Marc Marquez Has Penalty For Espargaro Crash Overturned On Appeal
The 1 minute penalty Marc Marquez had been handed by Race Direction has been revoked. Marquez was initially penalized after an incident on lap 21 of the Moto2 race at Barcelona, in which he and Pol Espargaro collided, causing Espargaro to crash out of the race. The incident was reviewed by Race Direction, and several hours after the Moto2 race was over, Race Direction issued the 1 minute penalty. Marquez' CatalunyaCaixa team appealed to the FIM Stewards against the penalty, and the FIM Stewards ruled in his favor, overturning it. The penalty would have meant that Marquez dropped from 3rd to 23rd in the final results, scoring no points for the championship.
The incident occurred on lap 21 of the race. Marquez had run a little hot into Turn 10 after being passed by Thomas Luthi, then saved a near crash with the front folding, before forcing his bike back to the inside of the turn, just as Espargaro was trying to pass him. Espargaro had nowhere to go, and he and Marquez collided, causing Espargaro to crash. Marquez went on to finish the race in 3rd, behind Andrea Iannone and Thomas Luthi.
The penalty was initially issued for violation of rule 1.21.2, which is the section on dangerous riding. Opinion in the paddock after the incident was divided on the fairness of the penalty, though the majority opinion seemed to believe it was unfair. Jorge Lorenzo felt that Espargaro had taken a risk by trying to get through, as he could have known that Marquez would try to close the line. Dani Pedrosa believed that the fault lay with Marquez, saying that Marquez had left the door open, and that he could have expected someone to come through. But Valentino Rossi voiced the majority opinion, which was that this penalty should have been applied after Qatar, rather than for the incident at Barcelona.
The Qatar incident certainly would appear to have something to do with it. At Qatar, as Marquez and Luthi started the final lap, Marquez got past Luthi and then started to move towards the outside of the track, while Luthi still had his wheel level with Marquez' bike, leaving Luthi with nowhere to go. After that clash with Luthi, Marquez was called into Race Direction and issued a warning, a yellow card, and told that any other borderline moves would not be tolerated. Though this crash appears to be less clearly the fault of Marquez, Race Direction appear to have decided to punish Marquez more harshly for a second questionable incident. Viewed in this light, the 1 minute penalty is more a punishment for what happened at Qatar than what happened at Barcelona.
With the penalty overturned, Marquez is once again back in the championship hunt, just 2 points behind Tom Luthi. If the penalty had been upheld, the gap would have grown to 18 points, and Marquez would have been a single point behind Espargaro.