NINE-TIME MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi looked visibly shocked after narrowly escaping debris from a 200mph crash at the Austrian GP this weekend.
The collision occurred on the approach to the second bend of the Red Bull Ring, when Franco Morbidelli collided with Johann Zarco. Zarco has been put at fault for the crash by both Rossi and the race’s commentators, who said they thought he was on the “extreme of the line” when the crash occurred. Rossi said: “Zarco was very wide, and he brakes in the face of Franco.” The 41-year old has called for “serious” punishment to be handed out to the Frenchman.
The two riders who were involved in the crash were thrown through the air but both managed to land away from oncoming motorcycles. Zarco’s bike continued across the track on the ground before going off the track at the next turn. Morbidelli’s, however, is seen to fly across the bend, missing Rossi and fellow racer Maverick Vinales by millimetres.
Luckily, no rider was significantly injured. Franco Morbidelli took himself to the medical centre to be checked out, but was cleared and reportedly expects to race in the Styrian GP (which also takes place at the Red Bull Ring) next week. After the race, the Italian called Zarco a “half-killer”, and said that braking in the manner that Zarco did “is really having little love for yourself and those you are racing with.”
“I really hope that this huge accident makes him think a little more, because it was really dangerous for me, for him, and for Valentino and Maverick.”
Zarco has pleaded his innocence, however, insisting that “there were no bad thoughts” involved in his actions. He said: “The bad things that they were thinking, [that] I did it on purpose, that I wanted to stop Morbidelli… This was not my thought. I was braking, for sure I thought that maybe he could overtake. But I didn’t cut the line to stop him. It’s too crazy to do it and dangerous, and I’m conscious enough to manage it.”
If there's ever a moment to make you question if you want to continue…
Valentino Rossi looks visibly shaken after the crash between Morbidelli and Zarco.
— MotoGP on BT Sport (@btsportmotogp) August 16, 2020
A red flag was shown after the incident, which took place on the ninth lap of the race. Despite looking shaken after dismounting his bike, Rossi was present for the race restart, and eventually took fifth, with Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso winning the race.
The incident, in concert with another huge crash on the same weekend involving Moto2 riders Hafizh Syahrin and Enea Bastianini (in which Syahrin sustained a pelvic contusion), has once again called into question the safety of the Red Bull Ring as a MotoGP location. Casey Stoner, a now-retired two-time World Champion, has previously explained that the track, despite being a favourite among some motorsport fans thanks to its picturesque location, is more suited to Formula One than it is to MotoGP. Back in 2016, Stoner said (according to The Race): “The circuit has some nice parts but it’s a bit strange for bikes because some of the corners don’t flow well together, which makes it somewhat difficult.”
Rossi has echoed the same sentiment, although he blamed the crash between Zarco and Morbidelli on driver aggression. He said: “I think that the Red Bull Ring is dangerous in some places, especially where you have hard braking from 300km/h to 50km/h. In the hairpin, you have to come in completely the opposite direction, and it is potentially a very dangerous place.”
Feature image from MotoGP website