MotoGP: Iannone claims maiden pole position in Italy

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Andrea Iannone claimed his maiden MotoGP pole position in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello as Ducati dominated proceedings on Saturday afternoon.

Racing on home soil this weekend, Iannone proved that Ducati’s progress at the start of the 2015 season is being sustained by edging out Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo in the final stage of qualifying.

The Italian rider gave the home fans plenty to smile about with a fastest lap time of 1:46.489 in the final part of qualifying, with Ducati teammate Andrea Dovizioso qualifying third on the grid.

Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi was unable to keep up the Italian success, though, qualifying down in eighth place on the sister Yamaha bike.

However, the biggest shock of qualifying was the demise of Honda’s Marc Marquez. The two-time world champion failed to automatically secure a place in Q2 with a poor result in practice, and then mistimed his final Q1 lap to leave himself 13th on the grid.

The result marks Marquez’s worst ever MotoGP qualifying result, but teammate Dani Pedrosa managed to ensure there was at least one Honda in the top ten by finishing seventh in the final session.

In spite of a fracture on his arm, Iannone was able to dominate proceedings and made no secret of his delight following the session.

“I am very pleased with how things went today,” Iannone said. “For sure in my condition this result was in no way expected, but in the end me and my team did a great job and we managed to improve.

“The only problem I have at the moment is my shoulder condition, because it needs more time to get back to 100%: tomorrow will be a tough race but I will not give in.”

New study surveys drivers’ opinions on crashes, concussions, more

James Black/IndyCar
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Auto racing safety has continued to improve through the decades, but the sport remains inherently dangerous, according to a new survey.

At the close of 2018, a new organization called Racing Safety United emerged with the intention of reducing drivers’ risk of being harmed.

RSU is made up of more than 30 members including former NASCAR Cup Series competitor Jerry Nadeau, two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Randy LaJoie, NHRA team owner Don Schumacher and motorsports journalist Dick Berggren.

One of RSU’s first initiatives was to determine what current drivers thought of racing safety. The organization developed a 14-question survey and promoted it on select motorsports websites and forums. 

Participants were given the opportunity to disclose their identity or remain anonymous, and those who provided contact information were entered to win a $500 prize (for anonymous participants, the prize funds would be donated to a motorsports charity). 

More than 140 individuals participated in the survey over the course of 12 months. Below are the results of the survey:

Driver status

The vast majority of survey participants (60%) were amateur racers, while 26% of the participants were classified as Semi-Pro/Professional racers. The remaining 14% consisted of other individuals involved in the sport such as team owners and crew chiefs. 

When asked how frequently they race, 58% of driver respondents averaged 10 or more times per year on track, while 42% averaged 10 times or less.

The top five tracks respondents said they raced most often: Road Atlanta (21 votes), Watkins Glen (17 votes), Virginia International Raceway (16 votes), Mid-Ohio (16 votes), and Road America (13 votes).

Vehicular damage, injuries common

Over a third of respondents said they had been injured while racing, and almost two-thirds sasid they had suffered severe vehicle damage while racing

Driver error was cited as the top cause of vehicle damage (42 mentions), followed by concrete walls (26 mentions), mechanical failures (24 mentions), and other drivers (19 mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for better driver training/coaching, energy absorbing walls, and more technical inspections.

Almost a quarter of drivers said they had experienced racing-related concussions, and nearly half the respondents said one or multiple concussions would affect their decision to race in the future. 

Drivers primarily influenced by peers 

Roughly half the drivers said they would consider adopting new safety equipment if influenced by another driver (51 total mentions) and/or if recommended by a sanctioning body (47 total mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for drivers to become safety advocates and educate other drivers and for sanctioning bodies to mandate safety equipment. 

Drivers concerned with concrete walls

Approximately three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said they believed certain race tracks were more dangerous than others. Nearly half the drivers surveyed believe that concrete walls were the primary cause of damage to drivers and vehicles. 

Drivers willing to help

Just more than three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said that they would be willing to join a safety alliance to advocate for safer tracks. Two-thirds of drivers said that they also would be willing to contribute to a motorsports safety fund.

Click here for the full results of RSU’s survey

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