MotoGP – Rossi appeals Sepang penalty

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The fallout from Sepang’s vicious duel between Valentino Ross and Marc Marquez has taken a dramatic twist as the Italian has taken the extraordinary decision to file an appeal against his grid penalty to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in last ditch bid to get his last place start for the Valencia title decider overturned.

While the initial appeal by Rossi’s Yamaha team against the decision of Race Direction was quickly rejected by the FIM Stewards’, the CAS move is the last throw of the dice by Rossi as he tries to keep his hopes of winning a 10th title alive.

The Italian was handed three penalty points for triggering a clash with bitter rival Marc Marquez at Sepang. The rulebook states that four points trigger an automatic start from the back of the grid, but as Rossi already had one penalty point for impeding title rival Jorge Lorenzo in qualifying at Misano, that was enough to see the Yamaha Factory rider moved to the tail end of the grid for next weekend’s season finale in Valencia.

Rossi still has a seven point lead over team-mate and title rival Lorenzo, but the prospect of starting from the very back of the field means that Rossi faces a nigh on impossible task of securing his tenth title.

But while Rossi is seeking “the annulment of the penalty, or at least a reduction from 3 points to 1” he only needs to delay the existing penalty to avoid starting last at Valencia.

And there has been a precedent set already this season as Hector Barber was only given a one point penalty for the same infringement after an incident with Pol Espargaro during the warm-up session at Sepang.

Rossi has also filed an urgent application for a stay of execution of the decision, and as Rossi’s punishment involves penalty points rather than championship points, any decisions made by the CAS after the Valencia race are unlikely to have an impact on the 2015 title outcome.

A statement by the FIM said: “On the basis of Article 3.4.2, para 3 of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Regulations, Mr Valentino Rossi has filed an Appeal against the decision taken by the Race Direction of the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix in Sepang, penultimate round of the FIM MotoGP Grand Prix World Championship, and confirmed by the FIM Stewards, to award three penalty points to Mr Rossi following an incident on Turn 14.

“In appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), Mr Rossi seeks annulment or reduction of the penalty. He further requests stay of execution of the decision in accordance with Article R37 of the Code of Sports-Related Arbitration.

“The FIM will not comment any further at this time.”

What this means is that if the CAS upholds the three penalty points during its full judgement, Rossi would simply serve his last place start at the 2016 Qatar season opener – or whichever race was the first to be staged following the judgement.

The move is likely to further add to the rising tension within the Yamaha Factory camp, with Lorenzo inflaming the situation and angering his paymasters by launching a scathing attack on his team-mate.

Speaking after the race he said: “I think it is unfair and the situation is unbelievable. I saw and I didn’t believe – it doesn’t enter my head to do these kind of things, never in my life.

“In this kind of corner that you are completely in the angle, braking in the angle, to put up straight the bike and slow the other rider and make like this with the leg – it’s unbelievable that this happen,” added the 28-year-old.

“But it happened and Race Direction made a decision and we have to respect it, but I don’t share it to be honest.”

Lorenzo may hold the morale ground within the garage, but Rossi is still the sport’s biggest name and the rider who shifts the biggest amount of new bikes. And that is ultimately why Yamaha races.

All this means that next weekend’s season finale at Valencia has all the ingredients to be one of the most memorable races in the history of the sport. Watch this space.

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