Dovizioso, Marquez, Rossi talk Crutchlow jump-start

'No movement' rule correct, but penalty too harsh? Andrea Dovizioso, Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi give opinions on Cal Crutchlow's jump start in Argentina MotoGP.
Dovizioso, Marquez, Rossi talk Crutchlow jump-start

One of the hot topics for discussion among the riders in Friday evening's Safety Commission meeting at Austin will be Cal Crutchlow's recent jump-start penalty.

The Englishman was furious to receive a race destroying ride-through after unwittingly rolling forwards by a few centremetres - with the clutch still engaged - just before the red lights went out in Argentina.

The MotoGP rules are clear that any movement (unless a rider stops the bike again before the red lights go out) means an automatic ride-through penalty.

But if that's the case, Crutchlow questioned why former world champion Freddie Spencer had been brought in as Chairman of the Stewards Panel, if the American legend cannot use any of his racing knowledge to show some discretion when no advantage has been gained.

"We asked for somebody that understands racing, that's going to have some discretion and understanding of the rules and what's gaining and what's not gaining," Crutchlow said. "It's just ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous."

Speaking at COTA on Thursday, the current championship top three of Marc Marquez, Andrea Dovizioso and Valentino Rossi expressed sympathy for Crutchlow's situation, but felt the 'no movement' rule must remain.

"It's difficult. It will be funny in the Safety Commission tomorrow for sure and it will be important to speak about that. Because the rules are clear," said Ducati's Dovizioso.

"I think Cal didn't gain anything from what he did, but he moved a little bit. So we can think and speak about that. We have to try to understand if another way exists to manage this situation.

"I mean, it was clear Cal didn't gain anything and didn't do it on purpose, but the rules say if you move you make a mistake. I think it's very hard to accept that, if I was Cal. I can understand how angry he is.

"But if you have to interpret every start [for any advantage gained by moving early] it is difficult. I think that's why they decided to have those rules but it's bad to lose a race like this. Really bad. Especially when your pace is good."

Honda's reigning world champion Marquez said any attempt to allow marginal jump starts would just cause greater problems.

"I completely agree with Andrea. I mean of course Cal didn't gain anything, but the rules say that if you move the bike, even the opposite way, you will be penalised.

"It's the best way to have a solid rule, because if not it will always be 'yeah, but he gained nothing'. For me, it's hard to have a ride-through and lose a race, but it's the best way to have one rule and don’t have the polemic later."

"For me, the only way to have a clear rule is to say that you cannot move the moment before the start," echoed nine-time world champion Rossi. "Because if you start to speak about 'did you gain something?', or 'how much you can move', it becomes very difficult.

"I saw the camera on the wheel of Cal, for sure they are very strict and Cal didn't gain anything, but if you see that camera you see that he moved a little bit."

While there appears to be no appetite for ditching the 'no movement' rule, the automatic punishment for a jump start could be altered, with Rossi joining those that suggest possible use of the new-for-2019 Long Lap penalty (2-3sec) for split-second startline errors.

"We can speak tomorrow about the penalty. Because, as Cal said after the race, if you ride through the pits you lose 35 seconds, so it's over. Maybe you can think to do a Long Lap. I don’t know," said the Yamaha rider.

"But the rule is you cannot move, so it's like this."