2016 Mugello MotoGP Saturday Round Up: Of Improbable Alliances, and Saving Italian Racing

Every year at Mugello, Valentino Rossi and Italian designer Aldo Drudi come up with a special helmet design for Rossi's helmet. They vary in originality and ingenuity: my own personal favorite by far was the helmet from 2008, which featured Rossi's face on the top, wide-eyed with the terror he felt braking for the first corner at San Donato, one of the highest speed approaches on the calendar. Others have varied from the obscure and personal, to the entertaining or passionate. Most people have their own personal favorite, a few curmudgeons find the whole idea rather pointless.

Rossi's helmet for this year features a simple design, based on a pun in Italian. His AGV Pista GP helmet is yellow, featuring an outline of the Mugello circuit, and the word "MUGIALLO" around the front. "Mugiallo" is a play on the words Mugello, the name of the circuit, and "giallo", the Italian word for yellow. Rossi's tribal color is yellow, his fans call themselves "Il popolo giallo", or The Yellow People. The press release from Dainese described it as a tribute to the circuit, and to Rossi's fans.

Is that what it means to Rossi himself, though? On Saturday, Rossi made his helmet look more like an act of appropriation than a tribute. Rossi's searing qualifying lap laid bare his intentions: Valentino Rossi laid claim to the Mugello circuit. He came here to win.

Planning ahead and seizing opportunities

Can he do it? The auspices are good for a Rossi victory. While others tiptoed around during a wet FP1, Rossi went out and did nothing but practice starts, improving one of his weaker points. When the track dried, and throughout the rest of free practice, Rossi built up his pace, working on a set up which will work in the race. When qualifying came around, he found a strategy which allowed him to ride the way he wanted, and used it to bag pole.

That strategy? To wait until pit lane had cleared, then head out to a relatively empty track. As it happened, that was exactly the strategy as Maverick Viñales, the pair of them circulating within sight of each other. On their first run, Viñales followed Rossi, the Suzuki rider getting up into second behind a brilliant lap from Andrea Iannone on the factory Ducati. After two laps, Viñales headed back into the pits, while Rossi stayed out for one more lap.

Viñales spent nearly two minutes more than Rossi in the pits, which meant that the two of them headed out together again. This time, Viñales led the way, Rossi using the Suzuki as a target, and chasing the young Spaniard all the way to the line. With that reference, the Italian veteran smashed past Iannone, taking pole position by a tenth of a second.

Viñales was not done, however. Now on his second flying lap, and the clock running out, Viñales picked up the pace. At the first intermediate split, the Suzuki rider was eight hundredths of a second faster than Rossi, an advantage he extended through the second split to nearly a tenth of a second. Viñales fared less well in the second half of the track, losing eight hundredths in the third split, still leaving him a fraction ahead of Rossi. But last section of the track, from Biondetti through Bucine all the way to the line, proved costly for the Spaniard. He lost over a tenth of a second, and was demoted into second place.

Another conspiracy?

Rossi's pole, and the way in which he took it, led Jorge Lorenzo to start pondering a conspiracy. Was it a coincidence that Rossi and Viñales just happened to find each other on track? "Well if it's a coincidence, it's a coincidence which has been repeated five or six times," Lorenzo said. "So to have so many repeated coincidences... But it could be. Who knows?" Marc Márquez was less cryptic in his response. "I was watching the practice and I saw that Viñales did the time behind Valentino and then the opposite. It looks like they speak and they organize."

Rossi naturally denied the accusation, joking that he was very scared they would send a note home to his mother for copying from another student. More forcefully, he told the Italian media that Lorenzo should have the decency not to talk about riders conspiring together, once again bringing up his own conspiracy that Lorenzo and Márquez had worked together to prevent Rossi from winning the 2015 championship.

Coincidences both exist, and recur

Was there really a conspiracy between Rossi and Viñales? It is unlikely that any agreement exists to work together during qualifying. Motorcycle racing is an individual sport, with each rider working for themselves. As Marc Márquez put it, "in the end everyone do his own strategy." At best, any alliance is merely temporary, exploiting opportunities which present themselves. Sometimes, individual rider strategies coincide, two riders choosing the same approach, and deciding not to actively hinder each other.

