'If you don't have balls, change jobs' - Stewards slammed over 'dangerous' Moto3

Paolo Simoncelli is among those pointing a critical finger at MotoGP Race Direction for its failure to act on a Moto3 that was branded too dangerous


With the short breather before the next MotoGP race giving the paddock a chance to take stock of recent events, the spotlight of scrutiny has shifted away from those on track and instead onto those (who should be) pulling strings behind it.

The big news from Catalunya was undoubtedly the furore surrounding Fabio Quartararo’s unfastened race suit, an incident which in the aftermath has shifted the onus of responsibility away from the rider and instead towards MotoGP’s Race Stewards.

However, this was just the second trained finger to be pointed towards the rule enforcers following calls for action to be taken on various incidents occurring in the preceding Moto3 race, which has upped the scrutiny further on the decision-makers behind the scenes.

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Race Direction is made up of a permanent panel of three figures comprising two Race Directors - Mike Webb and the designated ex-racer equivalent Freddie Spencer - plus Bill Cumbow, as well as a rotating fourth member that changes as per event.

They oversaw but failed to act directly on a Moto3 race in Catalunya that drew sharp opinion the fine line between hard racing and unacceptable riding had been overstepped. It has led to criticism that the panel has become limp and ineffective in making and enforcing strict judgement calls in what many feel is an increasingly out-of-hand series.

Moto3 is a championship where the sheer closeness of the machinery and talent at the front has resulted in some extraordinary races, where riders swarm around the track like a flock of perfectly synced birds. It looks spectacular from our standpoint but it doesn’t take much imagination to suggest it is surely just one mistake shy of a serious incident.

Racing is of course dangerous and we’ve gotten some kicks over the years watching a pint-size class where slipstreaming accounts for crucial tenths. However, having to rely on this brings tactics to the fore and given this is a group of very nascent talents on display, the lack of experienced common sense blended with the ignorance of youth means no-one is likely to back down - especially if hesitance could be the difference between a win and 15th place.

Numerous riot acts have been read to riders over the years, including a rebuke in a post-Catalunya race summoning that barred anyone from leaving the circuit. But, as any parent will know, a stern telling off after the fact just amounts to a ‘we won’t do it again’ response when you know full well they will.

Taking this weekend’s Catalunya Moto3 race into consideration, it was a brutal and physical example of how tight-knit and determined (desperate) the riders are to win. We saw riders weaving in groups to shake off the tow behind and another slowing up intentionally so someone would actually overtake them to become the pace setter since few who lead a group into the last lap actually go on to win. 

Numerous riders, managers and commentators have taken exception to this - including Romano Fenati, who posted images of his bruised body post-race on social media - while Paolo Simoncelli, father of the late Marco Simoncelli and manager of the SIC58 team, pointed the finger of responsibility at Race Stewards for failing to act there and then.

“We need people who make decisions,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport while also referencing race direction's role in Quartararo's penalty. “Like the rider who has to choose in a microsecond, Race Direction must do the same. It’s strange that Spencer, who was a rider, isn’t able to do this.

"Riders, like children, need rules which must be respected but it also takes certainty of the penalty and a strict application too. It must be immediate, not some hour later and not the next race.

"This is a tough role where balls are needed, but if they don’t have them, they should change jobs.”

Granted, it’s tough to regulate a live sprint in front of you but it’s not the first time these criticisms have been levelled. Moreover, the fact it is an offence that keeps repeating is an indictment on those who should be coming down hard to serve a lesson.

Yes they are young, yes they should race hard but it’s exactly the time in which to lay the law down heavy and send out a message that might make those responsible think twice. Moreover, this race came just a week on from Jason Dupasquier’s death at Mugello and though it didn’t occur in the race or in the heat of battle, it still demonstrated the potentially lethal consequences of a rider coming off in front of close-following full throttle rivals.

At Moto3 level, the desire to win will be all-consuming as you attempt to stand out from a similarly eager crop, but aggressively attained results aren’t what a manufacturer in the market for the next big thing is looking for because it is smart enough to spot true talent from their clean, effective racing, either on their own or in the pack.

Nevertheless, it isn’t strictly up to the rider to decide this all on their own. They need the rules and a higher power to enforce them because a racer’s instinct in the middle of the fight is to follow the curve of adrenaline instead.

No rider - at any stage of their career - wants to crash or cause another to do so, but in a field of predominantly teenagers in a series that presents such high stakes, and with modest reference points when it comes to being involved in an accident, it shouldn’t be left to in the moment trial and error to find discover where the limit of what is acceptable and what is simply dangerous...

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