Bautista Punished For First-Corner Crash At Assen

Alvaro Bautista will be forced to start from the back of the grid at the next MotoGP race, the German round at the Sachsenring. The punishment was imposed by Race Direction for Bautista's error at Assen, where he braked far too late for the first corner and crashed, taking out Jorge Lorenzo in the process. Bautista's team appealed the penalty to the FIM Stewards - as Marc Marquez' team had done over the penalty at Barcelona - but the FIM Stewards backed the decision by Race Direction, and the penalty will stand.

The crash was universally condemned by the riders at Assen, with Nicky Hayden and Ben Spies both saying that they saw Bautista still on the gas while they were already braking for the corner. But Jorge Lorenzo was naturally the most upset about it, the Spaniard telling the media that he felt the penalty was not harsh enough. "It's a big disaster, Alvaro's move. He was completely out of control, completely crazy, I don't know what he was thinking at that moment. When all the riders were braking, he was full throttle," Lorenzo said. "But I'm more disappointed about the decision of Race Direction to only penalize him to start at the back of the grid. With the CRT in front of him, in two laps he will be in a good position."

What Lorenzo really wanted was a one-race ban. "I was penalized with a one-race ban in 2005 with a move that was much, much less risky than his worse. John Hopkins was penalized for one race for the same move like Bautista. It's not the first time Alvaro has done something like this. He made the same or worse, because five riders were involved in his mistake. It's not fair, and I'm very disappointed with race direction. If we keep not acting with a hard hand against the riders who are making this movement, in the Rookies Cup, in Moto3, Moto2, MotoGP, we could have another bad situation."

While Bautista will suffer for one race, Lorenzo ended up effectively being punished twice. The Factory Yamaha man lost any chance of finishing the race when the engine in his M1 destroyed itself in the gravel after the crash. This engine was nearly new, having been used for the first time on Friday during free practice in the morning. It only had a couple of hundred kilometers of the 2400 or so that each engine must last to make it to the end of the year, and though Yamaha did not have reliability problems last year, their engines are not designed with much margin for error. Losing an older engine with over 1000 km on it might be manageable, but a brand new engine puts Lorenzo in a difficult situation. There is a very solid chance that Lorenzo will have to use a 7th engine later in the year, forcing him to take a penalty and start from pit lane. "It's impossible to finish the championship with the engines we have," Lorenzo said.

Lorenzo himself was convinced that Race Direction would allow him to replace the damaged engine without taking a penalty, telling the media "Race Direction told me we could have a new engine." The rules say that he can't however: section is very clear, stating that any new engine taken will be subject to a penalty. The rules do not contain an escape clause, which might allow exceptions at the discretion of Race Direction, leaving Lorenzo with a lot of miles to eke out of his old engines.

Below is the official press release from the FIM announcing the penalty on Bautista:

2012 FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix
Iveco TT Assen: Decision of the Race Direction and FIM Stewards

On Saturday 30 June 2012 during the first lap of the MotoGP race rider Alvaro Bautista (SPA) rode in an irresponsible manner, causing danger to rider Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) which is an infringement to the article N. 1.21.2 of the 2012 FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix regulations.

The Race Direction decided to impose on Alvaro Bautista the penalty of starting the next race in Sachsenring on 8 July 2012 from the last position on the starting grid.

An appeal was lodged by San Carlo Honda Gresini.

The FIM Stewards confirmed the decision of the Race Direction.

The decision of FIM Stewards is final.

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Curious, was De Angelis punished like this in 2010 after Misano? He did essentially the same thing taking out Hayden and Edwards and almost collecting Lorenzo too. I don't recall a penalty though.

Was Dani penalized when he took out Hayden in 2006 while Nicky was fighting with Rossi for the championship? Can't remember?

Not by race direction anyway. Besides, that was a race incident where Dani lost the front entering the corner. Perhaps he was too aggressive there but anyone could have made that error. Bautista's move, in contrast, was completely idiotic. Braking that late into the first corner was just ridiculous. Dani "could" have made that corner; Baustista - indeed no rider in the world - could have made that corner at Bautista's speed.

Don't forget Yuki Takahashi's kamikaziing of Hayden in 2008 or 2009, also first corner. As a reader posts above, DeAngelis taking something like 3 other riders out (Hayden, Edwards, and Kallio?) was also pretty stupid and went unpenalized. In fact, iirc Edwards was the one penalized for the slur against "italians being stupid in Italy" remark he made after the race.

Penalty aside, I'm annoyed by Lorenzo trying to make Bautista into "a dangerous rider" by claiming he "made the same or worse" error before, obviously referring to Valencia last year. From what I hear he seems to have had a right ol' field day knocking Bautista in the Spanish media, actually causing plenty of fans to side with Bautista instead. I get that he's angry, and rightly so, but he has a habit of comparing apples with oranges in these situations.