The most likely explanation for Rossi and Viñales hitting the track at the same time is that they both have little desire to leave the pits early and get caught up in traffic. At a track like Mugello, with a lap of around 1'47, if you wait for a minute, almost everyone has gone, and most of the bikes are round the other side of the circuit. That gives you a clear track to try to push on, and with little risk of coming across other riders waiting for a tow.

Of course, two riders who choose the same strategy may find themselves sharing a piece of track. Their affinity with one another will decide what happens next: if they can tolerate each other, then they may end up helping each other to a fast time. If they are sworn enemies, then the lap will be aborted immediately. Rossi and Viñales clearly like and respect each other. But if Rossi had come across Jorge Lorenzo or Marc Márquez – or vice versa – then there would have been no tows given nor claimed.

Accepting a tow

Sometimes, qualifying strategies leave no room for modification. With Mugello being a 1'47 lap, Jorge Lorenzo's two-stop strategy, with a front tire change planned for the final exit, left no time for improvisation. So when Lorenzo found Iannone following him out of the pits at the very start of the session, there was nothing Lorenzo could do. If he aborted the first lap, he would still only have two laps in which to set a quick time. Better to persevere, and stick to the plan at hand.

At tracks with a shorter lap, a little more flexibility is possible. Lorenzo can then wait in the garage for a while – or as he did at Phillip Island last year, walk out to the bike, to persuade his rivals to exit the pits, then go back inside and wait for the track to clear. That is not possible at Mugello, however.

In the end, the usual suspects are all on the first two rows of the grid. The two Movistar Yamahas are on the first and second rows, Rossi on pole and Lorenzo starting from fifth. The Repsol Honda of Marc Márquez is in the mix, the Spaniard sitting in fourth. Two Suzukis set in second and sixth, Viñales being strong in Q2, Aleix Espargaro excellent in both qualifying sessions, having made his way forward during Q1.

It will be close

Espargaro felt a little aggrieved after qualifying in sixth, for two reasons. Firstly, because his time in Q1 was already better than his Q2 time. Secondly, that he lost time when Marc Márquez ran wide and nearly lost the bike altogether, costing him several tenths of a second, and ruining his chance of a lap that would have been good enough for the front row.

What does all this mean for the race? On Friday, you would have said that Jorge Lorenzo held the race in his hands, the Movistar Yamaha rider quickly finding a strong setting. His problem, he said, was that others had caught up and even passed him, the improvements made by everyone else on the grid collectively better than the improvements found by Jorge Lorenzo and his team.

Now, there seem to be four or five riders, perhaps even more, who have excellent race pace. On paper, Andrea Iannone was fastest during FP4, and consistently so. Maverick Viñales is pretty close, as are Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Márquez. But Valentino Rossi looks most ominous, not so much for his outright pace, as for the fact that he finds something even more special on Sunday, with the adrenaline of a race coursing through his veins.

Rossi's second pole of the year is also a sign of improving qualifying once again. In the six race starts this year, Rossi already has two poles, and he has appeared on the front row four times in total. Rossi is already just one front-row start down on 2015, and we are only just six races into the season.

Investment in the future

Rossi's helmet was to send out a message, not just about his own ownership of the Mugello track, but also of the VR46 Riders Academy. In the Moto3 and Moto2 classes, his riders did well too. Romano Fenati took pole, having shown competitive pace all weekend. Andrea Migno grabbed second, following close on the heels of his teammate. Pecco Bagnaia had done well to finish second, but his lap time was canceled for running the track, and he was demoted to eight.

In the Moto2 class, Lorenzo Baldassarri will start from third, his first ever front row start. He sits behind Sam Lowes and Taka Nakagami, the Englishman pretty much unstoppable on Saturday. He had concentrated on hard tires and race pace during much of qualifying, and if he can break clear, it is hard to see who can stop Lowes. His main rivals, Johann Zarco and Alex Rins, are well down the order at the moment, and will start from sixth and ninth respectively.

