At the beginning of the year, much was made of the addition of rules governing rider behavior to the Sporting Regulations section of the FIM MotoGP rulebook. That gave the newly instituted panel of FIM Stewards, who oversee all disciplinary measures, the power to punish riders and teams for a range of activities related to the promotion of the series. The biggest worry was caused by section 18.104.22.168, which threatened punishment of riders who made public pronouncements considered harmful to the championship.
The first punishments under these new rules have been handed out, and those punishments make it clear that Dorna's main target is to prevent riders from skipping their promotional obligations which the teams commit to as part of their contract to compete in the series. At Sepang, the factory Suzuki, Honda and Ducati teams were all issued fines for their riders either missing or being late to autograph signing sessions.
Repsol Honda came off lightest. Marc Marquez missed the autograph signing session on Friday due to illness, the Spaniard still suffering with gastroenteritis. Because Honda did not notify Dorna of this, they were given an official warning. Ducati were fined €250 for having both Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone turn up to the session late. And Suzuki were fined €500 for Aleix Espargaro not attending at all.
Just how seriously this will affect the teams is open to question. With factory budgets in the tens of millions of euros, a fine of few hundred euros will barely register. It will, however, act as a signalling mechanism to other riders, especially younger riders, of the behavior expected of MotoGP stars. We shall have to wait and see how this plays out in the future.
The notification of sanction from Dorna is shown below:
FIM MotoGP Stewards Panel Notification of Sanction: Ducati Team, Repsol Honda Team, Team SUZUKI ECSTAR
Repsol Honda Team, who did not notify Dorna/IRTA of MotoGP Rider Marquez being unavailable to attend the compulsory Autograph Session due to illness. They received Official Warning.
Team SUZUKI ECSTAR because their rider Aleix Espargaro did not attend the compulsory Official Autograph Session.They were imposed a fine of 500 Euros.
Ducati Team because their riders Dovizioso and Iannone arrived at the compulsory Autograph Session at 11:45, 15 minutes after the beginning of the session. They were imposed a fine of 250 Euros.