Transcript Of The Race Direction Press Conference On The Tomizawa Accident At Misano

Immediately after the MotoGP post-race press conference at Misano, Race Direction held a press conference to explain their actions, how they had handled the situation and what had been done to try to save Tomizawa's life. Speaking at the press conference were Race Director Paul Butler, Claude Danis of the FIM, MotoGP's Safety Officer Franco Uncini, Doctor Claudio Macchiagodena of the Clinica Mobile, and Javier Alonso from Dorna.  A shortened transcript of the press conference appeared on the Dorna website, along with the full video available for viewing. However, with Dorna's ever-infallible aim when it comes to the internet, the website managed to shoot itself squarely in the foot by only making the video available to people with a subscription. Naturally, this has been explained by some of the more radical fringes of the internet as a conspiracy by Dorna to make more money, but having had some experience of Dorna's attitude to the internet, is about 99.9% certain that this was down to incompetence rather than conspiracy. It is unlikely that anyone gave any thought to making this a free video, and it ended up automatically behind Dorna's video paywall.

Having been present at the press conference, decided to transcribe the entire press conference ourselves, for people without a subscription. You will find the full transcription below, but one comment needs to be made on the transcription. Dr Macchiagodena is speaking in English, a language he does not speak with great fluency, and using medical jargon. So transcribing what Dr Macchiagodena said has proven to be extremely difficult. We have done our utmost best to transcribe what he said, while trying to make the points he is making as easy to comprehend as possible. This means that some of his answers - especially in the Q&A section - are very difficult to understand. We hope our readers will bear with us, and try to understand what the doctor is trying to say.

Claudio Macchiagodena: We want to speak about the accident today, a very bad accident involving three riders who crashed and immediately had a serious problem. But one of the riders, Alex de Angelis, got up. The second [Scott Redding] was no problem. We have only one very serious problem, and as you know this was Shoya Tomizawa. Immediately the first idea I think is if it's possible to stop the race because it's dangerous, but the people with the stretcher immediately arrived and when you remove the rider from the track for my medical decision I do not ask Race Direction to have the red flag because this does not help my job, because we delay the intervention for the ambulance. The people with the stretcher took [Tomizawa] back behind the track protection, and here we had one ambulance with the respirator inside and we started immediately all the intensive care for him. I didn't ask for the red flag because I didn't need it.

After, the rider came to the medical centre, and I had some people asking me why it took a lot of time. The intensive care started behind the protection at the turn. Normally when you have only a broken arm, the ambulance is the same as a taxi: you put the rider inside and he is coming [to the medical center] quickly. Now it was very important to have infusion, ventilation and more, and inside [the ambulance] we have two doctors at the trackside.

When he arrived at the medical centre the condition was very critical, and immediately we continued the intensive care. We had a lot of doctors but the situation was very critical. Some time we find the heart is stopping and it was necessary to have some process to reanimate him. We started it again, but it is not totally [normal]. We checked with the scanner an abdominal trauma because it was a very serious situation not just for the cranial trauma, but for the chest and abdominal trauma. And we have inside [the chest] a hematoma in the blood. One of these was also in the heart - they told me in the hospital - and the muscle of the heart is very difficult, and though [Tomizawa] was young, the heart restarted, but it did not restart enough.

So we then decided it was better to transfer him to hospital in Riccione because it's very near and because we have two doctors in the ambulance who continued the reanimation. If he went by helicopter, it was very far and it was not possible for this process [of reanimation]. When he arrived in hospital in Riccione we continued for ten minutes or more, and afterwards they informed this was not necessary because he also had a lesion on the heart. I'm sorry, but I think it is very impossible to change the outcome for Tomizawa.

Paul Butler: I think the first thing we have to say is that our sympathies go out to the family and friends of Tomizawa and the team, clearly. Doctor Macchiagodena has explained very clearly the situation. My job is to decide whether to red flag or not based on the advice I receive. The medical intervention was very quick and very efficient because the point of the accident there were many medical services there: several ambulances and a lot of doctors. So the evaluation of the medical situation was swift.

The next stage is to do with the safety of the other riders on the track and the intervention of the marshals was extremely swift so there was no risk to the other riders. The crashed motorcycles and the debris was removed very quickly and therefore there was no reason to red flag.

