2013 Magny-Cours World Superbike Sunday Roundup: Red Flag Regulations And Championship Roundup

Three World Championship races at Magny-Cours and three red flags within spitting distance of the chequered flags, some downed riders were classified while others were not, in spite of their causing the flags with downed bikes on the racing line.

“At the time the red flag is displayed, riders who are not actively competing in the race will not be classified.”
2013 FIM Superbike & Supersport World Championship and Superstock Cup Regulations, rule 1.27.1 exception 3.

In World Superbike race one, Mark Aitchison high-sided his Kawasaki, causing a red flag when it caught on fire. Aitchison was incapable of continuing on a burning bike and was therefore not actively participating.

In the World Superport race, Christian Iddon also had a high-side that left his bike on the racing line while Fabien Foret approached at speed. Iddon was able to get back on his bike, even though red flags were waved. He was classified in third place as he was actively participating.

In World Superbike race two, championship contenders Eugene Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli crashed out in the dramatically changing conditions, instantly handing the title to Tom Sykes, apart from the fact their bikes were apparently in a dangerous place as they tried to remount them and, once the red flags had stopped the race, they were able to get back on their bikes and ride to Parc Fermé.

The difference between Aitchison and Iddon, for instance, was that Aitchison, winded and with a burning bike, was obviously incapable of continuing to take part in the race, and, even if he were to argue that he was actively participating on the lap it was rolled back to, he would have fallen foul of the other clarification of 1.27.1:

“Within 5 minutes after the red flag has been displayed, riders who have not entered the pit lane, pushing or riding on their motorcycle, will not be classified.”
2013 FIM Superbike & Supersport World Championship and Superstock Cup Regulations, rule 1.27.1 exception 3.

The rules were clarified in March 2013 to bring them inline with the MotoGP rules and were applied starting from the Aragon World Superbike round. From today’s events, we can conclude that “actively participating” means running back to your bike and getting it started, and, as long as you can get it back to the pits within five minutes, you’ll be classified. It doesn't matter if you cause the red flags or not as long as you can be deemed to be participating and can get your bike rolling.

The ramification of this ruling is that Christian Iddon has got his first podium on the MV Agusta, the bike’s second third place after Roberto Rolfo’s podium at Donington, but also that Tom Sykes wasn’t gifted the title today and the fight will go to the last round.

The weekend was unusual, with riders not able to get as much track time as they would have liked, and every one of the races red flagged right at the end.

At Ducati, Michele Pirro, as one of the many replacement riders, put in a stellar performance with a sixth place, while Ayrton Badovini finished on his top-spec 1199R behind Lorenzo Lanzi’s old 1098R. It’s a shame Carlos Checa hasn’t raced the Panigale with the new tank and subframe layout, but with Canepa’s qualifying last weekend and Pirro’s sixth place this weekend, he should be confident it’s in good hands.

Aprilia have pretty much locked down the manufacturer’s championship, leading by 35 points, but with riders in second, third and fourth places in both races, they still had to look up to see the Kawasaki of Tom Sykes. Davide Giugliano getting two fourth places was impressive, ahead of the BMWs of Marco Melandri in one race and Chaz Davies in the other.

Both Honda and Suzuki seemed to suffer the most from the lack of practice, with replacement Suzuki rider Vincent Philippe, eight-times world endurance championship, getting the best result of all of them with a sixth place.

Sam Lowes is the World Supersport champion on his Yakhnich Yamaha R6. A second place behind Kenan Sofuoglu has ensured that he is the champion with one race left. The two riders fought all year and, in spite of great showings from Fabien Foret and rookie Michael Van Der Mark, it was clear very early on that one of them would hoist the trophy. That fight is done and dusted and the first world champion of the year has been crowned, with Tom Sykes in World Superbike and Scott Redding in Moto2 hoping to join him and make three out of the five road race world champions British.

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Laverty and Guintoli hadn't been classified I'd hardly call the title "gifted" to Sykes. He went through that corner before them, many seconds before them and he didn't go down. They had nothing for him in either race.

The race was hard-won, but the title shouldn't be decided by rain. Sykes will get to win on the track instead argued over in race direction. 

With the lead he had the race was decided. LAverty and Guinters were pushing too hard to beat each other. Rain has been part of this championship this year. If you don't think rain should be a factor for the title then they should run rain tires just red flag those races? Or does it somehow make a difference that the title is on the line after the fact that #2 and #3 in the title chase go down?

Sykes won the race. He did that all on his own and has the 25 points for it. If the red flags hadn't gone out, and if the bikes had ended up in the gravel, would anyone be able to say Sykes hadn't won the title today somewhat by luck? You make your own luck, especially in the rain, but it would still have been a gift. 

Yes really a pity for a season that has been interesting so far :(

Man, those last couple of laps were really scary to watch! The track had a glare as if it was very slippery and I was surprised people did not go down sooner than on that last lap. Especially of course the Aprilia duo fighting it out and trying to keep their title hopes alive as much as possible. Even the ever composed looking Gigi Dall'Igna must have had some serious moisture forming in his armpits.

Anyway, Last year Biaggi went into the last round of the season with a similar points lead as Sykes now and still it came down to half a point in the end, so nothing is secured yet...
I must say all three of them had the best season of their Superbike careers and I will cheer for whoever takes the title this year. And it may be that the grid this year was smaller than it should be and has been in a very long time, but man the racing was good again!

The race was hard fought even though there was a lack of overtakes at the front. The 5th place battle in both races were amazing to watch,every rider on the limits of the front brakes and desperately trying to avoid each other and still overtake,mind blown.
Sykes created his own luck by getting an early lead. Some of the defensive but still sideways riding from sykes was amazing to watch. Its also unbelievable how Guinters has been in the title hunt even though he has just won a single race in the whole season.

Congratulations to Tom Sykes, who barring a DNF at Hereth, is the 2013 world champion,and Deservedly so.

Very Interesting article. It would seem that the rules were not applied consistently by the same officials on the same day in France. The EJC (European Junior Cup) race that was red flagged after an incident that involved the Kiwi who is leading that series (Jake Lewis) was not allowed to restart the second race (under rule 1.28.4 ii)) as he was deemed to not be actively participating (when he was trying to remount his bike and get going) when the red flag came out. He was seen re-entering the pit lane at about three minutes 30 seconds on the TV coverage after the red flag was shown but was still not allowed to start.
How can the same rule be applied differently for different classes on the same day by the same officials?

Ironically the person that caused the red flag was allowed to restart in the second race as he was deemed to be participating as he got going a little sooner than Jake Lewis did from what I understand.

Seems very unfair given the other rulings over the weekend in very similar circumstances.