2018 Argentina MotoGP Race Round Up, Part 3: Marquez vs Rossi, Marquez vs The Rules

On Friday, the Hondas were looking pretty strong at the Termas De Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina. Dani Pedrosa led FP1, with Cal Crutchlow just behind him. In FP2, Marc Márquez opened a big lead over Crutchlow, with the rest some distance behind.

On Saturday, Marc Márquez looked just about unbeatable, despite his slip up in qualifying. Six tenths quicker than Johann Zarco, and effortlessly quick in a wet FP3. Over a second quicker than his teammate Pedrosa in FP4, an advantage that was almost embarrassing. The portents were clear on Saturday night: this was Marc Márquez' race to lose.

And that is exactly what he did, before the lights had even gone out. A combination of ignorance of the rules and panic meant he blew his chance of winning the race as soon as he jumped off his bike to try to restart it on the grid. From there, he piled error upon error to make the situation worse. By the end of Sunday, he had managed to throw away any chance of salvaging points from the Argentina round, and run up a 15-point deficit to Andrea Dovizioso. He had also managed to create a public relations disaster, though to be fair, he had more than a little help doing that.

Ignorance is no excuse

But it all starts with ignorance of the rules. When he arrived back at the grid, the engine of his Honda RC213V stalled as he pulled up at his grid slot. His immediate reaction was the right one: to raise his hand in the air. That lasted a little more than one second (approximately 1.26 seconds, averaging multiple timings), before he jumped off his bike and tried to push start it. That set in motion a chain of events that would generate an unstoppable tidal wave of controversy.

Márquez' first infraction was getting off his bike when it stalled. The FIM rulebook (PDF) is clear. Section 1.18.13 includes the following paragraph:

Any rider who stalls his engine on the grid or who has other difficulties must remain on the motorcycle and raise an arm. It is not permitted to attempt to delay the start by any other means.

First, Márquez did the right thing, by raising his arm. But he broke the rules when he jumped off the bike and tried to push start it. That, in itself, is probably what earned him the ride through penalty he would be punished with. He compounded that error by then turning the bike around and riding his bike the wrong way down the grid back to his starting spot, a violation of section 1.21.11, which would have removed any ideas of leniency the FIM Stewards' Panel may have had.

Confusion all around

Márquez put his actions down to the confusion on the grid. "When I arrived on the grid, I had a problem with the engine and I stopped, but this normally never happens," he told the media after the race. "In that case I put my hand up, but nobody was there. Then I started to push my bike. Luckily the bike ran, and at that time I didn’t know what I needed to do. I know that if the bike is off I need to go off, but the bike was running."

In reality, the problem was Márquez' confusion about the rules. Márquez says "I know that if the bike is off I need to go off," but this is only true on the grid before the start of the warm up lap. As reproduced above, the rules state that when a rider stalls their engine on the grid before the start of the race, they must raise their hand and wait for assistance.

Why does a MotoGP rider not know the rules of the sport? We would be shocked if a soccer player did not know the offside rule, or a baseball player know what to do if they hit a fly ball. Yet Márquez does not know the correct procedure on the grid. It is perhaps unfair to single out Marc Márquez for this; he is hardly alone in his ignorance of the rules, as riders (and teams) keep demonstrating when they get caught out by the rulebook. But the ignorance of others is no excuse for your own lack of knowledge.

Of course the MotoGP rulebook is both large and unwieldy, weighing in at a hefty 336 pages (as of the Qatar race, that is). But the point is not that a rider needs to learn the whole rulebook off by heart, they would be forgiven for not knowing the precise maximum percentage of ceramic composite materials in brake discs, per section But the section they should know by heart is relatively short and simple: there are twelve or so pages on the start procedure, only about a third of which is relevant to the rider; four pages on the different flags and lights used; and three and a half pages on behavior on and off track. The rest of the rulebook is the responsibility of the teams, the manufacturers, and the series organizers.

Leaders should lead

Some of the blame has to be laid with the latter, or at least the staff who were managing the race start. The rules also state that officials must be placed on pit wall holding a board at each row, and once the riders on their row are correctly in position and ready to start, they should lower their board to indicate to the Race Starter that all is clear. The official on Márquez' row lowered their board when the Spaniard jumped off his bike and started to push it. Whether this was due to confusion at Márquez' unexpected actions, or uncertainty over the rules, it served only to sow even more confusion.

Two more IRTA officials then jumped onto the grid to intervene – a nerve-wracking moment for sure, being surrounded by 270+ horsepower bikes weighing 157kg whose riders are just about reaching their peak level of nervousness for the weekend, their trigger fingers itchier than a month-old skin rash. Tony Congram tried to corral Marc Márquez into getting off the grid. Danny Aldridge ran up the front straight checking to see what was happening. Aldridge looked back at Congram, saw that he was directing Márquez, then signaled the starter, Graham Webber, that Márquez had his engine running by raising his arm with his thumb up.

Márquez took this as a signal that he was doing the right thing. "When the marshal arrived, I asked him. Because he is connected directly with Race Direction," Márquez explained. "I looked at him and I asked, pit lane or grid? In that time he didn’t know what’s going on. Then I saw another guy. This marshal just put his hands up of my bike and the other one made like this [thumbs up]. Just I understand that they start to go away and I understand that I need to go to my grid place."

Márquez understood wrong. But IRTA didn't have enough people on the grid to correct his mistake. The right thing to do would have been to call off the start, and make Márquez start from pit lane. Why Race Direction did not take this course of action is unknown: senior Dorna staff prevented journalists from speaking to Race Director Mike Webb after the race, even forcing one journalist to delete an interview they had recorded with Webb. The most logical explanation is that it would have made an already confusing situation look even worse on TV. So with everyone on the grid in their correct positions, the race got off to a start.

Shock and awe

In the end, the decision to start the race and give Márquez a ride through for his errors on the grid rather than delay the start and have Márquez start from pit lane made no difference. Either way, Marc Márquez would have ended up behind the vast majority of the grid, with a mixture of panic and burning ambition in his heart, and the pace to blow the doors off every other rider on the track. It was a mixture which was compelling and appalling in equal measure, the ridiculous and the sublime.

It's not as if we haven't seen how this movie ends before. In 2012, Márquez' Moto2 bike slipped out of gear on the starting grid at Motegi. He left the line in around 28th place. By the end of the first lap, he had already fought his way up to ninth. He was leading the race by lap 10, and went on to win it. Three races later, at Valencia, he was forced to start at the back of the grid, after knocking Simone Corsi off during practice. On a cold and damp track with a thin drying line, he sliced his way forward again, up to eleventh by the end of the first lap, and going on to win the race.

Márquez' race in Argentina unfolded in much the same way, but this time with added aggression. It was a truly jaw-dropping piece of riding, the Repsol Honda rider displaying his utter mastery of conditions where grip is low and variable. He threw his bike around the track with abandon, skating on the edge of disaster for lap after lap, yet never teetering over the edge. He was a second or more faster than most riders, three or four seconds a lap faster than some.

Take away his ride through penalty, and a couple of his slower laps where he got tangled up with others, and his domination is complete. Compare his 20 fastest laps of the 24-lap race, and he is 6.353 seconds faster than the winner Cal Crutchlow, 7.455 second faster than second-place man Johann Zarco, 9.179 seconds faster than third-place man Alex Rins. He was in an entirely different league to his main championship rivals as well: 13.959 seconds faster than Maverick Viñales, 23.219 seconds faster than Valentino Rossi, 25.311 seconds quicker than Andrea Dovizioso.


Which is what made the aggression and impatience with which he approached most of his passes so puzzling. He was so much faster than everyone else he could have taken his time and passed them at his leisure, leaving space to do so safely, and still cracked the top six. Instead, he went on a wild ride through his rivals, rather than past them. He slammed into the inside of Aleix Espargaro's Aprilia on lap 13. He nudged Bradley Smith and Tito Rabat aside. He dived up the inside of Valentino Rossi at Turn 13, the two colliding when Rossi suddenly found a Honda where he had been planning to put his bike. Márquez then made it worse by running Rossi out wide, blocking his way, and leaving the Italian nowhere to go but the wet grass, and then down on his side.

What did Márquez gain by such a display of impetuosity and impatience? The first thing he gained was a 30-second time penalty, which dropped him from fifth place crossing the line to eighteenth place (and zero championship points) in the final results. It cemented his reputation as a reckless rider. It also undid all of the work he has done in the past year and during the preseason, where he was utterly focused, and showed the patience and dedication, and above all the maturity which promised to make him champion. Now, he finds himself 15 points down on Andrea Dovizioso, and facing a season of answering hostile questions from the media, and booing and whistling from the fans, and perhaps far worse from what we might call the Continuity Popolo Giallo.

This will be a huge distraction for the whole of the year, and in this era of MotoGP, distractions are the one thing a rider simply cannot afford. Just ask Andrea Dovizioso, who went from second tier rider to automatic title contender by banishing distractions from his life and concentrating on the big picture. It is going to be hard for Márquez to banish distractions when he is answering questions about his relationship with Valentino Rossi every race weekend.

PR disaster

He didn't do himself any favors in the PR department either. In his media debrief after the race – streamed live on the MotoGP.com website by Dorna, who know a lucrative thing when they see one – Márquez acknowledged his own shortcomings, but also tried to spread the blame around a fair amount. "Of course today I did a few mistakes," he said. "A few of them I recognize, a few of the mistakes were from Race Direction. A few of the mistakes were mine. I recognize them and I will try to improve for the future. I think I did everything well. Just I’m very, very happy for the race because the pace was very good."

"Maybe the biggest mistake I did this race was with Aleix," Márquez explained. He had barged into the back of Aleix Espargaro on lap 8, forcing the Aprilia rider wide. The problem had been that he had been so much quicker than Espargaro that it had been hard to judge their closing speed, Márquez said. "I arrived four seconds faster. I didn’t realize. When you arrive four seconds faster than the other guy, it’s quite difficult. I didn’t realize. I tried my 100% to avoid the contact and then I say sorry. Okay, I received a penalty. I understand. I just go back one position, but even two because I didn’t know. To be safe, two positions. Then I started to push again."

But Márquez denied any real wrongdoing in his collision with Valentino Rossi, saying it had been a racing incident. He had tried to make a clean pass, but had lost the front on a damp patch, colliding with Rossi and forcing him wide. "I think I didn’t make anything crazy," he said. "You need to understand how the track conditions were. Of course in that line was dry, but I hit a wet patch, locked the front, released the brakes. Okay, I had the contact. I tried to turn, and then when I saw him crash I just tried to say sorry." As far as Márquez was concerned, the conditions were as much to blame as he was. "If you check Zarco with Dani, Petrucci and Aleix, today was quite difficult. But it doesn’t matter. I did my 100% and of course it was a tricky Sunday."

Best served cold

Valentino Rossi saw it differently, of course. The incident with Márquez brought the simmering resentment which Rossi has felt since the events of Sepang 2015 back to a rolling boil. Rossi seized the opportunity to heap unrelenting criticism on the Spaniard. "This is a very bad situation," Rossi fumed. "He destroyed our sport, because he doesn’t have any respect for his rivals. Never."

This incident had been just one of many of Márquez' transgressions all weekend, Rossi said. "If you take for example what happened this weekend, one by one, these things can happen. Can happen to everybody. You can make a mistake in braking. You can touch the other guy. It happens. This is racing. But from Friday morning he did like this with Viñales, Dovizioso. He did like this with me on Saturday morning. And today in the race he went straight into four riders."

The harshest accusation Rossi made was that Márquez was targeting other riders on purpose. "He does this purposely and it’s not a mistake, because he aims between the leg and the bike, because he knows that he won’t crash, but you will crash. He hope that you crash. So, if you start to play like this, it’s like you raise the level to a very dangerous point. If all the riders race like this, without any respect for the rivals, this is a very dangerous sport and finish in a bad way."

It was a charge Márquez rejected out of hand. "Of course I’m completely disappointed about this. In my career I never, never, never go straight to one rider thinking that he will crash. I always try to avoid. Of course sometimes you overtake it’s closer, sometimes it’s more clear. Today what happened with Valentino was a mistake, a consequence of the track conditions because I lock the front. But what he said about my career, he’s wrong."

Twisting the knife

Rossi was unrelenting in his criticism, demanding that Race Direction step in. "It's a dangerous situation. I hope that what I said to Mike Webb, they have a big responsibility. They have to do something, to make sure that Marquez don’t behave like this any more. This year, at the first corner in Qatar he touched the leg of Zarco and go to Dovizioso. He had it with Viñales. Today with me. So he enters into the corner 20 kilometers faster, no way to make the corner, just because he comes at me on purpose between the bike and the leg, because he wants to try to make that I crash. This is him. In the last fifty races is like this, but I think this year he make also worse. He always tries to make you scared, and he always tries to put you out of the track. It's a dangerous situation."

He was afraid to be on the track at the same as Márquez. "I’m scared on the track when I am with Márquez. I am scared today when I see his name on the board because I know that he was coming to me. I know already." If everyone rode like this, Rossi said, it would be like "Destruction Derby".

What made things worse was that he didn't feel that Race Direction was taking Márquez' dangerous riding seriously, Rossi said. "I want to speak with Race Direction, sincerely because I don’t feel protected from the Race Direction. When you don’t feel protected, you have to look after your own, because nothing happen. Next race if nothing happen, he will do exactly the same."

Márquez had ruined racing for him, Rossi complained. "Also I don’t have fun when he is with me. I don’t have fun to fight with him, because I know that he raise the level. He don’t play clean. He don’t play aggressive. He play dirty."

