HRC Press Release: Shuhei Nakamoto On Sepang Clash, Confirms Brake Spike In Telemetry

In the ongoing controversy surrounding the incident between Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi at Sepang, Honda Racing Corporation have found it necessary to issue the following press release, in which HRC Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto gives Honda's side of the events.

Q&A with Shuhei Nakamoto, HRC Executive Vice President

“First of all, we would like to state that we believe it is very important to speak about the facts, not about assumptions. A fact is a fact and there is only one interpretation. Assumptions can be translated in different ways, depending on which side you are. For the good of our sport, we would like everybody to just consider the facts that occurred and these are clearly the following:

– Marc Marquez won the Australian GP, overtaking Jorge Lorenzo on the last lap, and therefore taking away 5 points from him in the Championship.

– On Thursday prior to the Malaysian GP in the Pre-Event Press Conference, Valentino Rossi accused Marc of racing against him in Phillip Island to help Jorge Lorenzo.

– In the Malaysian GP, Rossi intentionally pushed Marc out of the racing line which caused him to crash. Race Direction gave him a penalty for this action, confirmed by FIM.

As a matter of fact, the aforementioned topics are the only facts we can consider and comment upon, any other discussion would be based on assumptions. To speak about assumptions would only increase the negative atmosphere we are facing in this moment, but will not change the reality of what happened.”

What is your opinion regarding the current situation after the Malaysian GP?

“We as HRC are very regretful this situation has been created. First of all, we would like to underline that Marc has been subject to an accusation with no evidence, after the Phillip Island race. Clearly there are no grounds to support that he wanted to help any rider in the Championship battle, considering he pushed to win the race and did so. After reviewing the images further, you can clearly see Valentino and Marc shaking hands after the chequered flag in Australia, acknowledging a great and fair battle.”

Do you believe the battle in the Malaysian GP between Marc and Valentino is a result of Valentino’s accusation?

“We honestly don’t think this is the case. We all know Marc races at 100% all the time, it’s one of the reasons we all love him and he has so many fans around the world. Marc always pushes to the maximum to achieve the best result possible. He had a great battle in his career with many riders, and nobody complained about that. In Malaysia, we know that Marc was struggling at the beginning of the race with the full tank, as has happened several times this season. Also in Sepang he made a mistake at the beginning of the race and this allowed Jorge to pass him. Then Valentino arrived and they began to fight for third place. The passes were extreme, but safe, from both riders. Two of the greatest champions we’ve seen battling together on track”

Is it possible that Marc slowed down Valentino in those laps?

“The lap times they were doing were quite fast, clearly showing that there was no intention from Marc to slow down Valentino. In addition, after Marc crashed and Valentino had an open track in front of him, his lap times were no faster then during the battle with Marc. We believe, they were both pushing to the maximum. Both wanted third place and to try and catch up with Dani and Jorge, but of course this battle opened up a gap to the front two. This is racing and when you have two talents such as Marc and Valentino you can see a wonderful battle as we saw.”

Do you believe Valentino kicked Marc’s bike?

“It is clear that Valentino intentionally pushed Marc towards the outside of the track, which is out of the rules, therefore Marc had no other option other than to run wide. The data from Marc’s bike shows that even though he was picking up the bike trying to avoid contact with Valentino, his front brake lever suddenly received an impact that locked the front tyre, which is the reason for his crash. We believe that this pressure was a result of Rossi’s kick. The data acquisition from Marc’s bike is available if anybody from Dorna, the FIM or media want to check.”

Do you believe Marc is telling the truth when he says he wasn’t trying to slow down Valentino in Sepang?

“I know Marc well. He is a good guy, with strong and honest values. Marc was just trying to defend his position, as any rider would do, and we believe him 100%.”

What is your position on how Race Direction acted?

“We respect the decision of Race Direction and don’t want to pass judgement if the penalty they administered was right or wrong. However, we do believe there was enough evidence to allow them to take a decision during the race, it was not necessary to wait until the end.”

What do you think of Valentino’s appeal to the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) against Race Direction and FIM’s decision?