In a way, Rossi's greatest achievement at Mugello this weekend is not his own pole position, but the incredible strength of Italian racing. The future looked very bleak just a few years ago, with little Italian talent coming up through the ranks. Rossi has invested his own time and money to turn that around, to great success. Young Italian riders are now back at the front in both Moto2 and Moto3, and taking on the Spanish supremacy to great effect. Rossi picked up where the Italian federation had let the situation slide, and almost singlehandedly saved Italian racing from a long period in the doldrums.

On Sunday, Rossi looks set to reap the rewards. Not only is he arguably the favorite to win the MotoGP race, though the battle looks to be fierce with Márquez, Lorenzo, Iannone and the Suzukis. But the riders who have come through the VR46 Riders Academy look like being favorites for the Moto3 race, and in contention for Moto2. On Sunday, Mugello will not only color yellow, but also green, white, and red. Probably with a Union Jack thrown in for good effect.

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Going to be one hell of a race.  Rossi is an inspiration. He just continues to surprise, and to reinvent himself. And look how close he and Mav are on different machinery. With them both on M1s next year... Well, it's a great time to be a fan. 

Vinales' last lap was very impressive, he all but snatched pole without any tow at all, and he actually dropped Rossi who had the perfect draft from him on the previous lap. I really hope Maverick can have some solid injury free years as it looks like he'll be a real contender.

I understand why Lorenzo says this crap as he's simply externalizing the conversations he's having with himself. But someone in his entourage really needs to give him a slap and tell him to smarten up if he ever wants fans to like him as when he says this stuff he just comes across as such a twat. 

So so looking forward to tomorrow's races!

That I have read several people criticising JL for his conspiracy comments (probably quite correctly) but, as the story reminds us, Rossi said exactly the same last season after his loss and I have yet to hear anywhere near the same vitriol against him for syaing the exact same.


Come on. Be fair!

Lorenzo wants to be liked so badly, but he's so bad at being likeable, and for someone that projects such a dislike for Rossi, I find it ironic that thru his entire career in the premier class he has consistently emulated Rossi in his post race theatrics when he wins.  HELL of a motorcycle racer, but beyond that...can't stand the guy

>Rossi and Viñales clearly like and respect each other.<

Translation = Maverick is the "junior member" in this relationship... and hasn't beaten Rossi... yet... 

Just a "shot in the dark" prediction here for Maverick...

If you start beating Rossi and become a threat to him, especially within the Yamaha team... your "friendship" and the "respect" will quickly end. You will also be acussed of being part of the "Spanish Mafia", conspiring to cheat Rossi out of his rightfully annointed championship titles. And you will be on the receiving end of the wrath of "Il popolo giallo", or The Yellow People... 

I could be wrong though... what the heck do I know?? It's not like I've ever seen anything like that happen before... =8-)

I seem to recall Marc Marquez consistently beating Valentino Rossi yet they were extremely cordial with one another so that kind of blows your theory.

I think Lorenzo is just a sore loser each and every time it occurs.  Whether that be a race or qualifying.....

Valentino had the speed today.  He may not have made the pole without Vinales but first row most definitely, and definitely qualifying ahead of his team mate.  So either way Jorge's lip service is utterly pointless.

I hope we get 5 riders in a pack for the lead.  The pole to win, first corner to victory, races are boring no matter if it's Valentino or Jorge snatching the top step.  I want to see a fight, a battle for the top step, with some passing.  Hopefully the best circuit on the calendar gives this race tomorrow.  The best motorcycle circuit in existence deserves a race just as fitting.  Let there be a battle for the win.  And may the fastest rider lay claim.

Every rider that beat Rossi get the Rossi treatment. Lorenzo, Stoner, Gibernau, Biaggi, Marquez and Maverick will get it too when he starts beating him. It's part of the sport at such a high level of competition. The difference tho is that Rossi's fans can only see the evil in his opposition.

>I seem to recall Marc Marquez consistently beating Valentino Rossi yet they were extremely cordial with one another so that kind of blows your theory.<

No, not at all... a key part of my statement is "and become a threat to him"... not just winning a race or two... or even a title when he (Rossi) is not in contention... The key is when you become a title or team position threat to him... not just a race winner... 

Let's go back and do a quick review...

Rossi's "clashes" with Biaggi and Sete are renowned... famous even... You do agree on that don't you?

