What becomes of the broken-hearted?
I cried a little when The Doctor hit the ground in Sepang. Three solitary tears crept down my cheeks and a cry of bestial anguish came directly from my broken-heart.
Up until that happened on Lap 17, Rossi, who started from second on the grid after Marquez was relegated to seventh from pole for annoying Iannone during Qualifying, had led from Turn One.
I was cheering and quietly confident he had found a good set-up, liked the track, and his tyre choice.
It was a masterful and classic display from Vale. He had eked out his lead to some one second at times and seemed to be managing that, less a few tenths, each time his pit-board told him Marquez was closing.
Certainly, Marquez, who began kicking arse and taking names as he stormed from seventh on the grid to second, pursued relentlessly. There is no doubt that handing Rossi his arse is as satisfying to the young Spaniard as winning the World Championship. Just making up numbers for the rest of season after being crowned World Champion is just not in Marc’s nature. Or any true racer’s nature. So his pursuit and possibly eventual overtake of Rossi was as sure as Crutchlow spending 50 per cent of the season eating gravel, both foreign and domestic.
So did the pressure of Marquez’s pursuit contribute to Rossi’s crash? I doubt it. The Spaniard wasn’t that close, and Rossi is Rossi. He is as unlikely to be intimidated into an error as I am into suddenly deciding I am a Marquez fan. It was a mistake, for sure. But I don’t think Marquez is responsible.
Sadly, the world was cheated of what might have happened on the last few laps between the two champions, and the race was altogether rather processional.
Jack Miller, who had started fifth on the grid certainly showed some flair early on dicing for the front positions, but almost predictably faded back to finish in eighth.
Zarco and Rins – especially Rins – covered themselves in all sorts of almost-glory, and for four laps Zarco sat in second behind Rossi, until he got to sit in third behind Marquez who passed him on Lap Five.
Rins produced a great ride. He had come steaming up from eighth on the grid to score second, and the paddock is really starting to notice just how sweet-handling those factory Suzukis have become. Both Rossi and Marquez have commented on that in recent times. Sadly, Iannone sweet-handled himself off the track on Lap One, so it was all up to Rins and he didn’t disappoint. And this was despite one of his bikes bursting into flame in the pits on Friday.
Ducati test-rider Michele Pirro, drafted in at the very last minute to ride Lorenzo’s Ducati after the Mallorcan deemed himself unfit to race following a few slow practice laps, was the latest bloke to crash Lorenzo’s Ducati for him.
Vinales sailed home in fourth after his now usual dismal start (one swallow does not a summer make, huh, Maverick?), and Dani Pedrosa had a wonderful second-last race of his career, ending the day in a solid fifth, some five seconds ahead of Dovizioso. Dovi seems to have come off the boil over the weekend, but looks certain to grab second in the championship after Rossi binned it.
To me, the season is coming to an end with a whimper rather than a bang, which is what happens when a rider so dominates and secures the championship with several races left to run.
I take nothing away from Marquez, and I am as in awe of him as everyone else. He is the best rider in the world and he demonstrates this every time the red light goes out.
But in terms of the championship hinging on the last race…well, there’s none of that. And maybe the wind has gone out of a few sails.
Of course, they will still bang at the last round. They can’t help themselves, but in terms of risk versus reward, I think only Marquez will continue to astonish us all.
I now need some quiet time to weep on my own…sob!
|2018 MotoGP Sepang Results|
|1.||Marquez M.||Repsol Honda||40:32.372|
|2.||Rins A.||Team Suzuki Ecstar||+1.898|
|3.||Zarco J.||Monster Tech 3||+2.474|
|4.||Vinales M.||Movistar Yamaha||+4.667|
|5.||Pedrosa D.||Repsol Honda||+6.190|
|6.||Dovizioso A.||Ducati Team||+11.248|
|7.||Bautista A.||Angel Nieto Team||+15.611|
|8.||Miller J.||Alma Pramac Racing||+19.009|
|9.||Petrucci D.||Alma Pramac Racing||+22.921|
|10.||Syahrin H.||Monster Tech 3||+26.919|
|11.||Espargaro A.||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||+29.503|
|12.||Morbidelli F.||Marc VDS Racing Team||+30.933|
|13.||Bradl S.||LCR Honda||+35.322|
|14.||Nakagami T.||LCR Honda||+37.912|
|15.||Smith B.||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||+39.675|
|16.||Luthi T.||Marc VDS Racing Team||+41.820|
|17.||Simeon X.||Reale Avintia Racing||+43.978|
|18.||Rossi V.||Movistar Yamaha||+58.288|
|19.||Redding S.||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||+1:00.191|
|DNF||Espargaro P.||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||Retired|
|DNF||Pirro M.||Ducati Team||Accident|
|DNF||Abraham K.||Angel Nieto Team||Retired|
|DNF||Iannone A.||Team Suzuki Ecstar||Accident|
|2018 MotoGP Sepang Standings|
|1.||Marquez Marc||Repsol Honda Team||321|
|2.||Dovizioso Andrea||Ducati Team||220|
|3.||Rossi Valentino||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||195|
|4.||Vinales Maverick||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||193|
|5.||Rins Alex||Team Suzuki Ecstar||149|
|6.||Zarco Johann||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||149|
|7.||Crutchlow Cal||LCR Honda||148|
|8.||Petrucci Danilo||Alma Pramac Racing||144|
|9.||Iannone Andrea||Team Suzuki Ecstar||133|
|10.||Lorenzo Jorge||Ducati Team||130|
|11.||Pedrosa Dani||Repsol Honda Team||106|
|12.||Bautista Alvaro||Angel Nieto Team||105|
|13.||Miller Jack||Alma Pramac Racing||91|
|14.||Morbidelli Franco||Marc VDS Racing Team||50|
|15.||Espargaro Aleix||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||44|
|16.||Syahrin Hafizh||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||40|
|17.||Rabat Tito||Reale Avintia Racing||35|
|18.||Espargaro Pol||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||35|
|19.||Smith Bradley||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||30|
|20.||Nakagami Takaaki||LCR Honda||23|
|21.||Redding Scott||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||15|
|22.||Abraham Karel||Angel Nieto Team||10|
|23.||Kallio Mika||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||6|
|24.||Bradl Stefan||Honda Racing Corporation||3|
|25.||Nakasuga Katsuyuki||Yamaha Factory Team||2|
|26.||Simeon Xavier||Reale Avintia Racing||1|
|27.||Pirro Michele||Ducati Team||1|
|28.||Luthi Thomas||Marc VDS Racing Team||0|
|29.||Torres Jordi||MV Agusta Reparto Corse||0|
|30.||Jones Mike||Reale Avintia Racing||0|
|31.||Guintoli Sylvain||Pata Yamaha Official WSBK Team||0|
|32.||Ponsson Christophe||Ponsson C.||0|
|MotoGP Team Standings|
|1.||Repsol Honda Team||427|
|2.||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||388|
|5.||Alma Pramac Racing||235|
|6.||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||189|
|8.||Angel Nieto Team||102|
|9.||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||65|
|10.||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||59|
|11.||Estrella Galicia 0,0||50|
|12.||Reale Avintia Racing||36|