overtake and indicated Marquez trying to cut back on the racing line after going wide was the primary factor.
The pair were almost going three-wide in the moment of contact with Pramac Ducati’s Johann Zarco, who was close enough on the outside to receive “a big hit on my right shoulder” after the initial collision happened.
Yamaha argued that Morbidelli could have done little to avoid the incident, team diretor Massimo Meregalli saying: “the pack bunched up and Franky had no place to go”.
Morbidelli – who had amassed a fairly substantial, by MotoGP standards, catalogue of penalties last year – is due to line up 14th on the grid for the Sunday grand prix race.
After the restart, which every rider took despite the fairly violent nature of the pile-up, he went on to finish the Saturday sprint in 14th.
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