Clash Of The Titans Rossi vs Marquez: Whose Fault Was It?

October 27th, 2015 | In: MotoGP, Motorcycle, Poll, Track racing

Motorcycle racing, by its very nature, is a dramatic sport. But what we saw last Sunday at Sepang in Malaysia was one of the most dramatic, sensational, and far-reaching moves ever witnessed in motorcycle Grand Prix racing.

Valentino Rossi all but threw away his chances of winning a tenth world championship when he clashed with Marc Marquez and brought the Spaniard down.

At first, it looked like the most experienced and successful man in Grand Prix racing had actually kicked Marquez off his factory Repsol Honda but different camera angles seemed to tell a different story and it looked more like Marquez’s head made contact with Rossi’s left knee as Rossi tried to run him out wide but Marquez tried to hold his station. In a bid to prevent the two bikes becoming entangled Rossi instinctively stuck his knee and/or foot out and Marqez ended up on the floor. A careful review of the helicopter camera’s footage shows that Marquez had lost the front of his Honda before Rossi’s knee came out.

Those siding with Marquez:

There are those who feel that Rossi DID kick Marquez off the bike but this would be highly unlikely. Rossi is the most experienced rider in the paddock, now in his 20th season of Grand Prix racing. He knows that every move out on track is caught by not just one camera, but by many, and that getting away with a dangerous manoeuvre is all but impossible.

Further, Rossi has never been known as a dirty rider – a hard rider, yes, but never a dirty one. Why would he suddenly break the habits of a lifetime, especially when Marc Marquez is not even in the running for this year’s world championship? In fact, race direction later confirmed that it did not believe Rossi had kicked Marquez off the bike.

So who’s fault was the crash?…

Rossi and Marquez had been swapping positions constantly for the last couple of laps prior to the crash while Rossi’s real title rival, Jorge Lorenzo, pulled further away at the front of the field with Marquez’s team-mate, Dani Pedrosa, in second place.

So why would Marquez ride so desperately for a third-place finish that would make no difference to his championship?

The answer to this question can be found in the pre-race press conference in Malaysia when Rossi surprised the paddock by criticising Marquez’s tactics in the previous round at Australia where Rossi felt he deliberately held him up to allow Jorge Lorenzo to gain more points.

Given that Marquez and Lorenzo ride for rival teams and aren’t exactly close friends, this seemed an odd thing to say, but third-placed finisher in Australia, Andrea Iannone, backed up Rossi’s claim and agreed that Marquez was ‘playing games.’

Rossi calls Marquez a liar:

Whatever was behind Rossi’s unexpected verbal attack (he even suggested Marquez was lying when he used to say that Rossi was his hero as a kid, prompting Marquez’s mum to post pics to prove her boy was not a liar), it clearly backfired.

image from Nuria Murillo Guerrero on Pinterest

Marquez determined to beat Rossi:

If Rossi had been hoping to spur the Spaniard on to clear off at the front of the race and leave himself and Lorenzo to their own fight, it didn’t work, and Marquez seemed more hell-bent on beating Rossi and spoiling his rhythm than on challenging Lorenzoe.

Given that he could not mathematically win the championship by that point in the season, should Marc Marquez have kept out of the way and allowed the title contenders to do battle unimpeded? Or was he simply doing what he’s paid by Repsol Honda to do – fighting for the best possible position he can achieve and beating his Yamaha rival in any given race?

Predictable outcome:

Whatever your take on who was to blame for the crash, the end result has more than likely brought a premature end to what has been one of the most fascinating title fights in Grand Prix history. After a post-race hearing by race organisers Dorna, Rossi was allowed to keep his third position – and therefore a slender 7-point lead over Lorenzo going into the final round at Valencia – but was told he would have to start the race from the back of the grid, no matter where he finished in qualifying.

With Lorenzo’s track record at Valencia, this decision has all but decided the outcome of this year’s world championship. If Lorenzo wins the race, Rossi would need to finish second – from last on the grid – to take the title, an all-but-impossible feat at this level of racing.

There are many voices on social media calling for Dorna to retract the penalty so that we can all enjoy the spectacle of a one-race, battle royale between Rossi and Lorenzo for the 2015 MotoGP title.

Rossi: “Valencia hardly worth my time”…

Given that that’s highly unlikely to happen, Rossi had also stated that he might not even bother to turn up to race at Valencia, given that his handicap is so great that it’s hardly worth his time. But this is motorcycle racing and, as last weekend proved, absolutely anything can happen.

