Valentino Rossi And Nicky Hayden Reaction To Tomizawa Tragedy

After the MotoGP race at Misano, the crash that killed Shoya Tomizawa was naturally on everyone's minds. Reporters asked just about every rider who would speak to them for their thoughts on the crash. Below is what Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden had to tell the press on the subject.

Q: You saw how bad the crash was, you already knew it was very serious?

Valentino Rossi: I saw the crash on television. I have to be sincere, I thought it was a bad crash, like with a lot of fractures, but not him dying. I saw the crash live. In the first moment, I did not think like this because I thought de Angelis had just hit the bike of Tomizawa and then Redding arrived. But unfortunately de Angelis also hit him.

About safety, they work a lot, but this is the worst thing that can happen in our sport - you crash, you remain on the line, and other bikes are right behind.

Also, in a fast, fast corner like this, usually if you crash, you go very much on the outside because the speed is high. Unfortunately Tomizawa crashed and didn't crash, he remained on the bike and on the line. The others were too close to try to do something.

But I think that with a crash like this, it's also very good that de Angelis and Redding are okay.

Q: Has reversing the direction of the track contributed to this crash because of the way the corners are now taken?

VR: No. The only thing is maybe that the corner is too fast. But the way round you run is not a big difference. Misano is a safe track like all the other tracks. Tomizawa didn't hit the wall or something particularly bad on the track. The problem is the other guys behind.

Q: How easy is it to put a crash like that from your mind and then race?

VR: Very difficult. I understood the crash was very bad, but you have to try and forget and concentrate on your race. When I stopped, straightaway Carmelo [Ezpeleta] arrived to me to say about things. It was a surprise for me, but not a very big one because I thought anyway that it was a bad, bad crash.

Q: It must be a difficult moment for de Angelis and Redding...

VR: Yeah, but de Angelis especially, but also Redding, cannot take responsibility because at 230km/h, when another bike crashes in front, there's nothing you can do. They were just in the wrong place at the wrong moment.

Q: Stirling Moss once said that when he sees a bad crash like that, he goes faster because he knows other people will go slower. Can you understand that approach?

VR: I think this was 40 years ago, no? When this type of bad crash happened a lot more.

Q: Did you see the crash in the Moto2 race?

Nicky Hayden: Yeah, it was terrible. Immediately you just got the feeling it wasn't good. Being around racing, just somehow you just know when it's bad - you can almost feel it.

It's bad for everybody involved. We know this stuff can happen and it's racing and we choose to do it. But obviously it's hard for everybody around here. We've lost two in two weeks. You think about his family and friends and his team. But everybody in the paddock feels it. We're all competitors and all teams against each other, but really in a way we're all brothers, and I guess in some ways we're in it together.

Q: Was it difficult to do your own race after something like that?

NH: It's never easy. You see that stuff and it's hard. It's not the first time I've had that happen. But like I say, in some ways you do what you do, it's your job, it's what you want to do and you've got to be a professional and block it out. But you could definitely feel it on the grid. You could feel it in the paddock and the pits before the race.

I think everybody kind of knew. You see stuff going on around the paddock on your way to the [pit] box... I didn't ask. I didn't need to. I could pretty well feel it.

Q: Do you feel it was right to hold the race?

NH: I don't know whether to get into that. What I've always been taught is that you race, almost out of respect in some ways. I know some people think you don't. In Indy people thought we shouldn't [after the death of Peter Lenz in a support race].

It's tragic, but we are motorcycle racers and it's what we do. It's our life. And in some ways, if it was me, I would want the show to go on. I wouldn't want to hold up the race on my account.

Q: Going back to the Tomizawa crash, other riders have criticised the artificial grass beyond the kerbs. Would you like to see it abolished or replaced by gravel?

NH: I wouldn't want gravel out there. I think it's better than gravel.

Q: What's it like to be on, is it slippery?

NH: It depends, some of it is different, but it's not that slippery. It's a lot grippier than grass. But if it was grass, people would be more scared of it. They wouldn't go across it.

Q: That's what other riders have said, that people are not sufficiently scared of going over it...

NH: The astroturf? Yeah, especially 125cc and Moto2 guys. On those tyres and those bikes, they go across it leaned over.

I don't want to point that out with this incident. I said two or three years ago when they started adding pavements and run-offs... we've got that corner at Le Mans that's just a bit of a joke because they've got all that pavement out there so people just use it, use it, use it. If it was grass out there, people wouldn't be overshooting and going straight. It's like Monza World Superbikes, going straight at all the chicanes. I don't like that stuff.

Q: Is it the same with paved run-off?

NH: There have been times when I've used it and thought it saved me a little bit. But there have been times when it's too much. Over there in Turn 4 here, you've seen some guys who've saved themselves, so... I think they've got too carried away. A bit is good, but maybe not to the extent it is now.

Q: It's been suggested that most of these run-off areas are put in for cars not bikes...

NH: I know some riders who think that pavement is safer. They swear that they can get out there and use the brakes. I don't agree with it, for the most part.

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I agree with Nicky's point about the pavement run off. Someone else said the same thing. Might have been him or Rossi I think. That it basically gives the riders more balls than they should have because the consequence or overshooting the corner isnt there.

I shared the same sentiments that they both had when they saw the crash. This isnt going to end well.

The point he makes about the astroturf is interesting to me. He says it isnt as slippery as grass, but he would rather have it over gravel or real grass since those are slippery. But at the same time he is basically pissed about the fact that 125 and Moto2 guys use it as part of the racetrack lap after lap instead of using it as a safety feature like it is supposed to be. No way to penalize for it either. But you dont want to see guys crashing out because they missed their line by 1 inch. Although you could argue that they do that now by missing the astroturf...

I'm glad a racer is finally acknowledging the ridiculousness of Monza... maybe someone will get that death trap they call a racetrack fixed or off the WSBK calendar before it claims more than broken bones and ruined careers.

...Rossi was then asked to explain what he saw from his pit box: “Tomizawa turned in a little early, and that made him run wide. He went off the curb and lost the bike. It was a bad accident. I was hoping he would get away with only some fractures, Then... then I stopped thinking about it. I had a race to run myself, right after. You think about it afterward; I'm thinking about it now. I will be thinking about it tomorrow, and it will be even worse.

Should there have been a red flag? I think so."

He later clarified that he didn't think the red flag would have made any difference to the outcome. He wasn't looking to start an argument, just sharing his honest feeling...

for the very reasons pointed out by Hayden. There needs to be more fear respect. It's the old inch mile proverb. Racers being racers they'll take whatever advantage they possibly can. But because he's Casey he got slated in certain forums for it?!