Rossi moves to Yamaha and is smoking everyone.... until Jorge shows up... Yeah, 2008, Jorge's rookie year, Rossi was still in control of things and Lorenzo was clearly #2 on the team... 2009 and things start to turn... Jorge is giving Rossi all he can handle... and not backing down... Rossi DEMANDS that Yamaha breaks their Michelin contact and get him B-stone tires. Oh... and don't forget... build a wall down the middle of the garage... and NO data is to be shared with "that other guy"... In 2010, Jorge wins the title... Rossi gives Yamaha an ultimatum... "it's him or me"... Yamaha says... uh, ok... we'll keep him (Lorenzo)... Rossi sulks off to Ducati... 

Now... did I miss anything? Get anything wrong yet? 

2013 and Rossi wants off the Duc and heads back to Yamaha... If Jorge (or any rider really) had any "veto power", he sure didn't use it... It (understandably) takes Rossi a while to get back in the groove... He and Jorge peacefully or so it seems, co-exist... Marc hits the scene and does well... but Jorge and Dani are the leaders for the title... That is, until both break their collarbones... and Marc goes on and wins the title... Clearly faster than Rossi... so no conflict there... yet... things are still cordial even though Marc is winning races... 

2014 and Marc walks the dog on the way to the title... Jorge's struggling and Rossi is getting his mojo back... Still a seemingly peaceful co-existence in the garage... and then...

Then we get to 2015... and Rossi's got his groove back... Marc and the Honda are struggling... and Jorge is still floundering early in the season.... So the pond is still calm.... That is... until Jorge starts in on his tear of dominating races... and taking chunks of points out of Rossi's lead... AND, the clashes with Marc at Argentina and Assen... and the rest, as they say, is history... 

My point was and is, this... when Rossi senses that he has a shot at the title... or say... getting or returning to number one status in the team.... he will do whatever he has to do to eliminate any opposition in his path... and in my mind, that includes villianizing his opponents... especially if he can't beat them straight up on the track... If you're not "opposition" or a threat to him and his goals... he's your buddy... If you are a threat... well... I wouldn't hold your breathe waiting on an invite to the Rossi Ranch... 

I have pondered what would have happened if Sic had survived... and continued to improve... and started beating Rossi... especially when he (Rossi) was on a good bike and not the Duc of the era... Would Rossi and Sic still be "best buddies"?? Or would he have found something "wrong" that Sic had done and go after him too?....

Look... I'm not saying that Rossi isn't one of the very best... personally, I believe he IS the best, of the modern era GP riders... His record speaks for itself... and against better opposition, man and (especially) machine wise, than what Ago faced over the course of his career (virtually no factory opposition for much of his career)... I also think that Rossi's racecraft... his ability to learn, adapt to changing conditions and his ability to pull off that daring, unbelieveable, race winning move, when he needs it most... is unparalleled.... He's a media master... charming and well spoken in his use of English as a second language... Clearly the leading "hot property", in not only MotoGP circles but in the racing world and beyond... And he knows exactly how and when to turn on (and off) all that media charm... 

What I don't care for is what I preceive (and this is just the way it comes across to me) to be, an "I am the KING!!! I am the SUN!! The universe revolves around me!! How dare you challenge me and my greatness!! I will destroy you by any means necessary if you do not bow down and worship me!!" attitude... 

Ok Rossi fans... go ahead... let me have it... I can take it...

But I might suggest that before you come out throwing flaming whatevers... Try... yes, I know it might be difficult.... but TRY to take a somewhat objective look at all that has gone on... and is going on, in the MotoGP world.... and not just view things through "yellow tinted glasses"... 

Regarding the relationship of Marquez and Rossi you can see it easily the other way round. Until Rossi was no real thread to Marquez' title hopes, Marquez respected Rossi and their relationship was very cordial. That changed when Rossi regularly beat Marquez in 2015 and especially beat him in Assen and the following press conference with Marquez' making a bunch of pretty strange, akward statements regarding Rossi. So it was Marquez who ended their father and son-like relationship for the whole world to see and not the other way around. So I am not saying that your theory is wrong at all. I am just presenting another theory which makes sence as well in my opinion. I personaly believe that the relationship between Rossi and Marquez wasn't as cordial as it seemed and as both made it look in front of the cameras - at least in the later stages from mid 2014 onwards. I often got the feeling that their "friendship" was rather artificial.