The other side

Were Rossi's complaints justified? There is no doubt that Márquez rode recklessly in Argentina, and absolutely no doubt that he caused Rossi to run off the track. But to accuse Márquez of doing it deliberately goes far too far. There is no doubt that Márquez is prepared to take more risks than other riders: the fact that he fell off 27 times during 18 race weekends in 2017 is ample proof of that. What Márquez doesn't appear to realize is that the risks he is taking can also impact the other riders on track with him.

Precisely because Rossi had every reason to complain about Márquez, he seized the opportunity with relish. The criticisms were extravagant, stretched as far as possible without breaking. His vision of the incident between Márquez and Aleix Espargaro was very different from Espargaro's. "This is dangerous," Rossi said. "If he go into Aleix Espargaro at 200 kilometers per hour, if touch the handlebar, you crash, you go in the wall. So why we have to race like this?"

Espargaro was annoyed at the collision with Márquez, but was far more angry about a collision with Danilo Petrucci earlier in the race. "He hit me very, very hard. But Petrucci did exactly the same to me, in Turn 2. The same or even harder. So the IRTA people need to pay attention because it's not fair that Marc has been penalized but not Petrucci, who hit me harder." He complained vociferously about Petrucci not being penalized on Twitter, then jumped on the Alma Pramac team when they issued a press release defending Petrucci's conduct. He then retweeted a series of pictures from another Twitter user showing all of the incidents in which Petrucci has been involved.

Andrea Dovizioso, after first telling the media that it was not his place to get involved, got involved. He also managed to do it with some humor. "I don’t want to speak about what the six-time world champion has to change like the nine-time world champion," Dovizioso said wryly. "But for sure today Marc did something wrong. He had a margin to manage every situation and he did a lot of mistakes. Today his strategy didn’t work."

Pomp and circumstance

There was a good deal of theater surrounding both Rossi's accusations and Márquez' defense. Yamaha and Honda both got involved, Lin Jarvis demanding Race Direction consider ways to prevent Márquez from doing the same thing again, Alberto Puig playing down the whole incident and blaming it on water on the track. Both Yamaha and Honda spoke to Race Direction about the incident, giving their own version of events.

There was theater outside the Yamaha garage after the race as well. Marc Márquez went along to the Yamaha garage to apologize to Valentino Rossi, accompanied by his personal manager Emilio Alzamora and the Repsol Honda team manager Alberto Puig. He was met and dismissed by Uccio Salucci, Rossi's assistant and the manager of the Sky VR46 racing program, waved off and told Rossi had no interest in shaking his hand. It was notable that it was Uccio, rather than Yamaha team boss Lin Jarvis, who intervened, and sent Márquez away.

Rossi was scathing about Márquez' attempt to apologize. "It’s a joke. First of all he don’t have the balls to come in my office alone, but he come like always with his manager, with Honda, in front of all the cameras because what is important for him is this. He don’t care about you. I don’t want to speak with him. I don’t want to see him close to me. I know it’s not true what he say to me." In Italian, he called it a PR stunt.

When someone pointed out that Rossi himself had once done that walk of shame, at Jerez in 2011 after taking out Casey Stoner – going to the Repsol Honda garage with three Ducati managers, not two – Rossi acknowledged that it had happened. "But it only happened once," he said. "It didn't happen again."

What is clear from this is that the rift which was opened in 2015 will never be healed. The appearance of cordiality between Márquez and Rossi was just that, appearance, Rossi said. "I don’t have any relationship with Marquez after 2015, so don’t change nothing. I say just Ciao because it’s more easy. I lose less time. If he don’t have respect for me, I don’t have respect for him." This incident just brought it back to the surface.

Driving home an advantage

It almost certainly suits Valentino Rossi to keep it there. The Italian has always used his power, influence, and wit off the track as well as on it. If Rossi still has ideas about a tenth title – and he definitely believes he can still compete for a championship – then piling the pressure on the favorite for the title suits his ends down to the ground. For the rest of the 2018 season, Marc Márquez is going to be met by booing at every circuit he goes to – probably even at his home race in Barcelona.

He is going to spend the next couple of races (Austin, because it is the first race after Argentina, and Jerez, because it is the first race in Spain and the Spanish and Italian media will be out in force) answering questions about what happened in Argentina. And the subject will come up again and again throughout the year, every time Márquez puts a foot wrong. This is going to be a massive distraction for Márquez, and Andrea Dovizioso proved in 2017 exactly how valuable being able to exclude distractions can be for a racer.

We need to talk about Márquez

The real problem, of course, is that Márquez keeps on putting a foot wrong. His extreme style means that from time to time, his passes are on the edge of what is acceptable. His reliance on braking – in part a result of the fact that this was the only real strength of the Honda RC213V, until this year – meant that he would sometimes get a little too close for comfort, and occasionally even make comfort.

On the night of the race, former WorldSBK champion and MotoGP racer Ben Spies wondered aloud whether Márquez had a problem judging his braking. "He passes like you do when you flat track mini bikes with friends," Spies wrote on Twitter. "He’s always had a problem braking behind people as well which I don’t understand." The American went on to explain further what he meant. "He never accounts for his braking style plus the draft that naturally sucks you in. Surprised he’s still making those mistakes." Márquez' actions in Argentina were exceptional, though. "Today he was just being impatient," Spies wrote.

As usual, Spies has a point. Marc Márquez has cleaned up his act a lot over the past few years, but at Termas De Rio Hondo, he simply lost his head. He was in so much of a rush to make his way forward that he raced without any care or attention to the other riders. To say, as Valentino Rossi does, that Márquez deliberately targets riders ahead and tries to knock them off – essentially accusing him of attempted assault – goes too far. But Márquez was utterly reckless at Argentina.

Worst of all, he was reckless for no reason: he had the pace to comfortably be in the top six or seven, even if he was overly cautious with every pass he made. At worst, he would have lost a point to Andrea Dovizioso, though that was unlikely given how badly Dovizioso was struggling. "Today we started with no rhythm, no speed, so it was very difficult for me," Dovizioso said. All it required was some self discipline and control. But of that, there was none.

Repeat offender

How to prevent a repeat of this? The 30-second penalty Márquez was given for dangerous riding, putting him out of the points, is unlikely to change his attitude. Márquez admitted as much in an interview in Brazil, two days after the race in Argentina. "I am going to keep on being the same as I am now. I have always raced with intensity, but the race in Argentina was an accumulation of circumstances," Márquez said. He would continue to seek out the limit, but within the rules.

To my mind, Márquez' behavior in Argentina should have earned him a one-race ban. Not only for the range and variety of his errors – on the starting grid alone, he broke at least three rules, then repeatedly made a mockery of article 1.21.2 (the infamous "Riders must ride in a responsible manner" article under which most behavior is punished) – but also to force Márquez to properly consider his actions.

Jorge Lorenzo has long maintained that the only way to get Márquez to change his ways is if he is banned for a race. Lorenzo harks back to his own experience: the Spaniard was handed a one-race ban in 2005 after repeated collisions with Alex De Angelis. Being forced to watch the race while sitting at home and made him really understand what was at stake, Lorenzo said. He believes that Márquez needs that self same lesson. I tend to agree that it is the correct remedy at this point.

You would hope that a race ban would also help Márquez realize that he doesn't really need to be so aggressive. When he wasn't barging into people, the Spaniard's riding was breathtaking, managing a bike in difficult conditions with unparalleled skill and control. Márquez' ability in precisely these conditions, a drying track with damp patches, or whenever the grip is unpredictable, is light years ahead of anyone else. That is why he wins flag-to-flag races with such ease, and makes finding grip where others are struggling look so effortless.

History repeating

In a way, Márquez' ride in Argentina reminds me of Valentino Rossi's greatest race in MotoGP. In 2003, in his last year on the Honda RC211V, Rossi was leading the race in Phillip Island, when he was given a 10-second time penalty for overtaking under a yellow flag being waved to protect the stricken Troy Bayliss, who had fallen at Honda corner. Rossi was given the time penalty on lap 11, with 16 laps left to go. On lap 9, he had slipped under the existing lap record, improving it from 1'32.233 to 1'32.161.

Once he saw the board with the penalty, he pulled out all the stops, riding the remaining 13 laps all under the lap record, and consistently six to eight tenths of a second faster than any other rider on track. He destroyed the lap record, taking it down to 1'31.421, and taking a lead of 3.4 seconds out to over 15 seconds. Even after the 10-second penalty had been applied, Rossi ended up winning the race by more than 5 seconds. This was Rossi's day to show just how much better he was than the rest of the field. Fortunately for Rossi, perhaps, he was leading the race when he was handed the penalty, and so had no overtaking to do.

Lucky escape

The penalty given to Márquez helped Andrea Dovizioso and Maverick Viñales salvage what was otherwise a relatively dismal weekend. Viñales had the best of it, finishing in fifth, 15 seconds behind Cal Crutchlow but unchallenged by anyone else bar the (penalized) Márquez. Andrea Dovizioso finished sixth, 22.5 seconds behind the winner, but the 10 points he earned put him in a comfortable second place in the championship, just 3 points behind the current leader Crutchlow. Dovizioso has an advantage of 14 points over Viñales, and 15 points over Márquez, and can be much more confident going into Austin than he would otherwise have any right to be.

"At the end going home with sixth position, with some luck for sure, is very positive for us and for the championship. Three riders fighting for the championship scored zero and that is good," Dovizioso said. "The negative point in the other point is that we confirmed our difficult situation in this kind of track. When you have to make the speed in the middle of the corner, we are struggling. For sure, we didn’t have the chance to work during the weekend. Working properly would have helped us to be a little bit closer. But we weren’t fast so we can’t be happy about that." If winning a championship is about coming away from your worst weekends with as many points as possible, Dovizioso did very well indeed in Argentina.

His teammate fared a great deal worse. So badly was Lorenzo struggling in Argentina that he broke out the aerodynamic package for his Ducati GP18, the one which was causing so many problems with the front end at the Qatar test, and which all three Ducati GP18 riders had been avoiding. It didn't help him much: Lorenzo crossed the line in fifteenth place, 42 seconds behind the winner, and 20 seconds behind his teammate.

Achilles heel

It was a dismal performance, one which reflected his growing frustration with his situation at Ducati. A move to Suzuki now looks like a racing certainty, in pursuit of a bike which will bring him corner speed and agility again. He will have to take a massive pay cut to race there, but at this point, that doesn't matter much. Put crudely, he will have enough in the bank after two very well paid years at Ducati to be able to go and chase wins again. Money can buy you a lot of things, but it can't buy you race wins and world championships.

Even if he does go to Suzuki, Lorenzo will still face one major obstacle to winning a title again. That obstacle was unmasked once again in Argentina: Jorge Lorenzo struggles in mixed conditions with variable grip. When it's dry, Lorenzo is capable of beating all comers, even on a Ducati. When it's wet, Lorenzo is competitive. But when it's neither one thing or another, Lorenzo's uncanny ability evaporates, and he wobbles round like a backmarker, not a five-time world champion. That lack of confidence is something he will have to find a way to address.

Lessons learned

It has been an instructive race weekend in Argentina. The chaos and confusion has exposed the weaknesses of the MotoGP series, opening up cracks which were previously invisible. So what lessons can we take away from the race in Termas De Rio Hondo?

First and foremost, that situations will arise that the rulebook has no immediate answer to, or which expose the absurdity of the rules. What happened on the grid after the sighting lap, with the polesitter staying on slicks on the grid while all 23 others left to change bikes, was an edge case which forces us to examine definitions. After all, technically, the "back of the grid" is the place behind the last rider on the grid. When there is only 1 rider on the position he qualified in, then second place becomes the back of the grid.

Secondly, that the rulebook is in need of clarification. The addition of quick restart procedures has simplified the work for the teams, but made things a little more complicated for riders. It has also split up information in the rulebook, making it not immediately obvious what the correct response is in a particular situation. After Márquez got off his bike before the start, the correct thing to do was to move him into pit lane and make him start from there. That is in the rules, but it is not in close proximity to the rule on getting off your bike and delaying the start like Márquez did. The rulebook has expanded to the point where it needs to be cleaned up again.

Thirdly, that Marc Márquez is the best rider in the world in mixed conditions, and can pass others at will. Fourthly, that his choice of where to pass when panicked is not always great, and that he commits errors of judgment. A race ban may help him think this through.

Fifthly, that Race Direction's (technically, the FIM Stewards') policy of punishing riders at, and preferably during, the event itself can backfire. So much was happening during the Argentina race that a suitable punishment for Marc Márquez may not have been meted out. Imposing a race ban is a very serious step, and should be given careful consideration. That cannot be resolved in the space of a few minutes during the heat of a race. The FIM rulebook section 3.2.2 allows for a "plurality of penalties", or for multiple penalties to be assessed against a rider. The rules do not make clear if a rider can be punished for the same offense twice, or punished at a later date than during the weekend of the event. In some cases, it may be worth considering doing just that.

Sixthly, that the vendetta between Valentino Rossi and Marc Márquez – a vendetta which is held most firmly by one party, rather than the other – is alive and well, and not going away any time soon. Márquez vs Rossi is taking on overtones of Rainey vs Schwantz. The two men do not care for one another, and if Valentino Rossi has his way, they never will.

Finally, that MotoGP is still an awesome spectacle, and getting better every year. In Argentina, we had close racing among four leaders, with multiple passes for the lead. There were three satellite bikes among the four leaders, and the one factory bike was a Suzuki rather than a Yamaha or Honda. We have now had bikes from four different manufacturers and six different riders on the podium in two races. There is still a long way to go in the championship, but Argentina demonstrated that almost anything can happen in MotoGP. There is no better time to be a fan. Be thankful for that, despite the chaos.

This was the final part of my Argentina race round up. Part 1, on the chaos on the grid and the race at the front which saw Cal Crutchlow win can be found here. Part 2, on Alex Rins, Johann Zarco, and upcoming talent, can be found here.

