This MotoGP season has been one for the record books. It’s had insanely close races, tons of passing, and the overall points standing has been close all year. The only thing it’s been missing is drama - at least until now.
Last week’s race, at Phillip Island, was one of if not the best race in the last decade or so - with four riders battling for first place until the end of the last lap. In the end, Marquez pulled off the win after passing Lorenzo in the second to last turn.
Races are always followed by press conferences, where riders normally thank their teams and sponsors and give each other handjobs over how well they all did. Because there is champagne to drink and models “talk to.”
This conference went down a little differently, with Rossi claiming:
If we have another race like Phillip Island we have to speak with him, with Marquez, because during the race it was more difficult to understand, but after when I saw the race later it was very clear that he play with us very much.... Because mainly I think that his target is not just to win the race, but also help Lorenzo to go far and try to take more points on me. So I think that from Phillip Island it is very clear that Jorge has a new supporter. That is Marc.
He later went on to say that Marquez had the potential to pull away once at the front and that, if he had, it would have been a different race. Interesting to see the guy in the overall points lead conceding that Marquez was so fast at Phillip Island.
Marc Marquez responded about as expected, saying:
Of course no. Of course I did my race and in fact if I want to help Lorenzo I wouldn’t pass him on the last lap, not push to the limit and not take the risk. I don’t why they say (this).
The fun doesn’t stop here, with Rossi continuing to accuse Marquez of helping Lorenzo after the press conference when journalists pressed him for more info, which was published on MotoGP.com.
Q: Do you think that Marquez helped out Lorenzo at Phillip Island?
VR: “It is indeed true that Marquez did not play with both of us: he only played with me! It is important that he knows that I know! Now let’s see what happens, but I am quite concerned because to have to fight with Lorenzo is one thing, but if you have to beat Marquez as well, everything becomes much more difficult, to be honest - the case is that he isn’t playing fair. Especially because Marquez could be very competitive in the last two races.”
“For me it was a big disappointment, I was upset, it was from a few races ago that I knew, but I did not expect him to do something so obvious. I feel disappointment, regret and worry, because surely he will try to do it here and also in Valencia.”
Q: So why did he eventually also overtake Lorenzo?
VR: “In the race I noticed it, but I did not understand; Marquez was a step above everyone, but instead of trying to try to battle Lorenzo, he stayed with me to fight with Iannone and others. He knew that I was losing out to the Ducati on the straight. And so every time I tried to pass him, he re-overtook me. But then he slowed to create a gap to Jorge. His bad luck was that on Sunday Jorge was not so strong, because otherwise it would have been over already. Instead, he always kept Jorge in check, knowing that he could catch him within 3 laps, and then tried to slow me and Iannone, perhaps trying to put other riders between me and Lorenzo. And in the end, that’s what he did. It is clearly quite worrying, but it doesn’t worry me too much.”
Q: Why do you think he did this?
VR: “Because he would prefer Lorenzo to win. He is angry at me for a personal matter. Although he never said it, he thinks that in Argentina I made him crash; and then at Assen he is still thinking about the last chicane, in his head he feels he should have won that race. Since then he has been angry and thinking like a child: I do not win, but you do not win either. At this point, the lesser evil is for him is for Lorenzo to win.”
Q: Is it something that motivates you or makes you angry?
VR: “Let’s see. Because if he’s faster yet slows down to get involved in the battles further back, it could become difficult. Because he has nothing to lose, but I do. I have to be wary. I’m sorry and I’m quite angry. I did not expect that Marquez was an obstacle for this Championship, I thought I was only fighting against Jorge, as it should be.”
Q: Because he used to idolize you, did you think this wouldn’t happen?
VR: “Watch out, here we must make a clarification: did he really idolize me? Did he really have my poster at home? I’m not so sure. I’d like to go back in time and see. It will also be a question of character, he is competing with me: I want to win as many World Championships as I can. If I win another title, then he knows that he will have to win one more to overtake me. If instead Jorge wins, then they have more or less the same.”
Q: Was it better with Biaggi, because he at least made his feelings clear?
VR: “It’s true you are right. In the long run, I prefer more his behaviour. We were obnoxious to each other, but at least it was clear and honest. But I do not have his phone number.”
Q: Did this all begin in Laguna Seca (2013)?
VR: “There have been lots of moments, at Laguna Seca he wanted to do what I had done to Stoner five years before, when he could easily have passed three corners later. It was the first signal. And I said so, but I did not want to believe it. To think evil, it takes forever.”
This adds even more excitement onto what is sure to be a huge race this weekend. I didn’t think I could get any more excited for Malaysia, but this took it to 11. It’s an exceptionally tight track and, with this sort of animosity in the air, could get really intense.
Photos: Getty Images