MotoGP ValenciaGP Preview: The Noise And Fight We Should Care About
Anyone who has seen the epic Australian GP at Philip Island 3 weeks ago would probably think that it was the race of the year or decade. The thrilling, Moto3-ish MotoGP battle was won by Marc Marquez with Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Iannone, and championship leader Valentino Rossi close behind. The race created so much buzz and plenty of fans thought that there was not much to talk about in the coming weeks and races other than the Australian GP and Rossi versus Lorenzo for the title.
But just 4 days after the Australian GP, Valentino Rossi surprised everyone in the MalaysiaGP pre-event press conference. Rossi accused Marquez of helping his teammate and title rival Jorge Lorenzo win the championship. Marquez, shocked by Rossi’s statements, denied Rossi’s accusations. According to Marquez, the pass he made to Lorenzo actually helped Rossi not lose an extra 5 championship points to Lorenzo. There’s logic in Marquez’s counter to Rossi but the 9 times world champion stuck with his allegation. Rossi later went on to tell the media that Marquez was intentionally slowing him down in the race, that Marquez was angry at him because of their ArgentinaGP and AssenGP encounter, and if it really was true that he’s Marquez’s idol.
After the press conference, many assumed that this was just Rossi playing mind games on Marquez and Lorenzo. Rossi is known to be good at getting in the head of his rivals. But the race that followed showed that that just wasn’t all mind games, but a great relationship turning sour. With tensions running high, Rossi and Marquez engaged in a fierce battle in the early laps of the race. After back and forth overtaking maneuvers, the young Spaniard crashed out after contact was made between the pair on lap 7.
Marquez said Rossi’s unsportsmanlike kick caused his crash but Rossi denied it. In the end, Rossi was given 3 penalty points by Race Direction for irresponsible riding and deliberately running Marquez out to the edge of the track. Marquez meanwhile was not punished but Race Direction felt that Marquez had ‘provoked’ Rossi, but did not break any rules. Rossi will start at the back of the grid at Valencia after accumulating 4 penalty points already this season (1 from Misano). With only a 7 point advantage over Lorenzo, it will be hard for Rossi to win his 10th title from that position. Never count “The Doctor” out, though. He is still the championship favourite. Rossi filed an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to have his Sepang penalty reduced or annulled. Jorge Lorenzo requested to participate in Rossi’s penalty appeal but was rejected by CAS.
In just a span of 1 week, MotoGP went from having it’s best race of the year to one of it’s saddest days in the history of the championship. Countless of different opinions on who was right or wrong emerged. People bashing the sport and riders involved in the incident on social media and news sites were endless. The Marquez family and their home was reported to be attacked by Italian TV. All of these recent incidents is damaging motorcycle racing’s image. FIM President Vito Ippolito said it has ‘poisoned the atmosphere around the sport’.
Drama in racing is inevitable, but it’s not the only ingredient that makes the sport exciting. With all the drama off-track and too much bad noise surrounding MotoGP right now, it is sad to know that a lot of people still create more negativity that damages the sport further, instead of recognising the beauty of the sport and the 2015 season. Let’s not forget about the Moto3 title showdown between Danny Kent and Miguel Oliveira. Surprisingly, the pair’s rivals doesn’t get the same criticism as Marquez for breaking the “unwritten rule” of respecting those who fight for the championship. Let’s not forget about Nicky Hayden doing his last GP race, Tito Rabat racing in the Moto2 class for the last time, Dani Pedrosa’s resurgence, and that we’re seeing one the most exciting seasons in MotoGP history. The battle is not over until the chequered flag is waved. Expect Rossi and Lorenzo to give their maximum. Fights should be fought on the track, not outside of it.
The Valencia GP will start in just a few days. When the lights turn green and the riders go out on track, it’s time to hear again the sounds of their bikes, the cheer of the roaring crowd and rider’s team, and witness pure racing battles between the best motorcycle racers in the world. That’s the kind of noise and fight we all want to hear and see.