Gathering the background information for detailed articles such as these is an expensive and time-consuming operation. If you enjoyed this article, please consider supporting MotoMatters.com. You can help by either taking out a subscription, by making a donation, or by contributing via our GoFundMe page.

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I think it's a combination of Marquez's riding style and attitude.

It's more of a lack of concern rather than lack of respect; he seems genuinely unaware of others. Awareness has to come first. Respect may or may not happen next.

I can understand that the starting grid confusion would have left him mentally unsettled.

But consider this: Valencia 2015, Rossi starting from the back of the grid. It's probably fair to assume that he was far more mentally unsettled/anguished than Marquez was during last race day. Sitting at the back, watching a championship slipping away to his team mate. It's also fair to assume that Rossi on that day had a thousand more reasons to get through the pack and to the front than Marquez had on last sunday. Lastly, it should be fair to assume that Valencia is a much harder track when it comes to passing.

Rossi started from the back and passed everyone except the top 3. How many contacts did he make on the way? 




Rossi wasn't passing riders, over half the grid just moved aside and let him forward. Marc was passing everyone last Sunday with no giveaways.

The fact that all the riders are helping one of their peers in his quest, shows something about the respect that rider has earned. Doesn't it? While on the other hand, MM has to fight with everyone because he chose that route. The route of hostility and recklessness.

We know for a fact that 1 rider made it easy for Rossi. Petrucci.

1 rider. Not 2. Not 3. Nor any other higher cardinal number.

'Half the grid' is an exaggeration. 

I would have taken it if you had put forward an argument along the lines of 'Rossi knew that he did not have the pace to catch the top 3 that day while Marc probably or even certainly fancied his chances for a win last sunday because he had that kind of fearsome pace'.


The recap I was waiting for and, as always, you delivered. I too was reminded of the Phillip Island race and it had me wondering if they should have assessed a time penalty on Marquez instead of the ride through. 

The only other thing I wondered about was points on a racing license, but now I believe they did away with that system right?

That Rossi continues to inflame the situation rather than be the bigger person is the most disappointing part.  His fans will be enraged enough already, to do nothing about that demonstrates that he has no concern for what may happen if a crazy fan goes over the edge.  MotoGP will not be a nice place to be if off track retributions start occurring.   The fact that Rossi can’t see that is scary.

I also think that the people in Rossi’s close personal corner giving advice, blinded by their yellow glasses, are fuelling the conspiracy theories.  It certainly isn’t doing Rossi any favours as it only spreads the divide further for fans of the sport that don’t like him.  Marquez’s riding for sure was over the limit… saying he was running into people on purpose is just crazy. 

Final question though…. Do we really believe Rossi would accept an apology visit from Marquez, where they are both alone? 

Your not speaking as a Rossi fan. Rossi's fans just want aappropriate action taking for Marquez actions in Argentina. Not just him barging Rossi to the ground but his stalled start riding backwards to grid even when told to go to the pits and his shunt into Espargaro.

Marquez even said his move on Rossi was nothing crazy. A proper public apology to the press would be a start then a one race ban for Austin. After that we can all get back to enjoying the racing. 

If Dorna, FIM don't take serious action then who knows what will happen next. 

I'm a Rossi fan but not a fanboi.  I can understand his frustration with MM's recklessness.  And as someone who has never raced, I could never comprehend the feeling of a fellow racer taking you down on track at high speed.  But as the senior statesman in the sport and knowing how ultra-partizan his fanbase is, he really needs to take the high ground and not fan the flames - for the good of MotoGP.  Yes, make quiet overtures to the powers that be with his undoubted influence, but to openly accuse MM of deliberately targetting other riders is going too far.  I don't think Rossi believes that for a second.  But it seems these days, gaining a psychological advantage is worth it at any cost.

David, as always, a brilliant summary of a nutso weekend.  Thank you.

The pass by Zarco on Pedrosa (requiring wrist surgery), Márquez on Espargaró and Rossi, and Petrucci’s pass on Espargaró were absolutely terrible and do not belong on the track, especially a track with wet patches and wet grass.  I was hopeful Dani would come away unscathed for once so all I can say is thankfully Rossi didn’t break that leg a third time.  

I agree that Márquez needs a race ban.  

I also think Rossi lost a 5th or 6th place and the points that go along with it and he was interviewed after the race when tensions are at the highest.  Alexis went off as well just in a better way.  

Race direction needs to step up and make some decisions and set the tone or the riders will do it on the track.  

Wrt to the Marshals on the Start-Grid...

The first marshal when he reached Marquez said pit-lane & pointed towards the wall

Then once they saw Marc pushing the bike - IMO the marshals both must have thought marc was complying hence the thumbs up from the 2nd Marshal ... you can then clearly see them both look back surprised to see him head to the grid rather than to the pit-wall

More surprisingly then ... instead of getting him to comply with the pit-lane gesticulation ... they just head back and thus "grant" him permission to start the race ..which he later used to good effect of "RD being confused" in the press conference ...

Unbelievable ...

Hi David,

Thank you for the great summary. Marc probably the best rider in all conditions, but you Sir, ultimately the best report in all race conditions :)

He got beat by Dovi last year in some terrible conditions, with Dovi on what is in actuality a harder bike to ride than MM's Honda, which has taken more riders to a title, than any other bike. MM has never had to ride a lesser satalite bike like other less fortunate riders have, yet he's been beat by Zarco on one of these lesser bikes, so does that say anything? We can only imagine what the case may be if Zarco was aboard the repsol honda, and marquez aboard a tec 3 yamaha. In my own opinion, marquez would be second, what do you think ?

Should it not be Dovizioso instead of Marquez? Here is the sentence below:

"Today we started with no rhythm, no speed, so it was very difficult for me," Márquez said

I always appreciate corrections (text is now corrected). It's hard to catch everything at 5am before I post...

No, I didn't. I think I said Rossi should have been black flagged (as should Marquez here). But Rossi only took one rider down, he didn't break three rules on the grid then hit four riders during the race.

Sepang 2015 and Argentina 2018 were totally different events, from almost every single perspective except for the parties involved. And the fact that there was wrongdoing in both of them. 

I think David did a wonderful and careful job on this. I am preparing something in Spanish with the luxury am having a long lead time, but there are two things I would add now: 1. Rainey and Schwantz never had a poisonious relationship like Marc and Vale have. It was respectful, with a bit of humour along with a deep desire to beat the other. They did not run into each other except on one occasion at the Match Races on Superbikes at Clearways at Brands Hatch. The Marc-Vale thing is different an, in every way, worse. 2. I have read and heard that Marc was 4 seconds a lap faster that Aleix when he was catching him. Not true. He was significantly faster. Close to 2 seconds on one lap, but nothing ike 4 seconds which is a figure that came from Honda, I believe. Marc would have needed a few corners to pass Aléix and he was not prepared mentally to accept that.

As someone who worked in GP racing from the days of Read and Agostini, I hate what I am seeing between Vale and Marc on the track and hate almost all of what I am reading about it both in Spain and beyond. 

A three times world 500cc champion said to me..."If this keeps up, someday somebody may not get up."



and I'm just going to say it... I really wish Mr. Noyes would do a monthy op/ed for MotoMatters as oppossed to 3 or 4 comments a year. ;) David, Dennis please make it so!

Dennis, thank you for the perspective on the current 'feud de season'...  vs one of the all-time memorable ones. 

Hailwood used to tweak Ago's nose now and then;  I think that Doohan and Gardner rarely exchanged Christrmas cards..  Doohan most certainly had no time for Biaggi, but Max started that one off and they never met on the track.( probably a good thing for Max's ego). Kocinski probably argued interminably with the little yellow pixies and there have been other fractious - but not melodramatically poisonous - on-track relationships.

Given the depth of your knowledge, can you provide us insight into this (and without any discussion of the circumstances of the Massacre at Rio Hondo):

Has there been ANY highly-publicised 'feud' in this millenium (so far) that did NOT have Rossi as one half of the equation?  

I can think of only one potential candidate pair - Lorenzo and Pedrosa in Lorenzo's first couple of years in the premier class.  That was patched up, and in fact fans started to comment adversely about the 'love-fest' of mutual respect in parc ferme between Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Stoner - all three of whom raced for the last four years at least of the 800's era without contact, angst or lack of sportsmanship and all three comprised most of every podium ceremony.

It was during that period that Rossi called the leading 800's riders 'pussies' for not engaging in hand-to-hand combat on the track...  who characterised his own exploits as ''racing" ( see also Biaggi - racing and podium activities; Gibernau; Stoner, Lorenzo, de Puniet... You don't remember de Puniet, Assen, 2008? - watch it again..) while branding the same behaviour by others as 'dangerous' ( see also: Elias, Lorenzo, Simoncelli, Bautista, - I have lost count..)

'Respect' is a two-way street, on the track or elsewhere.

Rossi was perfectly happy with the cut-and-thrust of P.I. 2015 at the end of the race; a week later, at Sepang, he accused Marquez of, in effect,  cheating and conspiracy with Lorenzo. To belittle another's riding ability is a matter of opinion and water off a duck's back to those who have confidence in their own ability - but an accusation of cheating/conspiracy cuts to the bone.

Rossi is pouring salt on a wound he opened.  The pit-lane aftermath of the oh, so similar move he made on Stoner at Jerez, 2011 left Stoner - by his  magnificent response -  as the total victor of their entire feuding (as if the race record over that period was not enough.)

The differenhjce between Stoner and Marquez is - Stoner didn't, and doesn't - give a sh&t about Rossi, he rode to meet his own expectations. Marquez is a natural-born competitor (see also, Lucio Suppo's evaluation of the qualities of Marquez and Stoner) and Marquez DOES give a sh&t about Rossi.... while Rossi stands in the arena, Marquez will seek to vanquish him.



Case in point this article makes multiple references to Race Direction as the focus point for action in the eyes of riders, tram managers, and the media, etc.

However per the rules Race Direction has been striped of deciding on aggressive riding and is even declared incompetent in such matters in the rulebook.

Rather a system of race stewards created in wake of Sepang 2015 at the accusations of those declaing a bias within Dorna have now been declared the authority on such matters.

My job as a journalist is to try to describe what I see and what I learn as objectively as possible. If I changed what I wrote because I might upset someone, or because someone upset me, I would be a bad journalist. After Sepang 2015, I stated that I believed that Valentino Rossi was at fault, and defended Marc Marquez. This was also a long time after Emilio Alzamora accused me of being a bad journalist. 

In short, I am interested in Emilio Alzamora's opinion of Honda, of Marc Marquez, of other racers, of the sport. But I have no interest in his opinion of my journalism. If he likes it, he can become a subscriber. If he doesn't like it, he can not bother to read what I write. If he thinks it is terrible, he can refuse to talk to me. It makes no difference to me.

How does this happen? 

"...Senior Dorna staff prevented journalists from speaking to Race Director Mike Webb after the race, even forcing one journalist to delete an interview they had recorded with Webb" - Italics added on my end.

Forcing a journalist to delete a recorded interview...Does Dorna play hardball with journalists (or did something else happen, here?)

Yes, Dorna (and factories as well) can play hardball with journalists. This was just a misjudgment on the part of the Dorna official, trying to calm a situation down by stopping people from publishing interviews about it. It didn't work, of course. It never does. 

Thanks...I guess what I meant was that he wasn´t catching Aleix by 4 seconds EVERY lap, which is what I thought I heard Alberto say. But, yes, he was reeling him in faster than I thought. 

Marquez may have caught him by almost 4 seconds on the previous lap, but when he did catch him, he got stuck behind Aleix for at least 4 corners.  essentially his closing speed after that was zero.

A very well thought out piece and well worth the wait. 

It is like a broken record but some of the blame has to be laid at Dorna’s door. They have conspiciously build a Semi Spanish championship and are little interested in intervening if the situation adversely affects Spanish interests. It is their show and this race in a former Spanish colony and export market involving a Spanish rider, with THe Spanish sponsor and their poster boy. Carmelo seemed to blame the weather and his comments were totally unacceptable given the state of the race. Theor opportunity was to put MM in the site shwoing his disregard which speaks volumes. 

MM is a sight to behold when on form but he also seems to feel he is protected and thus does not need to behave like other riders. The planned Stoner revenge in Laguna, Argentina, Sepang, Assen, the pinnacl so far, his crashing into riders with no good reason but not to forget his last corner lunges a la Senna which and fortunately Dovi has managed to ride around each time. MM needs a slap and heading into Austin, a race he loves would have been the opportunity. Rossi, being Italian, in this situation is not much of an excuse. His criticism, much too obvious and pretty hypocritical. 

Sanity. The Motomatters coverage of Argentina is exemplary. Thanks!

Of note is the 2018 Honda, which can move around a lot and not only responds well to but even demands to be over-ridden. This bike and Marquez are a compelling marraige. At this track in mixed conditions they were untouchable. Well, by anything but hubris perhaps.

Zarco being able to skate the Yamaha around is also of much interest. He may say he is a mimic of Lorenzo's style, but in doing so he has reached out past it and into something vaguely Stoner-esque. Throttle control unmatched.

Thanks for saying what the tea leaves have shown for a while, Lorenzo is going to Suzuki. We are in for a treat there. And Zarco to Honda awaits a pen. He is likely to be a better fit for that bike. Zarco may get a step forward on the Repsol bike! Imagine that. Rather than an aero package, perhaps Honda will debut a "bumper package" on their bike. Or Dainese a puffy shoulder and outer thigh.

Agreed for sure re the one race ban for our fairing blasting Spaniard. Too bad that Yamaha doesn't have a factory bike that can challenge the Honda in less than optimal conditions, we won't see Rossi rise to an occasion with "what a spectacle!" this time.

