MotoGP

Joan Mir penalised for Johann Zarco collision ‘because I am a rookie’

Joan Mir believes he has been singled out for punishment following his penalty for colliding with Johann Zarco during the Malaysian MotoGP

Joan Mir has hit out at the penalty he received during the Malaysian MotoGP after wiping out Johann Zarco four laps from the chequered flag, saying he is being singled out because he is a rookie.

The Spaniard was on the ascent after a poor start and was running in tenth position behind Zarco, who in turn had a fading Jack Miller in his sights.

However, his attempt at passing Zarco around turn 14, which tightens at the apex, instead resulted in him hitting Zarco’s Honda at a low angle causing him to slide off into retirement.

It spoiled a strong finish for the Frenchman in only his second race with LCR Honda, with Mir handed a long lap penalty – where he follows a designated route around the outside of a corner in lieu of a time penalty – which dropped him to tenth position at the flag.

It was a reaction Mir felt was ‘unfair’ and harsher due to his rookie status, pointing out he was eliminated in a similar way by Zarco at Brno and no penalty was levied towards him.

"I was on the inside, then Zarco tried to overtake Miller and he didn't see me, that I was coming from the inside," Mir told sister publication Crash.net. "It's normal, it's not his fault, obviously. And we both touched.

"He crashed, unfortunately, he was doing a great race, so I'm sorry for him, but it was not my fault. It was something that can happen in the race. 

"If we look back at all the problems that I had - at Mugello with Valentino, in Brno with Zarco also, who hit me on the first lap and my race was over. All these type of things and they didn't get anything, and to me a long lap.

"OK, because I'm a rookie, it was probably the easiest thing to do. 'Zarco crashed, so we will give him a long lap'. But I think it was not the correct thing, and we have to talk about this, because at the end, it was not my fault.

"I think that Davide [Brivio, team manager] went to speak with the FIM stewards, but what shows it was not my fault is that Zarco came to my garage and said 'sorry for this'. I said also 'sorry' for my part because I couldn't avoid him.

"So we both understand the situation, but Race Direction not. But anyway, rookie – easy [to give a penalty]."

Johann Zarco stakes claim on Honda seat for 2020

After a positive maiden outing in Australia – albeit hampered by a lack of track time due to a disrupted timetable - Zarco was priming for a big performance in Sepang a year after he scored a podium from pole position on Yamaha machinery.

While the result didn’t ultimately come his way, it did give a strong hint of what he is capable of on Honda machinery.

More importantly, it is quicker than Jorge Lorenzo has looked all season on his factory Repsol Honda, once again raising the prospect a change in rider policy if things don’t improve in the Spaniard’s camp. He now has only one race to prove he can step up in 2020, but Zarco will see it as a prime opportunity to hammer home his message.

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