Jorge Martin has attempted to dodge blame for causing an awkward mid-field pile-up into the first turn of the Austrian MotoGP Sprint Race, though others involved in the incident were rather more damning of the Spaniard.
Martin was identified as the rider at fault for the incident, which occurred when he and Miguel Oliveira made contact in the tight right-hand funnel into the Turn 1 right-hander.
The hefty thump subsequently pushed Oliveira back away from the corner, creating a concertina effect of contact with the riders to his left. In all, seven riders were involved with three [Marco Bezzecchi, Oliveira and Johann Zarco] crashing into retirement and three [Maverick Vinales, Fabio Quartararo and Enea Bastianini] being heavily delayed.
Martin went on to finish third, though will have to serve a long-lap penalty in the main Austrian MotoGP race on Sunday as a consequence.
“I think I was on a good line,” he said. “I didn’t touch anybody, I think someone touched me going into the corner from the outside so I think it’s not my fault.”
A damaging DNF for title contender Bezzecchi, not least because the incident was triggered by a Ducati stablemate and fellow championship rival, the Italian admitted to some shoulder pain but was keeping his emotions in check when reacting to Martin himself.
“I am fine, but I have a lot of pain in my shoulders. On the right one I got hit by the handlebar or Maverick and on the left one I hit the ground. The pain is not too much, nothing broke so I should be fine for tomorrow.
“As for the crash, I just tried to make the corner in the best way and then I got a big hit from someone and I crashed. I think in the video it was quite clear what happened, it is not my job to judge.
Oliveira, meanwhile, found himself counting the cost of another early DNF as a result of being struck by another rider. The Portuguese rider injured his hip at the opening round after being impacted by an errant Marc Marquez at Portimao and was also caught up in a lap one incident at Jerez after being taken down.
“My perspective was confusing, because I just got hit a bunch of times. I thought I could avoid the crash but I got sandwiched. Watching the replay it was clear, Martin was a bit optimistic, but yeah he caused a huge chaos.”
An awkward outcome for the Pramac team altogether, as Martin copped the finger of blame, it also had to contend with one of the casualties being its other rider Zarco, who was the innocently swiped out by being unsighted on the outside.
“I had a good start and I was on the outside gaining some positions, but I got some contact, which was under control, then ‘boom’, I was on the floor. I then saw the incident but [you can see] I could not have avoided the accident.”
Similarly, Bastianini paid the price for choosing an outside line into Turn 1, forcing him off course as he tried to avoid the carnage to his inside.
“I saw only Maverick and Johann picking up the bike, so I had to go straight but then I had contact with Maverick. When I see the replay, I see Jorge braking very late to overtake but it was a bit on the limit. I lost a lot of time.”
While Martin landed the lion’s share of the blame, there was also arguably some responsibility on the part of Vinales, the Aprilia getting such a bad start from the front row to find himself swamped either side by turn one. Squashed in the middle, he stayed upright, going on to fight back from 19th and last to eighth at the flag.
“I got hit from the left or the right side, then I hit someone on the left. I couldn't get the bike straight, so then I was last. Last to eighth is amazing.”
Of all the riders involved, however, credit must go to Quartararo, who found himself being flung from one side to the other as he was hit multiple times, yet somehow held his balance to stay up and continue on his way.
“I knew when he touched,” he joked. “I didn’t see him coming, it was too late, I don’t know how I didn’t crash. He hit me, then I hit two or three other riders and I was lucky not to crash.”