Johann Zarco To Undergo Schapoid Surgery, Face FIM Stewards

Johann Zarco did not come away completely unhurt by the massive crash he had with Franco Morbidelli in the Austrian MotoGP race at the Red Bull Ring on Sunday. Scans made on Monday revealed that the Frenchman had suffered a fractured scaphoid in his right wrist in the crash.

The Frenchman is to travel to Modena in Italy to have surgery on the scaphoid, before returning to Spielberg to attempt to ride in the Styrian Grand Prix, the second race at the Red Bull Ring to be held this weekend. The surgery is to be carried out by the same team who plated Andrea Dovizioso's collarbone when the Italian broke it in an MX accident a couple of weeks before the season started.

The medical regulations mean that Zarco would have to wait for at least 48 hours after surgery before he is allowed to participate, meaning that the Frenchman would be forced to miss at least part of practice on Friday, depending on what time surgery is performed on Wednesday. He will also have to undergo a fitness test on Thursday before he is allowed to ride.

Zarco will also have to face the FIM Stewards at the Red Bull Ring. He and Franco Morbidelli have been called in front of Freddie Spencer and the FIM Stewards to explain the crash at Turn 2 at the Red Bull Ring. Morbidelli accused Zarco of deliberately braking in front of him and causing the crash, while Zarco claims that he braked later than normal on that lap.

The press release from the Avintia Ducati team appears below:


After the heavy crash and later impact during the Austrian Grand Prix race at the Red Bull Ring - Spielberg on Sunday, Johann Zarco had a medical check-up on Monday morning as pain persisted in his right wrist. After knowing the results Zarco will travel to Italy and undergo surgery on Wednesday after a small fracture on the scaphoid in his right hand.

The recovery period, the check-up at the medical centre and the rider's own feelings will determine his availability for this weekend's Styian Grand Prix.


"On Monday I did some controls on my right wrist because it was still some pain, and I got a little fracture on the scaphoid. I will go to Italy to do the operation on Wednesday morning, with a doctor that has very good contact with Ducati, this is the doctor that many times operates riders. Then we will come back to Austria, and I will be on Thursday at the track to have a meeting about the big incident that happened on Sunday. If the feeling is OK on the wrist and the medical center declares me fit to ride I will try and see if I can ride the bike. The advantage this weekend is we already have all the references from the week before, so this is not a big drama if I miss few sessions and I can take one more day to feel if my wrist is ok. Now, the main thing is the operation, and after that see if my feeling improves. The team is working on the bike to prepare it, and I know everything will be ready if I come back on the bike. Maybe there will be some rain, so also this is a chance because on the rain we have less effort on the bike and for me will be really a good chance with the rain if I can race without much effort on the wrist."


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I wish Zarco the best and hope he's on the bike this weekend. Good to see him closer to the front again.

i can't believe he intended the carnage we witnessed last weekend. These guys are pushing fine margins every race. In fact, if they weren't, they wouldn't be there. Excrement occurs as a result. Thankfully, this time our heroes live to fight another day. FIM stewards are just doing what they have to do.

I don't think Zarco did anything intentionally to cause the incident. It was just bad luck. At least he isn't using other riders as berms. If Freddie doesn't understand what I'm talking about refer him to Sweden 1983

If Freddie doesn't understand what I'm talking about refer him to Sweden 1983

Now THAT was funny.

Maybe the truth lies somewhere in between intentionally causing the accident and bad luck or a mistake. The dialogue leaking out from last weekend's event is that Zarco is careless and the other riders do not trust him because of his super aggressive behavior on track. Would love to be in that room during the meeting with the FIM stewards.

his carelessness is what makes him dangerous... then trying to explain it away by saying it wasn't done on purpose...

The Zarco/Morbidelli incident is very unfortunate, and I don't think Zarco made his manoeuvre with any intent to trip Morbidelli up. In fact his telemetry shows he braked even later into that corner that he did earlier in the race so it seems he made his overtaking move and then tried to get set up for the corner. The move was just too late and gave Morbidelli no time to react.

If a similar thing had happened on other tracks, we'd probably only be talking about how the incident affected the two riders directly involved. The shocking thing with this crash at the Red Bull Ring is how close it was to involving other riders ahead of the crash further down the track after it had happened. Generally crashes affect riders around the incident or behind it, not others that are in front. The track layout there needs a serious rethink - that kink in an otherwise long straight directs the bikes inwards and on a line that meets the track coming back after the corner. 

I guess the primary question I have when the argument is made for this being an intentional action is how able are riders to sense where their rivals are on track. I've watched many races and seen some riders not realize someone was diving up the inside until they passed their periphery. The same argument was made against Rossi back in Argentina 2015. It seems a little crazy to me that the rider in front can be that aware and that capable of knowing exactly where the approaching rider is. 

I've heard riders mention they could hear someone approaching behind and then running defensive lines. But it seems unlikely to my small mind that Zarco's awareness of where Franko was at that exact moment at 300+ k/m and thought "I'll brake check him to hold this line." just doesn't feel right to me. Can anyone with racing experience provide any context for what it's like in these situations?