One side note: there are not only those who wear the so called "yellow tinted glasses", but certainly also those who wear the "anti-yellow tinted glasses". Wearing the latter ones does not automatically make your view of the things and especially the things reagarding Rossi objective per se. So for example your "I am the KING!!! I am the SUN!!" comments do not sound very objective to me at all. Actually they sound pretty partial and that does certainly not go well together with objectivity.

First, go back and watch the Suzuka race in 2001.  Biaggi elbows and pushes Rossi into the dirt.  Some argued at the time that it was deliberate attempt to put Valentino on the ground.  In fact it was Max that started that feud.  Max detested Valentino because in his mind he was the Italian heir.  Here comes this young kid from your country lighting it up on the track.  So using Max as your reference and trying to present it as fact, is incorrect to start.  There was a feud, most definitely but definitely not in how you are presenting it.

Rossi switched to Bridgestone tires yes, but not because of Jorge Lorenzo.  He switched tire mfr's due to Ducati and Casey Stoner.  It was a clever and correct decision because Yamaha and he fought back the next year in 2008 and regained the title.  That whole team and mfr. due to the Ducati, switched tire mfr's, went from spring to pneumatic valves, and iirc started using Magneti Marelli for electronics and fuel management.  That's Massive changes.  The wall?  In the history of GP's, competing team mates aren't mates.  Many times they detest one another and this goes back decades.  If you are doing development, working your tail off on it, then have to hand it to your main or one of your main rivals, it won't sit well.  Look at other sports as an example.  In Football, the players have different positions, in similar one man sports all the title competing athletes aren't handing their homework over to the main contender.  I bet these guys still don't like this to this day.  Was the wall wrong?  Yeah you could say that, I would, but at the same time necessary if you are not data sharing.  

Don't agree about Rossi's departure to Ducati either.  In 2010 Valentino had just won Yamaha back to back titles for the second time.  The 2009 championship was Rossi's tenth in the premier class and he had won 7 of them with two mfr's and finally had more Yamaha trophies than Honda's.  In other sports this would be called a dynasty and a dynasty that rivaled any in the history of the sport.  So right then Yamaha tells Valentino he'll be receiving a pay cut and sharing development 100% with Jorge getting half.  His salary loss, he found out, would be handed to Jorge.  That didn't set well at all.  Just bagging two more for you and the next year you listen or read this?  I highly doubt he was pleased.  After 7 of 10 and two more....well it wasn't surprising. And I agree he sulked off to Ducati.  But if you are honest Jorge is sulking off to Ducati now.  Similar situation in my opinion.  Jorge just came off a championship win, and Yamaha presented both contracts to each rider at the same time.  Jorge's comments to the press indicated he was not pleased.  Interesting that the folks who point the finger at Rossi don't point the same finger in other directions.  

In 2015 I don't seem to recall your memory of incidents with Marc either.  Marc and Vale scrapped, Marc lost, and got extremly bitter about it.  Even saying post race that he really won.  I mean it was bad.  Suddenly your theories are getting flipped.  Emlio from Marquez's camp even walked up to Rossi and told him he wouldn't win the title.  That whole camp was bitter.  Is that Rossi starting the clash of drama?  I don't think so.  Tight races, Marc loses, and suddenly like your comments about Vale, well Marquez didn't have to worry about with Rossi in the previous 2 years championships.  Now it's different and he even said, or his camp surely did, that Valentino Rossi cost them the 2015 championship.  Sure seems that Max Biaggi and Marc Marquez sure share an equal result in the feuds.  But you point the finger one way.  

Sete's team did their thing at Qatar, remember the broom?  What about Stoner's reaction in parc ferme @ Laguna 2008, his comments, and more post race comments?  Feuds, no matter how much some "fans" of this sport want to pass off as truth, are never one sided.  After Suzuka in 2001 you knew that there was a permanent feud with Max.  Max's comments and attitudes go back to the lower classes when they were even competing against one another.  It got so bad that Valentino's club got a blow up mannequin and put it on the back of Rossi's bike on the cool down.  Directly aimed at Max bringing Naomi Campbell about.  The Roman Emperor didn't like a young kid getting the attention he felt should be with him.  Even in the 90's, riders and fans did not like the attention Valentino Rossi received, and nothing has changed to this day.

