Iannone handed three-place grid penalty and one penalty point, is this fair?

Following on from the crash between the two Ducati riders in Argentina, Iannone has been penalised. Comparing this to Race Directions other decisions last season, are we right to question their consistency?

Iannone handed three-place grid penalty and one penalty point, is this fair?
Dovizioso leads Iannone | Photo: Ducati Racing

Following Ducati rider Andrea ‘The Maniac’ Iannone’s overly-optimistic lunge at the second round of the MotoGP this weekend, where he ‘lost the front end’ and crashed taking out his teammate Andrea Dovizioso, the Italian aka ‘The Incredible Iannhulk’ or ‘Crazy Joe’ has been awarded one penalty point by Race Direction.

As well as this one penalty point for jeopardising his own and his teammate’s safety at the end of the race, and thus destroying the hopes of two podium finished for the Ducati riders, Race Direction have said Iannone will also lose three grid positions at the next round that will take place just one weekend after Argentina in Austin at the Circuit of the Americas.

Now it is only the start of the season and although Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez is leading the championship, it is only early days and it could still be anyone taking the crown at the end of the season.

Undoubtedly Iannone should have been penalised, which he must have known himself. The Italian is probably already consumed in guilt from not only ruining his own chances, but his teammates also; and undoing all of the hard work that the Ducati put into a controversial and stressful weekend for all involved. Iannone risked everything to claim four points more than Dovizioso in that one desperate lunge, which resulted in him still failing to claim any points towards his own championship contention.

Iannone and Dovizioso come together | Photo: Mirco Lazzari
Iannone and Dovizioso come together | Photo: Mirco Lazzari

It was race over for ‘The Maniac’ however Dovizioso was so determined to finish, he picked up his bike and ran to push it over the finish line finishing in 13th. Had Iannone done the same he would have finished 14th and also collected points for himself and Ducati.

Are Race Direction’s decisions fair?

In Argentina last year we witnessed Rossi and Marquez battle on track. Marquez tried to do whatever he could to get past a defensive Rossi; in the end he hit the Italian much to his disadvantage and the Spanish ended his own race as he came off worse.

Rossi leads Marquez heading into the corner | Photo: GPM2
Rossi leads Marquez heading into the corner | Photo: GPM2

Luckily Rossi was not brought off following Marquez’s actions where he came into the contact with the rear of the Italian’s M1; Marquez was not punished in any way for this act that could have had major consequences for both riders had Rossi not stayed in control.

Was Rossi right to make the move? | Photo: GPM2
Was Rossi right to make the move? | Photo: GPM2

In Sepang we witnessed an ongoing battle between Rossi and Marquez as they fought for third position in the race. This battle followed on from accusations that were made in a press conference previous to the race; Rossi felt that Marquez was working to give fellow countryman Jorge Lorenzo an advantage in the championship.

Rossi faced the media following his Marquez incident | Photo: lanesplitter
Rossi faced the media following his Marquez incident | Photo: lanesplitter

On track the two fought, overtaking for a while, before Rossi took the opportunity to force Marquez out wide; I do not agree with Rossi’s decision to do this, it was a tactic that perhaps he should have used as it is a race and that is not what racing is about.

I am in no way defending Rossi’s initial actions, but this move was made in an area of the track surrounded by wide run-off areas. What Rossi did was only intended to spoil the momentum of Marquez and done in an effort to force him to lose time (Rossi would have lost just as much). It was not the best decision on the Italian’s behalf and a penalty should have been considered for this; just like it should have been considered in Argentina previously.

In order to counteract being forced out wide, Marquez decided to use Rossi to try and make the turn, in a last stitch attempt to make the corner without entering the run-off area. Instead of losing the momentum and time Marquez chose to go for it, in doing this he leaned on the rear of Rossi’s M1; bad decision, he lost control and fell meaning he relied on Rossi to prop him up.

Unfortunately for Marquez he was the only one whose race came to an end. There was speculation as to whether Rossi kicked or attempted to hit the rear brake on the Honda, I feel that he jolted his leg in an attempt to say, "Get off me!” to Marquez. This incident had everyone on the edge of their seats; ‘rubbing is racing’ was quoted by many riders, those of whom race on many tracks, at many levels, worldwide!

For his actions Rossi was ‘awarded’ three penalty points for ‘irresponsible riding’; adding these points to the previous one for an earlier ‘indiscretion’ left the Italian with four in total and he had to start the final race of the season in Valencia from the back of the grid. It was down to this race to determine the winner of the Championship between the two Movistar Yamaha riders Lorenzo and Rossi.

The Doctor managed to make it to fourth but Lorenzo won; the race and the Championship.

Anyway, there we have it, three separate incidents, two more serious than the other, both in Argentina. Yet, the incident in Sepang was ‘awarded’ a much harsher penalty at a much more crucial part of the season.

Why was Marquez not punished for his actions in Argentina 2015?

Had another manufacturer been involved would the punishment have been harsher? Why was Rossi’s punishment so harsh in comparison? Have Race Direction learnt a lesson from the fiasco surrounding the Sepang incident?

Dovizioso pushes his Ducati over the line | Photo: Motorsport
Dovizioso pushes his Ducati over the line | Photo: Motorsport

Ducati will not ‘appeal’ this incident because it happened to occur between their two riders; it would be in their best interest to ensure that the punishment has no more serious repercussions. Ducati Corse Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti said, “We will talk to both riders in Austin and given them our point of view about what we expect between them in the race.

Time will only tell if Iannone will continue to live up to his name and whether his punishment and the consequences from his actions will ensure he thinks before he acts in the future. Did Race Direction learn from their mistakes at Rossi’s expense? Austin is coming and in all honesty the concerns are probably more focused around the safety of the Michelin tyres.