You are generally correct. On the track you can't know exactly where a rider behind you is. If you know they are there you can make changes your lines to try and encourage them to be in a particular place. An example would be if you are coming up on a left right sequence, you might try to make the inside on the left appear open but then close it too early for them to go inside you. If they take the bait, their front wheel will be to the left of you, making it hard for them to try passing to the right on the switchback. You don't know where they are but you can make some educated guesses. 

What they mean is, you do brake when you need to brake, but you do it in the face of the other guy. Zarco (intentionally, or not) pulled right in front of Morbidelli, and then started his braking manourver. So he braked into his face at 300kph! Morbidelli could not avoid being braked into the face, there was nowhere to go for him.

So it wasn't braking without actual need to brake, as most people understand a brake check (just pulling in front of some one and then brake although there is no need to brake yet). No, sure Zarco needed to start his braking manouvre there (maybe even earlier, who says he could have made the corner at all? I mean it seems he braked later, and was going to the right, when approaching a super tight right hand corner. That is not the racing line. Obviously a righ hand corner is appraoched from the left side of the track. I guess he either couldn't take the kink any tighter, or he intentionally went that far right to not have Morbi able to outbrake him on the inside).

Riders usually pull out of the slip stream when the braking zone comes, but that was not possible for Morbidelli, as Zarco pulled in front of him and then "braked in his face".

At least that is my understanding. And yes I think Zarco is careless. I still remember when he pushed Rossi out at Cota and he said later, I am parapharasing: "I didn't know what would happen, I just needed to try and see". WTF?! That is a dangerous attitude imho.

What's the difference between braking in another rider's face and trying to squeeze a late pass in, unintentionally running a bit wide and having to slam the brakes on later than usual in order to make the upcoming turn while not paying attention to another rider's susceptibility to your draft?

What's the difference between intending harm and having a careless disregard for the safety of others due to excessive aggressiveness?

The difference may simply be subjective interpretation (due to one's own conditioned experiences). This is where clear heads prevail. A clear head is one that is not consumed with emotion or one's own identity (personal experiences - like every time Trump opens his mouth). One can feel clarity of thought in the gut. I don't get a great feeling from Zarco's explanation of the accident.

If Dorna had a borg like gps tracking system with V2V vehicle communication then they would not have to rely soley upon the subjective statements from riders and what info the teams provide. Or maybe this is essentially what they can figure out from all of the technical data that teams provide and I'm not aware of it.

The most sickening part of the accident last Sunday was the lead up to Zarco's and Morbidelli's bikes crossing paths with other riders at T3. It took so long for objects to come to a rest. It may be the longest crash I have ever witnessed. It was like "when is this going to end?"

The ominous feeling prior to the beginning of last Friday's practice sessions is still present.  


I'm sure with the GPS, IMU and data logging  they have on the bikes it's possible to work out exactly where the bikes were, where they were heading and what has happening, add to that the video from both bikes and the TV feed.


Don't forget Zarcos crash at Phillip Island in '18 when he hit Marquez.

Dorna does have GPS on the bikes and they use it. Not for accidents but track limits is one where we have seen an uptick in penalties since the newer mylaps system being introduced.

That said in this case would not tell use anything more than what we already know. Racing incident of high potential consequences. GPS won't help more more. 

What I do wish they use it for at some point is to show us different lines riders take and break that down by type of bike, and how it changes as race progresses and grip changes. One day maybe :)


Glad all riders ok here.

If TV would use their technology and creativity to enhance the racing. But then how would they find time to show us people looking up? When would they show the backs of people watching what we are trying to watch? Who would try to make a star or something out of Aki Ajo? Or Julia?

How about a composite shot showing us how close everyone is on their lap times? about showing live racing while it's happening? I know, I'm being pretty radical. All of you who enjoy watching people stand very still while looking up will have plenty of viewing I'm sure. Who tf are you people anyway?

I don't know about you but I get nothing out of the camera view showing the riders arse. I like to the onboard cameras to be looking to the front or Rear

The most facinating on-bike camera view is pointed forward--what the rider sees--when close behind the next rider in front of him. To watch a top motogp rider from only a few feet behind is magic, can't get enough of it. I could watch that for many laps in a row. Maybe a whole race if close.

Yes, the arse shots (we spell it differently in my country, but still) are useless. Get rid of them.

And while on the subject, why not turn on the giant video screens around the track?? Many riders have complained about this, to the point where Q2 competitors don't know what we viewers know. 


P. Espargaro might have pulled into the pits with a bit more humility if he were able to see the reason for the red flag last Sunday at RBR.

Sometimes I re-watch races from a specific onboard camera. The Jerez '20 race from the Marquez onboard was incredible up 'til his highside. The amount of time he made going into the turns was astounding.

I'm probably from the same country. Arse just sounds less offensive.

What totally baffles me is why the production team don't use picture in picture, if they want to show/cut to meaningless pictures of team managers in the garage watching TV screens (when the racing is going on).

Agree about the arse shots - the cameras on the tail should always be looking backwards, not to the front.  

The camera trained on the rider and his team on the grid before start while playing the audio of another rider being interviewed !

drives me nuts. 

I liked the one from the rear with the little round mirror showing the rider behind. Though what use a mirror, placed there, is to the rider still puzzles me :-)


Yes, they take the rear facing feed, crop to a circle and render on top of forward looking camera view. Notice you never see the camera in the "reflection ".

