MotoGP: The Case Of Andrea Iannone V. Jorge Lorenzo

The verdict is in, but what did the parties have to say? Even Valentino Rossi weighs in.

Jorge Lorenzo 2016
Defending MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo's (pictured) title defense was put in jeopardy after Andrea Iannone took both of them out of the Catalan Grand Prix.Photo Courtesy of Yamaha

Mistakes happen. It’s part of being human. As the saying goes: To err is human, to forgive; divine. That’s because forgiveness does not come easy. Especially in racing. In this case, when Andrea Iannone ran into the back of Jorge Lorenzo and took them both out of the Catalan Grand Prix, bringing Lorenzo leading the championship by 10 points to a 10-point deficit on the new championship leader Marc Marquez.

After the crash, Lorenzo was visibly upset, not wanting to hear what Iannone had to say. Not unusual right after a crash, but it was especially hard for Lorenzo to take the “divine” approach after Iannone’s response.

“About the race, it’s unbelievable that Iannone made this mistake again and when he did, instead of saying “sorry” he asked me if I had an engine failure or something strange happening in this corner,” Lorenzo said. “You can make a mistake, like Dani [Pedrosa] did in Austin, but then you have to go there and accept your fault. When he [Iannone] got up off the ground he just told me, ‘Jorge, something happen with your engine, with your bike that was not normal how you brake, you brake much before.’ Instead of saying, ‘Jorge, sorry I made a mistake,’ he ask about my bike. So this is the worst thing.”

It’s not hard to expect that the rider being hit would immediately find fault with the other rider, but to be fair, there are always two sides to every story and Iannone felt that Lorenzo slowed unexpectedly.

“As for the incident, I can only say that I could do nothing to avoid it: I braked at the same point as all the previous laps but he was very slow at that moment and unfortunately I made contact with him and we both crashed." - Andrea Iannone.

“I am very sorry for what happened with Lorenzo because I was doing a good race with the limited grip I had,” Iannone explained. “As for the incident, I can only say that I could do nothing to avoid it: I braked at the same point as all the previous laps but he was very slow at that moment and unfortunately I made contact with him and we both crashed. It might seem that I came in too fast and that I wanted to pass him but that’s not the way it went and we got the confirmation of this by analyzing the telemetry data.”

It can be hard to find objectivity when you’re at the center of the controversy, so what was another rider’s perspective? The top three from the Catalan Grand Prix – Valentino Rossi, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa – were asked their opinion. Rossi (clearly not a Lorenzo supporter and a friend of Iannone) gave his insight, including what Iannone could have done differently to avoid it.

“I think that Iannone did the mistake in braking and Jorge was able to slow down the bike better,” Rossi said. “So you can make a mistake, but maybe in that moment what Iannone can do is try to go on the outside more than on the inside, because you arrive in one moment and you have to understand that you don't stop and you have to try to go on the outside. But very easy to say, from here – the chair; quiet. From the bike it is more difficult and for sure is a shame when one rider make a mistake and go into the other one.”

Andrea Iannone 2016
Iannone (29) was already in the doghouse for taking out his teammate Andrea Dovizioso (04) in Argentina.Photo Courtesy of Ducati

“There is always one rider that doesn’t understand the risks and that his actions can seriously injure the other riders..” - Jorge Lorenzo.

Marquez and Pedrosa shared the same sentiments, including the fact that it was always easier to judge what another rider could have done from the sidelines. In the end, the people who judge from the sidelines – Race Direction – found Iannone at fault, a repeat of his infraction in Argentina when he took out his own teammate, Andrea Dovizioso, in the final corner of the race. For that repeat offense, Iannone will have to start from the back of the grid at the next round in Assen, as well as two-penalty points. For Lorenzo, the penalty was not enough.

“There is always one rider that doesn’t understand the risks and that his actions can seriously injure the other riders,” Lorenzo said. “And if Race Direction doesn’t give him a hard penalization, like they did with me in 2005, these kinds of riders don’t understand that they have to change their mentality. That's why I think starting the race from last position is not enough, because in five to seven laps he will be positioned at the front again due to his pace.”

Iannone was hoping to clear the air with Lorenzo, saying: “For sure I go back to his motorhome another time, because is very important for me to talk to Jorge and for sure, him understand the situation.”

He might want to wait awhile. Or at least come up with a different approach, because Lorenzo sees Iannone’s “mentality” as part of the problem.