Ducati, think you can bring your bogey tracks from mid pack to just off-podium? You rather lucked into that here, and your solid work is appreciated. But the script has a bowing out of Yamaha at just the right time for your surge to greatness if you are positioned to do so. Honda has moved to bar up a notch since Fall.

Little Suzuki has a motor full of steam. Rins is doing the business. Lorenzo is poised to join.

KTM is in repose but has an arsenal that shouldn't be ignored. Several of the fast new kids are arriving in Orange. The beast is awake.

Aprilia is on the move. A.Espargaro deserves praise. Giant in stature Brit with prison tatoos is even going fast.

Dennis, agreed. En Español...desagradable? Desanimador? Es una pena? This article from David though, REALLY good. And perhaps this is about to stop being a Rossi - Marquez dynamic and start being about something else. Vale won't be challenging for this year's title on this Yamaha. The Honda has again become the bike to have. The next blue bike to challenge might be a Suzuki! And Red, Dovi is here now on a Ducati that could go either way in the immediate future. Vale and the Yamaha? I think I see where that is headed. If I am wrong I will be overjoyed. But the times they are a-chaaangin.

So Ducati, what say you? Spotlight is yours. Take us away from all this drama. Dovi, Bologna, get that beast nimbly dancing while eyes are elsewhere.

Great analyze David. It also shows, that than rush with some opinion under emotions, its better to think about it and have a margin of few days. As a huge fan of Valentino, who is running his fansite for years, I have to agree with you conclusions. First that accuse Marquez that he do it in purpose its too much, but on other hand, he needs to be cleared with his aggresive behaviour, when one race ban really seems to be good idea. And so one, so hats off, really great article about what hapened and what will most likely happen in the rest of the season. Thanks.  

Most have written Marquez and his Honda "are a compelling marriage. At this track in mixed conditions they were untouchable". However Marc's own explanation for his running into Rossi was the tricky track condition. So he attempted an overtake under tricky conditions when the risk he took might endanger another rider. That seems dangerous if not deliberate. Marc also explained away his bumping of Aleix saying it's quite tricky when he approached at a greater speed. This sounds like what a novis might say. Marc has the responsibility to govern his speed when another rider is ahead of him. 
The other point no-one is mentioning (as far as I can tell) is that bumping Rossi off the track earned him a penalty, but Rossi's lost points as a direct result remain lost without recompensation. Is there nothing in the rules that compensates the victim when the perp has been penalized?

back after Rossi was penalized for Sepang 2015?  Yes, it would not have changed final championship rankings, but that is beside the point.

Then what if the rider crashed out had burnt up his tyres, and third rider not involved in the incident was predicted based on pace to catch and pass him before the race ended - should that rider be effectively docked points?  Without god-like knowledge, righting one wrong in this manner could create another innocent victim.

just give the victim the points he would have got from that position and give everyone else the points they got from finishing. Apart from the perp of course.

What if it happens on the first lap? What if there are multiple incidents in a race? Does this create a chase to lead the race at all costs, after all, being knocked off while leading on lap 2 is more important than lasting for 24 laps and leading at the end. And that's leaving out the fact that race order can change a lot in the last 5 laps. 

The potential for unintended consequences is immense, and troubling.

Dear o dear. Conduct unbecoming of multiple world champ or champions. Great race at the front. Two multiple world champions behaving badly. Very experienced officials making mistakes under pressure. Then where is the transparency of the system if the journalists are not allowed to do their job until all the officials get together & get their stories straight. Childish, petulant.

I'm pleased you can put the words together for us David. " Continuity Popolo Giallo " I like that, would not want to upset them too much.

Congrats to Cal Crutchlow, Alex Rins, Johann Zarco, Jack Miller & a special congratulation to Hafizh Syahrin 55 awesome ride again.


a one-race ban is the past precedent of lesser to no punishment for intentionally crashing out other riders (Canet in Moto3 FP1 in Argentina this year, Rossi in Sepang 2015, etc.).  While banning Márquez will play well to the Rossi fans, to everyone else it will look like a double-standard and furthermore give the impression that Rossi and not the GP Commission is running MotoGP.

There is a real credibility problem here of the sort that almost destroyed professional motorcycle racing in the USA when it was run by DMG (i.e., NASCAR people - and we know that NASCAR is closer to "professional wrestling" than an true sporting event).  So race direction has put themselves in a "dammed if they do, dammed if they don't" scenario with no easy way out, and maybe no way out other than asking the current officiating crew to fall on their swords.


Was not aware of this, as I try to avoid paying attention to such people (thought he was just a hanger-on without portfolio), but this does put Fenati getting kicked of the Sky VR46 team in a different light.

I would love to be a (Japanese speaking) fly on the wall when Yamaha management discusses the racing team - does Rossi sell enough bikes to compensate for the circus atmosphere he and his entourage have created?

First of all, great job with the 3X entries to cover the chaos, David...the trilogy was superb.

Taking away someone's patch of track is always going to be an accepted part of racing. The infamous "block pass" is nothing but one dog grabbing another's bone, as is diving underneath the rider who just passed you (on the cut-back) that we often see on L-R-L sequences. And as the bikes, tires, and talent continue to improve, the opportunities to get around other riders become fewer and more challenging. Nobody at this level is going to pass anybody just because they tip it over a bit more steeply than the cowardly fraud they are racing against. Racers have as many shortcomings as any other segment of humanity, but there are no cowards on the MotoGP grid...and the frauds washed out as tykes before they bought their second set of racing tires with their communion money. My old Man had a betting past, and something he told me about pro-sports a very long time ago stuck: "See the guy sitting twelve places away from the coach, the one who never plays? Well, he was All-World in college, just like the rest of them". So everyone on the grid can ride, and they have all had some measure of success. And now more than half of them have a decent package to throw a leg over (you probably have to go back to the RG500 days of the late 70's - early 80's to find this many truly competitive machines in the top class). If you have ten (or more) riders that have legitimate Podium aspirations, you have a hell of a lot more dogs than bones...which means some are going to get nipped and some are going to be bitten. And we can accept that as racing. What cannot be accepted is some getting mauled with a risk of serious injury. So maybe a few changes in thinking are required.

The first change may be a re-thinking of what constitutes the "racing surface", because it is certainly no longer just the asphalt (typically high stability hot laid asphalt Type 1 (HL1), or another high-quality variant). At this level the deposition of racing rubber on the track surface, the presence or absence of debris (dirt, dust, bits of loose rubber, what have you), and the smoothness or bumpiness from one area to the next all have significant impacts on available traction. Fortunately, on a dry track surface (or even one that is universally wet), the impact of one rider altering another's line, causing them to perhaps move away from the optimum surface to a lower traction area, is manageable. As long as the overtaking rider leaves sufficient room for everybody to stay upright...and in control...it should be deemed acceptable racing, even if the pass is considered a bit thuggish by the recipient. Causing another rider to lose control however, even for a split second, is not acceptable...even if it does not result in a tumble in the kitty litter. But how do you define "control" in a sport where success comes from treating ultimate stability with complete contempt?  And remember, this "all wet or all-dry" scenario is the easy part.

What comes next is the tricky bit: Mixed Conditions (and we have had a shed-load of those over the last few seasons). Because with a drying line the rules change. Moving another rider over...even a few feet...may result in a catastrophic change in available traction. We saw that with the Zarco-Pedrosa pass. I thought Johann's move was perfectly legitimate...if they were racing on a dry surface. On a dry track Dani might have been pissed off about it, but he would have been pissed off, in control, and upright. But I believe Zarco used very poor judgement making that move on a wet track with a dry line and forcing Dani from the dry line to what appeared to be a promising start to a trout farm. It can be argued that Dani may have compounded his troubles by opening the throttle while visiting trout country, but I find that unreasonable. And this is also why MM was completely out of line. It was not the violence of his passes, but the fact that under mixed conditions he put other riders in a loss of control scenario by forcibly moving them onto an area of track with radically different grip levels. Whether they stayed upright or fell on their ear is to me irrelevant, just as it is irrelevant whether a drunk driver makes it home safe. It is the risk imposed on others by the action that is objectionable, any further consequences are simply tragedy on top of the original offense. 

And I do not think this can be all be solved by just adding more rules. I have spent the last half-dozen or so years, at the tail end of a long career,  writing engineering standards for a large commercial aircraft manufacturer (i.e., I tell design engineers how to do their job when it comes to specifying engineering requirements, with my area of expertise the specification of design tolerances). And I can say unequivocally that no quantity of Design Standards, no collection of paragraphs containing the word "shall", no dataset checking protocols, will achieve the desired result unless they are first supported by a culture that respects the knowledge of, and compliance with, those same standards. You cannot just "publish" your way to engineering quality any more than you can expect to manufacture and assemble components that meet the fit, form, and functional requirements of the end product just by specifying tolerances unless the associated manufacturing process capability also natively supports those specifications. Apply machined part tolerances to brake-formed sheet metal components and see where it gets you. While some changes to the FIM Rule Book would be welcome, stapling another 20 pages of rules (in an attempt to cover any and all conceivable rider interactions) and then expecting that any resulting penalties will be applied during (or shortly after) Sunday's activities, is a Fool's Errand.  But I think a few things would help.

1) Trust people, not paragraphs. Given a desire for a successful outcome in regulating rider behavior, I would select the best people, and establish the best culture, way ahead of the worrying about the best rules. Every time.

2) Make the riders wholly responsible for their own actions. It is the overtaking riders responsibility to ensure that everyone involved in the overtaking maneuver is not subject to undue jeopardy. Period. No more of this "well, I hit a wet patch" crap from Hero Rider. Of course you hit a wet patch, Hero, it rained!! You are responsible for the consequences of your actions, so weigh all of them. If you roll the dice and get away with it, more power to you. If you don't, you own it. And instill a culture among the riders where they accept that they are mutually responsible for each other's safety while on track. They are free to hate and despise each other the rest of the week, but for the four or so hours they are on the track together, they will accept that Rule #1 is that Race Control & Direction have the final say of whether their actions pass muster, and that mixed track conditions will be judged by different standards than all-dry or all-wet.

3) Don't Nanny State the thing to death. Hard passes are to be allowed. Mistakes are to be allowed...and expected, so nobody's season gets fragged by a single bad error of judgement (See: Zarco/Pedrosa above). But repeatedly stepping over the line is not acceptable, and you will become familiar with the tail end of the starting grid if it happens. And I would prefer the back of the grid option over the race ban. People do buy tickets to see certain riders race, and a complete ban may be pushing too much of the pain onto the organizers and fans.  

4) Separate the regulatory tasks by whether they are objective or subjective decisions. The current system, with a core of experts under Mike Webb supported by the Local or National Marshals should be able to cope with all of the objective issues. If your bike is too light, it's too light. If your fuel contains 5% nitro-methane, you need to find another hobby. The most common on-track violations (jumped start, passing under a yellow, cutting across the infield after Turn-Four and dropping the lap record by half a minute) can also be dealt with by the current system. And since objective decisions take much less time to make, everyone still gets a cold drink and a hot meal Sunday evening.

5) Give MW & Co sufficient time to make the subjective rulings, which can be difficult, time consuming, and may require additional views, data, telemetry, and analysis, with no expectation that it will all be completed Sunday night. A bit of time would also allow emotions to cool, and light to replace heat. After they have deliberated allow them to deal out the appropriate punishment that they see fit. If Mr. Webb needs more help to do this...get him more help. If he needs better help, get him that. I do not know the man, but his resume is superb, and his judgement seems to be well respected by those who do know him. And that is no mean task given the ego's, both corporate and individual, at play, which must make deciding what multitude of winglets and ducts constitute a legal aero package seem like child's play by comparison. I think that, given the right support and tools, he can get the job done. And besides...I like an old picture of him on his TZ-250 from almost 30 years ago I found. Cheers.



I was looking around a lot to find out what exactly happened after #MM93 stalled his engine. Thanks for the minutes, now I have to change my opinion and conclusion on my own blog. 
Great journalism you're doing!

Totally agree with you on the Rossi/Marquez situation... I don't for one second believe Marc rides into people on purpose, but the fact is, he does ride into people! A race ban would probably do him the world of good, your comments about Lorenzo illustrate this perfectly.

Rossi needs to start getting some results (although he rode great in Qatar) and not worry so much about others.

A big part of me doesn't want Marc to change, he's so exciting... but what bugs me about all of the Argentina shenanigans is how totally unecessary it was. Yes, his actions were pretty poor, but he needs to be asking himself why he did it... he needs those around him to be truthful, not reinforce his behaviour, which I somehow don't feel will happen.

An excellent write up as always David - very fair and balanced, something that cannot be side for the two sides in this particular soap opera.

Although he may have escaped a ban for the time being, Marc now finds himself in a very precarious position. Every single move, in every single session will now be thoroughly under scrutiny (they'll probably be calls to ban him if he bumps into someone walking through the door to the riders safety brief).

The second he makes contact with another rider (heaven forbid he knocks them off-track or worse) will see a collective shaking of heads and a huge clamouring for him to be banned. The booing that had faded will most likely be back with a vengence, as will the tribalism and animosity between fans (while out riding in the aftermath of 2015, I saw bikers give my friend the bird at traffic lights for wearing a Lorenzo helmet which he had bought on the cheap). Rossi knows this and is using the one thing in his kit bag that no-one else has - his fans. The more fanatical amongst them will be desperate to remind Marc exactly what they think of him at every opportunity.

The thing that struck me as strange on Sunday that it actually looked like Marc was going to play it clever in the aftermath. The rebuffed apology (which he must have known was coming - I was actually quite relieved it didn't end in a brawl) let him have the higher ground. If he (and Honda) could have just put out an apology where he took responsibility for his actions and promised to take a good hard look at himself (even though we would all know he didn't mean it), then it would have made Rossi's comments look far more unreasonable. By saying (and I'm paraphrasing) "I was surprised my front wheel locked on a wet track and I shunted him off, but hey, it's okay, I put my hand up to say sorry afterwards" it just adds more fuel to the fire. A genuine "I overeacted to my error at the start and acted very poorly. I would like to take the opportunity to publically and unreservedly apologise to Valentino, the fans etc etc for my behaviour"; whilst it might have stung him, it would not only take (some) of the pressure away from him - but also from Race Control. Because you can bet that Lin Jarvis will be stood outside Mike Webb's door the next time Marc does anything.

