Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Phillip-Gate drags on

The drama surrounding the lack of penalty applied to Valentino Rossi for passing under yellows at the Aussie GP continues.

The Speed Channel website has just posted a copy of a letter sent to the head of the FIM's road racing commission expressing displeasure that Rossi received no official sanctions despite the fact that he clearly passed Casey Stoner under yellow flags.

From what I can tell Rossi made the pass not once but twice. After the first pass he was repassed by Stoner, which under MotoGP rules means no penalty is necessary - Rossi redressed the situation himself. This is the pass that race officials saw. However, they missed the second pass, which definitely was under yellow and which was not redressed by Rossi on-track. Championship leader Nicky Hayden saw the whole thing and was sure a penalty would be applied - as such he didn't push any harder to catch Rossi, convinced that Rossi would lose some places and points at the end of the event.

However, MotoGP rules require penalties for passing under yellow be applied during the race. Since that didn't happen, nothing can now be done. Had Hayden known this would be the case, he says he would have pushed much harder, and this is the source of his displeasure about the whole thing.

Since the MotoGP championship will almost certainly go down to a matter of a point or two, this is a controversy that is not going away. At the heart of the issue is the fact that officials missed the infraction (something they openly admit to) and that the rules don't allow for post-race penalties. Both aspects of the issue need looking at, and need it immediately.

Click on the pic below to see the letter from Honda to the FIM. Photo credit: Speed Channel

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