The penultimate round of the 2015 MotoGP Championship might not have had a dramatic last lap in the fashion of the previous event in Australia, but it was an equally big deal. Unfortunately, the 17th Grand Prix of the season on October 25th at in Kuala Lumpur will not be remembered as a feel-good story, unlike Philip Island down under last weekend.
Polesitter Dani Pedrosa was in near-perfect form on the second works Repsol Honda RC213V, leading from the start to take his third career MotoGP win at Sepang international in hot, humid and overcast conditions.
Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo, doing his best to make up points in the battle for the 2015 MotoGP title against his Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi, was second, just over three seconds back. Rossi netted a distant third, and is now under real pressure from Lorenzo with the final round slated for Valencia, Spain in two weeks’ time.
Huge controversy erupted on lap seven of 22, after Rossi and Honda team leader Marc Marquez had traded third spot often, in increasingly aggressive and risky fashion. After an incredible number of overtaking maneuvers, including a bump or two, sideways moments and some Rossi gestures, the two interacted in turn 14 with Marquez crashing out of contention.
Video reviews did not make the circumstances of the incident clear, although Rossi certainly ran way wide in the tightening right hander and looked over at Marquez on his outside, away from the line, as the two were inches apart. Rossi seemed to bobble and then Marquez tucked the front end, seemingly on the brakes, and fell.
Earlier in the weekend, Rossi had lashed out at Marquez through the media, claiming that the reigning and two-time World Champ was trying to help fellow Spaniard Lorenzo in the title battle. Formerly friendly, Rossi and Marquez have been on the outs since incidents while battling for first in Argentina and Holland earlier in the season. Malaysia was apparently strike three.
A beyond-angry Marquez refused to comment, although his team was outspoken in their criticism, waiting for race control to review the incident, post-race, and make an official ruling.
The stewards decided to penalize Rossi at the upcoming final event, where he will be required to start from the back of the grid regardless of his qualifying performance. Rossi was allowed to keep his third place on the day, but this F1 style judgement will put Rossi in a tough spot in terms of the title battle.
With 25 points available in Valencia, Rossi heads the standings with 312 points, Lorenzo second with a total of 305. Lorenzo seems to have the best chance given recent performances and the Rossi grid penalty. Marquez keeps third overall, but is not in contention for the title after two straight World crowns.
Rossi did not directly comment on the Marquez crash, saying post-race that “I lost a lot of time with Marc, then in turn 14 I tried to go a bit wide to get a better line and make him slow, because he was riding to cause me problems. Unfortunately, I don’t know, he come up to me and crash at that moment.”
Some Rossi supporters claimed that Marquez tried to head but Rossi’s left knee as they leaned into the turn, side by side.
Amazingly, Lorenzo opted not to take the high road concerning events involving his teammate, even though he was in front of the action and didn’t know about the accident until after the race.
“It was huge, I don’t know what to say,” commented new championship favorite Lorenzo. “It is clear that he (Rossi) took Marquez off and the regulation is fair.
“This time they need to give him a big penalty,” continued the two-time MotoGP champ. “For example with Danny Kent in (support class) qualifying, they demote him many positions on the grid. So for this action the penalty should be much harsher.”
Behind the controversy, Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha) had a strong run, earning his best dry track result while out-duelling Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) for fourth and best satellite team result. Crutchlow was fifth, but might be in trouble with the stewards after an early race incident that caused Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso to fall.
Top Ducati was the Pramac entry of Danilo Petrucci, earning sixth after pulling away from the battling works Ecstar Suzukis of Aleix Espargaro (seventh) and Maverick Vinales (eighth). Pol Espargaro netted ninth on the second Tech 3 Yamaha, while Gresini Aprilia finally had a solid result, Stefan Bradl placing a close tenth, right behind the GSX-RRs.
Top privateer was the Forward Yamaha of Toni Elias in 14th, while American Nicky Hayden, in his penultimate career GP, wound up just out of the points in 16th aboard the Aspar Honda RC213V-RS.
