In two races at Austria in two weeks, we have seen controversy with track limits.
Last weekend, no less than three riders in Moto3 were penalised and lost a podium position, and John McPhee was 6th on the road but got promoted to 3rd after the race. The reason for this was the final corner at the Red Bull Ring allows you to run off the painted ‘rumble’ strips that are considered within track limits, and then if you encroach on the green paint the other side you are considered ‘out of bounds’ in the eyes of the stewards. This seems exceedingly unfair, as it is remarkably easy to do this with no on-track penalty.
Then this weekend, we have seen Jorge Martin lose a fantastic race win after he went onto the green on the 3rd to last corner, a tiny triangle of green that comes to you as you are on the painted strip and straightening out for the next corner. This one was much more unfair, as the painted strip he was on the entire way suddenly just sharply tapers inwards and the white paint becomes green while the bike is on a natural trajectory going straight as you apply the power.
The easy option for countering this is just to make the strip extend all the way to the grass, and if you drop off onto the grass race direction’s job will already be done for them as you’ll lose time. Why there is a tiny triangle painted green no longer than a wheel when it is the exact same material as the painted strip is utterly ridiculous, and even more ridiculous that it can cost you a race win.
We also saw it in Brno, the same principle of a tiny green triangle that Takaaki Nakagami hit on his fastest qualifying lap that would have seen him go through to Q2 for a shot at pole. But the lap was taken away and he had to start from 17th, ruining his race over a small piece of different colour paint that is on the bike’s natural trajectory.
So why do race direction clamp down so hard on this? Yes, it is considered exceeding track limits by the absolute letter of the law, but therein lies the issue. Why do riders have the option to exceed track limits on the bike’s natural trajectory, why is there no punishment on track for exceeding track limits? Why can we not have paint on the asphalt, and then track limits are quite literally where that asphalt ends, meaning if you exceed the limits you will end up on the grass/gravel? It all seems very unnecessary to have to penalise when there is a clearly easy fix.
With this new trend of the little triangles being at the end of the painted strips, you can bet Austria will not be the last we hear of this.
Featured image – www.motogp.com