2015 Argentina MotoGP Post-Race Round Up: On Rossi Vs Marquez, And Why You Shouldn't Believe The Pundits

You should never believe professional pundits. We writers and reporters, forecasters and commentators like to opine on our specialist subject at every opportunity. The wealth of data at our fingertips, which we study avidly, fools us into thinking we know what we are talking about. So we – and I do mean all of us, not just the royal we – tell our audience all sorts of things. That Casey Stoner is about to return to racing with Ducati. That Valentino Rossi is set to join the Repsol Honda squad. That Casey Stoner is not about to retire, or that Dani Pedrosa will.

Your humble correspondent is no different. In 2013, during his first season back at Yamaha, I was quick to write Valentino Rossi off. At the age of 34, I pontificated, the keenest edge had gone from his reflexes, and he was at best the fourth best motorcycle racer in the world. He would never win another race again, unless he had a helping hand from conditions and circumstances, I confidently asserted. Rossi proved me wrong, along with the many others who wrote him off, at Misano last year. Now, after three races of the 2015 season, Rossi has two wins and a third, and leads the championship.

After the race at Argentina, the experts and pundits are all rubbing their hands with glee once again. Analyzing the coming together between Valentino Rossi and Marc Márquez, ascribing intention to one rider or another, confidently claiming that they can see inside the minds of the men involved. We are certain that Márquez was trying to intimidate Rossi when the Yamaha man came past. We are convinced that Rossi saw Márquez beside him, and deliberately took out his wheel. Or that Márquez made a rookie mistake, or that Rossi is now inside Márquez' head, or any other theory you care to mention. We can be so sure our claims will go unchallenged and unchecked, because the only two men who are genuinely in a position to challenge them have much better things to do. Like race motorcycles for a living, and try to win a MotoGP title, for example.

So what did happen? What we know is that the two men collided on the penultimate lap of the race. The collision was the moment that the fans remember, but how they got to that point is a far more interesting story. One which starts at the beginning of the weekend, when the riders got to try the new tires Bridgestone had brought to the track. Having seen extreme wear from the highly abrasive track the first year MotoGP came to the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit, Bridgestone changed their allocation. They built a new, extra hard tire to bring for the Hondas and Yamahas, with a harder compound on the left shoulder. The tire felt less comfortable in the early laps, but it had better durability over the course of the race.

More importantly, the riders now had a genuine choice between two tires which were both capable of doing the race. At most tracks, there is a tire which is clearly better than the other, making tire choice simple and putting everyone onto the same tire. Some may see this as a failing, but in reality, it is a testament to the ability of Bridgestone to match tires to a track. It is a complaint often heard about the Japanese tire maker: their product is just too good. They place inhuman demands on the riders, and on the bikes.

In Argentina, Bridgestone managed the astonishing trick of getting it right twice, with two different tires. The hard was easily capable of doing the distance, offering excellent speed early in the race at the cost of some pace later on. The extra hard lacked the grip and feel in the early laps, but maintained its pace better in the second half of the race. The way the different bikes use the tire forced them into different directions. The Yamaha, which wants more corner speed, needed the more durable edge of the extra hard to make it to the race. The Honda, capable of finding grip if stood up earlier, could be made to go faster with the hard tire, not using or needing the edge of the tire so much.

The final piece of the puzzle would be track temperature. If the track was warm enough, the Hondas could use the extra hard tire as well. If it cooled a little, the hard would be the better choice. Come race day, and 4pm, track temperature was changing, growing warmer after a cool start to the day. All eyes were on Marc Márquez, and which way he would go with the tire. The reigning champion did his sighting lap on the extra hard tire, perhaps hoping to plant a seed of doubt in the minds of his opponents. Back on the grid, the mechanics swapped wheels, Márquez' tire choice shielded from public view by tire warmers until those had to be removed at the 1 minute mark before the start of the race.

Márquez' sleight of had may have unsettled some, but had no effect on Valentino Rossi. He and his crew already knew that the extra hard tire was their only choice for the race. What anybody else did was irrelevant. "I think that the key was that we don't care a lot about Marquez, but we just concentrate on us," Rossi said after the race. "[We] try to use the tire that permit to me to make the race distance with less time." A good start would be crucial, after another mediocre qualifying position, and Rossi did very well off the line. He got no help from Andrea Iannone, the Ducati man bumping Rossi wide at turn 1, and knocking him back to eighth place.

From there, the race unfolded as the tire strategy had dictated. Marc Márquez soon blasted past Aleix Espargaro down the back straight to take over the lead, the Suzuki clearly losing out in the horsepower stakes to the Honda. Cal Crutchlow quickly followed, his task to hold up the chasing pack behind while he had the advantage from his hard tires. The Movistar Yamahas of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi were struggling as they waited for the advantage of the extra hard to start kicking in. Lorenzo had got a dream start and was running second, but was soon swamped by the red-banded armada of hard-tire-toting Hondas and Ducatis.

It would be the start of a long slide. Though he would lose only one more place, to his teammate, then no more – the riders behind him were too far back – he simply could not maintain the pace of the front runners, and especially that of Rossi. He had no real explanation, other than that he struggled to get the tire to work. "At the moment, I don't know how to ride when I have spinning, I can't ride like Valentino does. He rode an incredible race." His goal for the future is simple. "I have to learn to be fast again. If we can be fast again, we can fight for podiums and from there, start thinking about the victory again," Lorenzo told the Spanish media.

At the moment, Lorenzo seems to be suffering a crisis of confidence. He is in good shape physically, the bike is clearly fast, and he shows flashes of his old speed. A solid weekend in Jerez or Le Mans, tracks where he has always been strong, could put him back on track. In Argentina, perhaps the choice of tires may have made things more difficult. Both Lorenzo and Smith said the fact that both tires worked meant that making a choice was more difficult. Rossi had come into the race having already made up his mind. Concentrating just on getting the one tire to work paid off for him in the end. If Lorenzo had done the same, maybe things could have been different.

The middle of the race turned into a question of tire strategy. Márquez had pulled out a big lead, and was managing the gap. Rossi's tires were starting to come in, the Italian feeling ever more comfortable as the bike started to slide. After losing ground at the start, he had set his sights on second place, and gaining maximum points for the championship. But once he took over second from Andrea Dovizioso, and saw the four-second gap to Márquez start to come down more quickly than expected, Rossi knew things could work out very differently.

"I see Marc Márquez in Argentina, first small like this, after coming bigger and bigger and bigger, and I feel maybe I arrive on the last lap," Rossi said. He would get there even faster, catching Márquez with three laps to go, and launching his first attack. Rossi has always been an example to Marc Márquez, the Spaniard saying that he had learned so much from him. One of the things Márquez learned was that when someone passes you, it is imperative to strike right back, to try to disrupt their rhythm and knock some of the confidence gained by passing out of them. Momentum and confidence is everything in racing, and changing that momentum in your favor can help decide races.

As Rossi got past Márquez the first time, the Spaniard struck back immediately. Márquez held the Yamaha man at bay for another lap, but a Rossi pass was looking inevitable. Márquez was not going to just roll over, though. As he slid out wide at the end of the straight, lining up for the right hander at Turn 5, he saw Rossi pass him on the brakes, and turn in. Márquez cut back harder, coming inside Rossi in the second half of the hairpin, and slamming into the Italian as Rossi made the turn. Rossi held his line, having the easier position as he was ahead of Márquez, and lined up to flick the bike left again ready for Turn 6.

This is where it gets messy. If this had been any other riders, or had been Márquez or Rossi and a different rider, the narrative constructed around the incident may have been different. But both Márquez and Rossi have a reputation, for being extremely firm overtakers, for not ceding positions unless they are forced to, for taking risks beyond what many others are prepared to envisage. Márquez is the worse of the two, his reputation for barging other riders out of the way following him from Moto2 into MotoGP. Since arriving in the premier class, he has calmed down considerably, though he still finds it hard to contain his appetite for risk.

Rossi treads a slightly finer line, though he is himself no stranger to controversy. If he sees a gap, he will take it, knowing that to do so may well be a risk. He is not afraid of physical contact, as he demonstrated many times, such as with Sete Gibernau in Jerez, or Jorge Lorenzo in Motegi, or Casey Stoner at Laguna Seca. On the whole, though, Rossi is fractionally more circumspect than Márquez. To use a metaphor, Marc Márquez is likely to be found with matches in his hands standing next to the ashes of a burning vehicle. Rossi always makes sure that someone else is holding the matches when a vehicle burns down, whether or not he had a hand in lighting the fire.

So what happens next is what all the conjecture revolves around. Rossi exits Turn 5, and flicks his bike over to lean left, lining up ready to attack the sweeping left hander of Turn 6. In doing so, he casts a very rapid glance to his side, the side where he had just felt the impact from Márquez. As he flicks left, the bike jumps across the track a little, and clips Márquez' front wheel. The Honda's front wheel is lifted off the ground, and then the bike is sliding along the ground, Márquez following behind it. As he comes to a standstill, Márquez leaps to his feet and sprints to his bike, in an attempt to get back on it and rejoin the race. It is too late. The engine has already cut out, and Márquez flicks the kill switch.