Lorenzo could crash in practice and break a collarbone or wrist. Or his bike could break down. His tyres could go off. In any of these scenarios, Rossi would suddenly be back in the game, so how would he feel if he’d not turned up at the race to capitalise on it? Besides, It’s unlikely that Yamaha would allow him to be absent – they do pay him to be there after all.

Round 2:

Rossi will be at Valencia, that much seems certain. And no doubt the spectators will come in their droves too, if only to see what happens when Rossi and Marquez get back out on track together. It would have been so much better to watch a straight fight for the world championship between Rossi and Lorenzo but Dorna has denied us this possibility with the penalty that was handed out to Rossi.

It may, or may not, have been deserved but surely we, the spectators and TV viewers in our tens of millions, deserve to see a world championship being decided out on track and not in a  meeting room of the Sepang International Race Circuit.

So, what do you make of this extremely controversial issue? Share your comments below…

Stuart Barker is a freelance motorcycle journalist and author. A former MCN reporter and features writer, he is now editor of the Official Isle of Man TT and Classic TT programmes and has contributed to most major UK motorcycling titles including MCN, Bike, Ride, Superbike, Two Wheels Only, Fast Bikes, Classic Bike and Classic Racer. His books include biographies of Barry Sheene, Steve Hislop, Niall Mackenzie, David Jefferies and Evel Knievel as well as a centennial history of the TT races.

  • Carl Matthews

    Can we sack Keith Heuwen and Julian “pub bore” Ryder and get Stavros and Charlie Cox back for some knowledgeable and balanced commentary with a sense of humour?!

    • Di

      Oh soooooo agree with you. Would love the BBC team back! Love Hodgey and Craig Doyle but can’t stand the rest of them ?

    • Allan Moore

      Me too.

    • Jai Jae

      Yes yes yes!

    • frank

      how many times does that plonker keith heuwen say goat ”greatest of all time in every race as if it was something he just made up,

  • Russ Murray

    Marquez has a deserved reputation for dirty tricks, race control should have intervened before the incident, all they have proved is that they are rotten to the core

  • [Peter Pan

    I agree with Carl, for havens sake please get rid of those two idiots Heuwen and Rider…they are dreadful commentators…I much prefer Stavros and Cox

  • Stijn Stuart

    This is interesting. If you discard the 12 percent who still think Rossi actually kicked Marquez for being poorly informed or clearly biased, reasonably assuming that all those people wouldn’t want the penalty to be lifted, then 98% of the people believe that the penalty should be lifted.

  • Kate Pearson

    if you watch the footage marquez was trying to get rossi off the track several times he clipped rossi with his helmet so rossi just put his foot out to stop a collision

  • Not Rossi

    When Rossi knocked Marquez off in Argentina he should have been
    disqualified, he got away with it and went a step further this time,but
    this time thankfully he was penalised. He should think himself lucky he
    wasn’t black flagged, any other rider on the track would have been.

    In Argentina, he glanced over his shoulder to see where MM was, then
    swerved violently to take out his front wheel. This time it’s quite
    clear from his own handle bar cam and most of the others, that he lifted
    his foot off the peg and kicked out at MM.

    I was a Rossi fan. No longer.

    • Jeffrey

      Not true…there is footage everybody (but you) that shows this is not the case

    • Reid Kalmus

      call your Mom, She might care about your feelings

    • Di

      You have never been a Rossi fan. It is clear to see what Marquez was doing and even non Rossi and Marquez fans can see the dirty tricks being played. Open your eyes and watch the footage with care.

    • Milan Mackovic

      You are such a blind person

    • D. Black

      Man, I am so tired of morons like this guy ^^.. Watch the Argentina race again and pay attention this time, as you clearly have no idea what is going on out there. Since you appear to be quite dense, let me outline it for your feeble little mind..

      1.)Two corners prior Marquez pushes overly hard into the turn and drifts the rear end heavily and is unable to turn in as quickly as he’d like.

      2.) Rossi takes advantage of the minor mistake and makes an aggressive, but CLEAN, no contact pass on MM. 3.) MM cuts back under Rossi in the next corner, however, Rossi is already pitched in and MM slams his bike/front wheel into Rossi; so much so, that blue smoke comes from MM’s front wheel rubbing against Rossi’s leathers.

      3.) At this point, MM still hasn’t regained position, is still BEHIND Rossi, and due to his aggressive/UNCLEAN pass attempt which has him almost on top of Rossi as he flicks it back left with MM on the OUTSIDE of him, his front wheel is cleaned out by Rossi’s rear wheel.

