Moto2 championship leader Marc MÃ¡rquez will start at the back of the grid for this weekend's Australian Grand Prix after the stewards handed him a one-minute qualifying penalty for his part in today's crash with Ratthapark Wilairot.
The incident occurred at the very end of Free Practice 1 as the riders cruised back to the pits having taken the chequered flag. However, after an earlier crash, MÃ¡rquez was keen to make up for lost time and was pushing hard on his in-lap to gain as much information as possible.
As the Spaniard approached turn three though, he came across Wilairot and Speed Up rider Valentin Debise who were travelling much slower. MÃ¡rquez avoided Debise on the inside of the corner but piled into the back of Wilairot who was in the middle of the track, destroying both bikes and sending both riders into the gravel trap.
In a statement the FIM said that MÃ¡rquez had ridden in “an irresponsible manner, causing danger to Wilairot which is an infringement of Article 1.21.2 of the 2011 FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Regulations”.
“An appeal was lodged by MÃ¡rquez's team (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol), following which FIM Stewards confirmed the decision of Race Direction. The decision of the FIM Stewards is final.”
Marquez was unhurt but Thai rider Wilairot was taken to hospital for a check-up after suffering suspected injuries to his back and left leg, although they aren't believed to be serious.
The incident may prove a turning point in the race for the title though with MÃ¡rquez's penalty guaranteeing that he will start at the back of the grid, and with championship rival Stefan Bradl setting the fastest time on Friday, the German has a golden opportunity to overturn MÃ¡rquez's one point lead.