Honda rider Joan Mir has been handed a long-lap penalty for the first feature-length race of the 2023 MotoGP season, after an incident with Fabio Quartararo during the series’ inaugural sprint race at Portimao.
Quartararo was able to continue, dropping to the back but eventually finishing just outside the points in 10th, but Mir’s debut race for Honda ended in the gravel – with the Spaniard explaining it afterwards as a racing incident.
“With Fabio,” he told the media, “what happened is that he braked in the middle of the track, I opened the line in Turn 13, then he went a bit wide, I took inside and when he came back, we touched. That was what happened with him.”
Not the ideal season kick-off for @JoanMirOfficial 💔
The @HRC_MotoGP rider collided with @FabioQ20 and crashed out early into the first-ever #TissotSprint 💥#PortugueseGP 🇵🇹 pic.twitter.com/KaIyHjH20K
— MotoGP™🏁 (@MotoGP) March 25, 2023
However, while Quartararo was relatively nonplussed about the contact afterwards, the MotoGP stewards weren’t as forgiving, handing Mir a penalty for Sunday’s first full length race of the season for what they saw as an “overly ambitious” move, according to the notification of sanction issued on Saturday evening.
Mir’s new Honda team took his side, too, appealing the decision to penalise its rider to MotoGP’s second tier of stewards – but that claim was also rejected, with the judges claiming that Honda failed to present sufficient evidence to overturn the first ruling.
“The Appeal simply stated that the rider did not agree with the Sanction applied,” they stated. “The MotoGP Stewards were interviewed by panel as to the basis of the decision with respect to their view that the rider Joan Mir was observed as being overly ambitious and causing contact with Rider #20, which severely impacted their race.
“They also provided the basis of the level of the penalty based on that decision. The rider Joan Mir and his manager, Alberto Puig, were then invited to present their case to the Appeal Panel, in addition to reviewing Official TV footage provided by Dorna.
“An additional photograph was presented by the rider (not seen by the MotoGP Stewards) and it was confirmed by Dorna that the on board camera of #36 was not in use during the incident.
“Based upon this information, the FIM Appeals Stewards decide to reject the Appeal [and] to confirm the penalty notified by the FIM MotoGP Stewards.”
The news comes amid a discussion about the expected consequences of introducing short sprint races that promote aggressive riding – but has also had some suggest that the decision not to penalise VR46 Ducati rider Luca Marini for a contact with Enea Bastianini that left the factory Ducati rider with a broken shoulder blade is at odds with Mir’s sanction.
Marini too saw that clash as a “racing incident” – albeit in his case he did fall off his bike first before it caused Bastianini to crash, while Mir had hit Quartararo before falling off.