      MM has absolutely no one else to blame his Argentina crash on but himself. If you’re stupid enough to force yourself (slam into another rider) into a position that causes you to go down, then you’re are the idiot in that scenario.

      Here’s a link so you can watch it again while going over my comments above, though I feel it may be a futile attempt for you to comprehend it.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgIWJeJbNHw

      • Not Rossi

        Your video won’t play in my country, but I’ve watched the Argentina video several times. Now you watch it, watch the helicam shot in slow mo. Having cut across MM’s nose in the previous corner and caused contact, Rossi takes a quick look back and swerves the bike to the right in a deliberate move to take MM out. Re the Malaysian debacle, if I am such a moron, why do Carl Fogarty and Casey Stoner both say the same as me? Are they both morons too or do they happen to be 2 of the most outspoken racers who don’t care what people think of their HONEST opinions?

        • D. Black

          I figured as much.. /sigh. I can literally slow mo the video and Rossi NEVER makes contact. There is daylight between them the entire time Rossi is making his initial pass.. however, the very next corner MM slams right into Rossi on his right hand side (blue smoke coming off his leathers and MM’s front wheel). Yet, immediately after that the track goes LEFT and Rossi pitches it in hard to the LEFT and kicks his bike out ever so slightly out to the right, which takes out MM’s front wheel. Whether or not he intended to do it or not, I couldn’t say, but at the end of the day, guess who slammed himself into that position by hammering Rossi’s body with his bike?? Yep, that’s right, ‘ol MM did that to himself. Pretty dumb move.

          The thing is, I actually like Marc. I like his aggressive riding style and think he’s a super talented guy. I love watching him ride (I still like and respect the dude after these incidents), but I call it as it is. I’ve raced motorcycles professionally and I understand the differences. Just because you’re the one that went down doesn’t mean you were necessarily the “victim”. Whether Rossi pitched his bike out aggressively to the right while dropping in for the left hand turn isn’t really the issue.. had MM not slammed into Rossi and put himself in a position as to not give adequate room for the rider in front to operate his race machine, that is on him and him alone.

          I don’t specifically know what Carl or Casey’s position is on the issue, so I can’t speak to that.

          Here’s a shot of the initial pass from Rossi on MM in Argentina before the crash.. I tried to get them as close together as possible, but they never touch, daylight for days (or inches :P).

        • D. Black

          MM slamming Rossi for reference/comparison..

  • Jeffrey

    I think MM should get some kind of penalty for riding like a jackass…..again

  • Carl Clark

    Lose the penalty and lose julien ryder bring back s parish

  • Raz Razak

    Rules should be for everyone, so either penalise every rider that ever blocked another and turn the sport into F1, or reduce the sanction. We all want exciting racing that is also safe, but this is two steps too far. Lorenzo and Marquez need to pay the piper for their part in this charade.

    • Keith Gover

      Not sure I understand the Lorenzo reference… unless your referring to his abysmal lack of professionalism and Sportsmanship after the race.

  • Allan Moore

    And if you watch the whole corner Marquez sat the bike up briefly and then deliberately turned into Rossi. Follow Rossi on from there and he never gets right to the track edge even after the crash. He had left Marquez Racing Room and Marquez didn’t want that. He wanted both to crash and thus kill Rossi’s championship hopes all together. If you watch the whole thing carefully it is so obvious.

    • Darrin Kulyk

      Exactly 100 PERCENT Couldn’t have Said It Better Myself ?

  • Ro Bi

    GOOOOOO VALE WE BELIVE IN YOU

  • Paul Thompson

    I am sick reading about this incident. Rossi owned the incident and was absolutely 100% responsible for the incident, he maybe did not want Marquez to crash but he did deliberately, while checking twice attempted to run him off the track. The conspiracy he was talking about before the race is now being believed by all his fans who either have not got a brain cell or have never rode a motorbike in competition. Rossi was and is at fault, the video proves it beyond any doubt and if he keeps this bullshit up it will diminish his legacy as the GOAT of MotoGP. Julian Ryder and Keith Huewen called it as they seen it, Rossi deliberately took Marquez wide and tried to run him off the course, Marquez fell and it was obvious to anyone with a brain it was Rossi who is responsible.

