It takes a special kind of bad luck to finish in the same place at the same race for two years running – and get disqualified both times.
Keke Rosberg achieved that unique feat in the 1983 season-opener held on this day 30 years ago.
The reigning world champion was up against it at the start of his title defense. Turbo-powered F1 cars were in the ascendancy – and he didn’t have one.
But the Williams-Cosworth FW08C, a development of the car he won the title with the year before, was a known quantity and he put it on pole position at the Jacarepagua circuit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
In the race, Nelson Piquet’s turbocharged Brabham-BMW was too much for Rosberg. Brabham had innovated by reintroducing mid-race refueling pit stops the year before, the Brazilian driver’s went like clockwork and he took a popular home win.
Rosberg’s race did not go so smoothly and it all went wrong when he took to pit lane. A problem with the fuel coupling led to a fire, and he sprang from the cockpit.
Showing typical Rosberg grit, he jumped back into the cockpit the moment the flames had been doused. He left the pits having fallen to eighth, but impressively fought his way back to take second place.
Or so he though. The stewards decreed he’d received a push start following the fire, and erased his name from the final standings.
This was an especially bitter blow as much the same had happened to him the year before. Then too he’d finished behind Piquet on the road and that time both were disqualified as their cars were deemed to have run overweight.
His 1983 disqualification was an unpromising start to Rosberg’s title defense. As the season wore on the turbo cars moved further out of reach. His one moment of glory came at Monaco, where he produced a superb victory in damp conditions.
Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit
Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.
Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.
On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.
One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.
After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.
The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.
Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.
“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”
Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.
“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”
But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.
“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.
“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”
Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.
“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.
“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”
The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.