Every round at half past five in the afternoon on a Friday after the first full day of practice at every circuit on the MotoGP calendar, a Safety Commission meeting takes place where all riders are able to attend.
It is an opportunity for riders to discuss, learn and express concerns and the perfect chance to ensure maximum for safety for all those who lay rubber around this track over the race weekend.
Salom sadly lost his life after Free Practice incident
Following the tragic incident at turn 12 during Free Practice 2 for the Moto 2 class, #39 rider Luis Salom (SAG Team) sadly lost his life after crashing midway through the session. Despite the amazing efforts of the medical team trackside and in the local hospital, Salom died of his injuries.
His family were consulted and they gave their blessing to continue with the meeting at the Circuit de Barcelona in Catalunya. All those from the paddock took to the track on race day to participate in a minute’s silence as a mark of respect for the fallen Spanish rider, and his bike has remained in his pit garage for the remainder of the weekend with his pit board beside it reading: “Always in our hearts”.
Poor turnout for a significant meeting
The Safety Commission meeting that followed Salom’s death was an important one. The MotoGP had just witnessed the worst possible outcome and so, as a result, precautions needed to be done to ensure the welfare of all the riders.
Ten riders were present at this meeting, only ten, and they along with officials decided to change: turn ten, as it was thought that the run off gravel trap was not sufficient enough; and turn 12 was bypassed and instead riders were to use the ‘Formula 1’ layout of the circuit, which instead includes a chicane so that the lap times increased slightly in all classes.
Previous to this change, the Yamahas dominated at the Circuit de Barcelona, however the ‘improvements’ to the final sector meant that Honda were more suited as riders found after extended final Free Practice sessions and Qualifying. The Movistar Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo were said to have “spat their dummy out” according to Bradley Smith (Monster Tech3 Yamaha), who was vocal after hearing what the factory riders had to say about the changes.
Smith, his teammate Pol Espargaro and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) had the right to comment about the changes as they were present at the meeting where decisions to alter the track were made. Both Tech3 riders commented about how they felt the two factory Yamaha riders should have been present as Rossi is the most experienced and Lorenzo has won four times here out of the last five and also has several championship titles under his belt.
The best decision was made
At the end of the day, safety is key for all the riders at any racetrack. Riders may have had something on or may have be lost in the grief as the news spread across the paddock about Salom’s unfortunate death, but no matter what, riders have their chance to express their views at the meeting that they are all welcome to attend.
Not being present means their views will not be heard and as a consequence they have to deal with the outcome no matter what they feel. No-one wants a repeat of the incident that occurred that Friday and no-one should have to unnecessarily pay the ultimate price to participate in the sport they love if it can be prevented in anyway.