As has been mentioned above, my concern is that this is just the opening salvo in what will be another bitter war of attrition. Media questions will only focus on Valentino and Marc and whether one might stab the other should they be forced to sit next to each other at a press event (which I am sure will continue to please and delight the perennial ray of sunshine that is Crutchlow). Instead of focusing on a close and exciting championship, we will just see the focus on the next contact, the next hard pass and the inevitable firefight that follows. I truly hope that this doesn't go the same way as Super Sic - because all of the signs are there.

...used to be my favorite rider. I had both this devotion for his skill and his "mind games" and a rational appreciation for his career, even his evolution to adapt to new bikes and rules. All that made me excuse some of his... "less accomplished" moves on track. He deserved the benefit of the doubt. He was the fastest and the best, he was passionate.

But now he lashes out at Marc for doing roughly the same he did/does. While he too makes mistakes now as he did before. Remeber Sepang 2015? Even "cheats" to win. Remember Assen? Remember Rossi vs Stoner "your ambition outweighed your talent"? Remember all those Rossi vs Lorenzo? Rossi vs Biaggi?

Biaggi and Lorenzo where the whining loosers then, and Rossi is turning into that saying "Marquez" targets rider's legs and speaking the way he does. "Mind games" is one thing. This is a whole new level, especially unacceptable from the most senior and experienced rider on track.

Marquez is faster, able to ride much more on the edge and longer at it, he is also breaking records and will break many more shatering Rossi's. He's aldo making the same mistakes Rossi did (still does) while being punished a lot harder (though fairly) than Rossi ever was.

Rossi not winning and whining like this only shows the bad side of him without the good. Because to me Rossi now ranks very low as a "current" rider. He's historically great, a legend, but far from the "fastest" he once was. If I had to make a "current" top 3, he doesn't even enter it. Marc, Zarco and Dovi (a good example of a guy who knows how to deal with Marc and beat him fairly) are my top "fastest" guys. I'm not sure he's in my top 5 now that I think about it, Maverick beating him and other (newer) riders showing such speed and progress.

He really should refrain from doing such comments. It really doesn't fit a historical rider, or a rider of his stature. I for one am loosing respect for him with bit for bit after each of these "episodes", and my devotion for him, well that's long gone.

I posted this in the comments to Mat Oxley’s column but they seemed relevant repeating here. In response to you pointing at Rossi's past misdemeanours where he collided or ran someone off the track, and how that supposedly makes his complaints about Márquez irrelevant. Any time Rossi has been in a conflict it’s while he’s been battling with someone. That’s the big difference between his “hits” and what Márquez did in Argentina. Márquez was far faster than the riders he punted out of his way. There was no battle. It was pure disregard for riders he was passing. That’s the key difference and the one that makes Márquez the culprit this time. It’s similar to when he was intentionally blocking Rossi in Sepang when Rossi called him on it and they collided. Marquez plays by different rules and has no respect for his fellow competitors. 

Multiple perspective taking and allowing evolving of ours both individually and together is a good thing. After we say simple "good/bad" about things based on a concept adhered to or reaction that "has us" more is possible.

Mat shares appreciation for the excitement of this wild cowboy shoot out spectacle (me too!), and yes this can fit with damning certain actions and tendencies of Marquez. Huge appreciation for the riding skill of Marquez, considering it and his red-mist - oddly fearless/reckless fury as complexly inter-related. And same for Cal, his boister and determination are of his core drive. Rossi's Peter Pan at play in ethereal dance nature has both adaltive brilliance and self involved petulance over the years. One could go on and on, but where I now go to is good old Professor Dovisioso as a welcome contrasting salve.

Agreed that it is a big deal that Canet got a pass. More so that Marquez should have gotten a one race penalty to sit out Austin. Why?

Compounding multiple transgressions, I would not just do addition amongst them, but a multiplier. They stack and become as a whole different in nature. And practically, just like starting on the grid rather than pit lane for everyone but Jack, is just wisely establishing basic safety. Putting MM at the back of a grid in Austin is a paradoxically unwise action. He needs to sit on the side, a time out. Then welcomed when he articulates how he needs to ride to join the racing again.

This is not just a matter of a race in which he continued to ride unsafely despite penalty. It is a third or fourth manifestation of the same sort of thing. First in Moto2, then here - not just instances, but clusters of instances.

Marc isn't unique this way. Jorge had his gold helmet disregard for the limit. It was dynamically interrelated with his excellence and triumphant development (his first GP performance was impossible!). Sense was knocked into him by the ground. In this case for Marc, the ground would be the chair in his garage during the next race. This is literal.

In the moment, I DID enjoy the Abbott and Costello nuttiness of Marquez bump starting his bike. I wanted him to get back for the start. It was exciting. It was near the end of the race when talking with an old racing friend who, amongst what I think could be described as partial awareness or "Rossi fan" skew, helped me see the big deal safety issue of a start with a racer out of synch. What if the lights had gone out, and the Marshall of all people got caught up in it, not to mention a backwards #93? Super unsafe.

I wish Rossi and his team had a bike right now that could give the Honda a good go in all grip levels. We could be able to witness a manifestation of this tension coming to take place as racing on the track. Perhaps not for the championship itself (without unusual circumstance), but of race battles. Oh, Yamaha. Younare kff the mark (Marc?). And Honda - your 2018 bike is amazing.

The one thing I would disagree about here with Mat: "remember that there are many sinners at the Argentina race?" Yes, of course. (Poor Pedrosa's wrist, hurt yet again. And yes, even he sinned once with his team mate). Not all sins are the same in nature. Patterns of sinning is qualitatively different than one or the occasional. Not excusing Zarco's move, we all saw it and knew it was an unsafe ask given track conditions. But I don't make it an equivalent of MM93's.

"That shalt not covet thy neighbor's race position," that is just a desire or preoccupation. Every racer is guilty of this. Repeated actual forced adultery with many neighbors' positions? Different sin, different sinner. And "thou shalt not kill" is being broached upon here, cardinal offense nudged. Not hyperbole, I lost a friend to a racing incident. My life was changed by a head injury secondary to MY obnoxious prideful spiteful red mist in my last race. Our list of GP racers killed on track is plenty big. Sufficient safety, THEN let the battle commence.

Good article with rather unique perspective, particularly given the subject matter. And David's three articles together make for exceptional one race coverage.


Also Mike Webb messed up (to put it mildly) by calling Canet's riding a racing incident. Rightly or wrongly, this gives an impression to other riders on what is deamed too acceptable.  Because lets face it, Marquez did nothing like Canet, who got off without any sanction.   And I fully accept Marquez deserves some sanction...


Should this quote ""Today we started with no rhythm, no speed, so it was very difficult for me," Márquez said." actually be attributed to Dovi? Fine article as always by the way.

There’s been a lot of noise on social media and website commentary along the lines of, but Rossi once did that, and kettle/pot/black...

For my noise...

In Valcencia 15, VR started at the back. It was the final race of the year and he had a championship on the line. I personally find it twee when the fans state they know what the riders are thinking, but I’m going to stick my neck out and say that VR felt his starting position was unjust and that he wasn’t happy.

VR rode that race with more respect for his fellow competitors than MM did the second race of the 2018 year, with no championship on the line and a best possible result of about 5th (or maybe 4th)

That MM rides in a way that wouldn’t bother MM if people rode with him like he does to them, I don’t doubt.

But let’s be honest, MM shouldn’t really be deciding the safety threshold for the other riders. Or the marshalls at Silverstone 13 or the riders that have slowed down because the session has finished.

MM’s respect for his own personal safety might be at a level best described as subterranean, but he’s potentially dragging others down to the same level.

I don’t agree with VR (for whatever my agreemnt is worth) that MM deliberately seeks to make other riders crash. But that MM honestly doesn’t give a rat’s bum about anyone’s safety is surely beyond question...

As David notes, others have been banned for a whole lot less.

The bigger picture for me is that, in much the same way as MM influenced the way racers ride the bike, he’s now starting to influence the way the racers interact with each other on track. 

This might even change the relationship the fans have with the sport. Knowledgable race enthusiasts awed at race craft supplimented with people who want to see a gladiatorial contact sport.

Or put another way... IIRC Biaggi once accused VR of turning the fans of the sport into a football mentality. Will MM end up turning the fans mentality into one that likes to watch cage fighting?

that was a great write up. Thanks. Being a past Rossi die hard fan(till Sepang Press conf 2015), I agree with your views. Rossi is exaggerating. In my mind he becomes the GOAT by forgiving such issues at the earliest and trying hard for that elusive Title. After all he is an inspiration... But I think Rossi these days is not just a Rider, he is also a brand. And unfortunately its pictured as MM is meesing with that brand. I hope MM will mature as he did after 2015, and give us a great show this year.

I must admit though I certainly wasn't a fan of MM during his Moto2 days I have become one - his sheer talent is unbelievable. However in each instance of his last corner last lap (all 3) moves on Dovi I wondered what would have happened had Dovi taken the same line that he had in the preceding laps. I strongly suspect the result would have been considerably worse that what occured in the last race.

There’s not much to argue about or add to in David’s write up, so I won’t. What I will say is that today my wife and I begin the 2000km+ trek to Austin to watch the race there next weekend. Maybe we’re just trying to play on the stereotype of Canadian ‘niceness’ (which I’m sure isn’t always accurate) but we’re looking forward to a weekend of fun.

I can’t articulate entirely why we like MotoGP, but at its core it has something to do with ‘fun’. The incredible talent on track, the roaring engines, the bright colours, the whole spectacle is exciting and fun. You know what else is fun?  Hanging out with tens of thousands of other spectators who have the same common interest, with a shared smile on their faces.  

So we’re setting aside the Rossi v Marquez craziness, we’re not taking sides (nor are we making excuses for either of them) and we’re going to have some fun. Can’t wait!

@All (David but a lot of contributors here as well) : I'm amazed by your ability to transform such bad behaviors (From Marquez & Rossi) into such great and interesting comments. Thks for that :) 

I have never raced on any track, but when I saw MM going backwards at the grid, I knew that this is against any rulebook on any motorsport. And now he is trying to convince us that he didn't know. I don't buy that, not one bit. I blame the organisers and marshals for this mess, as they keep doing a very poor job on every recent controversy I remember.

I largely agree. Though what I miss is, that as usual there is no second thought about ascribing to Rossi only an opportunistic agenda behind what he does and says but not truly believes or feels, yet no such thing is possible with Marc. He maybe a bit reckless, but it is all unintentional, he is always just honest.

No, either there is the possibility that both act out of cold egoistical calculation or none. E.g. opportunistically for MM it obviously is the logical public relation answer to not pick a fight with VR publicly but just be as nice as possible, because he does not have such a huge fan support. If his goal was to undermine Rossi then he is doing the right thing as can be seen by many answers here.

Listen I am not saying it is like that. What I am saying is that both might be playing us, or maybe only one (MM or VR) or none! And it actually is very tricky to answer, if not impossible.

Considered and clear, as always. Grazi.

My two cents: I think Rossi loves to lay on the drama a bit thick.

In this case, he's clearly gone on to try and sully Marquez's reputation

Of course, he should press this advantage of media distraction. Marquez is a fool for handing him and the other riders the opportunity when there was no need.

However, I think it might have been more powerful to show restraint. Simply stating the truth, that on Sunday we saw a rider who had lost his head, and that's the most dangerous rider of all.

My big question though – is this a sign that MM is already cracking under the pressure?

He's 3 for 3 down against Dovi on straight dogfights. He was pushing for maximum advantage against opponents where he's strong. Last year was tight. He knows he needs it. But it's already causing him trouble.




The parrallels between Rio Hondo 2018 re Marquez/Rossi was remarkably reminiscent of Jerez 2011 re Rossi/Stoner. Even down to the post race encroachment on the aggrievd party's garage to lodge an apology on TV. There exist however significant differences. It was raining in Jerez, they were all on wets. Rossi in his over enthusiastic charge on the Ducati overcooked it and took himself and Stoner down with him. That to me was infuriating but marginally acceptable. Marquez dive bomb tactic at Rio Hondo on Rossi was way over the top given surface conditions on slicks. Rossi on the other hand claiming he is scared of Marquez is just BS. It's just a case of milking the media for brownie points to cast Marquez as villain of the peace. Rossi acknowledges awareness of a rapidly closing Marquez as did Stoner of a rapidly closing Rossi in Jerez back then. Stoner gave him room and got taken out anyway. Fast forward to Rio Hondo 2018. Rossi by his own admission knew what to expect. He could have perhaps foreseen what was comming and given Marquez a little space to let him go hang himself all on his lonesome. Taken a leaf out of Dovi's book vs Marquez. The bottom line for me is that Marquez' ambition seriously outweighed his tallent in this instance. If's and buts. This won't go away soon and I think Lorenzo is right. Marc needs an enforced 'cooling down period'. Make no mistake, I appreciate Marc enormously for the tallent and racer he is. What I don't want to see is him ending up like another great, super aggresive tallent, namely Marco Simonchelli and have Catalunya circuit named after Marquez someday. The twitterstorm from Aleix also warrants mention. Petrux and Zarco are on the cusp of blatantly overstepping the limits of race tactic vs reward. Lorenzo to Suzuki? His best bet. Miller to factory Ducati alongside Dovi would be a good move.

Thank you David for your trilogy. No stone left unturned.

