Cal Crutchlow’s hopes of a podium finish in Sunday’s Argentina MotoGP were scattered after he was penalised by a ‘ridiculous’ jump start penalty.
Speaking about the incident, Crutchlow said “If you look at the side camera, which is what they showed me, I moved. But not even a centimetre. I’m balancing on my toes. It’s not that I’ve released the clutch. Because we can show that the clutch is fully to the bar, and then I released the clutch once. So, if there’s a big gap from the clutch lever to the bite of the clutch – it’s not that I’m holding it on the bike and rolling it. I’m balancing. And they’re saying it’s a jump start. It’s just ridiculous.”
HERE’S A LOOK AT CRUTCHLOW’S START –
Here is the video from Race Direction showing Crutchlow’s jump start at the #ArgentinaGP— MotoGP™ 🇦🇷 (@MotoGP) 31 March 2019
The explanation of how he was penalised for this can be found under article 1.18 section 14 of the rule book (see the tweet below for full description). pic.twitter.com/1zWN2PG0pO
Under the rules, had Crutchlow moved before the lights went out but then stopped, he may have avoided a penalty.
Following the penalty, Crutchlow was critical of 27-time grand prix winner and triple world champion Freddie Spencer, who has taken over the role of Chairman of the FIM MotoGP Stewards Panel this season.
Speaking about Spencer, he said: “Somebody who has been brought in to understand racing, and understand the racer’s point of view with regards to passing and incidents on the track, as far as I’m concerned he should… I’m not saying give me the benefit of the doubt, because I did nothing wrong. I’m not rolling [on the clutch] at all. I’m literally balancing on my toe. It’s just ridiculous, completely ridiculous. But I can’t change it. At the next Safety Commission [meeting] when we show the video, the other riders will laugh, and they will then lose the respect for him as well. This is just ridiculous. I never gained anything. It makes it look worse that I made a fantastic start. But there’s no way I’m rolling when the lights went out. But that’s just the way it is.”
Crutchlow also suggested that such a marginal penalty call would not have been made against some of the other riders.
He said: “My problem that I have with Race Direction is that I don’t believe they would have given this penalty to Marc, Vale, Dovi, or someone like that. And that’s the truth. Do you think he would have given Valentino a ride through? I’m not picking on Valentino or any one rider, I’m talking about somebody with a high profile. I don’t believe he would have. Say Marc had done that, and he was leading the race, do you think he would have given him a ride through? I don’t. That’s my opinion though. Of course he’s going to say he would, but I don’t agree with that. But he’s made a fantastic name for himself in his role. I have the utmost respect for what he did as a rider, but the Safety Commission, we asked for somebody that understands racing, that’s going to have some discretion and understanding of the rules and what’s gaining and what’s not gaining, what’s bad passes and what’s not bad passes… It’s just ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous.”
Speaking about his conversation with Race Direction after the GP, Crutchlow said: “When I went up there, Freddie Spencer didn’t say one word to me. He just stood there with his arms folded…. I was in there ten minutes, complaining and saying that I was not moving. My whole team was. But not one of [the Stewards Panel] said one word. It sounds like I’m on an absolute rampage and attack against them, but you have to understand the way that I’m feeling, and you have to understand the way that every single person that I’ve asked, that sees it on TV, is feeling. That I never jumped the start. It needs looking at, because it’s just ruined a whole grand prix for 50 staff and me. But this is the way it is. I have accepted it, I have to move on, I have to do a good race in Texas, and I think we can.”
Crutchlow, who ended up on the podium in round one, was expecting to challenge for a spot on the steps once again in Argentina – but eventually ended up finishing in 13th place. He added: “If you jump the start, and just set off like a madman, then I understand a ride through. But that penalty today didn’t fit the crime for sure, because I didn’t jump the start.”