“This is in his rights. We will respect the CAS decision.”

People say that it’s unfair that Marc battled with Valentino, as Marc is not fighting for the Championship, while Valentino is.

“This is racing! There were no comments or concerns after Dani fought with Valentino in Aragon and beat him, and also in Phillip Island with Iannone – nobody accused Andrea of trying to help one competitor more than the other. It’s been a difficult season and in Sepang Marc simply wanted to take the best result possible for him and his team, it’s not in his nature to settle for fourth place when there is a chance to fight for third. We should also look back to Motegi 2010 when Valentino was out of the race for the title but had a great battle with his teammate Jorge. After the race, when Jorge complained about Valentino being too aggressive and with no meaning as he was out of the Championship, Valentino commented: “I said to Yamaha, what do you expect from me, to arrive behind? If I know this I will stay at home.” We totally agree with Valentino’s approach and will always support our riders to achieve the best results possible.”

What is your opinion of Valentino in this moment?

“Valentino is the greatest ever champion of our sport. We believe he has done a great job this year, and if he wins the Championship he truly deserves it, as he has been consistent and very fast all year. The fact that he is 36 years old increases the respect for such a great champion. Having said that, we don’t understand his accusation related to the Phillip Island race and his manoeuvre in Sepang. We hope that Valentino will think it over and understand his mistake.”

What is your target for Valencia?

“As always, our target is to win! Our hope is that Marc and Dani can fight for the win. If they can finish first and second – it doesn’t matter for us which order – then we will be very happy. First of all, because we want to finish this season with the 4th win in a row, second because if they both are in front of Jorge and Valentino, their result will have no influence in the battle for the title and – finally – we hope everybody will understand that Honda riders race for the win and the pure competition, for nothing else.”

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Great idea. I thought pretty much everyone who has studied it had said the video evidence was conclusive that VR did not kick......????

Fact: If MM had not turned in to deliberately make contact with VR he would probably have finished the race.

I am not supporting either party in the the rights and wrongs of this situation, other than to keep to facts.

Is Nakamoto admitting that their design of brake lever protector is so poor, that you can get an entire human foot/knee between it and the lever?

Didn't realize GP riders were so ham-fisted that movement of their forearm would result in movement of the brake lever. If they ride anything like me they have at least 2 fingers on the clip-on and braking results from moving the fingers not the hand or arm. On-board shots show most GP riders do the same. The hand grips the clip-on and anchors the arm - kicking the arm might result in steering input but not brake input.

so much a brake lever protector as it is a finger protector in the event of a crash to prevent the loss of part or all of a finger. i believe lorenzo's accident in 2012(?) in which he lost part of his finger when it got trapped between the handgrip/bar end and the asphalt was the final trigger to implement the rule to fit all bikes with the device. the front area of the brake lever is still exposed, however.

became mandatory in motogp because of a need to try to reduce the risk of finger/hand injuries in the event of a crash. the protector keeps the fingers on the grip and off the ends of the bars so as to help prevent the fingers being crushed in and during a crash. the fact that the lever tip is protected from an inadvertent hit was secondary, if anything, in the decision to force all teams to use them. in 2006, lever protectors were not mandatory.

Sorry but that summation is LONG way from fact.

1. The video evidence was 'inconclusive' whether there was a kick or not. Honda seems to claim there was, Rossi claims there wasn't and Mike Webb says there is no way to tell. One of the reasons Rossi got off lightly with only 3 penalty points.

2. Rossi made contact with Marquez, not the other way around. That is why he's been penalized.

3. Your third point is also wrong, you are clearly supporting Rossi's claims and twisting facts to try and do so. Don't try to play the neutral card when that's not the case.

Your "fact" is not a fact. It assumes you can read minds. Yes, MM turned in. You do not know why he did. I assume it was because he was running out of track, and assumed VR had to turn in at some point, and that MM had reached the point of no return. But I would never look on my assumption as fact.

Is it a 'fact' that MM was turning back in to 'deliberately' make contact? I'd like to point out that the only fact of the situation is that they did make contact, otherwise it is he said she said.

