(I haven’t used the black bar since Simoncelli died.)
I’ve been watching Grand Prix motorcycle racing for a very long time (since the late 80s), and I feel like I have some ability to make sense of what happened.
Hopefully you’ve seen the Rossi vs. Marquez incident at Sepang 2015. I won’t explain it, you can watch it on You Tube or various other places.
Full disclosure: I’m a Rossi fan most of the time. I’m also a fan of the rule of law.
When all riders are racing to win, everything falls into place. The rules are easier to enforce. When a rider is racing for a goal other than to win, the result is something that is not for the benefit of racing. This is what I saw at Sepang. I think it should be regulated.
I’ll refer to this article detailing race director Mike Webb’s ruling on the incident:
“Marquez told us that he was just riding his normal race and minding his own business, making passes on Valentino without contact. … And that he had no intention of disturbing Valentino.”
And then he goes on to say:
“Despite what Marquez said we think he was deliberately trying to affect the pace of Valentino. However he didn’t actually break any rules. Whatever we think about the spirit of the championship, according to the rule book he didn’t make contact.” (Very interesting comment, more on this later.)
By all accounts, Mike Webb is an honorable man, and his opinions should be considered fair.
So we have a situation where Marquez is being exposed as lying to race direction. And he was doing something morally wrong (albeit legal) to alter the results of a hard fought championship that would have gone to a deserving rider. It doesn’t take an experienced viewer to see that Marquez was parking his bike in front of Rossi on corner exits. The big question is, why did he do it? Certainly not “just because it’s legal”.
Rossi should not have done what he did. He probably could have made a hard pass that knocked Marquez off and there would have been little involvement from race direction given their position that Marquez was deliberately trying to wreck his race. These things happen when the racing is hard fought. It happens in nearly every Moto3 race.
As stated by Mike Webb above “he (Marquez) didn’t actually break any rules”. Why say that? He said it many times after the race apparently. Is Mike Webb trying to make a point? I think he is.
MotoGP has strict rules regarding interfering with another rider’s pace during qualifying. They’ve probably even enforced it a little too harshly at times. I’m not a fan of more rules, but why isn’t there a rule to sanction a rider who deliberately tries to have a disproportionate affect on the championship? Especially when he or she is not involved in the championship? What if Marquez was bought off by book makers to do what he did? He’s the only rider capable of doing what he did, so it’s a plausible theory. And it should be prevented. Is this the point Mike Webb was trying make by saying Marquez didn’t actually break the rules? I really hope it was.
Honda should have immediately sanctioned Marquez after the race, especially once the opinion of Mike Webb was known. They should have warned him strongly before the race to not do what he did so they wouldn’t have to defend it after the race. They let Marquez get out of control and disrespect them and the championship. Rossi only did what any other rider would do (even if it wasn’t good behavior) to win a championship. It’s happened many times before.
As for the clash, what I saw was Rossi taking both of them wide, Marquez getting irate about it and then attempting to cause Rossi to crash. Which would have fulfilled his mission. But he fulfilled his mission anyway. Unless the book makers disagree of course.
I think the legacy of this will be a much bigger black mark on Marquez’s career than Rossi’s. The real champion of the 2015 MotoGP season will be unknown for eternity. And it’s Marquez’s fault. The championship and all of us lose because of it.
(Go Dani Pedrosa.)