Spanish conspiracy? Or Italian favouritism?

The Valentino Rossi v Marc Marquez Sepang MotoGP Clash

By Martin Thompson

Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez tussle at Sepang MotoGP 2015
Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez tussle at Sepang MotoGP 2015

Love him or hate him, Valentino Rossi is perhaps the most talented, and certainly the most successful, rider of the modern era. He has won multiple world championships across multiple classes. Underlining his dominance, Rossi has won his premier class world championships across multiple bike brands and teams.  Last weekend in Sepang, it was Rossi’s 329th grand prix, making him the rider with most grand prix starts in the 67-year history of the motorcycling world championship series, surpassing Loris Capirossi’s tally of 328 starts.

Coincidentally, Rossi’s first Grand Prix was also in Malaysia, back in 1996 in the 125cc ranks. Unfortunately, this 329th MotoGP for Valentino Rossi will long be remembered for all the wrong reasons. 

To argue he is anything but a uniquely talented rider is simply not factual. However, despite what the “Rossiratti” claim, he is a brawler when it comes to passing other riders. The Italian is perhaps the most consistently aggressive rider in the field, and has been since he entered GP racing all those years ago.

However, when Rossi makes such passes, which can sometimes only be considered borderline fair at best, it is termed hard racing. Yet when the same pass is enacted upon Rossi by another rider, the “Rossiratti” erupt into claims of poor sportsmanship. To my mind, there have been as many borderline passes made upon Rossi, as has been made by Rossi upon other riders, and no one wants to see the racing turn into a procession where riders fear having a crack at that gap in front, due to the repercussions from race direction. Racing is rubbing, and should always remain such.

After the previous round at Phillip Island, where Rossi then claimed Marc Marquez rode to steal points from him, in order to assist Marquez’ fellow countryman, Jorge Lorenzo, to win the world championship.

Rossi was almost insinuating that it was a Spanish conspiracy by not only the other Spanish riders, but also by the organisers and officials as well, and the red flags started waving.

Marc Marquez has always remained a gentleman in press conferences, speaking highly of his rival competitors, especially Rossi.

However, Rossi’s comments in the lead up to Sepang could really only ever have one result, that being to steel the resolve of Marc Marquez to beat Rossi at every remaining round.

To claim that Marquez held back during the race to assist Lorenzo is just ludicrous.

If Marquez truly did want to assist Lorenzo in garnering more points, he would have allowed Lorenzo past him to claim the top step of the podium, rather than making an almighty last lap effort to steal the Phillip Island win from Lorenzo. Thus costing his countryman vital points, which could alter the championship results come season end. With that in mind, Rossi’s comments don’t make a lot of sense and rather, defy a logical thought process.

Is Valentino so desperate to win one more title, that his usual mind and word games are now coming back to bite him?

Has he lost the belief he so strongly held of his own ability?

That unwavering confidence that he could and would win through?

It appears so, and last night at Sepang, his riding demonstrated this clearly.

Right up to the point where Rossi, in my mind, lost his usual cool calm and determined demeanour, resorting to what can only be described as a brain snap, the racing between he and Marquez had been edge of the seat stuff.  With both riders making aggressive, but decisive, passing manoeuvres, corner after corner, lap after lap.

It was perhaps the best racing I have watched in years. Right up to “that” point. Watching the preceeding laps the racing was hard, and the passing was certainly equally aggressive from both Rossi and Marquez. But, up to “that” point, neither had played dirty. It was only the moment, that Rossi’s self entitlement rose to the fore. Seemingly he must have been thinking, ‘How dare any rider, let alone a Spanish rider, deny me my moment of glory. I deserve this, as I am Rossi. I am ‘The Goat”. I deserve the respect of a rider letting me past so I can win another championship.’

With that in mind, Rossi resorted to desperate and dirty tactics to accomplish what he wanted.

Throughout his entire career Rossi has been surrounded by the best of machinery, the best of tyres (When the days of the overnight Rossi specials were flown in the morning of the race), the best of the engineers and team managers and all the money that the most cashed up sponsors bring with them.

But when Rossi was no longer the standout by a mile rider, when he was reduced to riding a lesser machine, a Ducati that only Casey Stoner could manage to win races on, but a decision Rossi himself made for, seemingly, reasons of pride.  The Italian had felt aggrieved at Yamaha, that they had the gall to field Lorenzo alongside him in the same team, on equal terms. Rossi was then made to suffer the indignity of returning to Yamaha and being an equal in the pits, rather than the golden haired special boy. Rossi’s self-entitlement seethed under his otherwise outwardly friendly and jovial persona. It was only a matter of time before that loss of priviledge caused his arrogance to boil over, allowing his true colours to shine through.

Last night, was the Marquez straw which broke the ‘goats” back.

Last night we saw it come out in plain sight, for all to see.

Yet, still, the “Rossiratti” blame Marquez, and race direction enact the softest of penalties. Three penalty points, which when added to the single penalty point he was given at Misano for baulking Lorenzo, demotes Rossi to the back of the grid for the next round.

To me, this proves that there is definitely no conspiracy to see a Spanish rider be the 2015 Moto GP world champion.

If it had been any other rider, there would have been a black flag during the race, and most probably a large fine to add to the back row start at the next round. Or, perhaps even a suspension for a race or two accompanied by a rather large fine for bringing the sport into disrepute.

Perhaps it is time for the once great man to retire before he does any further damage to his brand.

Far better to retire as a hero, than be remembered as the underhanded cheater last nights actions indicated.

Check out the post race comments from Valentino Rossi, Marc Marquez, Livio Suppo and Massimo Merigalli after the Sepang MotoGP Clash by clicking here.

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Oh, and if anyone is interested, Dani Pedrosa won the Malaysian MotoGP race with a sterling performance to take victory ahead of Jorge Lorenzo. Valentino Rossi recovered from the incident to finish third.