That's right. It's a 'fake' image created by overlaying the rear view camera on part of the screen. The MotoGP TV people have some very smart ideas about graphics. 

True, but as somebody else pointed out somewhere I wish to hell they'd stop wasting time with shots of pit crew watching the TV ... if they must, tuck it into a corner of the main screen, for heaven's sake!

I would close an eye if it was the last lap of the race and call it a race accident.

Zarco has been too ambitious, too early into the race in my opinion.

But I do not forget that all the riders are galvanised by the new opportunities created by the absence of Marc Marquez from the paddok . Chaos is now ruling motogp and many riders are presented with a unique occasion to turn around their careers 

I expext unfortunately more of the same from this season. I hope I am wrong of course :)

I weirdely understand race direction's silence. They are ex racers and they are fully aware of the risks of unintended consequences when pronouncing a sentence. Only racers can understand racers in such matters, anyone else would fail catastrophically. We live in times, in my opinion, where knee-jerk reactions seems to be the default move in all branches of society. Quick decisions breed often unintended consequences.

If I was race direction I would have a word with Pol Espargaro and Zarco. I would reassure that nobody wants to sabotage their chances but at the same time we can see they are maybe losing the plot a bit and we care a lor about them, the other riders and the whole circus. I wouldn't therefore punish them every time but consider a cumulative penalisation if a pattern emerges.

In my view Pol and Johann are as guilty as Marquez getting injured and causing this chaotic new  situation, if I am allowed this paradox :)

I would focus instead on abolishing carbon disc brakes and  aero winglets.

If we keep on adding power to those bikes, we' might eventually reach the limitations of the human body resulting in gruesome crashes and increased number of fatalities. I'll switch to watching snooker then :)

Let's no blame race direction. It's almost an impossible job to do properly . A few rushed decision can practically neuter the sport at its core. Let's give them time to think and talk to to riders. I would for sure increase the frequency of mandatory safety meetings for all the riders

My two cents anyway :)

But worth a lot more. Wise words indeed. No need to wait to start watching snooker, once you get into it, it's strangely gripping, the level of skill is breathtaking and a lot of it happens over the winter when all is dull for us petrol heads.

I stumbled into snooker by pure chance when I lived in England. I learned its rules  by watching the matches on the BBC. It took me a while but when I got it, I couldn't stop watching. It is much more than a game, it's on a level of it's own in my opinion. I am a fan :) I only wish I had the time to follow it but at this moment in life I can't commit to a whole long match and the highlights simply don't cut it for me..

Pure chance was also what exposed me to whatiis now called Motogp. My parents used to take a nap after lunch on Sundays so as a child in the '80 I was finally in charge of the tv dial, looking for cartoons through the channels, and got hooked to the bikes. I tried F1 before but as a kid, I felt the whole pit stop thing was ruining the show for me and I'm afraid it stil does eh eh

I preferred the bikes because it was always clear who was leading the race for real :)







For sure, Zarco did nothing intentional. However, his riding was irresponsible. In racing we are always taught to make a clean pass, hold your line, etc. World level racing I get that things will sometimes happen, but I think Zarco knows a few things.

He knows where he and Morbidelli are on track. He knows about how fast he is coming past Morbidelli. He knows both their trajectories. And he knows he is making the pass just before the braking zone. 

I get the bike is a missile and hard to control coming out of a draft, with wind and there is a kink in the track, but with all the info above he probably should've thought to make a safer pass and clear his victim with more room. 

Hopefully something good comes of this in the end.

That Zarco just go it a bit too hot overtaking in the slight bend over 290 km/h, could not have the bike stopped on the usual line and got straight up and wide to be able to brake later. Since the pass was very tight with that speed it takes the other bike in a slipstream. They might even suck each other towards each other. I think Rossi nailed it that this is not the corner to take such risks, especially for 8th place in the middle of a race

I have had this happen to me on track.  Another rider did a half assed pass, took my line, then jammed on the brakes.  I had no where to go, run into the back of this guy or take my bike off track and take my chances.  I ran through the grass, used both brakes, hammering down on the rear while letting of the front as it locked up and spun, putting both feet down and stopped, right side up, 2 feet from the wall.  It was a bs move, and because I went off track I was black flagged.  The marshalls and Mr. Code himself got an earful.

This is a grey area, but amongst the riders they do state Zarco is dangerous.  Just too many incidents with him to blow it off.  I hope race direction sets him straight and heeds it because he almost killed a few riders. Frankie has every right to be very upset and heated, as does Valentino and Maverick.  I wouldn't call it dirty but I'd say it's very dangerous riding and Zarco lacks situational awareness.  How many times has he been involved in this sort of thing?  Too many.  Last Sunday was one too many.

MOTOGP relates that Zarco braked later on That lap, that corner,  than any other lap he did in the race.   Seems to me the other guy needs to learn a Lot about breaking.

Zarco for a factory ride with Ducati. He took to it like a duck to water, very unlike Lorenzo's time at Ducati. I cannot believe anybody would put Lorenzo on the factory Ducati.

... he made the move too late which created this incident - and I'm pretty sure Moto2 World Champion Morbidelli knows how to brake (not 'break') just fine.

