L’Affaire Marvin Musquin: Jumping On The Red Cross Flag (Commentary)

Marvin Musquin Jump
Marvin Musquin

Musquin’s Miscue In Seattle, Plus Reed and Brayton Update

There has been quite a bit of discussion about Marvin Musquin’s second-lap rule violation at the 2019 Seattle Supercross. With the red cross flag being waved after a serious racing incident with Chad Reed and Justin Brayton, Musquin did not roll through the rhythm section as required in AMA Supercross Rule 4.16.e.5: “The riders must do all of the obstacles individually, I.E. NO double, triple, step on/off, etc. until clear of the incident.”

As a result of Musquin breaking the rule, he was penalized seven championship points and the $12,000 purse for winning the Main Event. However, Musquin’s win will stand in the record book.

Marvin Musquin Jumping Controversy
Marvin Musquin

This is the correct ruling, per Rule 4.16.e.9.c: “During a Main Event race, if no positions were gained, the penalty will be the points and purse equal to two positions in the final results for that race plus two additional points.” Musquin’s 26-point win had two positions’ worth of points reduced, which cost him five points, and then the two additional points penalty was applied to bring it to seven.

Musquin isn’t going to notice the loss of the $12,000 purse. He makes far more than that in win bonuses, and he retains the win. However, when it comes to the fight for the 2019 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship, the seven-point penalty is huge.

Musquin was trailing leader Cooper Webb by 14 points coming into Seattle. Webb struggled in the Main Event, finishing in P4. That meant that Webb’s 14-point lead looked to be cut by one-half in a single race. Without the penalty, Webb leads Musquin by just seven points with five races remaining. With the penalty enforced, Musquin trails Webb by 14 points, just as he had at the start of the night.

Being down by sevens points would have meant that Musquin would be breathing down Webb’s neck in the title chase. Still, with Webb’s 14-point lead and five races to go, Musquin can win out and take the title from Webb.

Without any doubt, the seven-point penalty is significant and makes Musquin’s quest for the title to be considerably harder than it would have been had he rolled the jumps on the red cross flag.

Some observers believe Musquin also gained an advantage by doubling the jumps, rather than rolling them. That is a more difficult argument to mount.

Although Musquin was doubling the jumps, he was far from riding at race pace. Musquin seemingly acknowledged after the race that he had seen the red cross flag, as he slowed down considerably (which is not required on a yellow flag) and said he “didn’t know what to do” as he looked back. It was the second lap, he was leading an important race, and he mentioned nerves. It appears that Musquin simply forgot the protocol on rolling, and instead casually did the double-jumps.

However, a subsequent Instagram post from Musquin told a slightly different story: “Sadly I made a mistake in the second lap where I jumped a Red Cross flag. I obviously didn’t do it intentionally, I saw the yellow waving, slowed down but didn’t realize there was the Red Cross flag. I would never intentionally take risk around a down rider or the medical staff assisting on the track, neither to make a move that would hurt my points in the championship. Yes I’m really disappointed for the mistake I made and the penalty that applied following the rulebook but we can’t argue it, I take full responsibility for it.”

Marvin Musquin Jump
Marvin Musquin

It is worth remembering that the riders blip over those doubles with hardly a thought at low speeds. While that might be a major obstacle for the rank-and-file riding fan, it is clearly no challenge for a rider capable of winning a Supercross Main.

Musquin did not jump the doubles to make time. It is clear that he simply forgot what he was supposed to do when the red cross flag is displayed. It’s a stunning mental lapse, yet everything about the incident points to an honest error.

It also appears that Musquin realized he had made the error as soon as he was out of the area. After making a right-hander and in the clear, he was looking back and still not at race pace. Directly behind Musquin was Ken Roczen, who noticed the infraction, but said on the podium that he put it out of his mind for the rest of the race.

Musquin’s lap 2, segment 2 time was 34.072 seconds, compared to Roczen’s 34.565 seconds, suggesting that Musquin gained about 1.5 seconds. However, because track timing only had two segments, with segment 2 ove twice as long as segment 1, it is difficult to tell the exact difference in the red cross flag portion.

Because the officials determined that Musquin didn’t earn an advantage by doubling the jumps, he was given the minimum position points penalty. Had he jumped them at race pace, the punishment undoubtedly would have been far more severe and damaging to his title hopes. Not only would he have taken advantage, but he also would have violated Rule 4.16.e.6: “Riders must exercise extreme caution and not race or accelerate in an unsafe manner until they are clear of the incident.” Fortunately, that did not happen.

Put it all together, and there’s no controversy.

Musquin absentmindedly disregarded the no-jumping rule, though he did respect the safety of the downed riders. Musquin did not use his mistake to gain an advantage. The AMA Supercross Rulebook was followed and properly implemented to address Musquin’s error.

Lost in the incident is the major damage done to Reed’s body. Reed revealed on Instagram, “Unfortunately a mistake in the main was costly. 8 broken ribs, broken scapula and a collapsed lung.”

However, Reed is optimistic. A later message says, “Up and outta bed without passing out. Tried checking myself outta here yesterday buttttt fainted going from bed to wheelchair. Liking my chances better today lol Thanks for all the love. I love having a purpose and a goal Tho it seems impossible right now I’m setting a goal of racing Vegas because I know I’ll be a better human for it. 6weeks”

Marvin Musquin Jump - Reed, Webb
Chad Reed (left) eyes Cooper Webb (#2)

Justin Brayton, who was hit by the crashing Reed, faired a bit better. On Instagram, Brayton posted, “After a long day in and out of doctors offices and an MRI, I’ve got a torn MCL and a sprained ACL. Neither will require surgery which is good but I’ll be off the bike for the next few weeks. My goal is to make it back for the last two rounds of @supercrosslive in East Rutherford and Las Vegas.”

The 2019 Monster Energy Supercross Championship Series picks back up at Houston on Saturday with a Triple Crown round. Check out our 2019 Supercross Cable and Streaming Television Schedule, so you don’t miss a race.

Photography by Simon Cudby

AMA Supercross – An FIM World Championship – 2019 Rulebook

Rule 4.16.e: White Flag with Red Cross or Red Flashing Light:

  1. This flag or a red flashing light may be displayed at the beginning of a triple jump or a series of jumps.
  2. Takes precedence over all other flags that may be displayed.
  3. No passing is allowed until clear of the incident.
  4. Riders must follow all directions given by race officials in that section.
  5. The riders must do all of the obstacles individually, I.E. NO double, triple, step on/off, etc. until clear of the incident.
  6. Riders must exercise extreme caution and not race or accelerate in an unsafe manner until they are clear of the incident.
  7. When used on a triple jump, the area of concern is at a minimum, the whole obstacle, I.E. if a rider is down on the face of the triple or after the first or second jump, you must not jump any section of the triple.
  8. This includes the sighting or cool down laps.
  9. If Race Direction determines that there was a blatant violation of this rule, the penalty for non-compliance will be:
  10. During practice and qualifying, the loss of the fastest lap time during that session.
  11. During Heat, or LCQ races, the loss of number of positions gained plus two additional positions in the final results for that race.
  12. During a Main Event race, if no positions were gained, the penalty will be the points and purse equal to two positions in the final results for that race plus two additional points.
  13. During a Main Event race, if any positions are gained, the loss of number of positions gained plus the points and purse equal to two additional positions in the final results for that race, plus two additional points.
  14. During a sighting or cool down lap, a fine as determined by Race Direction. f. If at any time, Race Direction determines that it was not a blatant violation of the rule, a warning or fine may be issued.