- By Colin Fraser
Sunday, 25 October 2015 06:15 Published in Reports, Results & Points
Repsol Honda’s current MotoGP World Champ Marc Marquez came out on top of a wild four-bike fight for first to win the MotoGP round at Phillip Island, Australia on Sunday, October 18. With one lap of the 28 left to run at the daunting down under venue, Jorge Lorenzo held a miniscule edge with the works Movistar Yamaha from a wheel-to-wheel trio: early leader Andrea Iannone’s factory Ducati, Marquez and the other “A” Yamaha of World Championship series points leader Valentino Rossi.
Monday, 19 October 2015 12:08 Published in Reports, Results & Points
@MotoGP • (September 30, 2015)- Reigning MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez was operated on this morning at the Universitario Dexeus Hospital in Barcelona, to treat a fracture to the fifth metacarpal of his left hand.
Wednesday, 30 September 2015 08:26 Published in News
@MotoGP • (September 28, 2015)- Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo rode brilliantly to secure his 60th career GP victory in front of 67,000 fans at the Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón.
Monday, 28 September 2015 14:15 Published in Reports, Results & Points
With just a handful of rounds remaining in this year's MotoGP World Championship, it's almost certain that the championship will go to either Valentino Rossi or Jorge Lorenzo. The two Movistar Yamaha riders are atop the standings, both with more than a race worth of points in hand over Marc Marquez in third place. It's an enviable position for Yamaha to be in, but at the same time I'm sure it's causing plenty of angst in the team and at company headquarters.
Update after the Aragon round on September 27: It is even more certain the championship will go to Rossi or Lorenzo, as Marquez crashed at Aragon and dropped even further behind in the points but remains in third.
Obviously, sitting 1-2 in the standings with such a lead is good for Yamaha and the team because, almost no matter what happens, a Yamaha rider will win the title. All eyes are on the title chase, there's plenty of drama, and the company and team sponsors get plenty of TV time and exposure out of it. From now to the end of the season, more people will be concerned with where Rossi and Lorenzo finish in each race, rather than who wins or is on the podium.
On the downside, because it's a two-horse race now, it's a safe bet that the two riders are not working together as you would expect from teammates - no sharing of setup notes, data, thoughts on tire selection or the track surface, and so on. This makes it very difficult for Yamaha and the team to move forward with development or testing, as the workload cannot be shared between the two riders: each will be trying to find the best solutions, and keeping the results to himself. At Misano, for example, Lorenzo tested small winglets on the side of his M1 during the first day's practice, whereas Rossi tested them at a private test earlier.
In the last few rounds, it's clear that the focus in the Movistar Yamaha garage has been the riders' personal battle. At Misano, both riders were so concerned with what the other was doing in the tricky dry/wet/dry conditions that both suffered as a result, mistiming their bike changes to match the changing track. At the end of the day, Rossi finished fifth while Lorenzo crashed out. Rossi even confessed after that he was more concerned with beating Lorenzo than anything else: "It’s true that the championship is a lot more important that winning this race, it’s the main target." Yamaha cannot be happy that a potential race win for the brand was forfeit.
None of this is atypical for a race team. It's all wine and roses when there is an obvious No. 1 and No. 2 rider: plenty of information is shared between the riders, the development work carries on at a steady pace, and there is no secrecy. But when the two riders end up battling for the championship title (or position), the walls go up fast. A similar situation came to a head last year in World Superbike, with team orders being issued in both the Kawasaki and Aprilia camps and riders on both teams unhappy.
Hopefully Rossi and Lorenzo will not have any more miscues as they did in Misano, and that the title fight continues on to the finale in Valencia to close out a fantastic season. While their points lead over Marquez is comfortable, it is not unassailable by any means, and they cannot afford many more similar errors as a team.
Saturday, 26 September 2015 17:22 Published in Andrew Trevitt
IM photographers Les Kalman and Patrick Lambie were on hand last weekend at the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix shooting the second of two US stops on the MotoGP schedule.
Wednesday, 12 August 2015 13:27 Published in Reports, Results & Points
@MotoGP • @valentino_rossi • @ttcircuitassen • @YamahaMotoGP • (June 26, 2015)- Valentino Rossi sets the fastest ever time on a bike around the TT Circuit Assen to claim his first pole position since Valencia in 2014.
Friday, 26 June 2015 13:23 Published in Reports, Results & Points