Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 70: Three Talking Points From Argentina

The latest episode of the Paddock Pass Podcast is out. In episode #70, Neil Morrison, Steve English, and David Emmett join a conversation across three countries and two continents to discuss a chaotic and controversial Argentinian round of MotoGP.

There was an awful lot to talk about, but the boys tried to break it down into three different talking points, and cover the ground that way. First up is Valentino Rossi's accusation that Marc Marquez was "destroying the sport". Is Marquez really destroying MotoGP, and just how many rules did the Spaniard break on Sunday in Argentina? And how did his misdemeanors compare with that of Johann Zarco, who ran Dani Pedrosa wide, the Repsol Honda finally crashing and breaking his wrist.

Next, they turn their attention to Race Direction, and consider whether the start was handled correctly. After 23 riders abandoned the grid, was having those 23 all line up six rows behind a lonely Jack Miller on pole the best possible solution? What happened with Marc Marquez and his bump start? And was a ride through penalty sufficient punishment.

Finally, we talk about Cal Crutchlow's comment at the start of the press conference, that "the headlines are here". Is Crutchlow right to say that the media should be covering what turned into a great race, or is the drama on and off track also worthy of the headlines? And taking our cue from Crutchlow, we discuss the battle at the front, and how that turned out.

We wrap up the podcast as ever with our winners and losers, Steve, Neil, and David all giving their opinions on who came out of Argentina looking best, and who is in trouble. Enjoy the show!

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Two cents, one for each punt here.

Winner: Rins. There is no telling how much pressure has helped lift from all of Suzukis shoulders. Great all around.

Loser: Curve ball here, Dovi. It's okay to not set the world on fire when a track is not a Ducati track, but he was at lost all weekend long and looked like the incognito Dovi of before. He wasn't even close to being the lead Ducati of the weekend. The last time he did not win a race but was the first Ducati at the flag, Brno. 8 months ago. And Marquez. What a horrible race. He should be ashamed.

Agreed Rins and Suzuki are winners. Especially now as this may tip the scales and get Lorenzo in Iannone's seat. Critical time.

No way would I say Dovi is a loser here. He has a solid points finish at a bogey track. The GP18 is changing, no big deal that the GP17 beat it at one event. He needs to be finishing just off the podium at bad tracks to win the championship. Mission accomplished. Now to continue forward for the development of the GP18, why would we expect otherwise?

The loser from THIS race is without doubt Marquez. LOST 25 POINTS, shat himself in everyone's view. Race direction isn't done with him and his riding.

Cheers friend!

Great one as per usual, thanks!

You are limited in how much you can cover of course, but still I would hope for a bit more on the brilliant complex racing at hand.

Krop, ^ "...that the war never really went away?" I am pleased to announce that it HAS.

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 Schrodinger's cat, our perception is...well, you know. Or at least I HOPE folks can see it!

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. Look 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. Wait, not Rockstar, Monster...yellow and chartreuse. The old Marlboro hospitality tent, Ducati Island? We will have never seen this before. Everyone who is anyone, even some Spaniards, Pizza. Kids. Ago. Concession stand. Nastro Azzurro in hand. (After a brief pouring of Estrella Galicia customer bikes?). You get the idea. Rossi the rider has touched the horizon, setting fire to Rossi the legend and VR46 Yamaha. Oh yeah, there was conflict with Marquez.

But now, we have this AMAZING season of racing.


Great writing (as well as that of Mr. Emmett of course, plus the podcast). And great perspective on Rossi's "legacy".

But this comment makes me think. Is the VR in front of the cameras raging on and on about MM really someone we want mentoring other riders?

I guess we have no choice, do we?

To play devils advocate I would debate indeed yes in this instance it would mark out what a mentor should be doing, “as in highlight what riders should & should not be doing” ie repeated infractions of punting other competitors out the way.

