Tech Talk: Let’s Learn About The Track Flags And Lights

A flag marshal post at Barber Motorsports Park with a track marshal signaling the riders. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

In MotoAmerica, as in most forms of motorsports racing, a system of flags and lights is utilized by Race Control to inform the riders of specific situations on the track. There are 10 individual flags used by MotoAmerica, which are described below:

Green Flag and Green Light

Indicates that the track is clear. This flag is waved at each flag marshal post for the first lap of each practice and warmup session and also during the sighting lap and warmup lap of a race. The Green Flag is waved at the flag marshal post immediately after an incident that necessitates the use of one or more Yellow Flags. When the pit-lane exit is open, the Green Flag must be waved at the pit-lane exit.

The Green Light is illuminated at the pit-lane exit to signal the start of each practice and warm up session, the start of the sighting lap(s), and the start of the warmup lap.

Yellow Flag

Indicates that a hazardous situation exists on the track.

A standing Yellow Flag at the flag marshal post indicates that there is a danger ahead on the track. Riders must exercise caution, and overtaking is forbidden up until the point where the green flag is waved.

A waving Yellow Flag at the flag marshal post indicates that there is a hazard either completely or partially blocking the track, or there is some other high-risk situation. Riders must slow down and be prepared to stop.

Overtaking is forbidden from the first yellow flag up until the point where the green flag is waved.

Any infringement of this rule during a practice session will result in the cancellation of the time of the lap during which the infraction occurred.

In case of infringement of this rule during the race, the rider must go back the number of positions decided by the Race Direction.

A board will be displayed for the rider at the finish line during a maximum of five laps. If the rider does not go back after the board has been presented five times, he may be penalized by the Race Direction. In both cases, further penalties (such as penalty points, a fine, or suspension) may also be imposed.

If immediately after having overtaken, the rider realizes that he made an infraction, he must raise his hand and let past the rider(s) that he has overtaken. In this case, no penalty will be imposed.

Waving Yellow Flags displayed at designated rows on the starting grid indicate that the start of the race is delayed.

During the final inspection lap, the Yellow Flag is waved at the exact place where the flag marshal will be positioned during practice sessions, qualifying, Superpole, warmup sessions, and races.

Red Flag and Red Light

Indicates when a practice, qualifying session, or race is stopped. Red Flags are waved at each flag marshal post and Red Lights are illuminated around the track. The riders must return slowly to the pits.

When the pit-lane exit is closed, a Red Flag is waved and a Red light are illuminated at the pit lane exit. Riders are not allowed to exit the pit lane.

The Red Flag will be shown motionless on the starting grid at the end of the warmup lap. This will indicate that each rider must stop in their grid position and cannot pass the official holding the red flag.

The Red Flag may also be used to indicate that the track is closed.

The Red Light is illuminated at the start line for between two and five seconds to start each race. When the Red Light is turned off, the race begins.

Blue Flag

Indicates to a rider that he is about to be overtaken. This flag is waved at the flag marshal post. During qualifying sessions, the rider concerned must keep his line and slow down gradually to allow the faster rider to pass him. During races, the rider concerned is about to be lapped and must allow the following rider(s) to pass at the earliest opportunity. Overtaking within a group of lapped riders is forbidden under the Blue Flag.

White Flag

Indicates the final lap of a race. This flag is waved at the finish line.

Checkered Black and White Flag

Indicates the finish of a race, qualifying, or practice session This flag is waved at the finish line.

Checkered Black and White Flag waved together with Blue Flag

The Checkered Black/White Flag is waved together with the Blue Flag at the finish line when a rider(s) closely precedes the race leader during the final lap before the finish line.  

Yellow and Red Striped Flag waved together with White Flag with Diagonal Red Cross

This combination of flags advises the riders of where the track is wet due to rain. These flags are waved at the flag marshal post.

Yellow and Red Striped Flag

Indicates that the adhesion in this section of the track could be affected by a reason other than rain. This flag is waved at the flag marshal post.

White Flag with Diagonal Red Cross

Indicates that there are some drops of rain in this section of the track. This flag is waved at the flag marshal post.

Black Flag

Conveys instructions to a single rider only and is waved at the flag marshal post while also displaying the rider’s number. The rider must stop at the pits after the completion of the current lap and cannot restart.

The Black Flag may also be presented to a rider for a reason other than a penalty (e.g. to rectify a non-dangerous technical problem such as a transponder issue).

Black Flag with Orange Disk

Also known as the “meatball” flag. Conveys instructions to a single rider only and is waved at the flag marshal post while also displaying the rider’s number. Informs the rider that his/her motorcycle has mechanical problems likely to endanger himself/herself or others, and that he/she must immediately leave the track.

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