Only his second GP as Honda team manager and Alberto Puig found himself dealing with a pretty tough task. It would have been crazy to think that the situation between Marquez and Rossi in Argentina wouldn't have any repercussions and the Spanish manager is quick to defend his rider.
It all began on the grid.
“I think it was a very complicated day for Marc. We're not exactly clear as to what happened on the grid, normally the bike doesn't switch itself of but that happened and, from that moment, certain circumstances complicated things, causing some delays. The rider clearly did what he thought best. With 23 riders behind him with their engines on, he wanted to get himself into the safest position. He thought that the marshals would tell him to move back into position”.
Many thought that race direction should have got involved immediately, rather than allow to Marquez to line up again after restarting his engine.
“Marc did what he thought right at the time,. while Race Direction has to decide based on the images it sees on a monitor, which isn't easy. Also, rules can sometimes be interpreted from different standpoints. The important thing is that Marc acted in accordance with what he thought the marshals' indications were, not randomly”.
That episode was to play second fiddle to what then occurred during the race.
“I think Marquez has clearly explained what happened with Aleix, it's true he came up on him very fast, he was turning much more quickly. As for the issue with Valentino, you can clearly see from the images that through that corner there's a rivulet of water along the race line. Marc 's front wheel locked and he had to come off the brake, he had room, he wasn't on the limit, but unfortunately he touched Valentino who then crashed. We're very sorry about what happened but it was a race incident”.
Puig has tried to put out the fire.
“Of course, int these situations, we each have our own interpretation, race direction and the riders too. We believe what our rider says of course. Valentino is a very experienced rider and knows that certain things happen in racingt particularly when there are difficult track conditions. We're very sorry about what happened but, on the other hand, we don't think our rider was out of control. It was a race incident on a track that was very slippery due to the conditions”.
Marc's attempt to apologise post-race fell on deaf ears.
“Naturally, having been a rider myself, I can understand that Yamaha and Valentino are angry, but these things happen to us all. After the race, when Marc came into the pits, the first thing he said is that he wanted to go and apologise and explain what happened. We went with him and they asked us to leave, I can understand their reaction. We can't do any more for now, I only hope they can understand and accept our apologies for something that, we believe, was not caused by rider error, but that nevertheless led to Valentino's crash ”.
What does Puig intend to do now?
“I don't think Marquez needs any advice, I don't see how I can give it to a rider who has won 6 titles. My only advice can be: try to win the race” he concludes.