Did Rossi see Marc Márquez? Only Rossi knows that, and he implied in the press conference that he did not. Did he deliberately move across into the path of Márquez? He had every right to, as he was clearly leading, and it is the responsibility of the bike behind to try to get past safely. Rossi must have known that Márquez would try another pass, as he never loses a position without placing a counterattack. Perhaps he was expecting Márquez to try to cut inside him at the braking point. At the press conference, Rossi said "I open the throttle, and I try to accelerate, because I want to try to take the small advantage before the next braking."

Was Rossi's line out of Turn 5 unusual? Not particularly. In the early laps, Jorge Lorenzo had taken the exact same line, jinking left at the exact same spot to set up for Turn 6. On the lap before the crash, Rossi does exactly the same thing, taking the same, slightly wider line on the approach to Turn 6. What's more, Rossi had just had his bike unsettled by the first collision with Márquez, and so was perhaps not as free to choose his line as if he was riding on his own.

So was the crash Márquez' fault? There are two ways you can look at this. Taking the long view, of the championship rather than the race, then you would say it was. Márquez could have settled for an easy twenty points, and second place in the championship. That is not in Márquez' nature, however. "Marc is a rider who always bet all or nothing," Rossi pointed out, and this time, he came away with nothing. On the other hand, if Márquez was not a rider prepared to risk so much for a win, perhaps he would not have two MotoGP titles to his name already, and his name plastered all over the record books.

Taking the shorter view, of aiming for the race win at all costs, then it was just the kind of calculated risk which Márquez takes so often. He came in hard on Rossi at Turn 5, and was perhaps trying to hold station behind Rossi, setting up for an attack out of Turn 6 and into Turn 7, another right hander. Márquez believed he could have had the pace to match Rossi in the last two laps, and so was prepared to fight. "I knew he was coming with a good pace, but in the two last laps, I had increased mine to try to fight for the position a bit," Márquez told Spanish media. The lap charts confirm that. On lap 21, Márquez did a 1'39.4, while Rossi did a 1'39.3, on lap 23, Márquez ran a 1'39.4, Rossi a 1'39.2. Two laps, and a close battle, may have been enough to leave Márquez with a shot at the win.

From the outside, though, it looked like Márquez judged it wrong. The defensive pass up the inside of Turn 5, in which he slammed into Rossi, forced him into a position in Rossi's blind spot, behind and to the right. He was right on the line which Rossi would be likely to take, and trying too hard to defend the position now, rather than think about a counterattack later. His front wheel was exactly where Rossi's rear wheel needed to be, and in that contest, Márquez was always going to be the loser. He rolled the dice, and came up snake eyes.

Márquez himself was careful not to apportion blame, neither on himself nor on Valentino Rossi. But the statements he made to the Spanish press were a very long way from absolving Rossi from responsibility. When asked what happened, he said only "You saw what happened on TV. At the end, you could see perfectly what happened. Valentino is very much Valentino. He has always been my reference, and I always learn things from him." When asked directly if Rossi was to blame, he denied. "No. In the end, these things happen in racing. You have to learn and move on to the next page. These things happen in racing battles, you don't always leave as the winner."

So who is to blame? Marc Márquez or Valentino Rossi? Neither, really, though Márquez put himself into the position for this to happen. Race Direction investigated the collision, then dismissed it as a racing incident. While we mere mortals must make do with the footage provided by Dorna – extensive as it is, shot from three angles, from the front, from behind, and from the helicopter overhead – Race Direction have more cameras at their disposal. The circuit CCTV, and other Dorna camera shots which may not have been in focus, or have been sweeping back into position. Neither man was called in for questioning, nor any penalty points handed out.

Has Valentino Rossi now broken Marc Márquez, as he broke so many of his other rivals? Not at all. Firstly, Rossi's reputation as a master of mind games outstrips his ability. His talent was first and foremost on the track, and that was what broke the will of the men who tried to beat him. Secondly, the one thing which has stood Marc Márquez in such good stead is that is his phenomenal mental resilience. Anyone doubting the Spaniard's mental strength need only look back to Phillip Island 2013, where a mistake by a team member saw Márquez miss the compulsory pit stop and get black-flagged. Within an hour, he had regained his good spirits, and went on to win his first MotoGP title. Or look back at the time Márquez was nearly forced to stop racing, after his crash at Sepang in 2011 damaged his vision. Coming back from that makes a single crash on track look rather trivial.

The outcome of the crash between Rossi and Márquez does provide some real spice to the championship. Valentino Rossi, the man we all thought was washed up, is leading the championship, and with two wins from three races, as well as another podium, is looking the clear favorite for his tenth title. He has shown that the Yamaha is capable of winning, despite being short on top speed. With MotoGP now heading to Europe, and a lot of tracks which Rossi loves, he must be confident of consolidating his lead towards the middle of the season. Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Márquez, the two men tipped as favorites for the title before the season now trail Rossi by 29 and 30 points respectively. Lorenzo is yet to get on the podium, and Márquez has two big mistakes in two races. Momentum is clearly in Valentino Rossi's favor.

It is intriguing that Rossi's closest challenger should be Andrea Dovizioso. The Ducati rider now has three straight second places, and trails Rossi by 60 points to 66. Dovizioso has taken heart from the progress Ducati made throughout 2014, as Gigi Dall'Igna worked to improve the bike. And the GP15 has been simply astounding, competitive right from the very start, as fast as the Honda and as agile as the Yamaha. If the Ducati had had the extra hard tire, you wonder where Dovizioso and Iannone could have ended up. But the concessions granted to Ducati which allowed them to catch up with Yamaha and Honda are starting to have a downside. I don't think the men and women at Ducati much care. Success has been a long time coming.

Can Dovizioso actually challenge Rossi for the title? The bike will need a little bit of improvement, but it is not beyond the bounds of possibility. While Rossi revels in the spotlight, Dovizioso works, thinks, and rides his way into the championship. Dovizioso deserves every bit of success he has collected. A race win cannot be very far off now.

While all eyes were on the action at the front, the TV missed an epic battle for third. Cal Crutchlow finally triumphed over Andrea Iannone, beating the Italian in a close quarters battle all the way to the line. He was elated to get a podium in just his third race on the LCR Honda. His third different bike in three years, coming after a tough season at Ducati, getting on the box is an achievement that should not be underestimated. Ironically, that puts him up with his former teammate Andrea Dovizioso, and Valentino Rossi, as a rider who has taken podiums on the Honda, Yamaha, and Ducati.

Iannone was relegated to fourth, but had fought hard on the Ducati once again, and again impressed by his levelheadedness. The Maniac Joe is behaving more like an actuary than an ax murderer. His maturity is impressive.

Behind a dejected Lorenzo came Bradley Smith, once again putting in a solid performance and beating his teammate. The problem both he and Pol Espargaro had was getting the extra hard tire to work. Like Lorenzo, the simply could not find the grip that Valentino Rossi had.

In seventh, Aleix Espargaro took the Suzuki to its best finish of the season. Described by his crew chief Tom O'Kane as "the most underrated rider I've worked with," Espargaro has gone from overriding an Aprilia and overriding an Open Yamaha to overriding a factory Suzuki. "You know you are getting 100% out of him every time he goes on the race track," O'Kane said. Suzuki have two problems at the moment, a long-term lack of power, and a short-term problem with chatter. New parts should be coming at Jerez to help deal with the chatter, but the lack of power will take longer to fix. At the tighter tracks like Jerez, Espargaro should have a better chance to hold his own against the other factories. If they manage fix the chatter, there could be four factories fighting at the front in Jerez.


So there you have it, the considered opinion of a professional pundit, my view on the events in Argentina. Why should you take my view seriously? I firmly believe that you should read everything I write with a pinch of salt at hand. I have gathered information as best I can, watched the footage several times closely, and tried to examine it as dispassionately as possible. Am I right? Possibly not, it would not be the first time I was tripped up by my own hubris. I have set down what I think I saw, but there are no guarantees that my vision is anywhere near 20/20. As someone some people to refer to as an expert, there is every chance that I will be wrong...

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Totally agree with O'Kane. Aleix really seems cursed by coincidence. Had Vale not been capable of maintaining this level of performance into his late thirties, or if Aleix hadn't found himself in Marc's shadow, I'm sure he would have been branded an Alien by now.

What I find most intriguing is his infinitely positive attitude. He's never complaining about his material in a negative way but rather makes do with what he has. He's obviously a great team player when he's downplaying his great finishes by saying that "this is not what this team deserves". And I sincerely hope that if Suzuki get it right, Aleix might be in with a shot at the title in the next few years.
You have to hand it to Suzuki. Their choice of riders strikes me as the most clever one of all the teams. They might very well have two real aliens at their disposal. A current one in Aleix and a future one in Vinales. He's been quietly impressive. Two top ten finishes in three races in his rookie season on a brand new underpowered Suzuki on tires he has very little experience with. I can't help but think that if Vinales had one of the benchmark bikes he might be Marquez material.

His performance this year coupled with how he ended last year (especially that ride at Motegi) and that seems like a fair observation...

Well worth the wait. David has the natural knack for taking a series of actions and events and moments and turning them into a fluid narrative for all of us to enjoy.

With all the excitement of the MotoGP race, does this mean we'll lose out on reading that same style of narration for Moto2 and Moto3?

Ducati and the Factory Concession teams should be assigned a different points system. They could then still fight for each individual race win, but since they are running 22L of fuel, different tires, 12 engines and unlimited testing, their riders should not be receiving the same amount of championship points as Honda/Yamaha. They should either be in their own points class, or they should be receiving less points for 1st place, 2nd place, etc.