My tuppence-ha'penny here: Race Direction seriously need to understand Marquez' mentality if they are to apply penalties that fulfill their intention - to prevent repeat behaviour - because injuries and damage to others' championships cannot be undone.

If Marquez had done as he should have and accepted going to the pitlane from the start, there is no doubt he would have still gone on to rampage through the field with no fear of consequence to himself or others. They could have given him another ride-through for barging past riders and he would have done the same again, just as the penalty of switching places had no impact on his subsequent riding and risk-taking.

The point is, back of the grid start or ride-throughs simply add fuel to his fire because when his form is strong, as it had been all last weekend, he feels truly invincible and with a pace that can overcome anything. The two examples you gave from his Moto2 days where he won from the back of the grid are surely still an inspiration to him. This is when he is at his most dangerous and poses even more risk than usual to his competitors.

I truly believe that for repeat offenders such as Marquez (and there are others) a black flag, race ban or points reduction are the only things that would have a chance of an effect without the risk to other riders around them.

The rule book covers so much ground and appear to provide Race Direction with a lot of options as to why they should penalise a rider or an incident.


Its naive to conclude that VR's problem with MM is greater than MM's is with VR. I think the mutual antipathy is equally strong, MM just has the good sense to know that he cannot take on the VR PR machine and win. Anyone who does not hold his breath whenever MM goes to overtake VR must be a newcomer to the sport

VR's comment re MM "going for the leg" is interesting particularly if you watch his attempted overtake on VR at Argentina in 2015 which led to his DNF. That appears to be exactly what MM attempted and of course the result of that barge lay the foundations for this article.

I do a bit of club racing.  So far away from the level of MotoGP, it's not true, but I do line up on a grid and race other people on motorcycles.  So, from that perspective:

1: The Aleix Espagaro excuse - "I was catching him so fast, I couldn't judge the braking".  Really?  MM would have seen the gap to Aleix closing corner by corner.  It would have been obvious that he was a second or two faster (not four, as Honda claim - thanks to Denis Noyes for that clarification).  If Aleix had slowed unexpectedly, this excuse might hold water, be he didn't, and it doesn't.  I've caught and passed much slower riders, and been caught and passed in turn myself.  Passing a slow rider is the easiest thing in the world (it's passing fast riders that is hard!)

2: The Valentino Rossi excuse - "I unexpectedly locked the front on a wet patch, and had to release the brake".  Really? (again).  The track conditions had been relatively consistent the whole time.  The wet patch had been there since the start, including on the same corner when MM ran into Aleix.  To me it seems little more than an outright lie to claim to be caught out by the conditions.

I'm a VR fan, not least because I'm old myself (way older than VR).  I love the romance of the idea of someone nudging 40 competing for a tenth title. I accept the comments from others, that he should be the elder statesman and rise above this, are entirely valid.  But he scored zero points this weekend, through no fault of his own, and he still has such a burning ambition to challenge for the championship.  So I can just about excuse him his anger.

Mark Marquez should definitely have a one race ban.  And that race should be Austin, to deny him his usual 25 points there.  He is not alone in his guilt (Petrucci's and Zarco's impacts when passing where questionable at best), but Marquez' behaviour was so far over the line of acceptable that an example should be made of him.  And maybe that would calm *everybody* down a bit.


well, David, as expected, a great piece of writing. thank you! (and sorry in advance for the quality of what follows, full of mistakes but i really cannot get around this new rich text editor...!) 

Much, so much has been said about Sunday race. But I think that there is something that has been overlooked and it's blurring the big picture. Let me try to explain: if we try to take out of the equation the name of the rider that crashed after the contact with MM everything would look different. First we wouldn't have the stupid reactions from the "anti-yellow" party defending the undefendable based on the notion that it's just well deserved karma. Second we wouldn't have the escalation and the notion of two camps going at war, each camp with its own good reasons. Third and foremost we could look at the whole story for what it is : Marquez - his sheer outwordly talent notwithstanding - has been riding irresponsably and recklessly since day one. Specifically, on the argentinian week-end he summed up so many faults, and irregularities and just gratitious reckless moves (on FP! for god sake! on FP2 I think he was so out of order with so many and almost vicious with Vinales!) that for many riders it would take 3 seasons to do half of it. NO, talent does not and cannot excuse and justify everything. Actually, in my book, his amazing talent is indeed an aggravating factor when looking at his sensless beahviour. When you have over 1 second per lap over every other rider on a wet slippery track you use your talent and advantage to make clean passes. 

I will not even go into the profound utter incompetence (or should i say bad faith? ) of Race Direction : the bike stalls and you go to pitlane. you move you are black flagged. But no, nothing of the sort. And honestly, how can people not feel that their intelligence is being insulted when MM says he did not know what to do when his bike stalled? Can anyone on this forum honestly say that they believe him? and honestly say which other rider on that grid would have dared ignore in such a nonchalant manner the basic rule?

So, again, let's forget all the convenient storytelling about the feud/nemesys/tragedy or whatever between a yellow old gone "hero" and the new valiant orange knight: let's just talk about Marquez. His riding skills are such that he can do a clean pass, but he just cannot be bothered to make the effort. throughout his whole career, he has made it his own trademark to barge into the rider in front, especailly when there is no space to insert the bike, and just push him off line. It is intentional, it is calculated, it is systematic, it is tested in FP... so : on which  planet do we call this an unexpected racing incident? How can anyone think it's not intentional, with clear knowledge of all the consequences ? And the more he does it, the more he gets out of it unpunished. And the big loser is the sport. Or at least a certain idea of what racing should be : a just mix of balls and brain, never reckless.  And what's scary is that he refuses to aknowledge such bad behaviour, like a broken record he serves us with the same old line (lie?) : "i had prepared the line, i was inside, i don't know what happened"...  No, from a guy like him, master in the science of racing, I don't want to hear it. And this is the other very important point about the problem with Marquez : most riders, most aliens, did their lot of bad moves, reckless passes, stupid overtakes... they knew it, they were trying to get away with it, but never with selfrighteous confidence... And most of all, they would not repeat it at the first given opportunity. 

Unfortunately, nobody has the guts to send him home to think it over for at least one race. Instead Ezpeleta and the regulation circus want to put together in the same room the italian and the spanish : i've never heard of a dumbest idea! Marquez needs to be called in for his behaviour by himself. Putting the two together  serves media purposes, but most of all makes the whole point of reminding Marquez he does not own the track absolutely pointless. 

I've already said it in another post: MM has all the talent in the world, but his talent got to his head. 

as an aside: funny David that you mention PI 2003... Me I would like to think of Valencia 2015... I think that someone had to overtake 15 or more riders with the championship at stake and I cannot remember one single racing incident. Funny, no incident no barging into someone though it's a track where it's almost impossible to overtake, as marquez has so entertaingly reminded us so many times. 



"No, from a guy like him, master in the science of racing, I don't want to hear it."

or a reference to quote I'm not familier with but that's no matter. I do not feel he is a master of the science of racing yet. Not at all. He is a master of the lap time, a veritable time attack god but as we all know racing is more then just outright lap times. This is something all too familiar for myself as that has been a personal frustration. 

So often those lap times come from having much better corner speed then your rivals rather then being able to consistently outbrake or out accelerate your competitors. And of course it is also quite common to have just one line in those corners where the grip is available for you to make that greater speed and hence... sometimes even though you are the faster racer on track (regarding lap times) you still won't be the race winner on the day if you didn't get the hole shot from the off. 

So without the patience to wait and/or force your rivals into a mistake or the willingness to settle for a result that is less then what you feel your speed is worthy of, results-wise, when they don't, you're never going to master this whole racing thing. 

That's just racing 101 (especially paved circuit racing) and an aspect of it that MM has shown on numerous occasions that he doesn't quite grasp yet.

I don't think MM intentionally tries to make riders crash. But, I do think he has no problem ramming into other bikes. His hope is that he bounces into the turn more, and the other bounces off the line. He of course doesn't want anyone to crash or get injured, but he's willing to risk it to get the pass. This was clear years ago, I forget the race but in the last turn he aimed right at Rossi's side. Rossi knew it was coming, took the blow, and bounced straight into the grass and across the finish line.

To accept that Marquez didn’t know the rules is disingenuous . I believe that deep down he feels the rules don’t apply to him. He puts his hand up briefly when the bike stalls (because he knows the rule) then decides to jump start the bike, a big no no that even a kindergarten klub racer would know is verboten. Then he rides backwards on the grid, an instant black flag.  I feel when he says ‘ I didn’t know I couldn’t do that ‘, truthfully he is prevaricating  like a speeder that tells a constable ‘ I didn’t know I was speeding ‘ as somehow absolving himself from rule breaking.

Thanks David for a thoughtful analysis of a very complex sequence of events. 

Sadly, no-one seems to come out of this with much credit. Nonwithstanding the much mentioned protaganists, several other riders also spent too much time post-race finger pointing and even Crutchlow soured a worthy race win with a childish tantrum.

Race direction got it wrong for not halting the start after Marqez outrageous flouting of the most fundamental rule in all racing disciplines; ie. you never ride or drive in the opposite direction of the race circuit. For Marquez to suggest there was some uncertainty and somehow he could get away with this dangerous tactic is disingenuous to say the least.This was their second error, the first being not throwing Canet out of the Moto 3 race for a blatant act of dangerous stupidity.

Despite being given a 30 second post race penalty, he should be made to sit out the next race as his antics will only encourage others to act in a similar way. To say he is skilled and gifted does not excuse his actions.

As Dennis Noyes unnamed ex-champion alluded, soon someone is going to get hurt very badly or even killed.    

He should have known better for sure, but the moment his bike stalled he probably thought Oh Shit!

We all do things in the spur of the moment and this is case in point.

They shouldn't have started the race until he cleared off the grid, so he isn't the only one to blame.

Hope to see a great race in Austin as this is going to be one of the most exciting seasons, even though we may have a few issues along the way.................

Marquez's riding was terrible at Argentina and he should be ashamed of his clumsiness. He deserved a black flag. On the other hand, Race Direction got it nearly all wrong. Unfortunately, any further penalty imposed on Marquez will inevitably be stained by the suspicion it was driven by Rossi's rants and public pressure instead of Race Direction's own better judgement. To make it worse, it would also add to how RD can be incredibly inconsistent. Petrucci was not investigated, Zarco was not investigated, Canet got a free pass for taking a rider out in FP1.

When and where exactly do they draw the line? After Rossi becomes vocal?

That sound we are all hearing, that's Rossi coming to Pedrosa's defense and accusing Zarco of destroying the sport. It sounds like the indignation he had at himself after Sepang 2015, or Argentina 2015, or any other time in his career in which he stuck his bikes on collision paths.

Banning Marquez for a race would be entirelty farsical and the single worse overreaction possible for RD under the current circumstances. Not only would they extended their own inconsistency to new levels, it would rubber-stamp Race Diretion's own failure to act during the Argentinian GP. Worse of all, it'd reek of trying to both appease Rossi and fix the championship. Bear in mind how improved the RC213V has become and the general assumption of how Marquez is heavily favoured to win the title.

Perhaps they can park Marquez during FP1 at COTA, but even that would still be inconsistent, tardy and arrive with the stink of a Rossi-rant.

The most simple solution is to admit the ship called the Argentinian GP has sailed. Marquez has to clear his act, Race Direction needs to become more firm, quick and consistent.

your article David and yet in my opinion, rather lenient towards MM. He's done it before people. Which means it's not an accident, it's a technique. Did you already forger the same with Lorenzo? He is so good, he can do it --going over the limit and using other riders as berm to steer himself into the turn.

And yes, he possesses a superhuman ability to ride --sadly he uses it also for no-good purposes, when things do not go his way. I remember Rossi using some not so athletic maneuvers on his rivals but not so blatant I believe.

On the other hand...do I need to mention that there was never such controversy around CS27? Despite him also having an "uneasy" relationship and "incidents" with Rossi.

Marquez, indeed the most talented rider of his generation and probably the only real alien, has to either be taught painfully the rules, or get out of the Sport. As vibrant Cal Crutchlow would say, there are plenty of heroes out there to provide spectacle with ethos who get overlooked by these Roman Arena antics.

Lorenzo to Suzuki? Fitting. Zarco to Honda? Allow me some doubts. Would like to see him on a Works M1 first. He is smooth and RCV isn´t made for smooth. Ask Pedrosa, a rider who would definitely have done much better on a Yamaha.

<p>Yet another controversial race brilliantly addressed, thank you David.</p>

<p>As a Marquez fan(but not necessarily a Rossi hater mind you), my first thought regarding the race was that he screwed up real bad and he was duly penalized for each stupid move. But if someone of your caliber says that Marquez deserves a race ban, who am i to disagree. That gives me a whole new take on the situation, maybe I'm showing my bias and he deserves a race ban afterall.</p>

<p>But if that was the case, i can&#39;t help but compare it to the other big controversy of 2015. Considering Rossi was not given an immediate penalty in Sepang after deliberately punting another rider, which most likely would be enough for a black flag, much less a ride through penalty,but he was allowed to keep his podium and 16 points and still run the next race. Comparing it to this race in Argentina where Marquez was penalized for his dangerous riding on the spot and he lost all points scored, plus, if we were to consider your input too, a race ban, wouldn't that be considered as race direction's big bias towards Rossi and open the way for a lot more controversies and arguments. Marquez's actions, though dangerous, were crucially non intentional afterall compared to Rossi's which were both dangerous and intentional. What would be your take on such a situation? </p>

I believe Rossi is wrong in stating that Marquez tries to knock people down.

However, I think that Marquez quite probably feels that if someone falls because of (his) agressive pass - whether contact or not - it is not his "fault".

