ROGER DECOSTER ON DUNGEY’S TWO-PLACE PENALTY
After easily winning the 11th round of the AMA Supercross Championship, for what would have been his 6th victory in 2016, KTM’s Ryan Dungey was penalized two positions for jumping on the Red Cross flag. As a result, Dungey moved two positions down to third place, while Jason Anderson and Marvin Musquin were moved up to first and second. There is no doubt that Dungey jumped the jump, but there are doubts about the flagging practices.
KTM team manager Roger DeCoster said, “We were penalized two positions per the rulebook, but the problem is that Ryan’s line was on the outside and his line of sight could not see the flagger who was on the inside holding the Red Cross flag at waist height. There were the yellow lights flashing, which means to use caution, and Ryan could see there was no bike or rider on the track and jumped as he didn’t see the flag. After Ryan passed, the flagger stepped farther out onto the track. For the future we will push them (the AMA) to have the Red Cross flaggers wave more aggressively to be clearly seen. It’s a shame that Ryan was penalized for something that he gained nothing from in the race.”
It is admirable that the AMA is enforcing its rules, but in this case and the Jason Anderson Red Flag penalty earlier this season at San Diego, the flaggers have been either poorly placed or not aware of the closing speed and time needed for a rider to shut down his velocity. In Anderson’s case, the Red Cross flag was waving around a 90-degree corner leading to a double-double-double rhythm section. Anderson had to commit to the doubles in the berm about 50 feet before the first jump. With his eyes focused on the berm, and the flagger around a right-angle turn, Jason couldn’t see the flagger and could not shut off in time…or risk injuring himself. But the penalty stood. DeCoster’s claims about poor positioning was true in Anderson’s case. A Red Cross flag before the tight right, not standing on the first jump, would have given Anderson ample warning. A flag on a jump he had already committed to was not adequate.
Given the AMA’s unequal and lax enforcement of the rules in the past, as Ryan Villopoto was allowed to jump a Red Cross flag/lights during his time on the circuit by claiming he was committed before he saw the flag/lights and even made passes in the Red Flag Zone that other riders were penalized for, everyone appreciates the fair and equal treatment of riders, whether privateers or factory stars. However, the AMA’s shoots itself in the foot constantly. For example, the last two Red Flag restarts were not gate malfunctions as the AMA claimed—they were riders who jumped the start and hit the gate of their own volition. The fact that factory-sponsored riders were involved in both cases (Malcolm Stewart and Blake Baggett) doesn’t make the AMA look good—when they get a restart. When privateer Kyle Partridge’s gate obviously failed to fall last year in Santa Clara, and he was left stranded—the AMA ignored his pleas. Video replay clearing showed an actual gate malfunction. Video replay of this year’s incidents failed to show any kind of gate malfunction.
Sadly the AMA learned nothing from the first uncalled for Red Flag restart and repeated the same error almost immediately. And, they the learned nothing from the Jason Anderson Red Cross flag incident and continue to have Red Cross flags flying too close for the riders to respond to them.
These things, the fake restarts and poorly placed Red Cross flags, need to be addressed immediately by the AMA—not just glossed over.