The same should apply to the constructor's championship. That will be hollow title if Ducati wins it as a Factory Concession team.

When you read the rules Open class bikes are the offical MotoGP class of motorcycle.

Everything finishing ahead of them are exemptions to the rules.

So should it be then that the top three bikes on podium should be only from the open class as they are the only ones complying to the motogp class machine regs...and just one of thr exemptions allowed in parc ferme. ?

How about assign them the same amount of points but divide by their GP budget in millions.

Concessions are in place to help other factories compete when Honda and Yamaha win by out-spending everyone else. Which they've been doing for years. Which is why we have 5 engines and 20L. Because it takes money to win with those rules, and Honda (Yamaha) wrote the rules for the past however many years so they could win - still following the rules - simply by virtue of having the larger pocketbook.

"I firmly believe that you should read everything I write with a pinch of salt at hand."

Duly Noted David

and the people in the know we are prepared to believe your predictions are likely to be more accurate than ours. And they probably are.
But in my view, bike racing is such a chaotic environment that predictions are mainly impossible. All it takes is a click on the suspension, a few feet of slippery track, a drop of a couple of degreess of air temperature caused by a cloud, a moment of rider hesitation or over aggression and the outcome of a race can be different.
A rider can fall and get away with bruises, or just hit the ground slightly differently and have a season ruining injury. Or even ruin his carrer.
It is all just so unpredictable.
Those 20 points Marquez lost could make the difference to who wins the championship this year. If it is Marqueze, then a few years from now we look back and say how his brilliance overcame a few early season mistakes.
If Rossi wins it we look back and say how utterly amazing he is to take his tenth title, beating the wonder kid.
All decided in a split second, in the third race of the season.
Looking back on Wayne Rainey, there was times he pushed all out for wins, but at other times he settled for places knowing that staying on the bike was the way to win championships.
My version of the Argentina incident is that when Rossi came past, Marquez had the thought of instantly fight back to unsettle Rossie, to ruin his rythem, which is the current way of thinking.
I think if that had been Rainey, he would have thought "the guy is catching me half a second a lap, I will let him past and get my 20 points"
That's how to win championships when the opposition is fast.

In fact beating a guy against all odds has been proven to be a way of winning the championschip, in my opinion.

Just remember Laguna Seca 2008 and Catalunya 2009. These were two important races where Rossi showed he IS the title contender. Gaining 10 points on your rival is not the most important thing, it's the moral victory.
We'll never know if it was THE reason that Rossi won his 2008 and 2009 titles, but I think it played an important role. So maybe Marquez was thinking of pulling a similar stunt like this.

Honestly I think that Rossi is less impressed by these stunts since he has little to prove anymore. He just wants to win, because he likes it! Moreover, I really think Marquez didn't had the pace anymore for a 1,5 lap hard battle. He made a bad judgement.

Another supreme article from you David.

Getting straight to the point we don't come to this website because we think you're right all the time. We come to this website because all of your articles (right or wrong) are supremely well thought out and supported.

Most important thing in life (in my opinion) is context. Everyone who comes here is hungry for information on motorcycle racing. We aren't looking for one liner or polarizing arguments because they are pointless and do nothing to feed our hunger for the sport.

I stumbled across your site a few years ago when I was looking for more information on the GP11 (or maybe the GP12). I was delighted to find a ridiculously long article gushing with details about stuff that no other MotoGP site would give a wispy fart about and I loved it. I've been coming back religiously ever since

In fact we all love it. It's part of the reason the conversation here (I think) is so good. I don't know what we would do without your work. Because (and no disrespect to your media colleagues) but, pretty much everything els out there is crap

I need to become a supporter of this place... Actually forget that. I'm just going to do it now. It's not much but I like to support what I like


For what it's worth, I've watched the video enough times and it looks to me that Rossi was checking to see that Marquez wasn't right along side him. Marquez hit him pretty hard the first time, he had been hit by Iannone earlier...that looked like a safety check to me and watching Marquez's wheel climb up the back of Rossi's bike to me still warrants a further investigation by Dorna. Hard riding explains the first whack, into Rossi's leg. The 2nd to me was well beyond even Biaggi's elbow.

But the narrative that I think emerges - and we'll see at Jerez - is the obvious one. Rossi, despite age and probably the 2nd best package (3rd best bike, but with better tires than Ducati) has posted race laps faster than Marquez 3 meetings in a row. A barge and bin will not bother Marquez. But seeing that level of race pace that emerges seemingly from nowhere must be alarming to Marc - because he has no idea how fast to ride other than "as fast as possible"; you can't plan for it. This sort of process is reinforced by pulling a huge lead and then watching it crumble in a few laps. We've seen that Marc will over-ride under pressure, and he is under a heap of pressure right now.

The season will tell of Rossi can maintain this focus for 15 more races. I'm just as interested in what Ducati will pull out of their hat at tracks like Mugello - and when Lorenzo will get his head screwed on straight. Lorenzo is not a charming rider, but when he gets the bit in his teeth and an open track in front of him, he can be a beautifully fast one. Imperious, I think David said. If Rossi wants a championship, he'll want some help from Lorenzo against Ducati I think...

I think David said. If Rossi wants a championship, he'll want some help from Lorenzo against Ducati I think...

Marquez tried to "stuff" his bike up the inside of Rossi. It was a very poorly
chosen move for that place on the track, because the inside position
Marquez had at the beginning of his attempt to pass quickly became the outside position and that meant that Rossi was 100% in control on the part of the track where Marquez needed to make the pass stick. It was a desperate and poorly chosen move Marquez made, and it could easily have resulted in serious injury or worse to both Marquez and Rossi.

I respect the talent Marquez has, but unless he learns to use better judgement regarding when to push and when to wait, I believe there will be a tragedy. I don't believe any serious race fan wants that, and that is why
I wish the officials had given Marquez a harsh penalty. No single race is important enough that it justifies serious bodily harm to a racer.

Marquez was racing hard, sure - but this is what top level racing is all about. You don't get to the top just letting people get away, and we don't watch it to see that happen either.

Rossi has done just as "bad" or "worse", as per the article. Many, many times. It's why he's a 9 time world champion.

Put two very determined racers on the same section of race track within the last couple of laps and you will get close racing. Every time there is the close racing we all love, there is an element of risk.

This time, the risk became reality. Marc turned in because he was committed to a line wanting to square off the corner and use the Honda power, and at the same time (roughly) Rossi ran slightly wider to maintain higher corner speed the Yamaha is renowned for.

Was it hard racing? Sure. Was it perhaps not the best decision on Marc's behalf with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight? Sure. How many world titles do you have?

I don't believe either rider intended for the crash to occur - It was a racing incident. Marc simply mis-judged Rossi's line and was turning in as Rossi was running to the outside. If he intended to take Rossi out, i'm quite sure he would not have clipped his rear tyre, because that's only ever going to end one way...

I think we need to be very careful about distributing penalties for this sort of thing or we may as well not even put riders/bikes on the track, just strap them to the dyno and have a horsepower pissing contest for all the excitement it will generate.

Neither Rossi nor Marquez are blaming the other, and I think they're far more entitled to kick up a stink about this, and far more qualified to judge than anyone spectating.

When Kenny Roberts went to Europe in 1978 those of us from California who knew him and, in some cases, had raced against him followed the season as closely as we could in the European and British magazines and newspapers. We read a great deal about how "ugly" his style was, that he was far too aggressive, that there was too much contact and how he would never succeed. Barry could be accused of leading the charge. We all know how that worked out. He changed the sport.

There's a reason some people call the era just before Marquez came on the scene the "white glove era". He has again changed the sport. I love watching the kids race in the Moto3 class. At least partially because when the best of them make it to MotoGP it's going to be more of a boxing glove era than a white glove era.

Fact or fiction David, this is a great piece of writing!

We already know who will win the championship this year: we armchair racers! So many unexpected events up and down the field make for highly entertaining viewing, just when we thought the four aliens were going to deliver a predictable season.

Re that incident I thought Rossi was taking a blocking line at the time of impact, which he was clearly entitled to do (and which Marquez should have expected).

I too, am guilty of writing Rossi off. Like so many others, I believed that age, and the demoralizing stint at Ducati, had seen off any chance that he could raise his game to take on Marquez. Then last year we began to see Rossi rise to the challenge. What can you say? I was cheering for Rossi at Qatar and in Argentina he did it again. This is the best Rossi I have ever seen and he is 36!

As for Marquez, he crashed because he rode into Rossi's back wheel. Dovi and Rossi very rarely crash. Marquez rides like he wants to crash at every corner. Yes, it may win races but it is asking a lot of lady luck and the season is long, very long.

I heard that Marquez already using his third engine? Is that true? Lucky he didn't broke another engine yesterday.

... sounds worse than it is.

his engine that came up with a warning light was taken out of the bike (speculation: gearbox problem), but I do not believe has been withdrawn yet.

however, to replace the engine in his bike #1 in a timely manner, they had to uncrate engine number 3, whilst the removed engine is inspected.

1 engine for bike 2
2 engines for bike 1

none of the engines have been binned AFAIK.

So yeah, he hasn't burnt 3 engines yet, and we're yet to hear if he's even burnt ONE.

By that metric, everyone else in the paddock has used 2 engines so far...

But yes, it would not surprise me if the engine was configured to kill power ASAP after tipping over to protect itself from oil starvation whilst running on its side due to the above situation as a precaution.

