The ruling regarding track limits has been changed for 2021.
Following multiple controversies in 2020, the track limits system and ruling has been overhauled to ensure there are no disparities been riders and incidents given the severe inconsistencies we saw in 2020, many riders were unfairly penalised or on the flip side were not penalised at all for blatantly running outside of track limits. As you can imagine this caused many issues for riders, teams and the various technical and race directors who were making these decisions last year.
There was a famous incident in the Styrian Grand Prix Moto2 race whereby Jorge Martin was found to be inches outside of the track limits out of the exit of the last corner which cost him a race victory to Marco Bezzecchi, the issue was that Marco Bezzecchi was also out of the track limits for exactly 1 frame. You see, the previous ruling dictated that if both wheels of a motorcycle touch onto the green on the outside of the corner kerb, track limits will have been breached which was clearly shown by Jorge Martin in the below image, however for Bezzecchi it was more difficult for race directors to clarify the rule break and ruled that he did not break any rules despite the wheels being on the green as shown below.
Bezzeccchi vs Martin track limits. Credit Dorna Sports, S.L
In an attempt to make the ruling fairer for the riders across all three classes, a new system has been introduced which aims to significantly reduce inconsistencies and incidents where riders are not penalised, or penalised when they shouldn’t have been.
The MotoGP Race Director Mike Webb has confirmed a new system has been put in place to detect when riders are running outside of the track limits, the system runs off pressure sensors which are placed on the outside of a kerb on the bright green areas, these sensors are able to accurately detect when a rider has run outside of track limits instead of relying on cameras as they have done previously. In the past, the video footage may not have been clear enough to determine if the rule was breached which caused issues as detailed before.
The most important part of this new ruling is that now riders will be penalised even if just one wheel breaches the limits of the track, in the past riders have been able to get away with just one wheel crossing into ‘no man’s land’ but this is a thing of the past now, it doesn’t matter if one wheel or both wheels break the limits, the rider will be penalised as Mike Webb sees fit.
If a rider is to break the track limits they must show a clear disadvantage to avoid a penalty, for example, if they touch the green but lose time to the rider ahead or get overtaken then they will not receive a penalty as they will not be deemed as gaining anything from their infringement.
Featured images – MotoGP.com