until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


‘Bikes coming at me everywhere’ – Huge Moto2 scare stokes anger

by Simon Patterson
5 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

MotoGP race direction has come under fire following Sunday’s Portimao Moto2 race in which riders were fortunate to avoid severe injuries and which could have a significant impact on the title race in the middleweight class.

Starting after the premier-class race instead of before in order to ensure the main event avoided a clash with Formula 1’s race at Imola, Moto2 got the worst conditions of the day, with rain starting to fall just after the start and continuing to come down lightly as Aron Canet, Cameron Beaubier and Ai Ogura battled for the lead.

Moto2 Portimao crash

When that rain intensified, it brought devastating consequences, with not just the leading three but a further eight riders joining them in the gravel trap in near simultaneous crashes and creating a horrifying spectacle of destruction, fire and lucky escapes, with Ogura even forced to leap over the tumbling body of Sam Lowes before the British rider’s MarcVDS Kalex exploded into flames.

“Honestly, I’ve had a few crashes in my life” Lowes jokingly told The Race, “but f*** me, I went down fast then. I didn’t know anything about it, I just saw the commotion in front and rolled off a tiny bit and the bike started to spin around.

“I could smell the rain when I came around, but it’s too late then isn’t it? It’s not like you’re doing 10mph. I stood up and there were bikes coming at me everywhere.

“There was quite a lot of rain and I was probably respecting it a little too much, but honestly I was expecting that it would get red-flagged, then we all came through and crashed. It’s hard to say, but they should have done something to warn the riders.

“The rain flag was out the whole race, so how do we know then that there’s more rain coming? I felt like they could have done more.”


Lowes was one of the slightly more lucky riders from the crash, over-extending his elbow and being left with considerable pain but not breaking anything.

Race leader Canet wasn’t as fortunate, smashing his arm and hand in the high-speed fall and left fuming at the organisers as he prepares for surgery that will likely force him to miss his home race at Jerez this upcoming weekend.

“It’s a shame [about] today’s crash caused by the rain,” he said. “I was leading the race and I’m sad. I hope it doesn’t happen again and that the race direction stops the race earlier, since the risk of the riders is played with.

“Now we travel to Barcelona to operate on the left radius and see the fracture of the little finger, since the injuries are more serious than we thought.”

Race control being slow to red flag not just races but any weekend session has been common in MotoGP of late. It was particularly notable last time out at the Circuit of the Americas, when in Moto3 practice Alberto Surra laid at the side of the track in what appeared to be quite a dangerous location for over two minutes before the session was suspended and medical personnel could tend to him.


It’s something that infuriates and concerns not just those watching on, either, with Aprilia rider Aleix Espargaro one of those to speak out about what he saw as a situation that called for the declared-dry Moto2 race to be red-flagged earlier than it was considering the whole grid started on slick tyres.

“It’s very difficult for a rider to ride on slick tyres in the rain,” he explained, having been left aghast after witnessing the crashes live during the MotoGP podium press conference.

crashed Moto2 bike

“And when you see that it’s raining a little bit on the cameras sitting on a seat it’s easy to say, ‘Oh it’s not so much rain, we can wait one more lap’. But you cannot, because it’s very dangerous. We’re not sitting on a sofa with a bottle of water, we are risking.

“Maybe sometimes we have to put out the red flag a little bit earlier, because [now] it looks like we have to wait for a big injury or something big to happen, and we can prevent this a little bit before.”

While the issue with the red flag was one source of controversy, there was another still to come, when all of the machines that fell in the pile-up were prevented from restarting the race. That allowed American Joe Roberts to take his first victory and championship leader Celestino Vietti to dramatically turn around a poor weekend with second place.

Celestino Vietti Moto2 Portimao

There’s a rule in place which says that all bikes and riders must return to the pits within five minutes of a race being red-flagged if they wish to join the restart, but the regulation was amended in 2019 to allow race direction to extend this window in exceptional circumstances – a situation that was surely met by Sunday’s crash.

Yet that clause wasn’t executed, with race control electing to kick off a wholly new sprint race of only seven laps yet choosing to award full points for it, a move which handed Vietti a decisive 20-point extension to his title lead that could be key come the end of the season.

The Race has approached MotoGP for comment on the decisions made around the Moto2 race and got the following response:

“Of course we all want to avoid incidents like in the first Moto2 race. So all riders chose slicks and the weather conditions were the same at the start, the lap times were good, and the marshals were constantly reporting ’no change in conditions’ all around the track,” its statement read. “So, was very difficult to avoid in those circumstances.

“However we are always working to improve all systems to give us more direct information, including as it was mentioned to have information directly to the riders onboard if possible”

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • More Networks