Back then it was an unfortunate cumulation of events while being boxed in, with Bautista's front tyre touching Dovizioso's rear wheel in the process, causing Bautista to crash and take three Ducs with him.

But today it was an obvious stupid error by Bautista, the grave misjudgement likely fueled by lots of over-eagerness to get back to the front, and a very, very different situation from anything he's ever done in the past. I've been following Bautista's career very closely since he's been in 125cc and this has been the first time I've ever seen him do anything like this and where the blame lay squarely and firmly on his shoulders like it did today.

Though it needs to be said, in contrast to several other riders who are in these situations much more often than him, his behaviour afterwards was outstanding.

Charging into the first corner way faster than any other rider, leaving your braking 50m odd later than any other rider - which is why he ran out of room - isn't "unfortunate", it's reckless. Today's crash he went in even faster, and he's very lucky he didn't injure Lorenzo because it was quite an impact.

You must have seen different Valencia footage than I did. Already at the start he's right on Valentino's rear wheel and the moment his front is wiped away by Dovi's sliding rear tyre just a few metres later he's still on exactly the same level as before in relation to the other riders. Had he been braking "50m odd later" as everyone else like you said, he should have been at a completely different point of the track when the whole thing happened.


Oddly enough, I read that even Rossi claimed the fault back then lay more on Dovi's side than Bautista's. Which didn't keep his fans from wanting Bautista's head, of course.

Bautista didn't charge into the valencia situation, like he did at Assen. His braking wasn't recklessly later. That said, to my eyes, he was pretty close behind Rossi. Bautista then drifted left, at a time when the entire field was moving to the right to prepare for the upcoming left. He must known Dovi was there, as Dovi had moved alongside him before the start of braking. Further, Bautista seemed to have plenty of room to his right. So why did Bautista drift left? Either he braked fractionally too late and had to move to avoid running into the back of Rossi, and/or he decided to turn-in very early (compared to everyone else, who were all moving to right of the track) to make some kind of extreme block pass into that turn.

So, he didn't charge into the Valencia crash as with this one - I misremembered that, thanks. Still, he seems to have a habit of trying for unusually "optimistic" passes into the early turns of races. How many times can he try these high-risk, first-corner gambles before everyone else gets pissed off with him? It seems we have the answer...

This is the 2nd time Bautista has done this this year. First time he skittled out quite a few more riders, including Rossi. I suspect the penalty is partly due to his making this reckless, manœuvre twice.

I think that the only fair thing to do is to give one of Bautista's engine allotments to Lorenzo. It should not just be a matter of punishing Bautista but of compensating Lorenzo. It does not matter who did what to who in the past. The rules were changed in mid-stream regarding rookies so they are written in crayon apparently and can be rewritten at any time for any reason. This qualifies as one of those times.

Shame on you Race Direction for allowing Lorenzo to replace the damaged engine without taking a penalty. This is outrageous!

It seems that Jorge Lorenzo has to be the champion this year, at any cost. First the tires, then engine, what's next?

The RULES don't allow this. No way RD has that authority. He int gt a new engine and sh!t happens. That's racing. Bautista made a stupid move, he's being punished. That's that.

The comment preview is there because it cuts down on comment spam by about 95% and on trolling and moronic comments by a similar amount. I know it is annoying, and I really regret I can't do anything to help the sensible posters here, but it is annoying for a very good reason. It works.

That's the website reminding us to "preview" and actually read what was typed up, think for a moment, before pressing the "save" button after it is assessed as "presentable". The least we can do to help out David here.

However, it seems certain posters are still just going through the motion without actually "previewing" themselves, ha ha.

The rule needs an exception then. It's fine to say "that's racing" so Lorenzo scores zero points for the round, but it's not fair that he feels the hit every race for the rest of the season by losing a brand new engine.

At the very least his team should be allowed to repair the engine.

Marquez did a reckless move on Espargaro and "Race Direction" re-directed the consequences in a tangential fashion while to Bautista he had to take "Race Direction" impact totally centered, it seems it's not a matter of just passport but there is preference within the mattadores as well.

Bautista tried to pull off a block pass into the first corner a hero if he passed a large amount of riders and held them up mid corner while he got back on the ideal line. He would have made up for his poor qualifying on the first lap. Instead he lost the front and crashed into the championship leader taking them both out of the race and spoiling it for several others.

Imprudent certainly dangerous? Some would say the fact that he crashed is proof enough but as others have pointed out there are numerous examples of similar tactics being used with similar results where no penalties where handed out.

according to @gavinemmet on Twitter. "JL explains he has sprained ankle ligaments and was apparently close to a break and missing 2 races. Won't though. Also says he has nothing against AB and maybe said some things in the heat of the moment. He also vows to keep working on improving safety for MotoGP riders."