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by dean adams
Thursday, September 14, 2006

The recent Sepang MotoGP event was a tremendous event—with a decent on-site crowd, captivated worldwide TV audience and most importantly a great race for the win. Yamaha's Rossi won, and the dramatic chase for the title continues. All in all, a successful race event.
Of course the race was completely illegal.

The published FIM rulebook for MotoGP states unequivocally on page 22, section 1.15.4 Free practice will not be timed for the purpose of qualification or grid positions.

Because of the monsoon-like rainfall on Saturday at Sepang, MotoGP's qualifying session was rained out, and standing water on the circuit caused qualifying to be cancelled completely. The grid was put in place with practice times.

It seems impossible but the MotoGP/FIM rule book contains no provision for the possibility of the lone qualifying session being cancelled. For the world's highest form of roadracing to have an arbitrary rule stating practice can't be used to construct the grid and at the same time no provision if they are unable to hold a standard qualifying session might indicate the frequent criticism naming the AMA as the most inept sanctioning body in the motorcycle world actually might not be accurate.

A logical solution to the "Sepang problem" might have been to use Sunday morning's practice as qualifying, or extend the session by 15 minutes to set the grid. Instead the grid was set by practice times, which as per their own rule, is not allowed.

Conspiracy theorists, as you might imagine, are having a field day with this . The most commonly-heard speculation has it that the grid was intentionally set from practice times in order to benefit one rider and one rider only ... Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa.

Pedrosa was injured in a nasty Sepang fall and may not have been able to run qualifying if it had been dry; the Spanish rider was still slow in Sunday morning warm-up. That the Repsol-sponsored rider was able to start fifth on the grid, and with adequate "Costa cocktails" could run up front in the race, certainly kept his hand in the championship, a series whose rights are managed by a Madrid-based group.

One can only speculate how Pedrosa's fortunes would have fared if qualifying would have replaced morning practice or if a short qualifying session would have been tacked onto Sunday's morning session.

It's been customary, in the US at least, in these situations, to set grids by championship points when qualifying isn't possible. The fact that this wasn't done at Sepang is both a curiosity and perhaps a fact that goes some distance in showing this wasn't some Dorna-manipulated charade for the benefit of Pedrosa.

If the grid had been set by championship points, Pedrosa would have started in the second position, on the front row
 

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ha i just read that over on superbikeplanet.com...interesting
 

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Well there go the conspiracy theories that everyone seems to think Pedrosa is getting a nod from Dorna. haha.

Curious why they broke their own rules though... Would have definitely benefitted Stoner to go by points.
 

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Interesting... I had not given the Sepang starting grid much thought until now. It would have made the most sense to use championship points. In the end, Rossi still would have kicked Haydens ass ;) :p
 
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