I had also written off Rossi as not being able to win another championship, though not because of his age and supposed dwindling reflexes etc. His problem is that the competition is so much better now. I'm still not convinced he will win it this year, we are only 3 races in. He doesn't have the best bike. Ducati have shown their new bike is consistently fast, which means even more competition. Certainly his confidence and motivation now make him formidable. We can't write off Marquez, and Dovi, and possibly Iannone, are likely to take valuable points from both of them throughout the year.

As others have said, WE look to be the real championship winners this year!

I hadn't written him off for wins, but had written him off for the championship in '13.

However... between 2013 and 2014 something drastic has happened with his riding style. You only need to go back to 2010 and look at some of his riding on the Yamaha from that period and previous to compare.

He used to ride in an "old school" way, much like Edwards, who also retired recently due to lack of competitiveness. More upright on the bike, head, shoulders far less off the bike.

Unlike Colin, Rossi has changed drastically towards the end of 2013 and through 2014. He is getting his upper body WAY off the bike now, getting his elbows down near the ground and riding in the "new school" way similar to the guys who have stepped up from Moto2, where this style is the norm. Not to take anything away from Colin, but as he said himself at 40 perhaps trying to change his riding style is just too much that late in his career. Perhaps Rossi had the opportunity to change just in time in his career?

I think perhaps the change in the field occurred during his purgatory period at Ducati, where rather than attempting to change his riding style he was probably more concerned with saving the front... he came back to Yamaha, had to spend 2013 getting the bike set up and figuring things out... 2014 if not for Marc he would have had title #10...

Given that, given he is probably the wiliest rider in the field, his epic determination and newfound aggression, I would put him right up the top of the pile for the 2015 season.

He's basically taken on a style similar to Marc, but has an additional 15 years or so of experience.

Dovi? I'm glad he's finally being treated with the level of respect he deserves. I have a lot of time for him and glad he's finally #1 rider on competitive machinery.

The crash was nobody's fault. It was the two best RACERS of their respective generations going at it. Marquez played it a little too close and he got taught a lesson. He maturely admitted it in his interview. He ain't going anywhere, he will be right back on it at the next race.

The biggest thing I picked up from this race is something that nobody has mentioned. Rossi actually out braked The best braker in the business and held his line in the turn for the winning pass. This is on the Yamaha that has been losing bike lengths in every hard braking zone for the last 18 months. Malaysia last year was the most pathetic demonstration of it between Rossi and Marquez. But this race demonstrated to me that the transmission is working, the electronics are working, the front end is working and the rider is working. Yes, Marquez was on a burnt up rear tire, but we have not seen that in a long, long time from Rossi vs a Honda. Things are definitely a bit different this year.

Thank you sir - that's indeed a terrific observation. I haven't seen Rossi go so hard and neat into a corner for a long time, either. The way Rossi's M1 braked - cleanly coming to a graceful controlled deep slowdown, blocking Marquez, seems to indicate that the M1 is finally getting closer to how Rossi likes it to be.'

Riding-wise I somehow can't still accept that Rossi is at the level of Marquez or Lorenzo (on his day). It could be some sort of mental block or prejudice but I just can't imagine Rossi actually outriding these guys out of pure riding skill.

But I have no doubts about Rossi's ability - despite the ducati misadventure - to get a factory behind him, provide a clear development direction, fix issues in a clean logical order with a clear sense of priority, and move the bike development forward while utilizing what he has with increasingly devastating effect. I feel he just might have started putting those skills to good use now, and Honda better watch out because they have a history of screwing up forward progress when under immense pressure...not least due to their immense resources that tend to converge relentlessly on a relatively trivial problem.

Do racecraft , mental fortitude, resolve and a perverse sense of playing with your prey not figure into pure riding skill?

Yes I agree Rossi doesn't compete on the lean-o-meter ;)

Rossi has 'out ridden' Lorenzo many times now(Catalunya 2009?) and so far has beaten Marquez twice and last time i checked he was riding a motorcycle while doing so not flying a jet.

He won the last race mostly because nobody could match his pace with the extra hard tyre, even Marquez said so.

So what do you call 'pure riding skill' exactly?

Haven't seen a race like that for ages in MotoGP where someone actually had a chance of fighting their way back up through the field and beating a leader like Marquez who was way in front. The uncertainty over tyre choice clearly contributed to a greater spectacle and this should be considered for the future. Maybe the teams should just be given the tyres and told to make of them what they will, rather than being prompted by Bridgestone so much about the characteristics.

Valentino did appear to flick the bike upright very sharply, as of course you would if racing at that intensity with someone trying to overtake you.

There was something of a gap in duration between 'the look' and 'the flick', and Rossi couldn't have known Marquez's wheel was in the exact position that would cause him to be taken out - and of course, if done on purpose, Rossi would have been taking the huge risk of getting tangled up and falling off himself as well.

The only likely intentional scenario, I think, is that it was meant to be a bit of body-language/bike-language, in effect warning Marquez: 'if you put yourself in that spot, this is what might happen to you next time'.

Marquez and his team have made a few strategic, tactical or technical blunders over the past few years – I was there at the Island when he muffed the compulsory pit stop - and the tyre choice in this case appears to have been one of them. Though I am enjoying the spectacle - two out of three races so far in 2015 have been gripping contests - I am unconvinced that Marquez, his team and Honda will make enough mistakes in 2015 for Valentino or someone else to win the championship.

There you go - add me to the list of pundits with no clue.

I never wrote him off and pointed out to all of you that you were wrong for years now. How you doubt the rider with more premier class wins, ever, I will never understand unless it was wishful thinking. Like I said 4 years ago, you don't win 100 races in this sport and just have your talent magically go out the window. Valentino was injured all season in 2010. First with the shoulder, then the broken leg. He still managed to podium regularly while walking on a cane and even won a race. He went to Ducati, and they didn't listen to him nor Burgess as comms were busted, something Gigi just recently fixed. And that bike had been getting worse, every year, against the competition, who was getting better and better, namely Honda and Yamaha. When Rossi returned to Yamaha he arrived with a changed M1, which was developed around Lorenzo. He's asked and asked them to work on the front end and braking. And once again when the factory listens to him and makes the changes he asks for, he wins races.

"Valentino Rossi, the man we all thought was washed up....."
Not all of us sir. Some of us pointed out how foolish you were every time you said it and you said it a lot.

Clearly the problem was with the Ducati, not Valentino. As evidence see Rossi this year, as well as Dovi.

In 2013 after almost always being number four finisher, didn't Rossie say at the start of 2014 that he would give it six races then make a decision as to wether to carry on or not. So it seems as if even he had doubts about his own ability to perform at the top level.
I thought with the passage of time, Marquez, Lorenzo and Pederosa had worked hard enough to be better than him, and that 4th place was the sort of position we could expect for the future-- the beggining of the slide into retirement.
I had been sure the poor results while at Ducati was the Ducatis deficiencies.
I am more than happy thought, to see him doing what he is doing now-- a truly stellar sporting phenonoma.

I think most people are guilty of writing off Rossi these days, from the dreary 800cc era we have been accustomed to looking at FP and QP times and determining the winner-no surprise there even Dorna failed to include him in the pre-race TV packages before the Qatar race-which he won!
Personally I believe he has always been very competative its just that the goalposts were moved during his testing mule phase at Ducati (for which when the field was leveled in the rain he performed very well) and Marc Marquez arrived.

Lets face it, without Marc and the Honda last year VR would have been champion. I remember reading about the special front end that Yamaha use to provide Rossi prior to his depature, which no one else could gel with, Ben Spies in particular. No doubt Yamaha in 2013 with the engine freeze could not do too much to help Rossi, 2014 was a very different story, and now with another season they seem to have the magic back. And it clearly was not just Burgess pulling a rabbit out of the hat in morning warm-up for all of those years.

The engine freeze is hampering the development process massively, if this was not in place in 2013, and indeed in 2011-12 we would have seen a much different Rossi. I think we can attribute much of the faster paced development of the current Ducati to Gigi sure, but also 12 engines per season.....

Most people? Maybe most people who post here.

You see all those yellow wearing folks at every race, even during the Ducati years, when he wasn't winning anything? They never wrote him off even after complaints here and elsewhere about his legion of fans around the globe. About how they don't know anything and just blindly worship.

Then there is Nick Harris, someone who folks post negative things about here. I asked him about Valentino, in 2011, in person, at Laguna Seca. He said to my face "Never count Valentino out."
Apparently some journalists knew better.

You also wrote off one of only two men to get 100 wins in this sport and arguably the greatest motorcycle rider in the history of the sport. That's who you wrote off? Dovi, someone else you could make a good argument for it. Valentino Rossi? Absolutely never. You'll remember his name the rest of your life, the stamp he made on this sport, time and time again, against everybody, and ask yourself wtf was I thinking doubting that guy, him of all racers.

He just broke The Golden Child, and a rider who could one day eclipse every Valentino Rossi record in the books. It doesn't matter if Rossi wins the championship this year. It doesn't matter if he wins another race or even gets another podium. He proved all this many years ago and doesn't need to prove anything to anyone on this planet.

Real bad one to get wrong. Above all else this is the last guy riding a bike you should have ever doubted.

110 and counting.

... I agree with your comments about Rossi, but to claim that he "just broke the golden child"?