His skill (and utter belief in that) is such that his ego undoubtedly will not allow him to think anything is his fault.  In his own mind, he can rationlize anything he does as being "right"  This is not unique to MM, as many of the greats in sports (especially motorsports) have exhibited this "trait".  Is it a desireable trait?... I don't think so. 

In that one regard... Rossi was dead on:  Marquez has no respect for others on the track.


So what should happen next?

1.  Dorna, IRTA & Race Direction need to find the courage to ban MM93 from Austin Tx where he’s otherwise highly likely to win 25pts.  Let’s see...

2.  Rossi needs to suck it up. He’s said his bit and the bitterness is there for all to see. Trouble is ‘what goes around, comes around ‘ as Biaggi, Gibernau, Lorenzo, Stoner et al will no doubt be gleefully saying.  If Rossi seeks to pursue this vendetta, the risks are very, very high, to himself perhaps more than anyone.

3. I blame Lin Jarvis and Yamaha for this. They should have reined this in back in 2015 but they were too chicken. Or the legacy of the Rossi legend is too valuable to lose. They made one rule for the GOAT (ie do whatever you want) and another for Lorenzo, Viñales & now even Tech3. Now if Jarvis doesn’t slavishly serve Rossi, he goes the way of Jerry Burgess.

Problem is, Honda have a rookie Race boss in Puig and he won’t want to be seen as weak by backing down so we could have all out war and Mutually Assured Destruction on the cards. 

Remember folks, the OFFICIAL verdict of what happened at Sepang 15 was that VR deliberately slowed down, causing an obstruction to another rider.

This situation and resultant penalty often occurs in FP/QP but not usually in the race (funny that ;) )

Now the did he/didn’t he kick/push/punt/fart MM into making a crash is all fun / done to death (delete as applicable)

But IMO you can’t really compare Sepand15 to last sunday, because I don’t think anyone really thinks MM went into that corner too slowly, do they? :)

CS27/VR46 at Jerez is a bit more of a like for like comparison, except VR had already started sliding down the road on his face by the time he collected CS, so wasn’t really taking much advantage from the situation. Using hindsight, that race was pretty much the only time VR looked like he might win on the Ducati, and CS won the championship anyway.

I wonder if CS was offered the choice of having VR not take him out and instead go on to win that race on the Ducati (and CS still go on to win the WC) Vs what actually happened if he’d take it. (CS certainly seemed erm ‘happy’ that VR never won on the Ducati when interviewed in Hitting the Apex)

Hi David, 

As others have said - an amazing write up to an amazing race. 

The descriptions of Marquez's many aggressive overtakes made me think of one other thing - a good few years ago he rang his bell in a bad crash that caused him a reasonably long spell of vision problems. Is it possible that his depth perception is still affected in some way? Would that explain some of the aggressiveness, that he comes up to other riders faster than he expects?

Just a thought. Keep up the great writing! 

... since riders undergo strict medical tests to determine their race fitness. I assume David has far more details on those tests then i do and perhaps he can add to it.

As username rightly points out, they have to undergo a full physical at the start of each season. If I remember correctly, Marquez had to have his vision evaluated before they would let him return to racing.

But then again, if you think about it, if he had vision problems, he wouldn't be the racer he is. He couldn't be as fast as he is because he would be missing apexes and turns. He learns new circuits very quickly too. It really is about the amount of risk he is willing to accept on the brakes, rather than any problems with his sensory apparatus.

As always, another beautifully written article David.  I always appreciate the little extra "behind the scenes" info you're able to provide that makes me have that "aha" moment about something I've been wondering about.  Keep up the incredible work!

Amazing reading David, thank you :-)

Well, now we all know what "MAPPING 8" stands for, time to introduce "MAPPING -1" as to cool down a bit.

trudging round the far extremes of my patch, working in the motorcycle trade in the North East of England. It’s been a very tough start to the year in the UK for our trade, what with the weather and all but I knew, when I’d got to my hotel in Sunderland, been in the gym, stuffed my face and had a couple of drinks that this would be waiting for me!

David, I am not sure if you realise how special-whether ultimately me, or anyone else, concurs with everything you say-your writing is and just how much it is looked forward to. I am an amateur writer and occasional podcast contributor and am always inspired by the way you formulate your content and the quality of the comments of the people that follow you (if you aren’t a site supporter after this one-why?). I don’t need FB (don’t want my soul sold somewhere down the line without my knowledge or permission), twitter and all the rest because when I’ve seen the races and formed an opinion, it will be more roundly shaped and informed by what I read here; it’s in perspective and multi-layered with the contributions and replies serving to present a rich flavour. 

I’ll finish off by saying thanks, hope I ‘bump’ into you in Aragon or Sepang and arrive at this conclusion..

Reading and digesting this feature, almost 90 minutes.

Reading ALL of the ‘stunning’ (their favourite word) Motor Cycle News, 25 minutes. Guess which one stirs the mind and informs my thoughts? And compared to their price tag, Motomatters is a BARGAIN!!

Thank You.

I'll go so far as to say Marc is on a fast track to become MotoGPs Senna.  A man with a disreguard for those he shares the track with.  Rathapark Willirot always comes to mind.  Someone who's hubris at flaunting their luck, and challenging the odds excessively, may very well cause his end.

and perhaps Vale is acting more & more like our favorite once mustachio'd drama queen, the Nige.

A race ban is nonsense. Marquez did absolutely nothing to deserve that. He made mistakes and two irresponsible moves and got punished for all of them. Very harsly even. Nobody has ever gotten a ride through before for punting somebody off like that. It already reeks of double jeopardy.

The only people actually losing their heads are the people that call for race bans and whoever takes Rossi's ludicrous ramblings seriously. Marquez doesn't, by the way. Rossi can shout all he wants, Marquez is just going to let his racing do the talking. The suggestion that he is influenced by what Rossi and his cult do is laughable. He didn't care in 2015 or after and he won't care now. Unless you physically threaten him or his family, of course.

You are correct, I had completely forgotten about that. Actually a decent comparison, since that penalty also only was applied after earlier outrage.

Marquez's skill is undeniable. His pace on a treacherous track was unmatchable by the best in the world. Yet the man who possess such prodigious bike control and situational awareness is the one who is unable to prevent his machine from regularly colliding with other competitors? Personally I think Marquez's attitude goes well beyond a lack of respect, it extends at minimum to a lack of regard.

Well said mate.  edit: this meant as a response the funsize's waiting all day comment, just hit the wrong replay button as usual. :o

is what went AWOL last weekend.  When you make a late decision to adjust/repair your bike or such like you cede your place on the grid.  You then attempt to re-earn your place by working your way through the field.  The intent of the rear of grid start was never about a distance penalty (as was applied last weekend) but a time penalty in being obstructed by slower riders.  

RD basically gifted everyone back their grid postions and a 50m head start for Miller in no way shape or form applies the intent of the rule.  

Then allowing an extra 20minutes to ensure their #1 bike is fully setup for the dry conditions?  Just wrong.

Great article! The irony of it all, MotoGP introduced a penalty point system because of Marquez' past riding style. During the penalty point systems, a few riders (except for Marquez) had to deal with the consequences and now that the penalty point system has been abolished, it is that same Marquez who walks away (as it seems so far) with a free out of jail card. Had the penalty point system still existed, Marquez would have been banned for at least one race, if not more.


It should have been a race for 2nd place. One team chose right. Everyone should have started with their tire choice. That's racing. 

Approprate penality should be to put 1 possition behind the rider you ram into according to end of the race result. So if you caused another rider DNF, you also DNF. If you pushed over a rider, winning the race, and that rider finished 15, you will be put to position 16 at the end.

Any in race 10 second, 30 second penalty will just trigger another series of reckless passing.

Excellent article as always, and great comments. I do however have a problem with people dragging Simoncelli into this. His unfortunate death was not a result of his riding style. It was an accident that could have happened to anyone (holding onto a motorcycle that finds it's way back on track). On a second note it is curious how people loved Marco for his aggressive riding but have a problem with Màrquez. Then again, Simoncelli was no real threat to Rossi.

I was also going to disagree with that post about Sic, but I was going to say it WAS because of his riding style (slightly reckless), and NOT because of some feud he had going with someone else on the grid.

Awesome, simply awesome. Great reading, it's made my day. Time to go to work now.......

Anyway, being a Rossi fan, I'm a bit disappointed in him for going to the lengths of what he did in criminalizing Marquez, though in the same breath I think Marquez deserves more penalties. It's not fair to ride with recklessness and take points from other riders. The points Rossi lost in this race amount to about the total points he lost two titles with. It's a huge deal and that doesn't seem to be covered by the FIM in anyway in this incident. 

In other sports, you get banned for injuring another player deliberately. Sometimes almost as long as the injured player is out. 

On another very side note in reading of which of Rossi's races was the greatest and thinking of the conditions in Argentina, I recall Donington 2005. Appalling conditions. He nearly chucked it away several times, got very far behind the leaders and then went on to be about 3 seconds quicker a lap to come back and win it. Amazing race on a very slippery track. 

“Sixthly, that the vendetta between Valentino Rossi and Marc Márquez – a vendetta which is held most firmly by one party, rather than the other – is alive and well, and not going away any time soon. “

Apologies if I’m misunderstanding the whole point of this paragraph. But I thought saying the vendetta is held mostly by one party is equally flawed assumption by 46’s claims about deliberateness of 93’s passing move.

Not worth commenting on Marquez. 

What is worth thinking about, from this Ducati fanboy's perspective, is Ducati sacking lousy Lorenzo for the amazing Zarco.  Before the season began all of the pundits were talking about how "Lorenzo will really have the bike sorted" and how "Lorenzo's form at the end of last season puts him in to serious title contention".  Meanwhile, I was sitting here in my armchair team management position laughing at those ideas. 

Anyone could see that Lorenzo has always been a prima donna that needs the universe to revolve around him in order to ride well.  For a few years at Yamaha with Bridgestone tires he got that.  He was unstoppable.  If anything changed, he would be done.  It did.  Michelin's required a change in riding style, especially when they softened the construction even more, that is less reliant on front end faith and corner speed.  Then in Lorenzo's infinite foolishness he switched to a bike that has never favored corner speed, compounding his difficulties.  Lorenzo was doomed to fail on the Ducati, and has done so spectacularly so far.  Add mixed conditions into the bag, which happens a lot at the races outside of dry mediterranean climates, and Lorenzo is a solid last place contendor. 

As I stated above, I'm a Ducati fanboy.  I have been since I was a child watching WSBK on TV in the 90's.  Ducatis looked and sounded so sweet.  They were exotic and expensive.  They were winning a championship series that related more to my world when I saw my oldest brother riding 4-stroke sportbikes.  I have since grown up and come to appreciate MotoGP, much more.  But, finally buying my first Ducati in 2007 just 2 months before watching them win their first MotoGP world title cemented my love for the brand.  That leaves my favorite brand with a rider that I feel will never adapt to anything less than the world the way he wishes it was, Lorenzo. 

Now, my favorite motorcycle journalist is suggesting Lorenzo is looking strongly at Suzuki.  Wonderful!  Sack his underperforming @$$ and bring in Zarco.  That kid has been lighting the racing world on fire for years.  He just has the wrong passport.  Which is why he keeps getting overlooked.  Again, as Zarco was moving up as a two-time Moto2 world champion who was known to be able to adapt and ride many styles in many conditions, the pundits were writing him off as just another Moto2 guy moving up to circulate in the top 10.  I could not believe how dismissive many people were of him.  A few saw the potential, but that was not the prevailing storyline. Meanwhile, Zarco didn't know that, and proceeded to amaze everyone at his very first race. Crashing, but learning.  Every new race, new condition, modification to the bike, and tire change saw Zarco finding the limit and learning.  Now, he just needs to pop that race win bubble.  He has learned what he needs to learn and just needs one more thing, a win, to start becoming a top step regular. 

My sincerest hope in motorcycle racing (aside from a miraculous return of Troy Bayliss to race Wayne Rainey at Laguna Seca on 2-strokes with modern rubber and traction control to prevent unnecessary high sides) is to see Ducati sack Lorenzo and sign Zarco!

Egos, money, competitive pressure with ten or more bikes capable of leading a race, every rider an alien (some more so than others), more aliens on the way up, mixed conditions, worn tracks, lap records falling, electronic aids reducing, top speeds increasing, tv demanding, records begging. It’s an exciting, explosive mixture, as we saw on Sunday, only the second race of the season, not all of it good, some deeply worrying. I hold the administrators of the sport accountable. David says ‘Leaders must lead’. How right he and Jinx and all the earlier contributors to this thread are (compulsory reading for any latecomers like me). You can’t have Technical Director, Danny Aldridge, and co running around on the grid, you can’t have Race Director, Mike Webb, looking to Loris Capirossi - ‘I rely on Loris Capirossi a lot in Race Control for up-to-the-minute MotoGP riding: 'A rider just did that, then that' - was it intentional or a natural reaction? I've got an idea, but sometimes .....’ he explained in an interview with Peter McLaren. Most of all, you can’t have Mike Webb, former Technical Director, committed, familiar with the regulation of racing machinery but with limited admistrative experience in charge of racing - not without the right support behind and around him. He’s struggled in the past on big issues, such as with the 2015 incident, perfectly understandably, because the job is simply too much for one person. That, as Jinx, points out means bringing new, high quality people in to support him. And the necessary backing of Dorna. It needs to be done fast and it’s going to cost. It will cost the sport a lot more if it doesn’t act. 

A PR turnaround for Marquez would be if he took himself out of the Austin race as a way to make ammends. Then he comes back and wins the championship while riding a bit "cleaner". I know it will never happen but it would be a gutsy move and if he pulled it off he would silence a lot of haters. I love the rivalry but never want to see anybody get hurt...