Riders who have the spotlight on them for the wrong reasons, should wake up to that fact.

if you're not a rider who is at the pointy end regularly, your time is short!

Hopefully Zarco will workout what works and what doesn't  as everyone enjoys riders that ride hard but fair, close but respectful, it's not rocket science!


"He is crazy." - Fabio Quartararo ... after Zarco barges in during a press conference to congratulate him on his first ever MotoGP win.

Apparently, this may be true.

I like Zarco because he makes watching interesting.  This clash though was downright scary.  There is an air of uncertainty when it comes to what is going to happen between him and other riders.  Why?  Its his willingness to take chances to make a move.  Make a move in places that aren't expected or when his "ambition outweighs his talents" and the chances of him being able to make a particular move successfully is 50/50 or less.  Like the clash between him and Pol the previous week. 

He went for the gap and as the pro that he is, he probably knew that he may not have been far enough ahead to meet the "general criteria" of getting to the apex before the other guy.  He went for it anyway and did not back out of it because he wanted to force the issue and get ahead of Pol.  That makes him riskier to ride around because it is not the accepted norm. 

Do we really know if the other guys can't see the move he is trying to make?  Did Pol not look at the apex and see his bike sitting there?  He wasn't that far back was he?  Could Pol have maybe picked up the bike a bit to avoid smashing into him and yield the position as others have done in the past?  Did Morbidelli not see where he was leading up to the braking point or did he see him and made the assumption that Zarco would not attempt a pass there because that is not where passes are made? 

I'm asking the questions, not answering them.  There is no right answer, just opinions and most from people who will never ride at the level these guys do.  Just questions to contemplate.

Being in a non-factory squad with a year old bike, the opportunity to "be sure" may not come for him in a race and that is where the issue is.  His MotoGP career depends on what happens this year and he is riding like it.  Where do you draw the line?  If you know Zarco is taking risks you are not willing to, couldn't you back off a little when he comes near you for your own safety?  Sounds like it cuts against the grain of racing doesn't it?  Your job is to beat everyone else.  How do you do that if what you are allowed to do is limited to accepted norms?  Again, just asking the question.

Like him or hate him, you can't ignore the fact that he is involved in more incidents than anyone else at the moment.  There is also no denying that Zarco likes to do things his own way.  A non-conformist (see KTM).  I like the uncertainty and sense of anticipation his riding brings to the show but not at the cost of a rider's life.  You made your point Johan.  Right or wrong, dial it back a bit before you or someone else dies.  No one needs that and it won't get you a factory ride at Ducati (or anywhere else).

The purpose of the sack of horse feathers below is not to suggest that the judgment of the pilots or race direction should in any way be controlled by a simplistic set of rules and associated algorithms. Rather, it is being lobbed out here to encourage a conversation about what we actually mean when we talk about risk and uncertainty in MotoGP. Frankly, there appear to be a lot of misconceptions regarding this subject, both in the Paddock and in the high towers of Dorna, that are no longer supported by the data available. The goal would be (using far cleverer people than I) to better define a data driven understanding of what constitutes safer racing, with the goal of educating people, not hand-cuffing them (because algorithm defined safety decisions would almost certainly blow goats). It is the educational aspects that interest me, not arming everyone with computer generated cudgels. 

I spent a good deal of the last half of my career analyzing, and then defining, the limits of allowable dimensional variation (for both Mil and Civilian Aerospace components and assemblies). Tolerance Analysis covers the former, and the latter are defined in the digital dataset as engineering specifications. And this meant that I also waist deep in the methodology of conformance verification, and how that is tied to process capability. And I understand if the general reaction is; "Well, big whoopty-hoo Jinx". Fair enough. But I believe some of the lessons are applicable to MotoGP Safety.

When we say "Well, all riders take risks on the track"...what exactly do we mean? Without a supporting framework  of concise and clear definitions, the statement itself has no meaning, and as such riders can not be held accountable for their actions, or even educated to improve them. To provide meaning we need to start simply and define two variables.

A) What is the uncertainty of the desired outcome? Are we talking about getting snuffed by a meteor probabilities, or playing Russian roulette with five of the six chambers loaded? Both represent risk, but they are not at all the same.

B) What are the consequences if the desired outcome is not achieved? Equivalent to dropping your toast on the floor and, as a result, having to now make more toast? Or dropping your toast on the floor and having that...somehow...trigger another Fukushima Daiichi event?

Let's look at "A" first. To keep things simple, we can use the common definitions of Defects per Million Opportunities (DPMO). Note, it is important to understand that the correct definition is as stated using "per million opportunities", not "per million events". People all too often misinterpret this definition and incorrectly state it as "per million events" or in manufacturing "per million components". This is wrong because, using the manufacturing example, a complex machined part may have a multitude of feature characteristics, and each of these characteristics represent an individual opportunity to be conforming or defective. If I have a complex machined part with 85 feature characteristics, and an unshifted Process Capability of 1.33 (which yields a Sigma Level of 4), the incorrect interpretation would leave us to believe that only 63 components out of a million produced will be non-conforming. The correct interpretation would allow us to understand that the actual number of defective components to be nearer 5355 (63*85). We say "nearer" instead of "exactly" because the distribution of non-conforming features may not be uniformly distributed across all components. The error is the assumed sample size, not the Cpk or Sigma Level equations. By incorrectly substituting components for feature characteristics we increased our sample size from one million to eight-five million.

