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Zarco handed pitlane start penalty following Morbidelli crash

FILE PHOTO: MotoGP - Austrian Grand Prix - Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria - August 15, 2020 Reale Avintia Racing's Johann Zarco during qualifying REUTERS/Lisi Niesner/File Photo

(Reuters) - Avintia Ducati’s Johann Zarco will begin the Styrian Grand Prix from the pitlane after he was penalised for his role in a crash with Petronas Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli at the Red Bull Ring over the weekend, MotoGP said on Friday.

Zarco, 30, was involved in a high-speed crash with Morbidelli, 25, at turn three in Spielberg, with their cartwheeling bikes missing Yamaha duo Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales by inches.

Zarco and Morbidelli were summoned to a stewards’ meeting at the track on Thursday to discuss Sunday’s accident.

“After evaluation it was determined that there was evidence of irresponsible riding from Johann Zarco, which has resulted in a penalty. The Frenchman will start his next race from pitlane,” MotoGP said in a statement.

Some rivals blamed the Frenchman for taking an unusual line while braking into turn three, although Zarco denied making a deliberate move.

Zarco fractured his wrist in the crash and required surgery. He missed Friday practice at the Red Bull Ring but is set to race on Sunday after MotoGP confirmed he had passed a medical exam.

Zarco had to wait 48 hours after his operation before his fitness test and he has been cleared to take part in Saturday’s Free Practice 3 (FP3) session.

Reporting by Arvind Sriram and Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Potter and Christian Radnedge

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