The alternate view is that MM was running out of track and had every right to expect VR to continue racing, and that he was tentatively turning into the corner expecting VR to also do so and not attempt to force him off the track. After all, once the contact occurred, VR himself had to make a pretty sharp turn to keep himself on the track.

Valentino has shown unsportsmanlike behaviour (to which he has admitted) for which he has been penalised.
Ignoring the alleged kick or even the fall, as has been pointed out elsewhere, he is still very much in the doghouse for the initial move to impede Marc.
I'm not sure what the evidence will go to prove afterall he has admitted his guilt, his argument is in fighting the penalty handed down by Race Direction.

Let's also be clear about the fact that he was not penalized for unsportsmanlike behaviour. He was penalized for causing a crash, to which he has not admitted. So evidence, particularly if he is to appeal is required.

Try section 1.21 of the FIM rules and codes. Section 2 sets out the behavioural requirements.
Failing to adhere to these rules has ALWAYS been referred to as unsportsmanlike behaviour. The words have barely changed since 18 years ago when I last raced under the book and that's what it was referred to as then.
Rossi admitted to running Marquez wide or impeding his race, his quote can be found in David's previous stories.
In a way you are right, the term is far too tame for the way Rossi behaved over the whole week.

As soon as the incident happened I thought that telemetry data would show if the brakes were applied or not, how suddenly they were applied, etc.

However one thing slightly puzzles me, and I'm in no way a VR fan, but aren't brake lever protectors supposed to stop 'outside' impact/application of the brake lever?
-not saying that VR's leg couldn't have applied MM's brakes, just leaves me thinking how it got past the protector?

I think it could happen, if the 'kick' hit any part of MM's arm, hand, or perhaps just happened to be at such an angle that it snuck in behind the lever protector it could have caused the brake application.

That's a pretty good press release. Of course this is not going to do anything for people who have already made up their minds but it's nice to have the actual facts lined up once again. I would add one other fact: before Rossi made the accusations on the Thursday nobody in the world but him thought Marquez was playing some sort of game.

It's so weird, this minor incident being blown so out of proportion just because one guy seems to be bigger than the sport. I used to think Rossi retiring would be a huge blow to MotoGP but after this whole affair I think it actually would be the best thing that could happen.

"I would add one other fact: before Rossi made the accusations on the Thursday nobody in the world but him thought Marquez was playing some sort of game."

Except Iannone it seems ...
But ok, he could have been influenced by Rossi.
Is he ?

This is racing, it s about finishing in front of everybody else, whether he's in contention for the championship or not, Marc just didn't want to see someone's ass in the finish line

Shuhei Nakamoto says he want to talk about the facts, but makes a mistake when het makes the following statement:

"In the Malaysian GP, Rossi intentionally pushed Marc out of the racing line which caused him to crash. Race Direction gave him a penalty for this action, confirmed by FIM."

Fact is, that Rossi pushed Marquez to the outside. But this isn't the cause of the crash. The cause of the crash is unclear and might always be unclear for there are many statements and there is no footage of what exactly caused the crash.

The peak in pressure on the brake could also be caused by something other than Rossi's foot or legg. Another "fact" that Shuhei Nakamoto got wrong. The leg moves, but I don't see a kicking motion. This movement could also be caused by Marquez touching Rossi because he seems to lean into Rossi or because he's speeding up.

So if we want to stick to the facts, let really stick to the facts.

In the beginning of the article it says it wants only to deal with facts, not assumptions, but then in the actual text it says that they "believe" there was a kick, so, for me, it doesn't sound like a fact, but more like the assumption. Also, Nakamoto say that Marc is always giving he's 100% all the time, but I think it's this very fact that he was accused by Rossi, and that is that he didn't push 100% all the time in PI race, also Iannone thinks Marc didn't push 100% whole race and he was there with these two. There is, also, some other words that don't make complete sense to me, but I am pretty tired with this incident, and I think everything has been said, even more I think, so, the only thing that is clear is that Rossi made a mistake, probably a big mistake, considering consequences and we should hope they can end this last race in some acceptable fashion, so we can all rest and, maybe, forget about this incident a little bit.

