Marshals Issues Create Controversy at MotoGP Debut in India
The first day of MotoGP practice in India was not without problems. The marshals at the Buddh International Circuit caused delays.
The debut of MotoGP in India at the Buddh International Circuit garnered enthusiastic responses from the riders, who were impressed by the circuit’s complex and flowing layout.
The entire paddock praised the warm hospitality of the Indian population, which helped overshadow previous issues related to safety concerns and visa complications.
However, a series of challenges emerged during the training sessions in India, primarily revolving around the marshals.
These individuals, responsible for motorcycle recovery and flag signaling, offer their services voluntarily at racetracks, leading to variations in their training and performance from one event to another.
During the initial sessions of the India Grand Prix, it became evident that there was room for improvement in the marshaling services.
While the first practices for Moto3, Moto2, and MotoGP proceeded as planned, the second Moto3 session in the afternoon faced a delay from its scheduled start time of 9:45 AM.
Viewers of were soon greeted by a “Session delayed due to track condition” notification typically used for safety-related repairs or crash clean-ups.
However, there was no observable evidence for such activities in the TV footage. It later came to light that many marshals were absent from their designated posts at the beginning of the second Moto3 session.
The reasons for this absence remained unclear, with some sources attributing it to a communication breakdown, while others mentioned a possible marshal strike.
The latter group claimed that marshals, after enduring several hours of extreme heat with limited access to water, had demanded improved working conditions.
The marshals eventually returned to their posts, and the afternoon training sessions for all three classes took place with a 45-minute delay.
Frustration over struggling marshals
However, frustrations with the marshals’ performance persisted. When riders crashed or became stuck in the deep gravel of turn one, significant delays occurred in clearing the affected section. In contrast, tracks with experienced marshals typically handled such situations more swiftly.
KTM Team Manager Francesco Guidotti expressed his discontent during the afternoon training, highlighting the extended time marshals took to remove motorcycles after crashes, resulting in riders losing valuable time due to yellow flags.
At the end of the session, this issue became costly for KTM’s top rider, Brad Binder. Although he had initially set the fourth-fastest lap time, it was invalidated due to yellow flags following Takaaki Nakagami’s crash.
Nakagami’s incident had occurred approximately 70 seconds before Binder reached the accident site. Consequently, Binder approached race direction after the training session to seek clarification on the situation.
In MotoGP, a combination of light panels and traditional flag signals is utilized. While light panels are centrally controlled, flag-waving responsibilities rest with the marshals. In Binder’s case, according to the panels, the yellow flag phase had ended, but the responsible marshal continued to wave the flag.
Binder later expressed his disappointment during his media session, noting that he did not have his lap time reinstated.