But let's try to put this in a MotoGP context: Instead of components we have events. An "event" is a conscious move on the racetrack by the pilot, say braking extremely late to use a common example, to either pass another pilot or prevent a pilot from passing you. Within that event there are a whole series of dynamic characteristics that could be quantified as basically conforming or non-conforming I.e. Did the pilot crash? If so were other pilots involved? Did the event pilot make the corner but cause other pilots to crash or be forced off the racing surface? Was (significant) contact with other pilots involved? Did the event pilot run wide? If so did the pilot safely re-establish his position of the racing line? And so forth until at least a basic data supported understanding can be derived for "A", the uncertainty of the desired outcome for a few common pilot events. And of course changing climatic conditions can be quickly accounted for by simply shifting the Cpk center as-required.

Then move on to "B". What are the consequences of failing to obtain the desired outcome? Take two outcomes from last Sunday. Rins binned it late while trying to pass Dovi. But he was outside of the other Pilot, which limited the risk to mostly himself. And while there will never be a 100% safe place to bin a race bike, the consequences of his failing to obtain the desired outcome were acceptable, since the risk to others was minimal. And while it may turn out that the uncertainty of outcome was actually pretty significant, when analyzed as a whole we have to conclude that Rins' event was carefully judged by the pilot, and better luck next time, mate. This would be a good example of a higher uncertainty value being balanced by lower consequences, which would point to exciting racing action and an acceptable risk level. But managing that balance should always remain with the pilot.

But what if Rins had tried the same move on the third lap of the first race segment, surrounded by many other pilots? Same corner, same pilot, same event. But now the uncertainty of outcome combined with the vastly increased consequences to the rest of the field may push this event into the red zone from a race direction standpoint. And again, I am in no way suggesting that Rins should be prohibited for attempting this audacious pass. But it should be clear to him, based on the developed data, that he had damned well better pull it off, because if he doesn't there will be grid consequences the following week(s).

Almost the opposite scenario would apply to the Zarco/Morbidelli incident. In this case the uncertainty value is probably very low. If Zarco had made that pass 30 times, he would have, in all likelihood, done so cleanly the other 29 times. But the low uncertainty is pretty inconsequential because the consequences of the one failed event are all way over on the Fukushima part of the dial. Again, there would be no prohibition on Zarco attempting that maneuver, let him race as he sees fit, but the data, not subjective opinion, screams that the horrific consequence level requires corrective action. Say hello to the Repsol Honda pilots on the grid next week.

Lastly, let's look at my least favorite "rule" that seems to be a holdover from the Manx Norton era; the farcical notion that, just because his front tire is 15mm in front of another’s, a pilot who has out-braked himself and run wide has the right to slam his motorcycle back on the racing line near the inside of the track, without so much as a by your leave directed at the pilot who has, correctly in my opinion. taken advantage of the first pilot's error. Complete rubbish. I am sure that any rational analysis of the data will clearly show that the initial pilot's error has now created an additional event with a high uncertainty as to whether he can pull it off, and also entails elevated consequences if he does not. Maybe this worked when the grid was rolling on 19" Avon's, to lean past 45 degrees was to see God (who at the time looked like a Yorkshireman, which had to be a bit of a let down), and everyone sat bolt upright on their sprung saddles. Maybe. But as things stand today, with 55+ degrees of lean and pilots dragging their elbows, this just a big can of dumb. The pilot who made the braking error must yield the racing line until it is safe to rejoin it. Everyone who is busy carving him up at the suddenly clear apex he just gifted them should be free to press their advantage. Sorry, but in this case the pilot who made the error needs to own it, not use 15mm of tire diameter as a get out of jail free card.

So, there it is...a very rough idea of a data driven concept to hopefully increase awareness regarding the risks posed by outcome uncertainty and consequences. Let the pilots continue to race, but educate them. And remind them that there is always plenty of elbow room at the end of the grid where the Honda's now roam. Cheers.



That is a good read where i learned some thing or two and which makes perfectly sense. I hope Freddy Spencer will read this too before next week.... Otherwise other rides might hope that Zarco needs more recovery so they do'n t need to ride like Vinales in the first couple laps of part 2 of last sunday's race

If I was sat with you at the chalkboard and me at a desk we'd probably still be on paragraph 6 with you on the brink of despair. CKP, sigma level.... But I get the argument and kind of like the thinking. However, I think this is what happens already, doesn't it i.e. a judgement is made by the stewards based on it being acceptable to put yourself at high risk as much as you like, but putting others in grave danger is another issue altogether. The tricky bit is defining what is unacceptably dangerous. Hurtling down the starting straight into the first corner in anything other than first place and even thinking about passing other riders on the inside surely imperils half the field, something usually proven once or twice a season. Fukushima beckons 3 times every race weekend, multiplied by a factor of around 60 riders, yet this is plainly acceptable to all concerned, because otherwise we'd have to have rolling starts or time trials. But doing the same thing on lap 14 with only one rider in the firing line is somehow different.