I'm a fan of Rossi, of Marquez, of Zarco, of Petrucci...why? because they deliver such excitement, you never really know what is going to happen when they are pushing, and that is what makes this sport we love so magical. They are all so incrediby talented (as are those not mentioned) but they have all made mistakes, some forgiveable some not, some on the track, some off it.

Whilst the off track mistakes and faux pas are incredibly annoying and portray the riders themselves and the sport in a bad light it is the on track mistakes which really concern me. I'm sure I can say for everyone that we do not want another fatal incident.

Everyone seems to keep bringing up this crash, that incident, this collision, and trying to debate whether they were hard racing incidents or deliberate attempts to gain an unfair (read "dirty" in some people's eyes) advantage. Most involve passes or attempted passes or are just plain old mistakes. Now I have always believed that a good clean pass is where you get fully alongside or in front of the other rider before they are committed to the apex of the turn. In other words you need to be past to be a good pass. If you don't and you are still pushing then the chances are you are going to take out the other rider and/or yourself. If you are alongside the overtaken rider has a chance to brake if the overtaker is in way too fast. You could distill it down to something as simple as, if you make contact with your front wheel to get through then it's probably not clean. In that light let's take a look at some of the controversial "incidents" mentioned over the past few years but especially this week or so to try to appraise them by some sort of quantative measure to see if they are passes, "overtakes without passing" or "nerf attempts". Let's look at them in the order of the riders mentioned and some of their best known supposed misdemeanours.

Rossi vs Gibernau Jerez 2005: Rossi was fully alongside as Sete tipped it in. Hard pass but fair.
Rossi vs Stoner Laguna Seca 2008: Rossi was in hot but he was past Stoner. Clean hard pass. Stoner did brake and turn back inside. What was questionable here was using the dirt by Rossi.
Rossi vs Stoner Jerez 2011: Rossi was past Stoner, then lost it. Clean pass but overcooked it and unfortunately took out Stoner whilst in front.
Rossi vs Marquez Argentina 2015: Rossi was ahead, Marquez put his front wheel right where the Yamaha was about to go. If Rossi had been the rider to be knocked off, it would have been like many others here, a nerf pass. One of the few that Marquez didn't get away with. 
Rossi vs Marquez Sepang 2015: Yes that one! Pass was good but riding wide afterwards was irresponsible, even though Marquez could have avoided it, however Rossi deserved the penalty.

Marquez vs Lorenzo Jerez 2013:Marquez was alongside, clean pass.
Marquez vs Rossi Assen 2015:Rossi was always ahead when Marquez goes into him, nerf attempt from behind, a just outcome!
Marquez vs Vinales Termas 2018:Marquez did get in front (just) but was way too hot, pass but lucky.
Marquez vs Espargaro Termas 2018: He wasn't past but continued into Espargaro, not clean.
Marquez vs Rossi Termas 2018:He wasn't past but continued into Rossi, not clean
My "unfavourite" pass is actually Marquez on Luthi in Qatar 2012, fair pass but then MM93 moves left and gives Luthi absolutely nowhere to go in the braking zone, horrendous.

Zarco vs Rossi Austin 2016: Zarco never was ahead and only got alongside after Rossi was commited to the line. Dangerous move by Zarco, not clean.
Zarco vs Pedrosa Termas 2018: Zarco was alongside, clean but hard pass.

Petrucci vs Espagaro Termas 2018: Not managed to see this clearly yet.

All barring Marquez seem to have the odd mishap but generally keep within their performance envelope. Marquez has a pattern of behaviour in which he is happy to overstep that constantly. The thing I see here is that Marquez has an unbelievable talent and in all the years he has been honing it, he has never really had a bad crash that left him injured, and in many instances he even manages to uncrash the bike and continue. I see a belief that he can do whatever he likes with the bike and in most cases will get away with it, so why not go for it. Exciting to watch, yes, but his number is going to come up eventually and he won't get away with it, or someone else won't.
If you look at the 3 races in which Dovi pipped Marquez at the last corner, Marquez has stated that if there's a chance and he's close enough he will go for it and he has. Because it's the last corner Dovi has known it was coming and has smartly stayed just far enough out of the way to avoid the incoming Repsol missile before cutting back inside as it overruns. If he too in any of those races had maintained his usual line he too would be in the incidents above, a recipient of a pass where Marquez did not get past. I know it all makes for great TV but everytime Marquez is rolling the dice but he is not rolling it with just him as the lucky or unlucky gambler he rolling it for the other rider too and that to me is selfish in the extreme to put other riders so at risk of injury.
Zarco I feel is of a similar ilk but not quite so severe and I think he will learn.

The bottom line is I still love all of them and wish them to continue way into the future giving us the entertainment we crave. But there needs to be a penalty for "nerf passes" from behind, they will damage the sport as they are desperate "chancer" moves rather than technically judged racing moves, they are not skillful and have a high probability of human damage. That's not what it is all about.

You wrote "Marquez vs Vinales Termas 2018:Marquez did get in front (just) but was way too hot, pass but lucky"...
Are you talking about the last lap pass or the practise pass?  In the race, if you watch the onboard footage from that pass, Vinales goes in tight, runs over the water and then runs wide.  Marquez started out wide, saw Vinales goe wide and came up the inside very clean.  

What surprised me most on Sunday was how long it took to RD to give Márquez the ride through. I expected that to come within one or two laps, not five or six, and it made me wonder whether they were giving the golden boy time to build a good enough lead to still win. And whether this was indicative of the circus repeating the mistakes that allowed Rossi to become so powerful within the paddock.

I don’t know if this is just conspiracy theory or real, but looking at the whole, it does feel like this is all about Márquez displacing Rossi as the face of MotoGP. It’s as though Valentino knows he’s less and less valuable to Dorna by the day but can’t quite move on and Márquez knows he’s now the favourite child, who will be allowed to get away with a little more than everyone else, including Vale, because he’s so precious. And that this is what really riles Vale, and why Márquez isn’t that bothered.

The trouble is, we’ve been here before, only now it begins to look like, in order to be seen as even-handed, Dorna are going with the lowest common denominator, if that’s the correct expression. So if Marc needs to be allowed to barge his way through without too many consequences, so must Zarco and Canet etc. The threshold moves and this behaviour becomes normalised. I see this most weekends, while watching my 13 year old daughters football team. The shirt-pulling, the simulation, and so on. Things that were unimaginable when I was a kid.

As others have said, this could end badly. I seriously wonder what the consequences and reverberations would be if Rossi or Márquez caused the others demise. Could the ‘survivor’ continue racing? Could they look back on their career with pride?

There is the obvious answer is that Marc made him crash. It is true that Marc pushed him very wide but if you watch the video again you will see that Vale is leaning over at quite an angle and then starts to stand the bike up which means he runs off the track, hits the wet grass so falls off. Vale was focused on Marc instead of focusing on staying on the track. I am not saying that Marc did not stuff up but Vale needs to focus on his riding and not Marc. 

It is also a case of the pot calling the kettle black. If you want to see dangerous riding go back and watch the Laguna Seca race of 2008 where Vale threw everything at Casey. That is just one example of many.

Even at that slow speed, at that angle of entry, the frictional coefficient change from rubber/tarmac to rubber/wet grass is not sustainable. Had Rossi been pointing straight ahead or the angle of entry to the grass was much less acute then the chances of saving it would have been much higher. Simply put hitting the wet grass sideways, when already at 45+ degrees of lean, is an impossible situation to change. If you watch the crash properly you will see that Rossi does desperatly try to save it, watch the section from his tires being 15cm from the white line till he hits the grass.

You are correct - once he went off the grass he had no chance - so why let yourself run off the track? He would have been at 45 degrees about the same as Marc. He then focused his attention on Marc rather than the track and let the bike stand up to about 30 degrees which mean't he ran off and Marc didn't.

"Safety" is the one word that doesnt get enough mention. The rules around the start to do with what to do when you stall are there for safety reasons. The rules about NEVER riding the wrong way on the track or pit lane are there for safety reasons. IMHO, Marquez should have been black flagged immediately for both of those infringements to remind everyone (as well as him) that the rules are there to stop people getting hurt. This isn't something where you get a slapped wrist and a ride through or a 30s penalty. You need to be stopped from riding in the race.

I don't' understand if it was against the rules to restart your bike on the grid, why did RD even start the race until MM93 was off the starting grid?  They are the ones in control of the starting lights I am assuming.

So why not do it right the first time and get him off the grid?  Only they know I am guessing.

MM93 is the most talented rider in MotoGP.  No one rides a motorcycle like him.  He has earned his place as the best rider in the field by hard work and natural talent.

Of course he is going to make mistakes throughout his career, like Argentina, but I would think he will learn from those mistakes and become even a more dominant rider.

Racing is very dangerous and you can kill yourself in a second.  Look at the way Millar ran into the airbags last year, he was so lucky.  Bumping a rider is only one of so many ways to get killed on the track.

Rossi may have the fan base, but people come to see Marc race as he is the main event in my opinion.  Rossi days are numbered and hasn't won a Championship in years.  Although you have to give him a lot of credit for getting out there and competing against the younger guys.  He still is very fast, but there will always be some younger racer gunning for you................

It's going to be a very interesting MotoGP season and hopefully this is the last of the controversies.


"That the war never really went away"

I am heartened to say that a different way of looking at it is here. I think it is not what it was before, for starters. And that, like so many human foibles, in some ways that starts with me here and now. Like this.

Yes, there is a war of words that continues amongst two prominent riders. No this is not what is essentially happening. Two to three years ago we had the dawning power and evening power meeting on the track at high noon for a showdown. There was back and forth. The rest of the town cleared out of the street.

Now? Two seasons later we don't have that same "war" do we? Marquez is not in the morning of his career. Rossi is looking right at the mourning of his ending (which he won't do as such given his Peter Pan make-up and SKY46 endeavors, but that is another topic touched on below).

More importantly: right now the Honda has surged forward with their project and continue to do so. The Yamaha has lost their footing...literally of we see that as corner grip outside of preferable conditions. Last year it was not Valentino nor Yamaha racing to the line with Marc, but the matter of fact, mentally measured maestro of the meek mastering monster motor Andrea Dovisioso.

The Honda used to manage to get itself into a corner really deep in front of a battling Yamaha and prevent it from carrying its lifeblood of corner speed, immensely frustrating the Yamaha rider repeatedly approaching the apex. Years ago, a Yamaha at the front could disappear into the distance. That was a war.

We are in a different situation. This one has the Ducati project on a solid hard fought rise. Gigi's arrival marks the pivot. The narrative has established that Lorenzo was not able to "do what Rossi couldn't" in Red, and THAT sub-plot battle is now gone. He will have a second go doing so at Suzuki, and this is a huge piece of good news for everybody (they are are fit, including now financially!). You see, a greater battle is being waged about LEGACY. The narrative about ME and THE SPORT. This is literally what Rossi is saying, that Marquez is ruining it. MY sport. This is not a war between two riders on the track. On one level it is a battle about the narrative now, this battle is of a war - Rossi with his sun setting. It is Marquez shining in mid day contrast career-wise.

Look at what happened on track in Argentina. What is really being experienced? These two aren't even racing each other. Yes, Marc did indeed commit a violation of Vale. What we have here though is Marquez committing a violation of half the riders on the grid and as many rules. On a weekend where he was a full second in front of anybody when we had our eyes on the stopwatch in amazement.

At a bogey track for Ducati this year (basically, there is more to it of course) good old Dovisioso grabbed the finish I had hoped his team could. Their bike is in a development "speed wobble" that could go either way right now relative to the Honda. The Yamaha? They look to be in a development year. A struggle within the factory team, Vinales chewing on his reins and at Rossi's reign. Fantastically, rising superstar Zarco is the top Yamaha. Tech3 is up front with 500 less rpm's and an arsenal that by rights should be mid pack. After 20 years Herve has left Yamaha for factory kit and conjoined projects in the lower classes. Yamaha has lost fresh alien Zarco, likely to HONDA, and to make matters worse the narrative includes that this is related to Rossi holding on to a seat.

As hard as it is for everyone, Rossi is a setting Sun. Not only did "the war" from a few years ago end, something bigger is ending. Like always, something else begins. Lucky for us, what is well underway is fantastic. We haven't had to wait at all. Doohan bowed out, Rossi came in. Lok at how much dynamically more compelling this current era is!

Marquez just shat himself. But his seat isn't at risk. He and race direction are the two primary warriors right now. Dovisioso and the Ducati, as per usual, have rolled off the gas a smidge and are ready to drive right by the whole mess unscathed. Some deficits in the Yamaha MotoGP project have been on display (satellite as customer, only two Factory bikes etc). Valentino has, while still racing, supported some of them (rider pipeline, securing sponsorship money for the war chest). This is amazing!

Right NOW attention can be turned to Professor Dovisioso, and the Ducati project. They are in the midst of doing something significant with getting a more nimble bike that remains stable. It has more horsepower than anything we have ever seen in the circus. And what about the myriad riders podiuming or perhaps even winning races? Satellite bikes from THREE Manu's included!

Rossi is still one of the best riders on this grid. He will win a race soon. He still does the impossible. His career has had fantastical as his ordinary. His sunset will not stay focused upon this crap long, it will be about his WHOLE career. The legacy. And the focus will be upon the big new project that benefits Yamaha, the sport and the fans. A full factory second squad that changes our concept of what a "satellite" team is. The VR46 academy team, flush with money. Developing the bikes. Blue rider pipeline. Valentino, will he choose to be a development rider? The rock star garage is about to arrive, and it is yellow. We will have never seen this before.

But now, we have this AMAZING season of racing.


Great report as usual with only one quibble. You said, "It was notable that it was Uccio, rather than Yamaha team boss Lin Jarvis, who intervened." It was obvious from watching the video that Jarvis was also waving off Marquez. Uccio was just a lot more obvious about it. :)