Its strange to say in the beginning that they "believe it is very important to speak about the FACTS, not about assumptions " and then later state that "We BELIEVE that this pressure was a result of Rossi’s kick" .
While I believe that Rossi shouldn't have let MM get to him so much and run him wide , I also think that MM had not run pout of tarmac at the time of the crash and he was behind and as Pedrosa stated he could have backed out and got back inside.Anyway this incident will have big repercussions for next years championship too and maybe Rossi will do to MM what he feels MM has done to him.

Nice to read one of the bosses making comments like these and being politically minded enough to stay on the correct side of being cautious!
I'm rather saddened though to read that "the kick" is still being mentioned when the heli-cam footage disproves that it happened!
(It similarly disproves the belief held by Rossi fanbois that Marc head butted Valentino's leg!)
There was no kick - there was no head butt - these are undeniable facts!

If someone like the well respected Dennis Noyes can hold his hands up and admit that his initial assessment was incorrect is it too much to expect others to do the same?

Marquez's fingers would have been on the lever. Marquez collided with Rossi. At the point of contact the slightest bump to Marquez's arm could cause the brake lever to be pulled.

Nakamoto's position is weirdly defensive.

On the one hand, he is saying there was a kick and on the other hand he is wishing Valentino Rossi the best luck for the championship, and is seemingly unfazed that the penalty could be suspended. He is even DEFENDING Marc Marquez saying that he was racing for the win etc.

I have the feeling that he is only affirming he believes there was a kick in order to avoid contracting Marc Marquez and Repsol who both have maintained that there was a kick in their statements.

But if there truly had been a kick, the man would not stand there defending Marc Marquez, he would be on the offense, on the charge against Valentino Rossi and would not label him as " the greatest ever champion in our sport".

True a spike in brake pressure caused Marquez to lose the front. But the spike itself could have been caused by hitting Rossi's fairing or leg as well as Rossi kicking the lever and that's rather what it looks like on video...

A retired vr will be worth millions to whoever 'owns' his association. I wonder whether Honda are thinking it might be nice for Vale to finish his career on the same marque that he started on (in the senior class). Or maybe Mr Nakamoto, as a highly experienced and capable exec, knows there is nothing at all to be gained by aggravating the situation.

Quite a fair set of statements IMO...

Respectful to both VR and MM.

Wants to see both his riders fight for the win next weekend

Mentions a spike in brake pressure, which can only be caused by applying the brake (I think!), but of course this application could be caused by contact between MM/VR, or even MM trying to avoid contact with VR. As has been stated over and over 'Rossi slowed MM in the corner' which suggests to me that MM was probably/POSSIBLY on or near the brake lever at the time (last I heard that's how you slow vehicles down - you use the brake)

Shame he used the word kick though.

Kick just... well "kicks" things off again (sic)

Nakamoto-san says we shouldn't make assumptions, just base it on facts.
Fact: Marquez brake was pushed on.
Assumption (or belief from Nakamoto-san): Rossi did it.
But for that same fact you could have many assumptions.

Assumption: Lever was pushed into Rossi's calf by Marquez driving into him.
But I thought all MotoGP bikes had lever protectors to stop inadvertent pushing like this.
Assumption: Marquez pulled on lever to avoid hitting Rossi and accidentally lost front.
Assumption: Marquez pulled on lever on purpose to dive out and blame Rossi.
Nobody knows.
Rossi should not have said the personal things about Marquez. And he should have said what he meant, that Marc was trying to stop him winning the title not that he was helping Lorenzo to win. Marc does not want Lorenzo to win title but much more he certainly does not want Rossi to win it. Especially now and this will make it very difficult for Rossi to win in Valencia. Though if you remember last year Rossi was 2nd in Valencia and where was Jorge, not in the top 20.

Nakamoto-san issued a very respectful statement (one diametrically opposed to Repsol's) and for that I am thankful.

