Date: December 4, 2015
Race location: Circuit De Losail, Ostia, Italy
Conversion penalty: 13 seconds
MotoGP Series table after race (before penalty)
When you say hello to MotoGP in Italy, you are apt to be greeted by a flashing exclamation point, a green flag and a crash.
Traditionally, the Italian national sports code does not count as complete sports and is not a pro-sports sport. Let that sink in for a moment. The track sits in the centre of the city of Ostia, which is a bay in the Adriatic and Mediterranean Sea. The highway that connects it to the mainland runs through the center of the city, leaving just a handful of open roads as the majority of the surrounding area is marshland.
So when you wake up in the morning and realize there is going to be a race on the race track, you don’t realize it’s a MotoGP race until you step off the couch and walk toward the stands. You have to jostle and push through the crowds of Italian nationals and Romanian nationals, making your way down the highway to greet the motorcyclists coming in to the paddock.
MotoGP is a unique sport with its own rules and protocols. That creates natural tension between competing nations, but it also creates an overall competition because riders face different laws at different venues. As such, local customs play a large role in the race. When spectators ask you what countries are in the competition, or what your nationality is, you have to know the correct answer.
Unfortunately, the rules allowed for a one-off penalty this time. That is because the Italian team, Andrea Dovizioso’s Repsol Honda, signed with U.S. company KTM when a deal with Team Dovizioso expired and switched in the offseason. Due to this, MotoGP requires a rider’s mandatory nationality to be listed as Italian and they can not race for a team other than the national team, which is how Pecco Bagnaia wound up standing on the red-flag with his backside against the start of the lap.
Bagnaia has never been on a MotoGP podium in his career (he finished 12th in Germany at Brno in October), but has finished two-straight races in sixth place. He is currently in seventh place and should get more podiums in upcoming races. It’s been a big year for the hard-driving Italian rider. Bagnaia was 28th at the first practice session and then eighth, and later qualified sixth. He ran in the top 10 to the finish of the race and now sits in seventh place in the MotoGP World Championship standings.