Cooksey, Straight To The Point: Mulligans In Motocross? 13

The riders aim for the middle, but occasionally slice to the right, or hook to the left. Fore!

Cooksey, Straight To The Point: Mulligans In Motocross?

I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but there is so much debate around the off-track excursions rule in Lucas Oil Pro Motocross, that I wanted to weigh in. It currently reads: “A rider leaving the course may continue the race by properly re-entering the course at the closest point to where the rider left the course without gaining advantage. If a rider leaves the course for any reason the rider must immediately slow down to a safe speed so as not to endanger life or limb of other riders, crew members, officials or the public. It will be the responsibility of the Race Director or his designee to determine whether the rider gained an advantage upon re-entry or failed to slow down after leaving the course. A rider may be determined to have gained an advantage without gaining position.” This is an extremely grey area and I wish there were a more uniform rule that everyone understands clearly.

Listening to the chatter after the race, the first misconception concerns whether a rider is pushed off the track vs making a mistake. It doesn’t matter! If a rider leaves the course for ANY reason the same rules apply once off-track. Over the weekend at RedBud, it didn’t matter if Dylan Ferrandis or Alex Martin pushed Adam Cianciarulo off the track, the same rules apply. This section of the rule is crystal clear.

Adam Cianciarulo.

Other aspects of this rule leave room for interpretation. Starting with, “...re-entering the course at the closest point to where the rider left the course without gaining advantage.” With the number of promotional banners lining tracks, are riders supposed to jump or bust through banners? It’s extremely subjective as to where the best place to re-enter the racing surface. Learning the layout of the track is tough enough, let alone asking these riders to know every possible re-entry point. Add the urgency of in-race pressure and getting back into the race can become very difficult. Every track presents unique problems, and weather elements can make every situation unique.

The most controversial part of this rule has to do with riders not gaining an advantage. This has been exploited on multiple occasions as riders make mistakes and go off track. There needs to be a time penalty for leaving the designated track but it’s impossible to determine a set amount for all incidents. Jeremy Martin literally cut off a quarter mile of track rather than lose time at Millville in 2017. 

 

Was it fair to Jeremy’s competitors? His mistake on the uphill should have given the riders around him a huge gap. Instead, he cut the track while being careful not to gain any positions. In reality, the mistake should have cost him a bundle of time and positions, but it cost neither.

Ideally, I would change the rule to read: “A rider leaving the course may continue the race by properly re-entering the course at the closest point to where the rider left course while allowing a reasonable loss of time. The Race Director or his designee will determine whether the rider’s loss of time was within reason. Any rider accelerating or engaging in dangerous maneuvers while off track will be subject to penalty.” Unfortunately, after considering many, many reasonable ways to enforce every incident I always end up with “what if’s?” and most situations are unenforceable with current series resources. 

After careful consideration, I am left with almost the exact same rule. In fact, I am adding more human interpretation. This is not the solution I was hoping for when I started this article, but after reviewing it from fiscal, competitive, and legislative angles I don’t have a better resolution than asking riders to self-enforce a reasonable penalty. It turns out that I am asking for exactly what Adam Cianciarulo did at Colorado.

Cianciarulo has been flirting with this rule since Thunder Valley and it’s possible his penalty at Red Bud was a cumulative effect from all the drama in Colorado. When someone spends that much time off track they are bound to get a penalty. Despite my best attempts and hours of researching sports from golf to marathons. I am left with the conclusion that the current rule might be the best option and changing it could add more uncertainty and problems. Maybe having Mulligans in motocross is actually the best option? What do you think?

Follow me @chriscooksey61 on Instagram and Twitter and @Cookseymedia on Facebook.

Chris Cooksey is life-long motocross enthusiast, racing professionally in arenacross, motocross and supermoto. Chris obtained his degree from Arizona State, majoring in business and communications. After college Chris immersed himself in the business and social media aspects of the industry. Chris enjoys sharing his opinions. Sit back and enjoy the view from his perspective.

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