Dick Barrie's picture


So – it’s over and and young Tai is Britain’s only three-time World Champion.

Well done the kid.

He had to work for his title, and once again a refereeing decision caused some harrumphing in several quarters.

When Tai’s nearest, and indeed by then only, challenger Bartosz Zmarzlik – handed a lifeline by the Brit having turned his bike inside-out while chasing Jason Doyle in Heat 11 – seemed to throw it all away by wiping Pawlicki out while battling from the back in Heat 15, it looked as though the game was over.

But no.

Referee Jesper Steentoft – normally a firm-but-fair official – saw things differently and surprisingly allowed Bartosz to go again, a chance he gratefully accepted to win the re-run of a race he was looking to be scoring a point at best from in the original staging.

Not the first time in the series that Zmarzlik had benefitted from a referee’s decision in recent weeks, either……

Remember the ridiculous decision by a Polish, er, gentleman called Artur Kusmierz at the Slovenian GP last month when he excluded Woffinden at the start of Heat 16 at the Matije Gubea, as he was lining up for what would be the race of the night against Bartosz (and it isn’t the Polish rider’s fault these decisions came down in his favour) which restricted Tai to just 5 points from the round and re-opened the door to the title race?

That caused me to harrumph a bit, too.

Mind you, Artur wasn’t even the worst referee the FIM sat at the controls for a Grand Prix this season – remember the incompetent German, Christian Froschauer at Cardiff?

He made such a poor fist of his night – usually when a totally-innocent Robert Lambert dared to venture on to the track – I’m surprised he didn’t just goose-step back home and do the decent thing in a bunker in Berlin.

There ARE good referees on the FIM panel – I just wish they’d let more of them them officiate at the really-important meetings!

Back home, we seem to pick on our referees for small things and make a big fuss over virtually nowt.

Here’s a true story. From this past term of trading.

One UK official ran a match superbly. No dodgy starts, no exclusions and a slick meeting which earned praise from all sides for the handling of the racing – but was discovered to have made a slip, an honest error in reading an elegibility regulation as to whether a rider could contest a heat.

The referee – no name, no gender -- realised their error after the event, and apologised to the manager of the side who hadn’t been able to use a particular rider in a particular race.

As the match had been decided by over twenty points, there was no suggestion the result would have been altered had the slip been noted and endorsed at the time – with that score, you could have slipped both Tai and Bartosz into the race and the difference wouldn’t have mattered a hill of beans in the end result.

Error noted, apologies offered, done and dusted?

You’d think so – if it were not for the petty, bitter and twisted attitudes of some who purport to endorse our sport in this fine nation.

FIM headbangers such as Herr Froschauer and Mr Kusmierz – even the normally-excellent Jesper Steentoft tonight – make enormous decisions at FIM events, where riders are seeking the very pinnacle of our sport and the huge financial rewards which go with being a World Champion, yet we hear of no knuckle-wrapping being effected.

In this country, a referee who make a small clerical error while controlling a high-tension meeting out on the track before them has the case dragged before who some (not me) would describe as a kangaroo court, and is actually disciplined, suspended by our powers-that-want-to-be-seen-to be.


But well done Tai.

Not just because your dad was a Bandit.

See you soon, kid…………..



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