Marc has been involved in his fair share of crashes before. Some his fault, some not, some racing incidents that occurred due to his willingness to take on large amounts of risk to take the win. As Rossi said, Marc often goes "All in".

This time it didn't pay off.

Rossi overtook Marquez on a bike/rider setup that was far superior on the day, that is all.

You can be sure that if a similar situation happens at say, Jerez, Marc will make a similar bet if required.

I said he broke him, and I meant for this race. Rossi passed Marc twice, with no contact. Marc banged into him twice and put it in the litter. That's getting broke. He's called the Golden Child (Eddie Murphy reference) because they changed the rules just for him so he could instantly go to Repsol. (poor Ben Spies wasn't afforded the same luxury)

Marc is as tough as they come and will fight back but he got broke and flustered in Argentina. Lost his head and twenty points. Valentino just showed him it's not going to be so easy this year. This isn't 2014.

Ok we get it you didnt write him off, Well done. A lot of people did a lot didnt. With hindsight you can see the problem was ducati but back then especially the first season, it wasnt as clear. With that more and more people with every year did think that it wasnt going to happen but you picked it. Congrats. :)

The mistake Marquez made was in split second before Turn 6, he forgot the Yamaha took different line compare to the Honda, or he expected Rossi would defend the line the way he himself would.

The way Marquez cut back the inside of Rossi in Turn 5 before the 1st contact was outright impressive. From the video one can see Marquez nearly lost the front but he somehow managed the turn. It was due to Marquez's ability riding an unsettled bike and the amazing Honda acceleration once the bike has stood up.

But in Turn 6, the inside/outside position changed. Somehow Marquez forgot the Rossi and the Yamaha had to make the turn in early for a sweeping corner. Marquez expected Rossi would make the turn later and force him running wide getting into Turn 6, similar to what he himself did to Lorenzo 2 years ago.

Rossi himself summarized it: He just focused on what he is doing. In Turn 6, Rossi just made the turn as usual, made the sweeping corner as soon as he can, not thinking about forcing Marquez running wide to Turn 6. This is the thing Marquez has learnt this time.

I'm not sure it mattered in the end, but JL ran a medium front and extra hard rear, while VR ran a hard front and extra hard rear. Granted, Jorge only mentioned 'spinning' which typically refers to the rear in the Spanish media interview you quoted but obviously the combos were somewhat different.


Rossi is both taller and heavier than Lorenzo and can naturally load the rear tyre better for addition traction.

I think Lorenzo should consider getting rid of the back rubber bumper piece on his M1 and change his riding style a bit to load the rear of his M1 better. Of the 4 M1s only Lorenzo's got the seat bumper piece. It was there to prevent him from sliding backwards and unload the front. But situation has changed.

That's fascinating, but is there a substantial difference in height between the 4? Bradley is lanky like Vale and Pol seems to have that about him as well... Perhaps Lorenzo can't without too much intervention from anti-wheelie?

I think the trend of riding style in the last 2 years is to have more movement on bike to aid weight transfer. This was what Rossi did after 2013.

In BT's post race interview to Bradly Smith in Argentina, he said one of the difference of his satellite M1 he saw to factory ones were the head stocks of the factory M1 allows more adjustment range.

But I wonder if in light of the race Honda now rue the decision not to let Casey ride. Aoyama was 13th before he crashed I think, where Stoner could potentially have slowed down Rossi enough that MM could have won unapposed

Casey could have potentially been running in 24th place, binned it, or been struck by lightning. The way Rossi was riding I don't think anyone was going to stop him. Speculation on what might have been is pretty pointless.

Hiro is their full time development rider, and is not officially retired. Casey made it clear in no uncertain terms to Honda that he no longer wishes to race. he can't chop and change as he feels like it.

he could have been struck by lightning or finished 24th, but neither of those scenarios seem very likely. I think he would have been far more likely than Aoyama to get in front of Rossi at least early in the race, which could have aided Marc.

As to your other points, the only reason Stoner wasn't riding was because Honda were concerned that they couldn't provide him with the right crew. Stoner 'chopping and changing' didn't have anything to do with it.

Worst thing about the write up is that it had to end!! Fantastic summation of the race Mr.Emmett, That was superb. Your site is invaluable to all things MotoGP.

Beeing an expert in any field implies the inabillity to learn new things about that area of expertise.
So I´m always skeptic as soon as someone claims to be an expert.
First duty in any science is to be skeptic, so you are doing it right.

It´s going to be an interesting season, thats the main thing.

I think the deciding factor for the WC will be from whom the Ducati´s will steal points the most.

I just can not see a Dovizioso who is in the top class in his 7th year with only ONE win to show, beeing a consistent title contender only because he´s got the right tool now.
There is more to it in my eyes.
Especially with a competition like MM93, VR46 and JL99 to begin with.

But to quote again somebody who has won a title with only 3 wins under his belt:"Thats why we line up on Sunday´s...".GP-racing is a freak of nature and nobody can ever predict anything consistently.

Nice write up again, David.You rock!

Rossi always makes sure that someone else is holding the matches when a vehicle burns down, whether or not he had a hand in lighting the fire.

I am no pundit, but I've been following and rooting for VR since 1999, so let's say I gained some insight into his persona.
There are three things about the crash that can raise a few eyebrows.

1. The quick "look back" before the contact. As already written, it can be interpreted in more than one way, but certainly if he hadn't looked back, we wouldn't discuss it now, would we?

2. The reaction from Uccio, Flamigni and the rest of his crew. They didn't jump out of their seats as in Barcelona '09. Ok, this one is maybe a long shot, because they were also shocked about the crash, but you could read from Uccio's face as he talked to others that he was contemplating the blame or trying to convince himself and others VR was not to blame.

3. The VR's gestures and some words in parc ferme with Uccio. As I live in Croatia, which borders Italy, I know Italians a lot and their way of expressing emotions. Shame the commentators overdubbed most of what VR was saying, but I could read from his gestures that he was saying something like: "What? He banged me first (pointing with hands and later showing his leathers), so I returned the favor later". This one's also not a fact, simply 16 years of reading his post race body language, but all three combined...

This is definitely not even close to Jerez '05, which I think was his most aggressive/borderline move on anybody in his career, and I really think VR is not that kind of rider who would deliberately want to do it to someone else. But he has that devil's smile, that determination, he is definitely "furbo" (an Italian word which combines cleverness and very slight lack of good intentions), and the whole ending without anyone pointing the finger on him just demonstrates his genious about handling the race, tactics, dog fights and all. It just adds to his charisma. For me, definitely the GOAT.

And MM93, the first bang was definitely borderline, and it's not his first such move. For two seasons this was never penalized, so it is in a way a payback for all the past assaults, and maybe, just maybe, he learns something from it. Just remember how many toys Pedrosa, Lorenzo and Dovi threw out of the pram when the poor Simoncelli did something similar?

What a season we have in front of us...

... I still don't think it was a deliberate ploy to hit Marc or cause him to crash.

Marc roughed him up a bit, and if anything Rossi simply put his bike in a slightly more awkward position and gave Marc the choice of whether to drive into him or back out. Marc chose not to back out.

Similar to the way Senna used to drive. The defensive attitude I think is purely because yes, whilst he may have been returning the favour by racing hard, it genuinely wasn't his fault.

Rossi had that corner, he was entitled to choose his line as he saw fit. He was looking towards the apex at that point, as was Marc, presumably. Marc could have stood the bike back up, lifted, etc. He didn't.

I'm a massive fan of Marc's but in this race he simply screwed up. Not maliciously, he just made an error in judging Rossi's line. It happens, sometimes we forget that they are still only human.

Q1: Did Rossi see Marquez? Only he knows.
What we do know is that when he looked, Marquez was on his rear wheel, about 1 meter to the right and not beside him (Check helicopter footage). Only when Rossi turned his back head, Marquez accelerated beside and into him.
So when Rossi did the move he didn't think Marquez so close (in case he actually saw Marquez).

Q1:Was there any evil intention? I don't think so. The only "evil" intention would be Rossi changing his line so he is wider and harder to overtake (See his lines from Catalunya 2009). Which is totally understandable and no evil intent.

But I would say small chances of that in this situation.

The reason for that quick flick, in my opinion, was because after looking behind, Rossi found himself on the wrong part of the track and still leaning quite a lot to the LEFT (check the footage from behind. So he had to quickly readjust (counter-steering) with and aggressive input to the handlebars.

This plus the fact that when Rossi looked, Marquez was on his rear wheel and not beside him, absolves him of any wrong doing.

PS: Marquez said after the race he still has to learn from Rossi. I wonder what he learn this time? See The Corkscrew at Laguna and last corner at Jerez (Jorge Lorenzo corner :))

I don't see Rossi's attitude as being nearly identical to Marquez's at all. While Rossi will race hard and make contact I've never perceived him to have disregard for another rider's safety. To my eye, the same can't be said of Marquez's behavior.

Take this race as an example. Rossi passed Marquez twice and made no contact. Marquez passed Rossi once and hit him twice.

The first contact in the right hander Marquez tried to stuff his honda into a disappearing gap and hit Rossi hard enough to smoke his front tyre. Seems to me that knocked Rossi wide on the exit and made his entry into the next left too tight. That's why he looked over his right shoulder to locate Marquez, he had to correct his line to open up the left hander.

