MotoAmerica has updated the penalty associated with race start infractions like jump starts, according to Competitor Bulletin 08-2021.
A jump start, or “anticipation of the start,” is defined as the “motorcycle moving forward when the red start lights are on” whether or not the motorcycle leaves the rider’s grid spot.
Historically and up until the last round of the MotoAmerica season, the penalty for a jump start has been a ride-through penalty where the rider is required to ride through pit lane during the race at or below the pit lane speed limit (60 kph/37 mph) before exiting pit lane and rejoin the race.
In most cases, this is a severe penalty. For instance, when Bobby Fong served a ride-through penalty for jumping the start of MotoAmerica Superbike Race Two at Road Atlanta, the ride-through penalty cost him about 20 seconds.
For 2021, the FIM Superbike World Championship, following the lead of the FIM MotoGP World Championship has switched to issuing two long-lap penalties to any rider who has a jump start.
A long-lap penalty is when the rider must navigate a pre-determined section of track outside of the normal road course, costing them extra time but only a few extra seconds.
At the wet French Grand Prix, Jack Miller exceeded the pit lane speed limit during the mid-race bike changeover, incurring a double long-lap penalty. Those penalties added about five seconds total to Miller’s time and he was still able to win the race.
Racetracks used by MotoAmerica are not currently set up with sections of track to be used for long-lap penalties.
Considering all of this, MotoAmerica, which runs under rules set by AMA and closely following FIM rules, has decided to change the “standard and minimum penalty” for a jump start to a five-second time penalty to be assessed at the end of the race.
Penalized riders and their teams, however, will be notified of the penalty during the race “as soon as practical,” according to the MotoAmerica Competitor Bulletin. Greater penalties may also be imposed for those who gain a “significant advantage or for repeated offenses during the season at the discretion of Race Direction.”
According to MotoAmerica Operations Director Niccole Cox, MotoAmerica is exploring the possibility of adding long-lap penalties in 2022.