Claude Danis: I would just like to confirm what Paul said. We thought after consultation together that it was not necessary to stop the race because it seemed everything would be okay when the riders come round for the next lap, and that was the case. Of course today is a very sad day for all of us and on behalf of the FIM I would like to express my very deep condolences to the family of Tomizawa, to the team and to his friends of the rider. Things like that happen sometimes, hopefully not very often, but that is racing.

Franco Uncini: We are very close to the family, to the friends, the team and everybody close to him. We can say that what happened was nothing to do with the safety. These kinds of incident unfortunately could happen at any time. With the technology we have at this moment it's very difficult to solve this problem but we are trying to work on this and try and have something that in the future will help us have less damage in this kind of incident.

Javier Alonso: Today we lost an excellent person, of course a good rider but first of all an excellent person and we are very sorry for that. We are very sorry for the family of course and for the team, and just a small clarification because it looks like the news that unfortunately Tomizawa had passed away came out before we officially announced it. That was because we wanted to inform the family first. So the first thing we did when we received the news was to inform the family.

Q: For Doctor Macchiagodena, I'm very sorry, but I didn't quite understand what you were describing making this movement [with your hands]. Did you revive Tomizawa, or keep him alive?

Macchiagodena: You remember when we have many years ago [Daijiro] Katoh, having the same problem, having serious accident, but he did not have the lesion on the heart, on the muscle, he have no hematoma. We restart because the heart is the muscle, if you restart and he is younger, it continues, also if he has a problem [trauma] with the head or more. In this case, we have many difficulties to restart, because in my opinion - and the hospital will confirm after - we have one hematoma, and the hematoma has compressed the heart, and it is very difficult [for the heart] to move. And when you have all the reanimation, it [the heart] didn't start quickly, but … the wave is not correct. It is not enough for this, and we also have the problem with the leg, the head, and more. This is a bad situation, because there is nothing that can be done.

Q: A question for Franco Uncini: You said that you are examining technology to at least try and limit damage from this kind of accident. What kind of technology are you talking about?

Uncini: Yes, as I told you, we are waiting that somebody is working on solving this kind of problem, of the impact. We know that some companies are making research into this kind of material. At the moment, we are not ready yet. We think that with our experience and their experience, we work together to improve this kind of material, and to have in the very near future, this kind of material to solve (in brackets) this kind of problem.

Q: What are you talking about, something for riders to wear? Helmets, leathers?

Uncini: Yes, protection all around the rider. In this kind of incident, it's nothing to do with the track, it's only something to improve around the rider. There have already been big steps made, with fantastic leathers, fantastic helmets, fantastic gloves, but the only way to solve this kind of problem is to have something better. But as you know, nobody is standing still. All the companies are making new steps, but we are still waiting to solve this problem.

Q: Franco, if you remember, after the accident that Virginio Ferrari has had in Le Mans in 1979, he tried to wear leathers with some kind of aluminium plating. But it didn't work, because it was impossible to move properly on the bike. This was the first attempt to solve this kind of problem.

Uncini: So, in this case you know, this was one step. In everything you have also the other side of the medal. What we need to know is what is the opposite side of the medal, and we have to understand whether in balance, it is better or worse. So this is the problem why we take time to test the new material.

Q: So even if this incident is not caused by the big number of riders on the grid, do you think that next year in Moto2, we will see fewer riders on the grid because of safety considerations?

Butler: I don't think you can blame an accident of that sort on the number of bikes on the track, because you're always going to have grids of five or more, no matter how many entries you have. So in this particular case, there can be no argument that it was the number of bikes on the track that contributed.

Q: The heart of Tomizawa was stopped when he was still on the track? Or how long did they not take to know that the heart wasn't beating?

Macchiagodena : When arriving in the medical center, you have a normal - I say normal, but is not the correct situation - but you have the normal condition for the heart. You have a serious problem, and other things [injuries]. Normally you have only the hematoma, is coming the [blood] pressure no more, but the condition we have when the breathing is coming down, and this in my opinion, in this case, you have the compression for the heart. But when arrive is not on the track but in the medical center, I don't know, because have no possibility to do reanimation on the track, but if it stop while doing the practice [of reanimation] on the track and in the ambulance, we restart because when coming in the medical center he have the movement correct, not the best, but … The condition is coming down when you have the pressure because we have respiration or more, the leg and this [inaudible] because he have the hematoma, he have the compression for the heart. But, after, in the medical center, he is bad.

Q: One more question for you. The first thing we learn when there is a serious injury, also on the road, is not to move the body. Today, Tomizawa has been moved, very very soon, and very very fast. That's why, we all think - most of us - think that the red flag should have been given, even if the end for Shoya would have been the same.