It seems to me that in almost every danger sport a large part of the attraction lies in mastery of the state of chaos in its true sense. Every event is unique? There are some conditions that lend themselves to general rules, but few opportunities for these to be sufficiently precise, or events to be sufficiently predictable, to not require subjective interpretation.

So I suspect we'll always come back to subjective interpretation of whether any particular event was reasonable or unacceptable and debating who, if anyone, gets to swap sighs with the unloved next time out.

Great points and yes, there will always be a subjective component of any decision. But subjective decisions are based on knowledge that is either informed, un-informed, or ill-informed, with the value of that knowledge being in precisely the order listed.

And to be clear, I understand you are not making subjectivity the hill you have chosen to die on. You are far too clever and insightful for that. But I have heard too many others (not you) use subjectivity (and its evil twin...equivalence) as some sort of excuse to justify lobbing all manner of babies out the window with the bathwater. Subjectivity is too often treated as if it were a natural force, like gravity, that can never be altered or improved ("Well, its gravity, mate, can't be changed. C'mon, your shout").

But informed subjective opinions are of a whole different value. If Satan himself wants to prattle on subjectively on how much saffron to use in a pot of Bouillabaisse, my initial reaction would be to tell him to sod off and annoy someone else for a while. But if Old Scratch changes the subject and starts offering subjective opinions about hot coals...I should probably be taking notes.

Talent as the 'X' Factor.

"Obviously your ambition outweighed your talent" (Casey Stoner to Valentino Rossi after Vale punted both of them into the kitty litter at the 2011 Spanish GP).

But I think...His ambition outweighed his adhesion...would be the fairer analysis. So what do we say about Vale getting by Jorge in the last corner, Catalunya 2009? I can only explain that with; His talent exceeded his adhesion. Vale lost the front end at least three times in that last corner, but stayed upright and won. Without the talent he is going down and taking 'X Fuera' with him, exposing both to possible injury, and Rossi to the additional horror that Jorge was never, never, ever going to shut up about it.

Subjective Modifications to an Objective Baseline

So talent needs to be acknowledged, and at times allowed to subjectively modify any objective analysis based on global values derived for uncertainty and consequences. But that can only be effectively done by people whose subjective analysis is supported by real expertise on the subject. I have no reason to doubt (nor am I qualified to offer an opinion on) the combined knowledge of the FIM/MotoGP Stewards Panel who would be tasked with making these modifications based on subjective analyses (though I might council any current riders to not answer Finland Freddie Spencer with; "Luja tahto vie läpi harmaan kiven". In fact, I would avoid the whole subject of Finland entirely. Actually, best not to mention Scandinavia at all).

Subjective modification to the objective examples would still be challenging. As an example: How do we judge the on-track events of one Marc Marquez? Do we modify his uncertainty values based on his elevated talent level? I think the answer would have to be a solid "yes, of course".  Simply put, the uncertainty of the outcome of many of MM's events is just lower than almost anyone else's. The advantage of having the objective data for global uncertainty is it provides a baseline from which subjective modifications can be intelligently made. And MM's skills will also impact the consequence value. For the majority of the MotoGP field, once an aggressive maneuver fails, the rest, as they say, is just physics followed by a refreshing gravel nap. But Marc would be on very solid ground if he replied with "not as long as I have magic elbows, mate".

So yes, we agree that skill evaluation has to be part of the process (or why are we racing?). But elevated skill doesn't confer elevated immunity. The objective data will, at times, clearly reveal that even the most gifted rider has exceeded any rational boundaries with regard to the safety of his fellow competitors. No "but I have magic elbows" plea should save anyone caught cruising on the racing line during a hot practice or qualifying session.

Avoiding the next Fukushima Daiichi event

I have avoided discussing track characteristics because David Emmett has already done such a wonderful job in this area and any comments from me would look like the kitten was trying to tell the cat how to catch mice. So I will only add this relationship to that subject: After all the objective analysis for uncertainty and consequences has been done, any remaining "red zones" must be understood as risks being generated by the track layout, the track condition, or the climatic conditions. And if those risks are left unresolved then eventually we get nutted by the Law of Very Large Numbers. Simply put, all uncertainty values are modified by the number of opportunities for them to occur. Forget heads or tails, keep flipping coins long enough and eventually one will land on its side. And if the rules are "Heads you win, Tails you lose, Sides = Fukushima" that is not a game I want to play for 100K+ tosses. I have been following the Isle of Man and Northern Ireland road races since slightly after the earth first cooled. I am in awe of the talent and bravery on display. But with that comes the sadness that no matter how much the riders and organizers try (and to their credit they have made significant strides in safety) every year we are going to receive the butcher's bill. And spare me the old "well, Sunny Jim, the throttle works both ways now, doesn't it" canard. Because fast guys won't roll out of it unless the Grim Reaper is standing the middle of the track with a butterfly net. And even then they will weigh the risk ("Is Death left handed? Because if I move to the right a bit..."). The ones who roll out of it often enough to remain in their safe zone are never called campiones, they are called paracarros.