You could Further Argue that 46 is setting an example of what should be acceptable behaviour displayed by all “hard but fair”. (Whether he has demonstrated this historically is another question, but we gotta start somewhere right)?

what I don’t agree with, is the veracity in which he has delivered his message by. The elder statesman of Moto GP should know better. (Maybe take a leaf out of miller’s book even though arguably he doesn’t have as much to lose from a championship standpoint, but never the less sets a good example)

For the record I just love watching the racing, and narrative of each rider, I follow no-one in particular.

Absolutely loved the last race, every facet. Including all the chaos that ensued, if I wanted metronomic clockwork I’d tune in to F1.

Very interesting points, Motoshrink, as usual. But I beg to differ. the war is on. And it has been on way before we even imagined there was going to be one. And as for legacy, well the Italian's is so well rooted and big that it will take some heroic doings over a long period of time for anyone to match it.

I will try to explain, thorugh a psychological prism (after all, there is the word shrink in your name...): the war started in Laguna Seca, when the spanish made that pathetic copycat pass at the corkscrew. ( he even rehersead it during free practice !) Being a copycat it did not match the original of course, but it was very telling about the state of mind of the young Honda rider. The crowd, and particularly the "anti-yellow" party, cheered on, thinking that finally the doctor was being served his own medecine. How misguided that assessment was. I still remember watching that action in slow motion and thinking : this is a declaration of war. And then wondering : why the need to re-enact someone else's pass instead of creating your own? I'm sure you do have some answers and would like to hear them. I do too, but they are uncomfortable and given "my yellow bias" they would be considered unadmissable. What i find compelling is that in all his motogp years the Honda rider has never tried to create his own heroic narrative, or rather the only narrative he feeds is being equally outwordly fast - reckless- talented- disrespectful of others. The irony is that in the 5 years spent in the GP class he has not managed to have one great epic victory that will stay in history. Yes, he is superfast, yes he owns some tracks (austin for one), yes he doesn't fall even when he's falling, yes his riding is specatcular, yes his talent is amazing... but what's his legacy so far? Havoc, accusations, controversy. Where are his victorious battles that make the history of the sport and feed the legend? Again, from a spychological point of view, he must be so frustrated that he doesn't have a PI 2003, a Wellkom 2004, a Donington 2005, a Laguna Seca 2008, a Montmelo 2009, an Assen 2015 ... (and I'm sure I forget many) and also Austria 2017, Motegi 2017, Losail 2018....  Ah the irony ! no matter his talent, he has not yet built the basis of his own legend....  how long before the splendid rising sun is turning into a supernova ? 

And now to the setting sun : the legacy is there, intact in my eyes. He made the choice to stay in the fight - i can understand the "no regrets" attitude - and this will probably cost him dearly: bu hey, he is still enjoying it! and I wish Yamaha had better electornics. And yes, he'll be there with a team, once he stops the racing, still taking a lot of room in the paddock. But I don't think that he's past the war, not just because he feels he is the offended party. It's much bigger, and deeper than that. It's personal. I wonder how long it wil take before the sun sets. Or maybe it won't set: like any big star it will die and produce a fascinating black hole.

The war is on in Rossi's mind, that is for sure. And has been since 2015. But I can't help but think it's one sided, Marquez does not seem bothered at all, as per his "Rossi is just another rider" comments last week. Talking about legacy, there is only one "legacy" and that's the numbers. Popularity and public opinion is not "legacy" in a sporting sense is it? Selling more hats is probably not that high a priority for the top riders; they have enough money for 2 lifetimes, and good for them, they deserve it. It's going to be an interesting year, no doubt about that, but I can't help but feel Rossi's continuing PR public slating of Marquez will backfire as spectacularly as it did in 2015, and the more Marquez ignores it, the more it will wind Rossi up.

MGM... What does Marquez have to offer?  are you serious?  How about youngest ever two time winner.  Youngest first time winner. Breaking records all over the place. Being the only rider that can effectively crash but not crash! He even did that in the last race to win a championship. Winning races from the back of the grid. Dominating flag to flag races. Fast in the wet, the mixed and the dry.  And yet you say he offers nothing?
And to accuse him of being a copycat? Lorenzo was the Rossi copycat at the start of his MotoGP career... but you cant accuse Marquez of that!