Macchiagodena: I think I understand the question. Sometimes, the problem is this. The reanimation is very important. Sometimes, we have the problem for the heart and for the leg. And we don't waiting for not [to be] a problem any more. And sometimes, I don't move this, and when you arrive, is not the lesion for the code [spine] or more, but is the head.

But I think is many times is important you have quickly, the support for the leg and for the heart. We have in this situation and you remove, for my opinion you have more possibility if you arrive quickly and you have one doctor, and you help him. Have another possibility he have some lesion or more, but I have one rider we have the lesion for the code [spine], but in life. Sometimes you say don't move, but is dead.

In my opinion, is correct, is seen quickly is coming behind the protection, also because the intervention for the people, paramedics and doctors and more, he has not the motorbikes coming, is not the people, it's quiet and you can work very well, and 20 seconds, if you have decision for this, is no change, the conditions of the passing. This is my opinion.

Q: In my opinion, it was not correct to give the start of the MotoGP. Convince me that it was correct to give the start.

Alonso: I think I don't need to convince you. We didn't know until 2:20 that unfortunately Tomizawa passed away. He was in very serious treatment, but nothing else. So we had to keep going.

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I just don't believe them.
I watched this live (over the Internet) and if there ever was an accident that needed a red flag this was it.
An unconscious rider ragdolling down the track, two others laying in the gravel after a 100mph flying W, and you don't stop the race? Even if all the riders had ended up OK give the medical personal a safe environment to work in.
What's the rush?
TV schedules?

Reasonable responses to all of the questions, imo, except the stuff about the red flag. That was one of the heaviest crashes in a very long time. Tomizawa's crash is the definition of a red flag incident, imo.

Alonso was getting chippy for no reason. How hard is it to say that family must always be notified first; therefore, they must continue the show and make an announcement when appropriate. Even if they knew before the race, they shouldn't stop the days proceedings.

everything they are saying that there wasn't anything that could be done about his injuries regardless of where he crashed, how he was moved, or if the cornerworkers exacerbated his injuries. Being struck and run over the way he was is an absolute racer / regular street rider's nightmare, and my immediate thought was he had passed away in front of our eyes. That is the most jarring thing about his crash, as it was being highlighted on coverage when it happened.

I am curious to know if he was wearing a chest protector like Nicky / Colin and others wear now for blunt force injuries to the chest (who knows if it would have done anything anyways).

RIP Shoya.

It suggests the procedure was for Macchiagodena to decide if the race should be stopped or not and if he does, ask race control to stop it.

He seems to then suggest that he didn't ask for the race to stop because the marshals were already removing Tomi from the track.

I have two opposing reactions to the tragedies of the last two weekends. At Indy, if the reports I've read are correct, it was 30 minutes after the accident before Peter was loaded into the ambulance for transport to the trauma center. The first hour after major trauma injuries are critical, and I believe they should have quickly stabilized him and transported asap to give him the best chance of survival.

At Misano, the Dr. is correct in everything he said, but he starts from the point where the corner workers had already dragged the riders off the track, which imo should never have happened. Here I believe Italian law played too much of a part. If they had had to declare Shoya dead at the scene, they would have been legally required to end the racing for the day and begin an inquest. And the 15-30 minutes or so it would have taken to properly treat the riders under a red flag situation before restarting the race could have proved to be the end of the day's racing. Corner workers are not trained to be capable of making such life and death decisions, and should not have been instructed to move either Shoya or Scott Redding, period. I've always wondered whether moving Wayne Rainey as they did aggravated his injuries and contributed to his paralysis.

Every corner worker in the world should look to the So. Cal. club for training. Many times I have seen them waving yellow flags before the rider has even hit the ground, and emergency vehicles moving to attend to the riders while the bikes and riders are still completing their crashes. I'd be shocked to see any of them even touching a rider prior to the arrival of a Doctor or EMT.

Someone needs to be in charge in such situations who is only interested in the survival and well being of the riders, and who has no stake in whether the races continue or not.

Something like: "When at least one pilot lays unconscious on the track the race is suspended till the pilot is assisted and removed" would be a very simple and clear rule. The doctors would still be able to make their decisions in matters of seconds or minutes or in whatever time they need. The unconscious pilot would have the best possible treatment and the other pilots would be able to restart their race without too many problems (as they do when it rains). A good side effect: no never-ending discussions about what should have been done.