To follow the first heavy contact immediately with another that put him down was not just poor judgement in my opinion, its indicative of Marquez's ongoing attitude towards safety - his own and that of other riders. As well as being fabulously talented he is fabulously lucky. The number of high speed offs he has walked away from is remarkable. Perhaps he believes its the same for everyone?

Looking forward to the rest of the season, it should be a barnstormer. And wait till Dovi and his crew get that new ducati set up....

That's exactly what we are in for, I believe. Instead of 3-4 riders capable of battling for wins, we now have 6-8 that could be there. No, not at every race track but very possible and more than a few. While the Suzuki is a new adventure, it's proven already that it handles very well. Maybe even better than the others when the chatter issue isn't rearing it's ugly head. Add some horsepower and "it coulda been a contender". The Ducati has definitely arrived front and center with a loud thump showing that it's there to compete for the podiums and wins. Mix in a few of the satellite bikes and you could definitely see some very intense battles for the top 8-10 positions. Especially, if and when they get Dani back or a solid replacement there and if Jorge can figure out what his issues are. I've seen a number of folks proclaim that it can't be just the BS tires that are causing his issues. While I can't prove that, I do know that one of Jorge's biggest strengths is/was corner speed. Corner speed, by it's own nature, requires edge grip from the tire. That's something that is known not to be what it once was with the newest BS tires. Take that into account and add in what that's probably done to Lorenzo's confidence. That does not leave much to speculate about when it comes to Lorenzo's issues. He's either going to adjust or find his confidence fading farther with bad results.

It's been a few years since we've actually seen some battles for the wins with more than just a few riders being capable of standing on the podium. I'm hopeful that this last year of these rules could be just that. Yes, there's a fairly serious deficit when you compare the Factory/Satellite bikes to the Open class but at least it's more than just a few that are able to compete now. Will we see a satellite bike win again? I think there's a stronger chance of that this year then there has been for quite awhile.

I also wish that the rules over the next few years continue to make the level of competition better. I'm not one that believes we should have a single supplier for tires, electronics, brakes, etc. If pit stops were involved, I can see where gas mileage could really make a difference but in an all out spring for 45 minutes, say what? Mainly because I believe this truly stifles innovation and the competition. If one brand is better than another, the teams will naturally gravitate towards those products. I just feel that forcing it on teams does nothing to help stimulate better racing.

As geddyt stated yesterday in his comments to the results article by Mike Lewis "As for Marquez, why should anyone be surprised by this? Really? He was a dirty rider in Moto3, a dirty rider in Moto2, and a dirty rider his rookie season in MotoGP" Not unlike geddyt I felt like maybe Marc had grown and matured some because last year he seemed to calm that behavior quite a bit. However, it appears that it's back again now that the competition has stiffened. Think about it, when there's contact, how often is Marc Marquez involved. He thinks that the track belongs to him so you better get out of his way or he'll move you. For me, this is very simply a safety factor. This sport is damn dangerous to begin, even much more than any 4 wheeled motorsports, due to the lack of protection for the participants. When riders feel they can just move people out of the way anytime they want, that makes the odds of someone getting injured or killed grow significantly. Much has been done about track safety in the recent past after years of racing on tracks that were extremely dangerous. So, why should any rider be allowed to intentionally make contact with others so that he can move ahead of them. Go back and look at a few of the recent fatalities that have occurred. More often than not, there's more than one bike involved. I'm not inferring that all contact was on purpose by any means, but often there's other bikes and contact involved when serious or fatal injuries occur. So, when someone has a propensity to be overly aggressive and iniitiates contact, is it really wise to just say "Nah, it's just racing, don't worry about it"? If you want contact go watch NASCAR turn left lap after lap while they bang and shove each other around in their 2 ton rubber wheeled sleds. Leave unprotected riders from having to worry about what 2 wheeled missle might be launched up the inside of the next corner in the name of taking a position on track. If it's allowed to be done, it's just a matter of time before some gets gravely hurt or worse. I'd rather not see that happen simply because we think it's no big deal. Your mileage may vary.

While Valentino Rossi is no saint when it comes to this, he also hasn't had the history of contact that I've seen with Marquez. While Rossi didn't really call Marquez out over this latest incident, his comments at the press conference did infer that he wasn't expecting it either. Here's his own words about the incident Sunday : "So, I overtake him and for sure, I think Mark try something to stay in front. But in the moment I think, already he touch me (claps hands to indicate contact) in the center of the corner, he put the bike into me. Faack, great. so I think you are aggressive but I don't expect so much." Does that sound like someone who thought it was the way it should have been done? Just food for thought. I wouldn't doubt that he and Mark have a bit of a talk between themselves about it.

I wonder if this is the start of a downward spiral for the Marquez - Rossi relationship.

Yes both men are quite fond of each other, yes they love a good dogfight, yes Marquez seems incapable of true resentment or anger, but in a field where no two can be first, and 25 want to be, emotions can run high.

After all the Italian is well known for having fierce rivalries, Biaggi, Gibernau, Stoner and Lorenzo to name just a few of the main characters.

In 2013 Rossi was seen as no threat to Marquez or as a championship contender at all, and he knew that, so why be angry at someone for doing what you simply could not. In 2014 he was seen as maybe a bit of a nuissance to Marquez' points tally (no more than Marquez' blunders), but once again no real threat.

In 2015, they are contesting for the top spot, and Rossi, if his form does not fail is more than a threat, he's THE man to beat.

They are both hard racers, this is unlikely to be their only incident, emotions could run high, and if they do, I bet you it will be Rossi that strikes the first blow.

And yes they both seem to be okay about the whole incident, but I have a strong feeling that there is some blame being tossed around from both sides.

But as David said, we are all just trying to get inside the heads of two people, not an easy thing to do.

Yeah, it'll be really interesting to see if Vale will for the first time be the one pissing about the contacts. So far it was always the other side (MB, SG, CS and JL) that cried and eventually lost that war. Now we have the real "killer with a smile" in our hands. First 2015 battle goes to VR. Game on! :)

Skill wise, Rossi has nothing short to beat Marquez hands down. It is down to yamaha to give Rossi the right equipment to defy the Honda's unbelievable cornering and braking ability. Marquez's edge over others is only and only because of Honda's braking ability. and proof of that is the fact that Cal Crutchlow brakes exactly identical to Marquez, and we know that Cal's forte was never his braking ability.

Sorry but even as a diehard VR fan I have to disagree there. Marquez takes every corner like a scalded cat, he has absolutely no fear on track, and that's what's given him the edge. My fear is that this will cost him sooner or later though I hope not.

I do however think VR is probably the most talented racer on the circuit, and this is what enables him to milk every last drop of potential from the bike and tires.

But what a meeting of talents! How lucky we are to see this; and I have a feeling that because each recognises that the other is a truly worthy champion, there'll be no falling out as the season unfolds.

I don't think Marc is lying when he has always mentioned Valentino as one of his main threats pretty much every pre-event press conference.

Rossi is his childhood hero, of course he's going to consider him a threat, even in 2013 and 2014.

I don't think there are any head games going on, and there's certainly a level of mutual respect.

That said, I don't expect either of them to give each other any favours out on track. They'll both race each other hard, and I think that would be the case whether they are best mates or not.

Rossi said himself in, I think it was in 'The Doctor, The Tornado and The Kentucky Kid': when you fight another rider on track, part of you wants to kill him. Or something along those lines.
I am sure Marc would agree: it just showcases the sheer determination of these racers. Marc barging on the inside. Rossi maybe, impulsively, flicking the bike just a little more aggressive since he knew Marc was on his right. Who knows? Fair play does not exist on this level. It's just a matter of what you can get away with. I think VR and MM are pretty level on this part, as they are in mental strength.
As Lorenzo said after Catalunya '09: venga la proxima!

That line was actually in Fastest and it was Simoncelli saying it, and it goes:

During the race, you want to kill the other rider, but after the race, you give him the hand, and you go to drink a beer together.

Later in the movie ...

Rossi: Simoncelli sometimes is very hard. I am his friend, so with me, he is more soft. But especially with Bautista, Barbera, always hard, hard fight.
Interviewer: But he [Simoncelli] says they are girls.

... which drew quite the chuckle from Rossi.

... I think it was also Kocinski in "Faster" who said something along similar lines, something like "If you're not in front you just want to kill everybody".

You just don't get to be a world champion without an extreme hyper-competitive attitude.

A few years ago (at the end of Ducati's time) I read an article which was trying to explain why V.R. was no longer a "GP winner"; basically the author found 3 main reasons for his low performances:
1) Physical problem: related to the shoulder injury
2) Mental problem: related to his involvement with Marco Simoncelli's death
3) Technical support problem: Jeremy Burgess missing the complex understanding of the "electronic impact" on motorcycles performance

Maybe there was something true in all those elements. The first one apparently was fixed by surgery/rehabilitation. For the second "time" probably helped softening that problem. I was wandering if the third was really so relevant.
I was listening to the interview V.R. gave on SKY TV soon after the race. The moderator asked Galbusera to ask V.R. a question. He asked: "Vale, did the electronic change work for the race"? V.R. answered: "yes Silvano, it did quite well"!

It sounded like Galbusera knew well what he was talking about and he looked very satisfied by the answer he received....
This would confirm that the highly criticized swap of Jeremy with Galbusera had a valid background.

...something regarding Jeremy Burgess how?

The guys got a lot longer history of success than Rossi, you, or Galbusera, and possibly all 3 of you combined. Maybe you could cut him a little slack.