I did not say that, Pete. I'm the first one to aknowledge his amazing  skills and the pure talent. Nor did I went into stats and records, which I'm sure he is set to rewrite over and over... And I'm sure he'll have a big page in the Guinness book of records. But that's not what I was talking about. I said in the opening of my post, to look at it from a psychological point of view. And the narrative that goes down in history ( history of sport of course, and the collective imaginary). In that realm -the storytelling of legends- stats and records do count, but they never match an epic moment, the one that defines the sport's hero by which he is remembered... ( for instance, as a very basic exemple : a victory after an epic uncertain battle).  So, going back to psychology,  I would say that Marquez wants to win (they all do !) but he wants the legend that goes with the victory. And so far he did not get it. 

I never said he has nothing to offer. He is offering plenty - in the good sense, and the bad sense. What I said is that, IMO, when looking at the big picture with the "psychological magnifying glass" I see someone who wants some heroic last corner victories to his name that will be remembered in years to come. And so far, given that he's now been racing for 10 years - and given his indisputed talent- he has close to none. Actually his "last corner stats" do not speak in his favour....

As for the copycat... and the fact that from the very beginning he made it personal with the Italian...  yes ! the starting point is the copycat pass at the corkscrew : unneccesary, totally artificial, and very telling.  Nothing to do with the silly post race antics initiated by the Italian, and later poorly executed by Lorenzo. But I would love to hear your opinion on the "corkscrew pass". 

But please, let me reiterate, that i never, ever, said that Marquez has nothing to offer. I can sometimes go to some lenghts to win an argument, but they would have to torture me to make me say that Marquez is not talented.

To say, “from the beginning he made it personal with the Italian” makes it out like Marquez has focused his career and achievements in the world of sport, purely based around VR.  I don’t believe that for a second.  Rossi was in wonderland when Marquez entered the series. He wasn’t a threat. Saying he made it personal with Rossi is a very yellow tinted glasses way of looking at things.

The corkscrew pass is Marquez taking every racing advantage that he can.  He is an incredibly wily racer.  An incredibly quick thinker. He was not re-enacting a pass to dis Rossi, he made the pass because that was an advantage that Rossi was not penalized for and Marquez knew he could use it to his advantage.  

There have been so many instances to recall in the last few years of Marquez pulling off comebacks, or last second runs down pitlane to jump on a spare bike, or crash on warm up lap and get bike repaired and win the race from the back etc, that wouldn’t even be attempted by many other racers let alone actually succeeding in them.   Are they not epic moments?  Are they not the Marquez “Narrative”?  You accuse Marquez of having a legacy of “Havoc, accusations, controversy”.  You could say the very same thing about Rossi. If you remove the word Havoc, it would apply far more to Rossi.

I honestly don’t think Marquez wants the last corner Victory, just so that it would be remembered  that way (that caricature suits Rossi more), but that he purely just wants the win! 


I was going to simply say that we agree to disagree in a civilized manner and call it a day. But you don’t extend me the same courtesy by playing the “yellow tinted” card. So I’m going to respond, and then, call it a day.

Corkscrew pass: “the incredibly quick thinker” had to think it over a 3 day period to re-enact the pass: he started rehearsing it on FP1, actually, even earlier, with a scooter… Moreover, in that specific race he was never in a position where, in order to pursue his race, that pass at that moment was the only viable option. Quite the contrary. The move was never about better racing, but a very calculated and very personal declaration of hostility. All the more so because the Italian, as you say, was in wonderland at the time.

Focusing on career: did I ever say, that Marquez is not focused on winning anything and everything? But this does not preclude the possibility of also making it personal with someone. And if 2015 has thought us a lesson, is precisely that you can do both.