If this is really true, even though I do not think it is, then I have to quote Stephen Fry as far as brake guards are concerned and say: "Then what are you for!?"

Probably just a jerk of the hand from the handlebar contact, but honestly, we could armchair analyze this as much as we want and we would never dig the truth.

What really matters is the decision of CAS, or effectively the date at which the decision is made.

I have a feeling CAS will postpone the decision and agree with the FIM applying the sentence at Qatar. That way they wouldn't have undermined the FIM and wouldn't have a torrent of hate mail and flack from the yellow army.

I honestly think this is in the interest of FIM and MotoGP in general, they would get to have the cake and eat it to.

I'm not going to go into whether it is fair, but it does seem like a strange sort of a win-win.

available immediately following the Valencia round. This boot features a retractable Ti hook that deploys from the left boot, fits perfectly between the brake guard and the lever, creating a spike in brake pressure virtually identical to a riders own hand. Cycles fully in .6 seconds, and the anti-matter finish makes it invisible to cameras, still or video.

Please continue HRC, your actions will successfully take the existing contempt that is felt for you throughout the paddock and spread it carefully over the MotoGP fan base....I'm sure your 2nd tier sponsors will be thrilled.

But in total fairness, congratulations on again being the winning engine supplier to the Moto2

1. Reading between the lines SN states Marc didn't crash on his own ramming into Rossi, but a contact with the handlebar locked the front end. Purposely or not is secondary to them, Honda wants to prove Marc is the victim, not the aggressor.

2. I see him stating there's nothing suspicious with Marc's data slowing down the pace. -"available if anybody from Dorna, the FIM or media want to check.”

I have already submitted a request to HRC for the data. They said they would try to make it available to the media at Valencia.

specifically, lap times--is that anyone watching those few laps during the battle knows exactly why those laps weren't much slower than the leaders' laps, and why Rossi's pace didn't slow after Marquez went down:

How many times did Rossi's foot come off the peg because he was riding so hard? Marquez' rear tire once broke loose so badly on turn-in that I couldn't believe it came back inline. Those laps were reasonably fast because, in order to make up for time lost due to the battle, both men were riding WAY past their usual comfort level. I doubt any MotoGP rider is comfortable riding so on the edge that their outside foot is coming off the peg mid-turn once per lap. One could reasonably conclude that it's possible for Marquez to have been impeding Rossi without the lap times suffering much when riding outside of safe comfort level is taken into consideration.

It is definitely an assumption to believe Marquez was intentionally slowing Rossi. But lap time data is not necessarily proof that this wasn't the case. Maybe a more detailed breakdown of the data during and after those laps could provide a clearer picture, but I don't necessarily buy lap times alone as the silver bullet that exonerates Marquez from claims of bullying.

this press release was as much for internal consumption or signaling as it was to enlighten the outside public. He's publicly stating that he believes his rider was victimized and stands behind him in all he does or has done. That of course is my assumption, not a fact.

The first fact SN states is true, but how on earth can a rider in the last lap ride away from a scrambling pack, close a 1 second gap to the leader, and overtake the leader to win the race? Almost as good as Maradona's hand of GOD. I wonder what he has been doing the 16 laps prior to it...

do you kick a front brake lever in that situation?
Easier to stamp on the rear (and that's pretty difficult to imagine too).

It seems more likely it was rider action, for whatever reason, or when the bar hit the track. Effect rather than cause.

I do believe the 'kick' part has been wrongly used here by Honda, but otherwise Nakamoto san is pretty much spot-on! Pity that most of the people (a particular brigade of fans if I may say so) are overlooking all the other points he had made in his official statement. What did you think? Honda will apologize Rossi with flower bouquets saying it-wont-happen-again? They are very clearly taking a dig at Valentino in a very subtle and 'respectful' way.

I do hope Valentino Rossi wins this year's championship. Because if he does not, the so-called-fans will pretty much declare war on every other MotoGP related webpage/forum with their rants, or in their words "fair assessment" of the whole incident.

I have a question for savvier people than me (is that a word?). In the vídeo i don't see marc's front wheel locking. Am I wrong about that?