MotoAmerica: More On How Junior Cup Race Two Was Handled (With Video)

MotoAmerica: More On How Junior Cup Race Two Was Handled (With Video)

© 2022, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. By Frank Angel:.

First Person/Opinion:

By Frank Angel

Thanks for posting David Swarts’ opinion piece discussing the eventful conclusion of MotoAmerica Junior Cup Race 2 at Road Atlanta. I have comments to add on the decision of Race Direction that ultimately docked competitors two places, resulting in demoting Kayla Yaakov to third place, Gus Rodio to fourth place and Cody Wyman to fifth. In the interest of full disclosure, I share the Race Director position with ASRA and CCS for the Atlantic, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions with Phil Sberna, and I’m the Chief Technical Officer for the Florida region, which includes Daytona and formerly the Daytona 200. I am also the data tech and a crew member for Rodio Racing/Warhorse HSBK competing in the Junior Cup and Twins Cup classes.

As everyone knows by now, in the final turns of the race, standing yellow flags were displayed warning riders of danger ahead beside the track. This was caused by a rider behind the leaders crashing in turn 10a. The flags were seen by some of the riders, but not by all, as they were in a pack that was five riders wide going into the turn. Several riders made passes before the green flag near turn 11, which was the infraction. Rule 1.16.2.a.2 presents the basis for the decision by Race Direction. It states that overtaking is forbidden up until the point where the green flag was waved. Our understanding at the time, reinforced by statements made by the FIM Safety Officer at a meeting after the race, was that the green flag was waved at Turn 10b. Accordingly, we believed that Gus did not overtake anyone from Turn 9 through Turn 10a, but did overtake exiting Turn 10b.

After the decision was handed down to dock the top three finishers, representatives of the teams involved went to the track tower to get clarification from Race Direction. Kayla was represented by David Yaakov and George Nassaney; Gus was represented by Kevin Rodio and myself; and Cody Wyman was represented by Bob Wyman. We were greeted at the meeting by FIM Safety Officer Dan Argano and Rider Representative Michael Martin. The attitude exhibited by the FIM Safety Officer was immediately confrontational; we were told that the decision could not be protested and that the decision was final. The discussion went further confrontational when Argano responded to Kevin Rodio’s request to view the video by asking if Kevin was accusing him of lying! At this point Michael Martin intervened to attempt to defuse the situation, to his credit. We were not permitted to view video that would have been instrumental in our understanding of the situation either at that time or at the conclusion of racing for the day. The meeting concluded with the FIM Safety Officer stating that he had other races to run and had to leave. Before we left, AMA Representative Ken Sailant brought us the regulation that confirmed that change of position could not be protested. Rule 1.21.a states that riders must obey flag signals, and that they may be penalized according to the provisions of rule 1.21.b. I emphasize the word “may” because in that very same meeting with Race Direction it was used to explain another regulation unrelated to this incident. In other words, the wording was used in one case to support a decision, but in this case it was essentially ignored.

Rule 1.21.b sets forth possible penalties for infringement of flag signals. These include fine, drop of position(s), ride-through, time penalty, drop of any number of grid positions at the rider’s next race, disqualification, withdrawal of Championship points, and suspension or any other penalty at the discretion of Race Direction. Race Direction elected to use one of the more punitive penalties in this case. The claim that Race Direction had no choice in the matter but had to enforce the Regulations, as made by the FIM Safety Officer in our meeting, simply isn’t true. In my opinion, MotoAmerica needs to take a hard look at the attitude of Race Direction. Teams should be treated with respect in meetings that are intended to gain understanding of a ruling, not confronted in a manner that is unprofessional and intended to intimidate. Legitimate inquiries must not be viewed as accusing any official of not telling the truth. Anything else is to the detriment of the sport.

I’ve heard rumblings that my position on this incident is a direct result of MotoAmerica’s takeover of the Daytona 200. Nothing is farther from the truth, I’m a realist and I understand that MotoAmerica has resources and relationships that ASRA simply can’t compete with. I am not bitter about the Daytona 200, in fact I wish that MotoAmerica can carry on where ASRA left off and bring the race back to former glory. ASRA made good strides in that regard, and I’m proud of my small involvement to keep the race alive when it wasn’t wanted on the MotoAmerica schedule.

My mentor Phil Sberna is the most honest and thoughtful man I know in racing, always considering what is fair above all. Whenever I am in a situation faced with a tough decision, I always ask myself “What would Phil do?” That has served me well in the past and will remain with me.

I don’t know what I would have decided in this case, the position of Race Director is not an easy one. That said, the magnitude of taking away hard-earned podium positions from young racers who have learned a different protocol for passing under a standing yellow, the visibility of flags throughout the incident, and other factors cannot be underestimated and I would have considered them all.

What I do know is that I would have asked myself the question that is the bedrock of my commitment to fairness, “What would Phil do?”, and maybe I would have decided differently.

 

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