Back to Jorge.  He and Vale could not be more different, not their personalities, not the riding style, nothing.  They do not like each other, at all.  Not a big surprise to me, none of it.  And I won't point at Lorenzo and say he sulked off to Ducati.  Not much different circumstances than 2010 except Jorge's decisions is a better one because the Duck is a much better bike now.  

"I perceive as I am God, the King" I'm sorry if that isn't your exact quote.  That's your perception.  Great champions, in many sports, are fierce competitors and have egos.  In comparison to Michael Jordan, well Jordan was on another level.  You would respect him, or else. He earned it, 6 titles, Gold medals, stacks of awards and stats.  If Valentino possesses some of the same respect demands for what he has done for and in the sport it's a travesty?  The rider has more wins in the premier class in the history of the sport.  That goes back to 1949 and heading towards 3/4 of a century.  And even then your perception, well he doesn't act that way.  Does he walk and talk at a level of respect, sure.  To the degree you are stating?  No.  That's some perception his detractors seem to grab out of the air.

I think his detractors just detest seeing the level of respect he gets, especially at places like Mugello where the Italians, all 101,000 of them, are all seemingly there for him.  That is really unheard of in this sport, or in any Motorsport.  So the folks that are not fans scream bloody murder year after year.  

These are motorcycle riders at the highest level there is.  King Kenny would run you off the track, so would Wayne, so would Doohan.  The multiple championship winning riders are modern day Spartans.  When they are in battle they are not going to want to go have a cup o tea after the race.  Wayne and Kevin wanted to kill each other.  If Valentino has some of these same traits at times with any competitor it is somehow different and it's all his fault.  The other guy(s) have golden halos hovering over their helmets I guess.  They are completely blameless.  I honestly think most people who are the most vocal "anti-yellow" on the webz have some awfully dark glasses of their own.  And that has gone on since 2001.  During the Ducati years even some high profile journalists were pretty much stating that he should probably hang it up, and the only reason he had a ride was the past.  Rossi's fault, is being a fierce competitor and believing in himself to the core.  That self belief, and proving people wrong over and over again will always generate debate.  



the comedy:  VR "warns" JL of making bogus conspiracy claims, yet Machiavelli was the one who crumbled and blamed everyone but himself last year.

the rope:  People actually swallowing this.

the ringer:  JL was merely exploiting the logic behind the tow, and how easily one can claim conspiracy.  The sad part is VR fans rushing to defend, and then even worse condemning JL and MM for making "outrageously false claims."  

I'm sorry but I was a VR fan, still kind of am, but his politics are starting to show just how little he cares about playing morally fair, especially with the media.

I was getting worried that Rossi was going to catch Maverick on that lap, and actually slow himself down (as happened at LeMans). 

Why don't the teams go out in pairs during qualifying?  At least the teams further down the order?  I don't think I want them to, just surprised they haven't.   

I believe you got it backwards David. Maverick did NOT lose a tenth in the final sector. Rossi using MV for the draft on his run allowed Vale to GAIN a tenth in that sector.

I think Lorenzo is just taking a dig at Rossi here. And nothing wrong with that really. Rossi did much the same with his baseless accusations when Lorenzo won the championship last year. Compared to that this is nothing - it's just a pole, not even a complete race! So, Rossi, along with his self-righteous yellow brigade, needs to chill the heck down.

Also, the decency he talks about, where was that last year?

I'm not in the popolo giallo at all, but I'm glad you called out what Vale has done with the VR46 academy. The cynic in me wonders if it is more about having young riders around to keep him sharp, but truthfully efforts like this to train and fund talented racers raise the level of competition and we fans are benefitting, so much respect to Rossi for this.

