Common Tread

Crash video: Is anyone to blame for the mess in Jerez?

May 07, 2018

It was a few seconds that changed not only the face of yesterday's Gran Premio Red Bull de España, but also likely altered the odds of the entire championship.

With eight laps to go, with Marc Márquez in the lead and gradually pulling a gap on the riders behind, the second, third and fourth riders — Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa — crashed together, with Pedrosa in particular being hurled in scary fashion into low-earth orbit. Fortunately, other than Pedrosa being bruised and banged up, none of the three suffered serious injury. But their hopes for a championship took some blows, and Lorenzo's and Pedrosa's future employment in MotoGP could be affected by how they finish this year.

After reviewing the crash, Race Direction declared it a racing incident and no penalties were handed down.

To me, this is a much more interesting case to consider than the incidents involving Márquez at the Gran Prix of Argentina, where he barged his way through the field after an early ride-through penalty, including contact with Valentino Rossi that caused Rossi to crash. In that case, the only debate was the severity of Márquez's crimes and how strong the penalty should be. Nobody had any doubt about whether it was Márquez or Rossi who was to blame for Rossi sliding off into the grass in Argentina.

Jerez was very different. All three played a role in the triple disaster, and all three were motivated in part by a whiff of desperation. Yet the blame cannot be ascribed 100 percent to any of the three. Take a look at the video:

What motivated the riders

Lorenzo, Dovizioso and Pedrosa each had reason to be both hopeful and worried as the race unfolded. Lorenzo had led from the start, but he had chosen the soft option front tire, while the rest of the field chose harder compounds. After the race, he said the front tire was holding up well, but there was at least the possibility that he would not be able to maintain his pace to the end. Needless to say, he is also becoming the latest of a string of riders whose careers have been set back by riding for Ducati, and he is trying to prove himself and secure his future.

Dovizioso found competitive pace in the race after a slow start to the weekend, but he also saw Márquez getting away. His whiff of desperation was needing to get past Lorenzo, his teammate, to salvage as many points as possible, even if he couldn't catch Márquez.

Pedrosa, still riding with an injured right wrist from the clash with Johann Zarco in Qatar, said after the race his RC213V was not accelerating like normal off the corners, making it hard for him to pass, even though he felt he had a good pace.

Dani Pedrosa
Dani Pedrosa said he didn't want Jorge Lorenzo to be penalized, but he did feel he was on the racing line and not to blame for the three-way crash. Honda Racing photo.
Dovizioso's whiff of desperation to get past Lorenzo led him to try an outbraking maneuver, but he ran wide. Lorenzo, desperate not to lose the position, cut back to the apex behind Dovizioso. Pedrosa, desperate to pass both of them, sought to take advantage and carved a tight line. Lorenzo collided with Pedrosa at the apex, sending Pedrosa into a scary high-side crash and hurling Lorenzo's Ducati into Dovizioso's bike, putting all three out of the race.

Pedrosa later went to talk to Race Direction about the incident. He told Motociclismo that he did not want Lorenzo to be penalized, but he disagreed with the characterization of the incident. Pedrosa said he was on the racing line while the other two had run wide, so he was not to blame. Pedrosa said he could not see Lorenzo coming at him from his left because he was hanging off the right side of the bike, but Lorenzo should have seen him.

For his part, Lorenzo chalked it up to "bad luck" and said he did not want to apportion blame. "We are three of the cleanest riders in the championship, we are three riders who almost never find ourselves in these kinds of incidents," he said.

You decide. Is this just a racing incident? Is anyone to blame?