Race Direction: the observant nerve centre of the MotoGP

6 minutes

The World Championship organisers take us behind the scenes to learn about the inner workings of the #MotoGP nerve centre in detail. Javier Alonso, Dorna representative in the Race Direction, tells us about it.

Riders after the start of the race
Race Direction: the observant nerve centre of the MotoGP

If a #MotoGP rider gets a headstart, do you know how long it takes Race Direction to penalise the rider?


What are the duties of the Race Direction?

Managing the event and everything that comes with it, both for sports-related and non-sports related things. What I mean to say by this is that we can have a problem with the spectators for example. In Indianapolis they announced that there was going to be a lightning storm and according to American legislation, if necessary, the circuit had to be evacuated at certain times. All these decisions are made by the Race Direction.

When we hold the Spanish Grand Prix, there is always a member of the Guardia Civil, the National Police, present, or a member of the Mosso D’esquadra, regional police, in Catalonia, in case there are any problems with the spectators. In Misano, the Race Direction decide when to let people onto the track. It’s not a decision taken at that time, completely the opposite: it is something that is decided on beforehand between the police chief and myself.

Currently, how many people make up the Race Direction? What are their profiles?

On the international side, the Race Direction is made up of three people. For example, there are three of us that make decisions to raise the red flag.

In the past, there was a Race Director who would make all the decisions. This led to a number of problems because there were decisions made that people did not understand. So, we decided to create a system in which there is a representative from each member group of the Championship. IRTA has a representative, FIM has another one, and I am Dorna’s representative. Together we make joint decisions. When a decision must be made, the IRTA representative will support teams more, the FIM representative will support safety, and I opt for decisions that affect the show. The truth is that Dorna holds races. At Dorna we have a motto: “hold races, show them on TV, and then sell time for adverts but… you have to hold races”.

During a GP, fans often read the TV news ticker that shows that an incident is being looked into. What is the protocol in these cases and what stages do these investigations go through?

We have always investigated what has needed to be investigated, but not that long ago we spoke with our press representatives and decided that it was better to announce it. We do a pre-analysis of the situation and if we see that a more in-depth analysis must be made that’s when we make it public. We manage the situation this way so that everyone understands that we’ve seen and we’re analysing what they saw on TV, and what commentators continue to mention. You have to understand that sometimes it’s difficult when you’re watching a race to work on analysing on specific point. That’s why sometimes we say that the incident will be analysed after the fact. On other occasions, if we feel that what has happened could affect the result of the race then we try to do it during the race.

Did you know that on all GP Fridays there are meetings between the riders and the Race Direction?


La sala de control de Dirección de Carrera

Are there always technical meetings with the teams and riders before the GPs? Or are they only held when there are important changes in the rules, or in similar cases?

At Dorna we have always tried to have an ongoing dialogue. When we make a decision we do so because we believe that it is the right decision. However, we try to involve everyone affected by this decision. The process may be a little long, but we feel that it is away to ensure that everyone is involved and that they agree with what we’re doing. There are meetings every two or three GPs for the new technical or sport regulations. Every Friday, meetings are held with the riders and with the teams, almost one out of every two races. But later on we talk constantly, there is no definite structure, we try to talk about everything with everyone.

In a tense situation when you’re deliberating what penalty the rider will receive, do you have a time limit to make a decision? If so, how long is it?

It depends on the penalty. If a rider gets a headstart, we have four laps to notify him. If two riders touch one another, which sometimes we aren’t able to see, and in the afternoon one of the riders calls you, or he sees you and tells you this has happened, we look into it. We want to know what has happened. There have been cases when a rider was penalised a week after.

Any story you want to tell us?

More than a story, I’d like to say that doing what you enjoy for a living is incredible. My whole life I have worked in Motorcycling and managing this, the way it’s been going over the last few years, growing in such an unbelievable way, being part of this…sometimes you ask yourself if it’s real. We just can’t believe it! Sometimes you have Rossi talking to you and later you get to chat with Marc… They’re stars! Sometimes you ask yourself: Will we do everything well enough so that the spectators are so happy that when you look out the window you can see that the circuit is full? In Misano, a sight to see, in England 10% more than the number of tickets…

Sometimes it is hard to believe that you’re part of this. I’ve grown here and I hope it lasts a long time. Being able to learn from someone like Carmelo from Ezpelta, from the strength he has, from his memory…it’s incredible.

Vista general de los monitores y pantallas en la sala de control de ´dirección de carrera

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