Man, Jorge seems sour but in defense of Maverick, he set his 1:46.098 on his last flying lap with Rossi behind him and Rossi was right when he said Maverick would of had pole but he did get a tow on his pole setting lap. I would agree that there's more to lose when letting off to let anyone that wants a tow to pass and it seems that Vinales and Rossi, besides being future team mates also seem to mutually like each to not mind towing each other. As far if they had plan it prior, kudos, it worked, might as well start doing the same. Also, there's a clip on moto gp videopass detailing on the same strategy used in moto3 with the top teams there between team mates.

Morning all,

I'm stuck in traffic on the road to Mugello. Qualifying was great yesterday. Doesn't really need to be said but if you haven't been, this place is Mecca for us race fans!!

The countryside is beautiful the racetrack stunning and the people are nuts for racing. 

You can't get a grip on how popular Mr 46 is until you see this lot :) The entire place is a sea of yellow. 

Forza All The Racers!



Then it's decency that one must have so as not to talk about other riders conspiring together? Before saying any more, I need to confirm that "decency" is the exact translation of the word that Rossi used. If not, then what is the exact translation?

If yes, and that it the exact meaning of the word VR used in Italian, then I'll keep this in mind as I write about the events of 2015 and Valentino's own behaviour and role therein.

I wonder if Maverick Vinales has considered the very real possibility that the Suzuki he's abandoning soon may be a better machine than the Yamaha in the very near future. Did you see that thing perform today? Even if the pace of development and improvment of the Zook is only half what it has been in the last 12 months, the GSX-RR will be the most desirable seat on the grid very soon. Then what Mav?

And if Pepsi then annonces a renewed collaboration with Suzuki, and it becomes the most sought-after team in all of MotoGP, so much so that Valentino leaves to join his old friend Davide in order to fulfill a childhood dream in 2019 and leaves you behind at Yamaha? Today it really looked to me like Vinales may have made the wrong move for next year. But it's his move, so power to him.

I don't like what I saw in Qualifying today from some of the star pilots (regardless of whether it's acceptable to some or 'in vogue' with this type of competition). I personally feel - and this is just me speaking frankly - that regardless of who the rider is that uses another to steal a tow from, and attempts to get an improved position, they should not feel very proud of their accomplishment.

It comes down to ethics and principle.

It slightly bothered me that Iannone was using Lorenzo for a tow when he clearly didn't need to, having a machine under him fully capable of ripping a hole through the air on its own, and I feel similar in regards to what Rossi did with Vinales. Riders like Cal Crutchlow, Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez, Casey Stoner - they don't ever do the slipstream steal in Qualifying deliberately - ever. They quite rightly feel it to be rather denigrating at this level.

That's why (in part) these guys deserve massive credit and respect. It is after all a true reflection of their innate character, honour and virtue as men.

What should Rossi have done differently? No different than the guys mentioned above would have done.

My money is still on the chief il popolo giallo to win tomorrow, but what I really hope for is that the best man wins, regardless of anything else...always.     

"I wonder if Maverick Vinales has considered the very real possibility that the Suzuki he's abandoning soon may be a better machine than the Yamaha in the very near future."

We need to consider the fact that while the Suzuki may continue to improve, Yamaha won't be standing around idle - just because it's currently the best racebike on the planet doesn't mean there isn't room to improve.

As for towing - sometimes guys will grab a tow just because they know it will piss the other guy off... beating the other guy isn't solely about finishing ahead of him on the track.


Just in case you didn't consider it as a possibility, Yamaha are in fact not guaranteed to continue improving perpetually. Who would have expected Honda to fall back after 2013 & especially after romping '14? It happens, and if it happened to Honda, it can happen to any manufacturer. Your reply about what I'm saying re towing is not considering what I'm saying at all. It's specifically drafting in qualifying that I'm talking about, and the virtue of the men who refuse to do it in this particular session. Why? Because it makes you look like a wanker, which is partly why the guys I mention don't do it here.

Rossi is a flawed, driven individual.

But they all are! Nice guys finish last, and you don't get to even play at this level if you are well adjusted. His behaviour last year definitely showed he had feet of clay for me, but I'll still take his character, flaws and all, over most of the other top guys.

Hi David, another great write-up! i know it must the motorsport-writer's terror, but surely it is sam lowes who races moto2 :)
"He sits behind Alex Lowes and Taka Nakagami, the Englishman pretty much unstoppable on Saturday."