Pramac Ducati team-mates Pecco Bagnaia and Jack Miller both retired from the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in perhaps some of the most unusual circumstances ever to cause a double DNF for a MotoGP team.
Bagnaia crashed out of the lead while looking like he had his first MotoGP victory wrapped up, holding a one-second lead over Maverick Vinales when he fell with seven laps left.
And team-mate Miller – who led briefly on lap one – was running seventh when he suffered a mechanical problem on lap eight that forced him to retire to the pits visibly frustrated.
The cause of both incidents? According to the team, visor tear-offs dropped by other riders during the opening laps of the race.
Miller’s case was perhaps the most clear cut, with the Pramac team able to pluck one of the disposable plastic coverings still bearing Fabio Quartararo’s logo from the air filter of the Desmosedici, where it has become lodged and starved the bike of oxygen. It can be seen below in the screenshot used with permission of MotoGP promoter Dorna.
It isn’t the first time that a Ducati has had a similar problem in recent years, with an identical issue befalling Tito Rabat on the Avintia Ducati.
The Misano retirement was a massive blow to Miller’s 2020 title aspirations, dropping him from third in the championship and 12 points off title leader Andrea Dovizioso to sixth and 20 points behind.
However, with the topsy-turvy nature of the compressed championship, all’s not lost just yet and Miller has already bounced back successfully from one DNF this season.
“It looks like I’ve touched something, like a tear-off or some dirt on the track. It’s the only thing that’s possible” :: Pecco Bagnaia
On the other side of the garage team-mate Bagnaia had an even more unlikely occurrence, claiming after the race that he believes that his fall was caused by losing grip on one of the disposed slivers of plastic.
“As soon as I crashed I wanted my bike back to the box to see what had happened, because it was too strange a crash,” said Bagnaia.
“I was completely in control with the gap to Maverick, I was controlling the pace, and for sure he was pushing a lot while I was riding smart.
“Looking at the data, everything was the same – the speed, the gas, the line.
“It looks like I’ve touched something, like a tear-off or some dirt on the track.
“It’s the only thing that’s possible, because if it isn’t like this, then I’d be scared for the next race because crashing like this without any warning is scary.”
There have been half-hearted calls for a number of years to ban tear-offs, but more for environmental reasons than because of safety concerns.
Each grand prix rider normally uses three during a race, contributing to a significant amount of litter over the course of a three-race weekend.
Formula 1 drivers were due to banned from removing tear-offs in pitlane or on track in 2016, after a series of mechanical problems caused by the pieces of debris getting stuck in brake ducts. But the FIA backed down from implementing a regulation on the issue and instead asked for a common sense approach to tear-off disposal.