    • Keith Gover

      More uneducated emotional diarrhea. I’m guessing you don’t see the irony of your reference to brain or absence of. re: MM93… when mice play with cats…

  • John Harris

    Marquez clearly the aggressor. Yes, he is an aggressive rider and I enjoy his style, he has pushed other riders to be faster. But, no racer eats up that much time fighting that early in the race, it’s self sabotage for ever catching the leaders. Marquez knows that.. and so does every other rider on the track. Extended battles like that are fought at the end of the race and that is typically what happens. Marquez is not in the points contention, very unprofessional behavior and he definitely justified Rossi’s complaints towards him prior to this race. Rossi got pissed, called Marc out in that corner, Marquez caused the actual crash.. or even crashed on purpose, hard to tell between those two views but Rossi most definitely did not touch Marc’s brake lever or kick him to the ground.

  • Jai Jae

    Brilliant! Brilliant analysis! At last someone says exactly what we said at the time! VR not that dumb (cameras etc) and not a dirty racer. How come it’s taken so long? Sack Huewen etc

  • Paul Bovis

    MM is clearly at fault and even if Rossi had not put a knee out to protect himself, MM would have come off. Lift the penalty.

  • Jonathan

    If he’s not a lap down why would he yield? May the best man win and if that means Rossi acts like a little boy when he comes 4th at Phillip island so be it. Marquez could have easily given Jorge first and done him one better if any of Rossi’s allegations were true. So why was iannone allowed to challenge for third? Wasn’t he helping Lorenzo more than Marquez was?

  • Sarah Mumby

    Looks like Marquez took a deliberate dive, Stoner whined about a similar incident a few years ago with Rossi but not to deliberately lose the championship for him

  • Dan Schrader

    I’m feeling gutted, that we the fans have been robbed of a grand finale at valencia, but I guess anything can happen!
    Marc always looks out of control on the bike, think he just pushed the situation to far! Vr waved at him to say Wtf are you doing Couple of lap previously?
    As for the commentary, there can be only one man for the job!
    Bring back TOBY MOODY!!!!!

  • Tim Waller

    As far as I understand it the penalty isn’t for the crash but for “unsportman-like conduct” in running Marquez out to the edge of the circuit and slowing – Rossi’s lap time on the lap of the incident was 3 seconds slower than the previous lap. Much as I love Rossi (and I have no love of Marquez) he is guilty of that and if the stewards had not taken action can you imagine the chaos in Moto3? The fact that Rossi was frustrated is no excuse. Marquez was employing tactics Rossi himself has used before in Laguna Seca 2008 and Motegi 2010 and Lorenzo last year at Valencia. No one complained then. Furthermore if you think Marquez should have been fighting for third, then Rossi shouldn’t have fought Lorenzo in Motegi 2010. Racers race to finish as high up the order as possible, that is what they are paid to do. All those complaining about Rossi’s penalty should ask themselves one further question – If Rossi & Lorenzo’s situation was reversed, and Lorenzo was ahead in the championship and had received a grid penalty for the final round would they be complaining that the last race had been ruined? I somehow think not.

  • Andy Jarvis

    I agree will Allan Moore 100% “watch the whole corner Marquez sat the bike up briefly and then deliberately turned into Rossi. Follow Rossi on from there and he never gets right to the track edge even after the crash. He had left Marquez Racing Room and Marquez didn’t want that. He wanted both to crash and thus kill Rossi’s championship hopes all together. If you watch the whole thing carefully it is so obvious.” I can’t believe there is so many people that haven’t seen this, are they blind!!!!

  • Ken Thomas

    I watched this race live, I was mesmerised by what was going on, now to be fair, VR did give MM a warning that he was pissed off a couple of turns back. Now when VR saw his chance to run MM wide he did, he glanced at MM a couple of times as much as to say, get behind me or words to that effect. I have watched the events that followed many, many times. At first when I saw it live, I thought VR had overstepped the mark, but as I say after many slow mo replays it seems to me that MM realised he had been out manovered and at the last second he makes a last ditch desperate attempt to take them both down by accelerating into VR but he only took himself out which left him, which left him even more angry and more mud on his face. As for Kieth Heuwen, well, his outbursts, condemned and convicted VR as soon as the incident happened without giving a thought of the consequences of actions….Sack him!

  • Richard White

    Many years ago I raced motorcycles, at club level of course as I am no alien, and to my mind this was no different to a normal block pass. The fact remains that the much debated brake lever was on MM’s bike and it was his choice not to use it when he should/could have done. Pushing a rider out, or squeezing them in, is usual and expected. Rossi is a very hard/aggressive rider when it is required but all the best are: Be it Surtees, Hailwood, Senna, Schumacher, Hamilton etc. when some idiot is there, just being a meaningless chicane, you do what you can to get rid of them. Never really a Rossi fan but now I support his position.