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MotoGP™ Race Director Mike Webb held a Press Conference earlier on Saturday ahead of the Gran Premio di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini. The purpose of the Press Conference was to explain and clarify the rules regarding the exceeding of track limits during the various sessions throughout the weekend.
Several riders have faced penalties over recent weeks, most notably Moto2™ rider Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) who was demoted from first to second in the Grand Prix of Styria after exceeding track limits on the final lap.
Webb stated that there are varying penalties for the infringement but was eager to stress that not all infringements are deserving of a penalty. "As the tracks change, we’ve evolved the rules as we see situations occur. Like 12 months ago here, we changed the rules to make sure no unfair advantage was gained.
"What used to be grass beside the racetrack, for safety, is now asphalt run-off, which is just painted and obviously the riders can use that to gain an advantage and we have to monitor that."
The rule states that if any part of the tyre touches the curb, then it is considered in: "It is like a tennis ruling, it is very clear for us, we can make those rulings accurately,” said Webb. Therefore, if both tyres are out of the track surface and on the painted run-off area, then a penalty will be handed out.
Find out all about Track Limits
So what are the penalties for an infraction pre-race? Any practice session including qualifying and warm-up where you exceed track limits, the lap time is simply cancelled. Officially, for timekeeping the sector time is actually cancelled, and, as a result, the lap too.
What are the rules regarding infractions during the race? The key point is that if a rider gains an advantage from exceeding the track limits, then it is an automatic penalty. "During a race we allow a rider to make a mistake, but too many is a penalty," said Webb. "If there is an advantage gained in position or time, it is immediately a penalty. If there is no advantage gained, then it is not a penalty and not even counted on the number of infringements a rider is allowed during a race."
An undetermined gain or loss, when a rider goes out but it is impossible to tell if there was an advantage gained or not, then it is counted as an infringement. If you make three mistakes, then it is a warning. If you make five mistakes, then it is a penalty, typically a long lap penalty.
"We still allow the asphalt run-off for its purpose, to avoid a crash, but you can’t keep doing it. The count is only if we can’t tell if there was a gain or a loss,” stated Webb.
There are lots of riders together and they can be easily pushed wide, however, should one gain an advantage after exceeding the limits, then there will still be a penalty imposed. "During lap one, a track limit that doesn’t result in a clear gain, doesn’t count towards the rider's total, but only on lap one. If you get an advantage on lap one then the rule always applies."
The rule has been modified to say: Turn 1 lap 1, if you are forced wide, you can’t take advantage of that, you have to show a clear disadvantage. In the Styrian GP race, riders were penalised for this.
If you are closely fighting for a position and you go outside of track limits, you must show a disadvantage. "A rider that goes out must be in a worse-off position than the rider that stays on the track," said Webb. This is a decision from the MotoGP™ stewards. It is the stewards who enforce this and decide what the penalty will be.
"They will give a track limits penalty if there is clear evidence, a clear video image. To reinforce, we have high-speed cameras at all the trouble spots with image recognition software with people monitoring those cameras exclusively. It is very clear whether a bike is in or out."
Track limits philosophy official Press Conference