Just because the 2015 MotoGP season is over doesn’t mean the bickering and drama is. Valentino Rossi has been extremely vocal about Marc Marquez’s performance, and Jorge Lorenzo claims this was Rossi’s last chance to win a championship. It’s a good thing most of these guys are 100 pounds soaking wet or things might get ugly.
Hopefully many of you watched the race this past weekend, where Lorenzo won both the Valencia Round and MotoGP World Championship. While the race wasn’t as intense as the round at Phillip Island, it was a perfect while unfortunate end to one of the best seasons in MotoGP history.
Rossi, who was forced to start from the back of the grid, passed 10 riders in the first lap and went on to battle his way to fourth. From there, the top three was too far gone to catch, but his both his efforts in qualifying and in the race were nothing short of heroic.
Until this point, I’ve just been partial to some riders and sort of disliked others, but I didn’t have a guy until this week. Rossi is now my guy.
As was to be expected, the race did not go down without its fair share of drama. Even the announcers praised Marquez for stalking his prey (Lorenzo) before he was to attack in the final laps, but the attack never came. Well, that’s not quite true. Marquez did seem to jump into true Marquez fashion after - but only after Pedrosa closed an incredible gap to attack the top two and Marquez fought him off.
Like many people, I was taken back a bit by the final outcome and surprised that Marquez, who had been accused of helping Lorenzo, never tried to make a pass. The difference in character, between the 36-year-old Rossi who put left everything out on the track despite impossible odds, and the 22-year-old Marquez, who appeared to play bodyguard, had never been more apparent. And this is coming from a guy who considers himself a Marquez fan.
After watching the race footage, Rossi had a similar take - and no one expected him to keep quiet about it. His statement, released on MotoGP.com, makes no effort to hide his accusations:
We build this season from the first race, and at the end it was anyway a great season. I was always competitive and never make any mistakes. I think that after Motegi I have the potential to win the championship but unfortunately from the race in Phillip Island something changed and in these last three races we saw something that we never saw before in our sport.
I think that the situation was already bad, but today was embarrassing for everybody because it was unbelievable, the behaviour of Marquez is something very bad for everything, especially for the sport. It is something that nobody expects, because a Honda rider that made a Yamaha rider win and give the maximum just to push out his teammate is something that nobody expect and I think it is very, very bad news. Anyway, it is like this, we have to accept.
I am happy because now everybody see what I said in Australia and I don’t understand the behaviour of Marquez but sincerely for me it is very difficult to say something to him because I hope that he will understand what he did in these last three races in the future of his career.
For sure the Hondas were faster. We know that in the second part of the race Honda have a better potential but Marquez just protect Lorenzo like he did in Phillip Island and also Sepang. At the end I think that also Lorenzo have to not be very happy, as it is not a Championship that was won on track. But anyway is memories.
Before we dive into this, I want to get one thing straight. Jorge Lorenzo won this season and he deserved to win. He rode fast all year and did so consistently and, until now, he’s mostly stayed out of it.
Or at least he was until the report was published on Motosport.com:
“It’s obvious there are younger riders who are faster than him, and the statistics prove that,” Lorenzo told Spanish media.
“It must be a bit frustrating to not have the speed that would have allowed him to win more races and arrive in Valencia with a bigger advantage.
“I don’t know what will happen in the future, but probably, like it will happen to me, this was his final chance to be world champion.”
He added: “All this controversy and comments would not have happened if Valentino has been as quick as Marc and me, and if he had won more races.
“With a bit more speed and his consistency, and without what happened at Sepang, he would have arrived in Valencia with a clear advantage and he would have won the title easily.
“That didn’t happen and he knows he has let the chance to win his 10th title get away, and that’s not easy to accept.”
Many people commented that all of this was bad for the sport or that it would contribute to the sport’s demise. On the contrary, I’ve never been more excited for the beginning of next year.
I do think it’s unfortunate that Rossi’s penalty was upheld and I do wish we could have seen he and Lorenzo ride for the championship as intended. As I mentioned, I think Lorenzo rode a great year and deserves this championship - just as much as I think Rossi did.
In the end, the real disappointment here is with Marc Marquez. I’ve been a fan of his since his first year in MotoGP and have high hopes for him, but this year made it apparent that he has a lot of growing and maturing to do. He’s a fantastic talent, and I would love to see the mental side not hurt his chances at a title as they did this year.
Next March can’t come soon enough.
Photos credit Getty Images