Smacking Brahmins about the ears with objective data

But the objective analysis should still be considered a key element in goading the High and Mighty into making some changes to the physical circuits. If the uncertainty data is identifying hot spots, it should be easy enough to build a case that a particular corner's shape is causing this, or a sequence of corners is dangerous (with no one individual corner to blame), or maybe the geriatric track surface now has all the grip you would find if you poured sewing machine oil on a brass door knob. And again, this is where the global objective data is relevant (and subjectivity is not), and so in the case of circuit analysis is really what matters. Because the uncertainty values have to be rational for all the riders in all three classes, not just MM. With that you can then identify (and hopefully eliminate) the remaining Fukushimas by examining the objective consequence data. And both objective data streams are required, with uncertainty defining the likelihood that something can happen, and consequence analysis providing knowledge of just how horrible that something is.

And with all that, racing will still not be safe, and riders will still bin it on a regular basis. And I will happily settle for alive with functioning limbs as the best that can ever be achieved...or desired. Because above all I love the skill being displayed, and that skill shines brighter in the face of an acceptable risk level...and that means the focus has to be on the elimination of the Fukushima-type events that are still lurking in MotoGP.  Because as we saw Sunday, the riders who would pay the price were not in any way responsible, nor could they have taken any action to avoid the potential mayhem and carnage. That is not the definition of a sport based on skill, courage, intelligence and judging and then accepting the still very real physical risks is the definition of Russian Roulette. And that is not what we all signed up for. Cheers.

PS, I still maintain that Michelin is missing the marketing opportunity of a lifetime. They need to get together with Dainese and have them change the design of their airbag suits so that when they inflate they all assume the spitting image of Bibendum, complete with sash. If you are awake in France, call me. Cheers.

excellent use of words. I guess it it is the first time in my life that I have read something that is not only top notch factual and reasonable on a controversial topic but also at the same time so well written and entertaining. A real pleasure to read. I guess will will have to reread that again.

Modelling that would be so much fun to work on, wouldn't it. And you had me laughing out loud again with the potential outcome of Catalunya. No, he probably wouldn't have.

What are you saying? Imagine you are speaking to an eight year old, or an adult with the comprehensive intelligence of an eight year old, and just put it all in a few sentences please. I read your comments a few times and I start getting a headache.

The only way to make motorcycle racing safe for humans is for humans to not get on the motorcycles. There are just too many variables to imagine all possible outcomes. Many could imagine a collossal goatf**k at turn 3 of the Red Bull Ring, but could anyone have imagined what took place last Sunday - a 2019 customer spec M1 spiraling through the air at 100+ mph and threading the Yamaha factory needle (was that a shadow?) while a disintegrating Ducati somersaults over their heads? And nary a scratch?

It is now 4 days later and the pinnacle of two-wheeled circuses has returned to the scene of the crime. What was witnessed was possibly the crime of careless riding with disregard to the safety of one's fellow competitors and also the crime against fathomability. Impossible to dream that accident up. And yet it happened.

There's a saying about not believing something until the day that cows fly. After witnessing flying motorcycles last Sunday, I don't know what to believe.

But where’s the fascination, the pliabilility of thought and desire to learn? The only person who tells forum members how to behave - i feel I’ve been here long enough to make this claim - is the man who set up this great forum. And no one, not even David, tells Jinx how to present his ideas. I’ve waded through your pompous, attention seeking posts without complaint. Because - criticise my grammar at your peril - I’m interested and prepared to work at understanding the point of view you are expressing, recognising your comments aren’t for me, they’re for the forum. I’m even prepared to ignore your petulant criticism of one of the greatest ever MotoGP rider’s spelling and your tragic charactisation of certain mainland Europeans. Why, because I’m a member of a forum whose members I respect and care about. And which is greater than the sum of its parts. PS I’m not going to joust with you, I’m a member of a forum. 

My position is not one of petulance but of humility. I lack understanding. I see it as my own.

I do not see how Stoner's opinion is any more or less special or valid than yours or mine. And I have had hilarious discussions with my french wife and my in-laws about cultural french behavior. Zarco's riding reminds me of my in-law's touristing. But, any comment like that nowadays is seen as racist.


But describing one as petulant, pompous and attention seeking is jousting words. And it sure is attention grabbing. Could the source of the energy for your comment be coming more from the fact that I'm a Dovizioso fan and you are not. And maybe you are a Crutchlow fan and I am not. And I do not put Stoner on some high pedestal (even if he has won two world championship titles) should he not use spell check on twitter, or forget that google exists, before posting an emotional charged tweet? So what if I make fun of his spelling? Because he's a two time world champ, no one is allowed to poke fun at his spelling? Does Stoner's and Jinx's egos require your protection? 

The line "explain it to me like I'm an eight year old" (and I'm paraphrasing) is from the movie "Philadelphia". And in movie it was a humurous line. But, nowadays, words seem so heavy.

What's lacking in this socially and virtually distanced world is human contact. If we were all in a room watching the race together and I responded to Jinx with the aforementioned comment, maybe it would have been understood as humerous and taken lightly.  Because that was the way it was intended. The comment was meant as lighthearted self-deprecation.

I mean no harm. To you or Jinx or Stoner. I just fail to see how anyone's opinion can carry any more weight than anyone elses. 

At least you got to paragraph 6. It's like when I once listened to a lesson on chemistry, which made sense of it for me for the first 20 minutes and then... suddenly chemistry was (and remains) a total mystery to me.

