The incident between Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi continues to generate controversy. Much of the debate has centered around the role of the marshals, with Stoner contending that the marshals helped Rossi first before attending to him. Footage only partially corroborates Stoner's story, but what is clear is that the marshals did not lend enough assistance to restart his Honda RC212V, the marshals dropping off one by one, until the Australian had only marshal pushing him along. This, Stoner claimed, was not good enough, and he felt that he was a victim of bias by the marshals, the corner workers helping Rossi on his way but not doing enough to get the Repsol Honda rider back in the race.
As a result of this complaint, Race Direction have decided to hold a review of the entire incident once they reach Estoril, the FIM announced today. Race Direction will hold a hearing into the incident at Estoril, where they will invite the Clerk of the Course and the Chief Marshal to explain the chain of events. Though the press release does not go into details of exactly what will be reviewed, given the people invited to attend, it is most likely to examine the actions of the corner workers helping both Rossi and Stoner during and after the crash.
If complaints of a lack of assistance had come only from Stoner, then it is unlikely that any action would have been taken. However, Marco Simoncelli had a similar complaint, saying that the corner workers had not helped him get his bike started again after he crashed out while leading the race.
The blame, however, may not lay entirely with the marshals. Honda's trick gearbox and clutch mean that two pins are required to start the bike on the stand, and bumpstarting the machine is extremely difficult, if not quite impossible. The urge to save engine damage by switching the motor off, and then trying to coax the bike back into life - a dangerous proposition on a live racetrack - may have played a significant role in the inability of the marshals to restart both Stoner's and Simoncelli's machines.
There is also the question of what the role of the corner workers is beyond clearing potential dangers from around the track, and whether helping to restart stopped bikes is part of their remit. Then there's also the matter of the engine rules, as without the need to save a motor by using the cutout switch, to ensure that you make it to the end of the season on your quota of just 6 engines.
Whether these subjects will also be discussed is unknown. What is certain is that the outcome of the hearing will not change the result of the race. However, reviewing procedures and the actions of the marshals may help clarify exactly what did happen, and offer improvements for the future. That in itself is a good thing.
Here's the FIM press release:
Statement of the MotoGP Race Direction
Following the collision between Rossi and Stoner during the MotoGP race of the Spanish Grand Prix on 3 April in Jerez, the Race Direction has decided to organise a hearing with the Clerk of the Course and the Chief Marshal in order to review the incident and to hear the explanation of the officials in charge.
Due to the fact that the final decision of the Race Direction will not affect the result of the race, the hearing will be organised on Thursday 28 April in Estoril, Portugal.