And the criticism wasn't that he decided to make a change, because that was apparently up to him (as opposed to a team decision), it was with regard to the rather ungracious way he choose to do it.

I agree it was unfortunate the way Jeremy's dismissal played out. But I don't see how it could've been much different. IIRC, Rossi was searching his soul, and once he'd made his decision, he couldn't pretend. He couldn't lie to Jeremy, his "racing father", so he told him that weekend. I think Jeremy took it like a father whose son is leaving the nest.

The media sure played it up. I don't know who leaked what information, but once it was out, it was sensationalized. Shame.

But I think between Rossi and Jeremy there is understanding. At least that's what it looked like to me. Maybe I saw what I wanted to see.

... I think a number of factors were involved.

Yes, sure, maybe Jeremy wasn't so electronic savvy (pure speculation).
Jeremy's wife has/had cancer
Jeremy is in his 60s, has a sick wife, and was away from home a lot
Vale was in a rut and needed to change something to give him motivation
Jeremy had made some disparaging remarks to the press regarding valentino

Due to the rut, the cancer, the Jeremy's lack of family time, the public remarks, the failure at Ducati, maybe they were both just finding it frustrating and difficult to deal with each other due to the emotions and stresses involved? That would certainly not be a productive environment.

Maybe Vale felt that letting Jeremy go to be with his wife would be doing him a favour as well?

As many riders have said in the past (Schwantz, Edwards), a lot of it is in your head. I don't imagine the garage would have been a happy place to be for Valentino considering all of the above factors/stresses.

and the more choices, the more they matter. Great to see VR46 take the win in this manner. VR's early and steadfast choice of tire,and resulting focus on making it work paid off.The much improved Yamaha was also on full display, as was VR's fully adjusted riding style. The mental/adaptive aspect of racing gets short shrift these days,due to the rise of the programmer in the pits over the rider in the seat. But clearly Vale's return,as well as the struggles of JL show the continued presence of getting your head right and, making good decisions and adapting to new realities Interesting to see how MM handles it. He will, of course be back at it at full speed in the next race and every race thereafter. There is no quit,no fear and no change in motivation or method to be had from the great, young Champion. The lack of versatility and mental ability (method) will be the lone question and will provide the answer to whether he can rise to this new challenge. Personally, I consider him an idiot savant. Brilliantly talented. A one trick go and go faster pony with little understanding of what it all means other than that it puts a wonderful smile on his face(and those of race fans) and a thrill in his heart. No thought = no fear and no questions. His talent cannot and will not be denied. However,his lack of judgement and mental acuity was on full display Sunday(as well as any and virtually every other time he has failed to win/finish), taking no consideration of the massive lead lost, how it happened or what it actually meant for the remaining laps. Understandable? Perhaps.Damaging? Clearly. Will it matter going forward? Who knows? Wonderful to see going forward? Absolutely.

I was wondering how change would effect Marc. Rule changes, Tire changes, riding styles but, mostly the change of his rivals as they start going faster. This is really what I find so interesting and why I love motorcycle racing so much.

I know there are a million attributes (that I'm going to for the moment discount) but, something I love so much about Rossi is his ability to change and adapt to MotoGP through the years. Two years in 500cc then moving to 990cc four stroke MotoGP he was able to adapt. The single tire rule and the switch to 800cc as well. Now with the appearance of Mark we've seen Rossi change his riding style, change his crew chief and this year further adapt his riding style. This year he seems to be wearing leathers that have elbow sliders. I don't recall ever seeing him have those before because Rossi's style never Inc. the elbow that much. But this year for example I'm noticing in post race photos and videos that there does seem to be a little bit of where on those elbow sliders. Or maybe I'm crazy :-p

When Marc came to MotoGP I think it was a fairytale combination of raw talent a bike that suited his style and a crew chief that knew how to make all the pieces come together. Just for the record I don't want anyone to think "that i think" Marc's success is attributed to anything other then the fact he's amazing.

But the road ahead is bound to be difficult and I'm really really curious to see how he adapts. We've all seen so many riders come and go because they don't have the will to go fast anymore or they can't adapt to change and regulations. Jorge's struggle with the heat resistant tires is a good example. If Jorge wants to go fast again he's going to have to find a way to adapt his riding style to make those tires work.

Agostini changed the paradigm. Roberts changed the paradigm. Rossi changed the paradigm.

Not just because they won multiple world championships, but because of how they did it: They forced other teams/manufacturers to change their approaches.

Paradigm changers accept what they're given, they adapt to their situations. They work really, really hard, but that's not all of it. They expect to be the best. They have an intrinsic belief that there can be no other result for them but winning.

Having seen a few "next Bob Dylan"s come and go, I gotta say, Marquez is most likely a paradigm changer. That we get to see two of them battling each other this year, not to mention a top-notch supporting cast who've merely challenged for or won multiple world titles themselves, makes my MotoGP video pass thingy the best hundred bucks I've spent in a long time.

Electronics, the importance of tires and the extremely small margins have made this sport more than ever a strategic game. Quite the opposite of a short shrift of the mental/adaptive aspect. And about Marc Marquez: lack of versatility and mental ability, no thought, no mental actuity. That's what brings you 4 world championships?

I see Rossi's move, the contact that put MM on the ground, slightly different. IMHO, Rossi looked over his shoulder & saw MM there and moved to his right (clearly seen on two of the feeds) intentionally, to 'try' and force MM wide & screwing up his entry into the next turn. This would give him a much better entry & drive, giving him a few bike lengths breathing space. Am I saying its Roosi's fault? Absolutely not! I love Rossi & MM. MM has changed the way these guys ride & race. This IS racing! Two guys going at it 'hammer & tongs' and when they do that....shit happens. This isnt gonna effect MM one bit, except make him more determined.

Is is gonna be a great year or what?

Do you know what Rossi could see? Do you know how far back he could see back? Have you ever glanced back while wearing a full face helmet? Were you travelling at the best part of 200km/h at the time? How far back was Marquez at the exact point Rossi glanced back?

So many variables to consider. I have no idea what Rossi saw. I am suspicious of those who claim to know otherwise.

It's funny how many considered responses can be attributed to two motorcycle riders negotiating a very tricky part of a very tricky circuit at the most crucial point of a pivotal race in the world's ultimate professional motorcycle racing series.

To anyone with an opinion as to either rider's intent based on video replays from various cameras: Don't confuse the seconds, minutes or, for the most depraved of us, hours spent analyzing the event with the milliseconds the riders experienced.

Yes, these are the two best riders on the planet, for whom a millisecond is what a mortal deems an eternity. But still.

This is what was going through Valentino's head: Stay in front of Marc.

This is what was going through Marc's head: Get in front of Valentino.

They both did what they felt they had to at the moment. Only one of their "plans" worked. The other's will be revised. It's gonna be a great season.

Man, how long has it been since MotoGP's premier class was the more exciting of the three? Let the pundits stretch their legs!

...That it doesn't really matter what Rossi saw, with regards to trying to apportion blame to Rossi.

He had about a bike length on Marc at that point, a commanding position on the track, and Marc decided to try to cut back up the inside squaring off the corner.

The corner was well and truly Valentino's corner.

Race bikes do not have mirrors, and what is going on BEHIND you is irrelevant and the responsibility of the following rider. Your responsibility is to not drive into anyone in front of you, and negotiate the track.

Marc drove into the back of him.
Marc's error, Marc paid the price with a DNF.

David, your advice to be wary of pundits has a great deal of merit. But you have to admit that any pundit would have been written off as mad if he'd predicted at the beginning of the year, that, three races into the season:

• Valentino Rossi leading the championship with two wins
• Andrea Dovizioso in second place, on the rostrum in all three races
• The Ducati consistently getting rostrum finishes
• Jorge Lorenzo without a single rostrum finish
• The Suzuki qualified on the front row
• Cal Crutchlow on the rostrum in his third race on the Honda
• Marc Marquez only two points ahead of Cal Crutchlow
• Dovi and Iannone ahead of Marquez in the championship

Thank you for writing all that down. This is going to be a pundit-smashing season. I suspect that readers of a certain British racing site are having kittens trying to rationalize Cal's rostrum finish.

When you look at MM93's attitude in Moto2 when another rider put an overtake on him his response was always the same.

[Somewhat depending on the corner] If the overtaking rider held his line MM would ride on the outside almost leaning on the rider and then cut back across their front wheel at the first opportunity. If they ran a fraction wide he'd drive his bike up on the inside.

Realistically he should have rolled off a fraction after the first contact and built some momentum for a subsequent overtake. However that's just no MM's way - he's an aggressive rider (generally in a positive way) and is the last to back out of a situation (in a game of chicken he'd move/jump out of the way from the oncoming vehicle last).

Rossi, he's back in a rich run of form again, on a great bike, in a good place mentally, etc. The pressure isn't really on him at the moment, it's more focused on MM, but come the second half of the season who knows?

Dovi is the real dark horse here though, if this continues all season long he might just pick up Nicky Hayden style championship (low wins, high podiums) if VR or MM suffer from the pressure or have a couple of DNFs.

For the record I bagged VR at 7/1 e/w before the season started (ridiculous odds for a 9 time champ) [also got JL at 4/1 e/w, so fingers crossed he gets his mojo back soon] {wish I'd got Dovi at ~25/1 e/w}...

