The MotoGP medical team and race organizers have defended the decision not to halt the Misano Moto2 race following the accident in which Shoya Tomizawa was fatally injured.
The Japanese rider suffered head, chest and abdominal injuries when he was struck at high speed by two following bikes after crashing and sliding into their path. Despite the best efforts of the doctors at the circuit and a nearby hospital, Tomizawa died two hours later.
The race continued uninterrupted following the crash – a decision that has since been criticized. Dr. Claudio Macchiagodena from the championship's Clinica Mobile and race director Paul Butler explained that because Tomizawa was swiftly receiving medical attention behind the barriers, they felt no need for a red flag and reckoned a stoppage could have created extra obstructions.
"Immediately, the first idea I think is if it's possible to stop the race because it's dangerous, but the people with the stretcher immediately arrived and when you remove the rider out of the track, for my medical decision I don't ask the race direction to have the red flag because this does not help my job, because we delay the intervention for the ambulance," said Macchiagodena. "Behind the track protection we had one ambulance with the respirator inside and we started immediately all the intensive care for him. I didn't ask for the red flag because I didn't need it."
The marshals swiftly moved Tomizawa from the track, and Dr. Macchiagodena said this was his preferred policy – despite suggestions that riders' injuries could be exacerbated by rapid movement – rather than trying to treat serious injuries in situ.
"In my opinion, it's correct if you quickly come behind the protection – also because the intervention for the paramedics and doctors [is easier], you don't have the other motorbikes coming past, it's quiet and you can work very well," he said. "Twenty seconds for this does not change the condition. That is my opinion."
Butler added that the race would have been stopped had the track been blocked, but it was quickly cleared by the marshals.
"My job is to decide whether to red flag or not based on the advice that I receive," he said. "The medical intervention was very quick and very efficient because at the point of the accident there were many medical services there – several ambulances and a lot of doctors. So the evaluation of the rider's situation was swift.
"The next stage is to do with the safety of the other riders on the track. The intervention of the marshals was extremely swift so there was no risk to the other riders. The crashed motorcycles and the debris were removed very quickly and therefore there was no reason to red flag."
Dr. Macchiagodena also refuted criticism of the time taken to get Tomizawa to the Clinica Mobile, saying he was receiving sufficient treatment before he even reached the paddock.
"After the rider came to the medical center I had some people asking me why it took a lot of time," said Dr. Macchiagondena. "The intensive care started behind the protection of the track. Normally when you have only one broken arm the ambulance is the same as a taxi – you put the rider inside and he comes quickly. Now it was very important to have the ventilation and two doctors. When he arrived at the medical center his condition was very critical, and we continued the intensive care."
There were also suggestions that the following MotoGP race should not have been allowed to start once it was clear that Tomizawa's condition was life threatening. The 19-year-old was pronounced dead in the hospital at 2:20 p.m. local time, 20 minutes after the start of the MotoGP race, and the riders were informed when they reached parc ferme. Dorna's Javier Alonso maintained that there was no reason not to proceed with the MotoGP race at the time.
"We didn't know until 2:20 p.m. that, unfortunately, Tomizawa had passed away," said Alonso. "We knew he was in a very serious condition, but nothing else. We had to keep going."