The caricature of last corner victory: I’m sorry I should have used another image. I’m talking about epic sport moments that stay in the collective imaginary. I love basketball and I can still talk about the NBA play-offs in 97, Bulls v. Jazz, and Jordan flying. I don’t like boxing, but I know by heart Ali v Foreman in Kinshasa. I love - love! – tennis,  and the list of epic matches is too long here to list. Last but not least, football! I’m Italian, I knew the rules before I could talk… and I’ll take to my grave the memory of Italy v. Germany (well, at the time it was West Germany) in Mexico city, 1970… Do you get my point now? Motogp is certainly less popular than all the above mentioned sports, but is loved by millions, and they, like all other people, will create storytelling, and epic moments to remember. To think that Marquez is interested in just winning and does not care about manufacturing his own legend is naïf at best.

And as for legacy, based on your list of Marquez epic moments, I can’t resist to write up a little scenario: the set is a pub, in 2040. For some unknown reason, Motogp stopped in April 2018. Nostalgic fans of the sport gather regularly to share memories of that time back when…:

(Paul talking to his friend John) : God I miss Motogp ! Do you remember how Marquez could run fast, back to pit lane to get his second bike?

John: do I remember? It was fantastic! And what about the way he could jump from one bike to the other in a single move? I’m telling you: alien stuff!

P: And the way he crashed… oh boy! His crashes were breathtaking… how many … didn’t he have a record of the highest number of crashes per season?

J: What I loved were his unbelievable lean angles, the sliding of the rear wheel…

P: Oh, God! I loved Hailwood! Mike the bike was my hero, do you remember that epic TT race? ….

Lights fade away….

The end


That war really isn't over FOR YOU TWO eh?
Tis for me.

I tired of it late 2015! Don't miss the rest of the real stuff, it is brilliant. If not that, perhaps even just don't miss the rest. Isn't it tiring?

Maybe cleanse the palate with some BSB video?

Offended at the Yellow Tinted Glasses title? How very Rossi’esque of you.

Well, I described Marquez as “wily and quick thinker” yet you chose the latter to describe the corkscrew scenario, when the former is the one that I would apply.  Psychologically (as you chose to steer your original replies), it is quite interesting how hung up you are on the whole corkscrew thing.  

As for legacy, Marquez is what, 25 years old, Rossi near 40?  Rossi has been in the sport a lot longer than MM, you would expect him to have more memorable moments.  But Marquez is not short of them especially in an era of some of the most competitive machinery and rider line up ever.  His ride in 125’s when he crashed on the warm up lap and got the bike repaired to win the race.  I didn’t like MM much in those days, but that was amazing stuff.  He pretty much did the same thing in Moto2, again, memorable stuff. During that time I actually quite disliked MM, I thought he had a bike advantage and I really didn’t like Alzamora and the lack of a “mature” support network to reign him in…. it was almost like they encouraged it. Then, in MotoGP he wins the championship in his first go.   Now, I start to respect him.  Then he wins his second championship with record wins.  My respect goes up even more.  Then the many crash saves, the blinding speed… so much that makes him amazing. The thing that changed a lot when he got to the top tier was that the incidents that were numerous in the smaller classes were really not there in MotoGP.  For the most part, he always looked like he was gonna take someone out, but he never really did (the Pedrosa TC sensor incident excluded…. I mean how light of a touch could you have).  Even now I wouldn’t call myself a MM fan.. I’m not barracking for him to win races, I have other riders I do that for, but I don’t begrudge him his success in any way. He is often on another level.

As for Rossi, I was a big fan in the early years. I liked his efforts on the bike, I liked his charisma and I sided with him against riders like Biaggi et al.  But then I started to look at Rossi from a different angle, when true competition started challenging him.  I took my yellow glasses off and started to see a different side. I lost all respect in his approach off the track, and sometimes on it.  Like MM in the early years, I can’t stand the Rossi support crew and all the hangers on, nor can I stand the fanaticism of a percentage of his fans.  He holds great sway in the industry and I really feel the last couple of incidents with MM he has abused that influence.   They detract from his legacy…. And they certainly become part of it when we meet up in the pub in 2040.

MotoShrink.  I really wish there wasn’t a war at all.  When Rossi went down in Argentina, my first thought “fuck, this is all we are gonna hear about for the year”.  I agree.. it will be sooo tiring.