FIM chief says contact part of MotoGP

Contact is part of motorcycling, the president of the Federation of International Motorcycling (FIM) Vito Ippolito says.

Marc Marquez, front, and Valentino Rossi, back, infamously collided during the Malaysian Grand Prix last month. Olivia Harris / Reuters
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VALENCIA, SPAIN // Contact is part of motorcycling, the president of the Federation of International Motorcycling (FIM) Vito Ippolito said on Friday as he addressed the infamous collision between Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez at the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Rossi will start Sunday’s season-ending Valencia Grand Prix from the back of the grid as he attempts to land a record-equalling eighth premier category world title after being adjudged to have kicked Marquez off his bike in a heated race two weeks ago in Malaysia.

“Motorcycling is not a contact sport, but contact is part of it,” Ippolito told AFP. “If not, we would see processions not races.”

However, he claimed “too many people had added fuel to the fire” since the collision.

The collision and subsequent sanction caused outrage in both Spain and Italy with even the Prime Ministers of each country intervening to back their respective countrymen.

The sanction could well cost Rossi the title as he leads Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo by just seven points.

The Italian even took his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to overturn the penalty, but his appeal was dismissed on Thursday.

No matter who emerges from Sunday’s race as world champion, though, Ippolito wants MotoGP to be the winner after a damaging couple of weeks for the sport’s image that will provoke changes to the rules for next year.

In particular, Ippolito wants more leeway written into the regulations to judge every case on its merits instead of automatic sanctions for certain acts.

“Currently our system is similar to that of penalty points with the inequalities it creates. A drunken man is penalised for speeding in the same way that a husband who takes his wife who is about to give birth urgently to the hospital.

“In the race, it’s totally different. We must judge that fact and thus avoid that the penalty is automatic.”

For the past three seasons race stewards have been able to impose between one- and 10-point penalties for each infringement.

Points accumulate over a 12-month period with automatic sanctions kicking in once a rider reaches four points, as in Rossi’s case after he was handed a three-point penalty for his clash with Marquez, at which point they are forced to start from the back of the grid.

A seven-point penalty means starting from the pit lane, while an accumulation of 10 points means disqualification from the next race or, if it is the last race of the year, wipes out any points won.

“This regulation was established and accepted by all parties to resolve certain problems such as controlling the youthful enthusiasm of young riders, but it has created other problems,” Ippolito added.

“We hope to remove the systematic side of these sanctions and analyse them case by case.

“Fortunately, we have many cameras on the circuits and the images help the very experienced commissioners, but as in all sports, there is a great deal of subjectivity in the decision making.”

Moreover, he believes overtaking manoeuvres like the one that saw Rossi and Marquez come together require even more intense scrutiny.

Rossi claimed the contact between the two wasn’t enough to force Marquez to crash, having previously claimed Marquez was conspiring against him to help his compatriot Lorenzo land the title.

Marquez’s Honda team released a statement on Monday claiming the technical data they had from the Spaniard’s bike proved his loss of control was caused by Rossi’s kick.

However, Yamaha fought back in a statement of their own on Tuesday in which they argued the race stewards’ investigation had not been able to prove Rossi deliberately kicked Marquez.

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