Anyway, it seems there's hope for me yet. I followed the rest of the thesis with growing enlightenment and you Jinx, along with David of course, and the other erudite and experienced commentators here, that keep me renewing my sub. Thank you, sir.

I feel smarter just by reading this.  That said, I interpreted it as 

1) Pol should stop whining about being taken out and just yield the spot when he screws up a corner (which he tends to do a lot towards the end of races).

2) Zarco has every right to attempt that pass but considering the data driven probable consequences, he could be educated not to do it.

Probably. Maybe ... 

I don't think anyone should be blamed, but Morbidelli’s role in this seems under-examined. Having just been overtaken and with a full view of his nearest competitor, what choices did he make? Seems possible that actions might also have been open to him to increase the likelihood of both riders making it through the tricky couple of corners ahead. Potentially he could have backed off but understandably for a racer he seems to have kept it pinned and stayed up Zarco's date. So he made choices too ...

I'm with you guys a bit.  I think Morbidelli had plenty of notice that Zarco was there and had plenty of opportunity to give more room and brake earlier.  But didn't..... Just as Zarco could have tried harder to keep a tighter line....

The posts about liking or not liking the rear view are getting to be hilarious, not quite ranking as high as the great covid US mask debate. But come on, this all happens at 300+ and i'm reading certainties about what riders must know and must do in these moments. Maybe in the cartoons.

Just remember, these guys have been aiming to beat one man for a while and that guy is one tough cookie in a fight. I wouldn't want to race Marc in attack mode, i'd just hope he realised it would be like punching a child and let me crash from embarressment instead. race !

Examining the lap analysis pdf docs at's results page provides some information leading up to the monster crash at RBR last Sunday. After 8 completed laps, neither Zarco nor Morbidelli had recorded any laps in the 1'24" range, while all the riders ahead of them on track (P1-P7) had gotten into the 1'24"s. Oliveira had the most laps in the 1'24"s (5) and looked to have podium pace. He started the race from P11, finished the first lap P9 and finished the 8th lap P5. Oliveira was marching forward and had actually gained half a second on the leader between lap 1 and lap 8. This may have something to do with his violent reaction in the pits after colliding with P. Espargaro in the second portion of the race. Maybe he was eyeballing a podium or even a win.

Zarco and Morbidelli looked to have very similar pace in the low 1'25"s. Only anomaly for Morbidelli was a high 1'25" on lap 5 when he was passed by both Oliveira and Rossi. Zarco had a mid 1'25" on lap 4 when he was passed by Rins who had lost 5 positions on lap 2.

Zarco crossed the finish line directly behind Morbidelli for the last 4 completed laps before the red flag. The gap shrank at the finish line from .28 to .20 then .16 and .11 on the 8th completed lap. Zarco looked to be losing out to Morbidelli mostly in the second sector, but was gaining marginally overall per lap. Both riders had lost almost 2 seconds to the lead rider between the end of lap 1 and the completion of lap 8.

Zarco had lost two positions by the end of the first lap from his starting grid position (P9). Then he had a bit of back and forth with Rins who was also battling with Binder. Morbidelli maintained his grid position at the end of lap 1 (P7), lost positions to Oliveira and Rossi on lap 5 and gained one position back when Quartararo went long in the gravel due to brake fade.

Morbidelli had an average .144 second advantage over Zarco in the second sector.

Zarco had a slight advantage over Morbidelli in the first sector averaging .106 seconds per lap. Zarco's best 1st sector time was his last on lap 8. But Morbidelli's 1st sector time on lap 8 was his second quickest of the eight laps and only .089 seconds slower than Zarco's. The first sector ends at the turn 2 kink - the location where initial contact was made. 

Conclusions? Whatever story one wants to make about the information. Zarco and Morbidelli looked pretty evenly matched. Maybe the hairiest portion of the Red Bull Ring was Zarco's best shot at the time to attempt a pass. Maybe he was getting a bit frustrated crossing the finish line right behind Morbidelli's back wheel. It would be interesting to hear what was going on in his mind during the lead up to the accident. Only he can tell us these things.  

...are ruining my personal productivity. It was bad enough but then Jinx re-emerges from the upper stratosphere (pun intendend), and it's like I have to take the afternoon off to appreciate his contribution. My two bob's worth: I think that the Russian Roulette metaphor sums up the widely held anxiety about the crashes we witnessed. When it comes to subjectivity, I think that's the key to the analysis, and the utter conviction of the respective pro and anti Zarco/Pol and other camps prove the point. That said decisions can be subjective but better or more poorly informed or more or less self interested. And that's why I was pretty relieved to finally hear that the Stewards were getting involved, because, like it or not, they are the ones the sport has to trust to sort through this sort of situation without black and white evidence being immediately at hand. I think the end point might be that the evidence is ambiguous and that the only real solutions here are some intelligent track modifications and some education of those riders who are crashing rather more than the others, that just cause you can make a move it might not be the best idea of all time. To compare MotoGP to another very dangerous sport, big wave surfing, it is evident how strong the safety culture is in the latter and how they realise they depend upon each other when things go wrong Though the sporting and competitive dymanics are different I thihk that this season has alreay suggested that the usual suspects might want to consider their approach and ask themselves what could go wrong, cause the consequences, as we have now seen so clearly, may extend well beyond their own arse(s).