For MM93, these next two rounds are going to be crucial for him and Honda. He'll push super hard for the win, but for Honda they really need for Pedrosa to come back sooner rather than later as he's got he potential to steal positions from VR and therefore help MM93 hugely. Maybe Honda will give CS27 a quick call to see if they change their decision if Pedrosa can't come back soon?

I like and rate Dani but to be honest I don't think he'd be able to do much about Rossi at the moment, even without the injury.

Eighteen second-place finishes would yield 360 points. And wouldn't that be a way to win a championship! You think people are complaining about concessions now...

Before the beginning of this season Marquez was used to winning without even trying that hard....now he knows that giving his best might not be enough. This race is going to leave a mark and we'll know big it is during the next races.

Hate him or love him you have to admit that whenever there's excitement/action on the race track, Rossi is most likely involved. 36 years old and once again he's the one giving the new kid on the block a run for his money.

Forza Vale.

Marquez himself said before the race that his biggest opponents will be Rossi and Lorenzo. And Cal also said they used the "F1 Tactics" to slow down Yamaha.

Now this is the question. Whether he will be fit enough to return at jerez else hiroshi is there to replace him. As marquez is fifth there is hardly any chance that honda will give stoner a shot. And this is the track he knows quite well and i dont think that after getting denied of his request to ride for dani at the previous two rounds he will again approach honda. Of course stoner would have given honda better finishes than hiroshi but still honda had their own bullshit reasons inspite of stoner saying he wasn't planning on winning. Shame as it was not to be but i still find myself hoping that he rides in jerez...

Feeling bad for lorenzo, he doesn't deserves to be there. All that gruelling off season training doesn't seems to be paying off and his struggle with the heat resistant tyres continues. He has always been his worst critic always fighting with himself and saying his biggest competition is himself rather than marquez or rossi. Dont know if he will but i hope he gets his season back on track from jerez, finds his way to use the tyres...

Feel the same for dani too as he has always encountered some problem or the other throughout his career. And i think he would have won in 2012 if barbera wouldn't had knocked him in misano beacuse of that pressure he crashed in phillip island. Its a pity that he will retire without a motogp title unless he is more succesful on a different manufacturer. Honda will surely look for another rider come 2016...

Coming back to the season it has got off to a fabulous start which shadows the previous seasons and i hope it goes on the same till end. The championship would have been even more unpredictable if jorge and dani would have been fighting up there...

The thing about Aoyama vs Stoner is that Hero affords Honda an interesting opportunity. Without focusing on outright points grabbing or wins Honda can focus on development. For all we know Hero is running spec electronics conducting live testing for next year, who knows whats under that fairing except Shuhei himself...

... (given that Aoyama's time on Dani's bike counts toward his engine allocation) Honda have the engine turned way down while Hiroshi is riding.
He's not doing all that badly really, compared against other mortals. I sort of think it also goes some way toward further destabilising this myth that a factory Honda is head and shoulders above any bike on the grid. It's only been the truly exceptional riders (Rossi, Stoner, Marquez) who have hopped onto it and dominated. That's how it should be.

How was that allowed to happen? Since we've moved away from the 800s the big class racing's been getting better and better. We now have a large group of riders capable of getting on the podium, and I don't think Bradley Smith and Aleix Espagaro are far away from joining that group on current form.

"Have you ever try to look back on a bike while wearing a helmet[and at full pace requiring 100% of your attention]?"

The slight peek Rossi did may have only verify that Mark was not on par with him, making Rossi think Mark was not where he actually was, which IMHO was way too close to Rossi's rear tire,I don't believe he could have seen Mark since he was in Rossi's blind spot, he would have need a mirror or a good twist of his neck to reach where Mark was, (which is something you will not do while trying to win a race on a 260BHP machine).
IMHO Mark should have known that the natural whipping of a bike to take the corner would mean he was occupying Rossi's personal space a little too much, for sure if the situation was reversed, Mark would have done something similar.

In summary, maybe the peek gave Rossi the false impression that he was clear of Mark.

Given how upset Marquez was regarding allegations of tax evasion he could do worse than spend a moment contemplating the tsunami of hostility that will surely come his way should Rossi be injured in one of their clashes.

David, I absolutely agree and identify with every word you wrote. Not an expert like you but that race blew the top off of any nicely sealed theories on Motogp racing this year. Absolutely amazing. Marquez...Rossi. I have not gone through the comments yet. But I will say this. For anyone who used to race or compete at any level that mattered and is now past their prime will feel a tinge of something watching Rossi, the supposedly past the sell by date ex Multi Time World Champion bringing himself not only up to speed. But up to speed with his bag if tricks in tow against the young already legendary current champion that may well surpass even Rossi's greatness, (Rossi himself has said this).

Normally, someone that has been around and had a portion of Rossi's success will be retired visiting races giving an interview or two on what he thinks is going to happen in the race and for the year. The young champion saying he would have loved to race his idol in his prime. A bunch of pop bellied men in the crowd throwing back beers saying how great the 'Old Champion' was 'back in the day' and how he would have 'kicked the sh*t" out of the new one. Whether that is true or not is never found out. But this year we all may be able to live that exact fantasy out. For people that have loved Rossi they can scream his name. For people that do not like him they can root for Marquez to push Rossi into the sunset. And the same goes for Marquez in the opposite.

However, the incident I believe was purposely done by both riders. Marquez intentionally hit Rossi, and Rossi intentionally cut back over hard because he could sense, (because racing that close you do not need to see where someone is), and let the repercussions of Marquez riding too close play out. He knew he was there. Rossi has a long history of knowing where someone is behind him and playing with them from the front. I do not think either rider was wrong. These are Hard Racing Men. They both know that each is aggressive. Been awhile since two unmovable forces collided like this. There are some strong minds in this sport at Motogp level but these two are a definitive cut above the rest when it comes to being cutthroat. One has shown he cannot be moved by aggressive riding and mind games. He will look at the end goal of victory and run you over to get to it. The other seems to find another level of inspiration from mind games. Seems to actually blossom when there is funk, (a violent or potentially violent situation). One old one young. This could not have been better SCRIPTED for a BLOCKBUSTER MOVIE! And I love it!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)))))

Couldn't agree more. I don't even care who wins.

Rossi getting number ten at 36 years old?! Yes, amazing! Marquez battling back against a seemingly immortal grand master to continue his historic, youngest-ever x-time champion run?! Incredible, awe-inspiring!

Even the "worst-case" scenarios where a dark horse like Dovi or a never-counted-himself-out Lorenzo quietly and consistently amass points while the spotlight shines elsewhere, then snag the championship through some kind of late-season divine intervention would mean we will have witnessed an unbelievable season.

Bring on Jerez!

On that "Worst-case" scenario. Championship seems to be setup for a long and adventurous time.

This type of journalism is why we keep coming back David. Thank you and Bravo!!!

Upon review of the footage it was cleat that Rossi's bike moved into MM front wheel, thats not to say this was intentionally done by Rossi to block/hamper MM.

Understanding how a motorcycle leans via counter steering, the act of counter steering to cause the bike to transition from leaning right (with MM on the right side) to leaning left means the wheels must move laterally to the right but there wasn't enough room MM was too close.

I was one of the people who was very critical of Valentino Rossi's move to Ducati. I was a long time Rossi fan but ever since his egoism came out into the open I have slowly lost respect for the man. First his blackmailing Dorna to get the Bridgestone tyre for 2008 and the erection of the famous MotoGP wall in between himself and his teammate Jorge Lorenzo not only smacked of arrogance but more importantly of insecurity. I think at that time if he could somehow manage Dorna to get him a 1000cc special on the sly, he would have done it. Then came the epic failure at Ducati and I had suggested that he should have retired at Yamaha instead of insisting on number one rider status.

I agree that is his renascence at Yamaha, especially this year has been great (he is beginning to establish himself as the no.1 Yamaha rider without making stupid demands) and as a one time fan of his I do feel happiness surging within me when does win. But I see that as his confidence returns so does his arrogance. He no longer says Jorge, increasingly it is Lorenzo, Pedrosa (not Dani) and Stoner was always Stoner. Only time will tell if I am wrong, but his arrogance will be back as he does better and better on the track. And then the shenanigans will start. Last time I said something like this a lot of people jumped on me, except for one person who also said humility in success is important. I still will say, Rossi should have retired at the end of 2010.

Few remember the races but all remember the titles. Marky Marc ya didn't have the rubber - 20's hard to come by- shudda, cudda, wudda scooped 'em and gone to Jerez. Crank out those titles young man while you can.. The beast never ages and it will never die!
Love you both and hope you live forever!!!!!!!!!!

From Marc's seat - Rossi dived under him the lap before and Marc went past on the inside when Rossi went wide and missed the apex. Same occurs and Marc does the same except he did not quite make it before Rossi shuts the door on him. A racing incident.

Next corner Marc is close to him as you can if you trust the other rider will not do anything unusual. There is no need to pull the bike wide to enter the next corner but Rossi does. Marc knows this for sure when he watches the replay and sees that Rossi does not go close to the apex of the corner.

What Marc has learnt is that he cannot trust Rossi to do what is normal and that it is ok to change line as much as you like when you are in front.

Great writeup David, I thoroughly enjoyed it. This year looks to be a big one.

Really happy to see Ducati up there fighting for podiums again, but why has no-one mentioned the Ducati that caught fire? I rewound the footage a few times just to see Hernandez' classic double-take when he saw the flames. Do you know what happened?