MotoGP: The Show Must Go On

Emotions were high on day two of the Catalan Grand Prix after the loss of Luis Salom

Marc Marquez 2016
Marc Marquez pays tribute to Luis Salom.Photo Courtesy of Honda Pro Racing

Emotions were high on day two of the Catalan Grand Prix. The loss of Moto2 rider Luis Salom hung heavy over the paddock. But the show must go on. It's what Salom would have wanted, according to his family. Even so, the look on the riders faces in the post qualifying press conference – Marc Marquez, Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa, Johann Zarco and Brad Binder – showed how much more difficult that was in reality.

“Obviously after an accident like this, the hard thing is to get going, to put the leathers on again and be on the bike,” Pedrosa said. “At the same time your emotions are there, you can see in the face of everybody, in the look of everyone here. It’s a difficult compromise to stay focused, to be riding, to adapt to the new track and to keep going for the weekend.”

Pedrosa, a friend of the Salom family even expressed the sentiment that he “would not mind to cancel it,” the race. Moto3 pole sitter Binder, also friends with Salom, was struggling with it as well, but felt the right thing to do was carry on.

“It’s safe to say yesterday was a very tough day, not only for me but my whole entire team,” Binder said. “I was Luis’ teammate in 2012 and I learned so much from him. Also with him riding for Red Bull KTM things were very difficult yesterday afternoon. It’s one of those things you don't want to think about, you know. When I woke up this morning I didn't feel so good. I really struggled the first session this morning to get my mind off of it. It’s been a tough day for everyone yesterday, but we have to carry on.”

Dani Pedrosa 2016
For Dani Pedrosa, it was tough to carry on after the loss of his friend, but the Spaniard was able to secure third, his best qualifying performance this season.Photo Courtesy of Honda Pro Racing

In addition to the family giving the blessing to carry on with the race weekend, the track had another configuration that F1 uses that was readily available. So that satisfied the rider’s safety concerns at the Safety Commission. Marquez explained that if this other configuration was not readily available, they would have canceled the weekend. Also again, it seemed right to fulfill the family’s wishes. Moto2 pole-sitter Zarco – who came up through the ranks more or less alongside Salom since 2007 in the Red Bull Rookies Cup – expressed the importance of racing, new-track configuration or not.

“As they say, if the family say it is good to race, I think also it is good to race,” Zarco said. “If the circuit cannot be changed, even in this condition… It’s like, it never happen; there have been many accidents in this corner, and really, it looks as if it was the day and time for Luis. That’s why we are all very sad.

“I think we must think, it’s difficult, but think positive and do all for him. He was a racer. He was passionate about the motorbike. He cannot be here anymore, and if we race just thinking about him and do our job for him. It’s like, turn the disaster as a positive thing and make the passion to our art and for the heart also of the family.”

Johann Zarco
Reigning Moto2 Champion Johann Zarco was also quite emotional, having know Salom since the Red Bull Rookies Cup days in 2007. But the Frenchman felt the best way to honor Salom was to race for him.Photo Courtesy of Ajo Motorsport

Still, it is a tough time in the paddock and during tough times there are those that still ask why and wonder what could have been done differently? But maybe it was not asked at the right time or in the right manner… Not long after, those good thoughts turned into an argument between Zarco and one of the journalists who asked a rather sharp question to the riders about the blame. Dorna Boss Carmelo Ezpeleta made the statement in a press conference earlier in the day that the riders had not complained about turn 12 before, but some riders, such as Lorenzo in the press conference said, “As I told you before turn 12 should’ve been modified much before, than now.” So the journalist asked the riders who was lying? The riders or Ezpeleta?

“It’s a really shit question this,” Zarco fired back. The journalist interjected to defend his question, but Zarco continued rather heatedly: “You must almost shut up, because you are looking for a problem; that we don't need to think about this problem… Don't find a problem, who is right, who is wrong, because you are wrong. This is your problem. Because you ask the question and you try to find a problem, so you are the problem now.”

Marquez stepped in with an explanation: “Nobody lie. Because we discussed about this corner in the past but everybody agreed that we put the air fence, with the air fence the riders agree. We say, ‘was a good solution,’ we thought this was enough. Like we saw yesterday, nobody expect this. It is so difficult to imagine that this would happen with the bike in front.”

In the end, in life and in racing, it's difficult to imagine everything.