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Marquez’s Assen MotoGP tyre pressure penalty highlights unfair rules flaw

Marc Marquez was only 0.01 bar outside of MotoGP’s minimum tyre pressure rule for one lap of the Dutch Grand Prix and feels contact with Enea Bastianini was to blame.

The Gresini Ducati rider finished fourth in Sunday’s 26-lap grand prix at Assen, but was later demoted to 10th after being hit with a post-race time penalty of 16 seconds for breaching MotoGP’s minimum front tyre pressure rule.

Marquez revealed he felt from the first lap that his tyre temperature was strangely low, and tried to control it by allowing VR46 rider Fabio Di Giannantonio to overtake him on lap eight in a bid to use his dirty air to bring the pressure back up.

While this helped, the rules breach came on lap 21 when Ducati’s Enea Bastianini overtook Marquez at Turn 1 and sent him off-track due to contact.

Needing to ride within the minimum limit of 1.8 bar for 15 laps (amounting to 60% of full race distance), Marquez missed this by one tour, with his pressure dropping 0.01 bar outside of the legal tolerance as he recovered from running off-track.

“0.01 for one lap,” Marquez responded when asked how much underneath the limit he was. “It’s a shame, but the rules are the rules.

“The only thing we were discussing with the stewards, for that reason it delayed the penalty, because as you saw in the race I started in a good way but suddenly I saw on the front there was something strange and the tyre pressure was super low.

Fabio Di Giannantonio, VR46 Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“Then I let DiGia pass just to control the front pressure, and then I was there behind him all the race.

“I was controlling in a good way, I was inside. But what I didn’t expect was the contact with Enea, where he pushed me out.

“And when I was out that lap, I was one second slower and I didn’t push well in that Turn 3 and Turn 5, because I didn’t know how the tyre would be after coming from the run-off area.

“It dropped again, took two laps to come back and those two laps made me out of that minimum, which is 15 laps today.”

This has highlighted a flaw with the rules. Marquez has flagged this to the FIM stewards, who seemingly agree with the eight-time world champion.

While he accepts his punishment, because it falls under the current regulatory framework, he believes it should be tweaked for the future so that incidents which cause a rider to unintentionally breach the tyre pressure rules can be seen as mitigating circumstances.

“Can be, and it’s what they say to me is that it can be a consideration for the future,” he replied when asked if the tyre pressure rules should be changed to account for the situation he found himself in at Assen.

“But right now, the rules are the rules. And maybe it can change for the future.

“I think yes, especially if somebody hits you and you are out of the track. Because in the end, now the rules say if you don’t lose 16s in a lap, we cannot change the rules.

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“With these bikes, if you are one second or 1.5s slower in a lap, the pressure already drops 0.05. Should be [the rule], but at the moment it’s what I say to them, I needed to ask [if that could be a defence] because I was out [off-track] for a collision with another rider.

“And I need to ask, and they said ‘no, it’s the rules’. And I said ‘I agree with you’. The rules right now are like this and we need to wait.”

Marquez added that he thought Bastianini would have been given an order to drop one position after their collision, but Bastianini believes Marquez risked more trying to hang on around the outside of him.

The Gresini rider was the only one found to have breached the tyre pressure rules at Assen. He is the sixth rider to be punished this season, after five penalties were handed out in the Jerez sprint.

Since the regulation was introduced last year, it has caused a headache for teams in setting pressure to match the race circumstances their rider might find. This is a process that involves all of the teams and is not set by Michelin, whose tyre technicians can only offer advice.

Marquez’s team anticipated that he would be riding in the pack, starting from sixth, and so when he found himself in third on lap two it put him at risk. This explains why he waved Di Giannantonio through on lap eight, though he noted that his front pressure only went up by 0.1 bar behind the VR46 Ducati – which was much less than expected.

He also pointed to climactic conditions at Assen as playing a part in his pressure struggles.

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