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Martin's penalty escape is another baffling MotoGP stewards' call

by Simon Patterson
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

MotoGP championship leader Jorge Martin was lucky to escape without a penalty after the first day of track action at the Dutch TT, when his slow riding caused Jack Miller to collide with him in the final moments of second practice.

The incident was not even investigated by the officials, even though Miller was fortunate not to crash his KTM in the brush with the Pramac Ducati.

Jorge Martin

Martin was one of a group of racers who had slowed down to a crawl in an attempt to dissuade those behind (including Miller) who were trying to catch a tow around the fast Dutch track when a chain reaction triggered by group leader Pecco Bagnaia caused Martin to brake sharply while the following Miller was checking over his shoulder.

“I was in front,” Martin explained afterwards, “so for me it’s impossible to see what happened behind, but I just followed Pecco.

“He went on the left, I went on the left, then I felt a small touch. I kept going, and I hope he’s OK. 

“But from my side, it was nothing big. Sometimes this happens. Sometimes it even happens during a warm-up lap and nobody realises, but the camera was there.

“We weren’t pushing a lot. I saw that Pecco was closing [the throttle], I closed, and we went on the left. Jack was on the out-lap, so I guess he wasn’t pushing 100%.”

The contact snapped the front suspension aerodynamics off Miller’s KTM, and only the fact he was also going slowly prevented a much nastier crash - even if he did end up with an unusual injury of his own.

“The exhaust smashed me straight in the bicep,” he said. “I got the whole circle. A new Akrapovic tattoo, or branding!

“I wasn’t on the throttle at all, because the boys had rolled off and were going that way. Then Pecco grabbed the brakes and it was kind of a chain reaction.

“I was going slow as well, I wasn’t on the gas. I wasn’t accelerating, but I wasn’t decelerating. As I looked behind, I took my eye off the ball. He grabbed the brakes in front of me, and that’s all it takes.

“For sure [it happened because they were going slow], but the reason why they're going slow is that people like me were trying to follow them.

Jack Miller KTM

“At the end of the day, I’ll take my licks. I’m the one who was in the wrong because I crashed into him. It’s not a matter of them going slow, and I wasn’t complaining too much about that.

“I was rubbing my hands because I was in a good spot, and I didn't want to mess anyone else up which is why I was checking [behind me].

“The closing speeds here at Assen are massive from guys who are on a fast lap, so you just don’t want to make sure you catch someone on the apex.

“I feel like here it’s one of those tracks where you can’t go at a mediocre speed because you’ll get in the way, so people are focusing on what’s happening, on making sure that you get out of the way.

“There’s a lot of pinch points here, and of course there’s always going to be guys trying to get a tow, but that’s the game we’re playing.”

While Miller accepted the blame and had no complaints about Martin’s riding, there was surely a case for Martin to be penalised regardless based on recent precedent.

A number of riders have been given penalties for very similar riding slowly on the racing line lately, including a three-place grid drop for Bagnaia last time out at Mugello. On the basis of that decision, Martin surely should’ve been in line for the same punishment at Assen.

That has to prompt fresh questions about the consistency of the penalties being handed out by MotoGP’s judicial body - and whether penalties are more likely when riders complain or poor riding results in a crash or injury. This time everyone involved got away with it, in more ways than one.

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