Rossi/Marquez Malaysia Clash is Trending

Rossi/Marquez Sepang Clash | Harsh Commentary Surfaces
Honda’s Marc Marquez and Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi battle at Sepang

Talk about trending – the clash Sunday between Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez at Sepang International Circuit is garnering some serious attention.

Commentary on the situation is surfacing from both the paddocks and social media feeds across the world, and it appears to be a 50/50 mix of support – either Valentino Rossi was wrong for running his line wide before Marquez crashed, or the crash was justified.

Some of the most direct commentary surfaces from Marquez’s team, which says the nine-time World Champion Rossi endangered “the safety of the Repsol Honda Team rider (Marc Marquez) in an absolutely deliberate and reprehensible move.”

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Repsol Honda then begins a diatribe on Valentino Rossi, with an emphasis on values in MotoGP, saying: “Although Marquez was fortunately able to escape unharmed from the attack, for Repsol the conduct of Rossi is absolutely unacceptable because it endangered –in a premeditated and unsportsmanlike manner– the safety of the Repsol Honda team rider. Repsol consider this an unsportsmanlike act incompatible with the values of sport and competition.

“Repsol are deeply saddened that situations like that which occurred today in Sepang exist, especially as the company feel proud of sporting values: Companionship, competitive spirit and commitment from riders. Without these values, it would not make sense for Repsol to participate in the sport as a sponsor. Repsol also call for a clear and strong regulation in the interest of the safety and physical integrity of the riders, which punishes behavior like that seen today clearly and decisively.”

The Rossi/Marquez Sepang Clash Story

Ahead of Sepang, the 36-year-old Italian Rossi was on edge about Marquez, saying the two-time Spaniard was intentionally slowing down and battling with Rossi, the current MotoGP Points leader. Rossi alludes that Marquez is trying to help out the only other rider capable of a shot at the 2015 MotoGP title, the other factory Yamaha YZR-M1 pilot Jorge Lorenzo.

This situation escalated during the third free practice at Sepang, when Rossi accused Marquez of shadowing him. This led to the conclusion of the clash when Rossi ran wide at turn 14 at Sepang, which forced Marquez off line.  The 22-year-old Marquez bumped Rossi and crashed. Rossi would later be penalized three points, which may have the biggest outcome on the 2015 MotoGP title. Yamaha had appealed the penalty, but it was denied by MotoGP Race Direction.

As Marquez suffered his sixth DNF of the season, Rossi went on to finish third. Lorenzo finished second behind winner Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda).  Rossi currently has 312 points to Lorenzo’s 305 heading into the season finale in two weeks time at Valencia in Spain.

This seven-point difference between Rossi and Lorenzo can make all the difference, especially if the riders keep up their podium finishes. The podium point system awards 25 points to first, 20 to second, and 16 to third. Basically, to earn a 10th title, Rossi needs the following: If Lorenzo wins, Rossi must finish second to win the Championship; if Lorenzo finishes second, Rossi must finish third or better; if Lorenzo finishes third, Rossi must finish sixth or better.

But the point situation is only the surface – because Rossi will have accumulated four penalty points (three at Sepang, one at Misano for slowing Lorenzo during qualifying; not to be confused with Championship points), the YZR-M1 pilot will have to start from dead last.

Obviously, the Rossi/Marquez Sepang Clash will have a huge impact on the outcome of 2015 MotoGP. And the commentary is far from over.

Following the incident, both riders and some team members had much to say. Here are some quotes from the Rossi/Marquez clash at Sepang MotoGP. Who is correct comes down to personal opinion, though I think Rossi was in the wrong. But there’s only so much taunting one can take.

Rossi/Marquez Sepang Clash Quotes

Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) says: “Marquez knows it wasn’t red mist that caused the incident. It’s very clear from the helicopter footage that I didn’t want to make him crash, I just wanted to make him lose time, go outside of the line and slow down, because he was playing his dirty game, even worse than in Australia. When I went wide and slowed down to nearly a stop, I looked at him as if to say ‘what are you doing?’.

“After that we touched. He touched with his right underarm on my leg and my foot slipped off the foot peg. If you look at the image from the helicopter it’s clear that when my foot slipped of the foot peg, Marquez had already crashed. I didn’t want to kick him, especially because, if you give a kick to a MotoGP bike, it won’t crash, it’s very heavy. For me the sanction is not fair, because Marquez won his fight. His program is OK because he is making me lose the championship.

“The sanction is not good, especially for me, because I didn‘t purposefully want to make him crash, I just reacted to his behavior, but I didn‘t kick him. You can‘t say anything in the press conference, maybe it changes something, but to me this was not fair, because I just want to fight for the championship with Jorge and let the better man win, but like this that‘s not happening. Like I said, I didn‘t want to make Marquez crash, but I had to do something because at that moment Jorge was already gone. The championship is not over yet, but this sanction cut me off by the legs and made Marquez win.”

Massimo Meregalli (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director) says: “It’s a shame to see such a beautiful championship, that was supposed to result in one of the most exciting battles between the two Yamaha riders, be affected and almost compromised by another rider. We should be here today dealing with Jorge’s amazing performance on track and his second place, as well as another thrilling battle among top riders but unfortunately this is not the case.

“We made an appeal to the FIM stewards against the penalty issued by the Race Direction because while we respect the infringement, we felt 3 penalty points were too harsh. We have since heard that the appeal has been rejected. We respect this final decision.”

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) says: ”We were having a good race up until the incident. At the beginning I made a mistake, but then I regained confidence. Valentino overtook me, I followed him for half a lap, and I saw that I could go faster than him, so I tried overtake him back. We started a fight between us and I always passed without making any contact with him.

“At Turn 14 he passed me on the inside, I sat the bike up, he kept going straight ahead and I saw him looking at me. I didn’t know what to do. Then he kicked out at me, knocking my brake lever, and I crashed. I will leave the sanction in the hands of Race Direction. All I know is that I scored zero points and ended up in the gravel, but thankfully I’m fine. Both what Valentino said to Race Direction and what he did on the track has made me disappointed. I’ve never seen anything like it: a rider kicking another rider. It might be down to nerves, but I want to try to forget about all this and the important thing is that I’m fine physically. I hope, for the sake of the sport that this ends here.”

Marquez explains more when asked during the post-race interview “can you explain what happened with Valentino Rossi?”: “Yeah of course you know for me it is easy to explain what happened because on the TV you can see clear. You can see in the video from many points, the helicopter, from in front. I was inside and of course we were overtaking for some laps but I felt I was able to be faster and to catch the front guys. But yeah, on that corner, corner 14, Valentino passed me. I heard the bike then I pick it up, but then I saw that he was completely straight and looking at me and stopping a lot. I was just waiting because there was nothing to do in that point and then I saw that with his leg he pushed my arm and my front brake and then I lock the front wheel and I crash.

“Luckily I am good, in good physical condition, this is the most important but you know during my career I have many moments you know, I mean many battles and everything, but never have I felt this. That another rider give me a big push and push me out with the leg. But in the end, my result in the race was zero points. This was of course not my target, my target was to finish these two races on the podium, but it is like this.”

Livio Suppo (Repsol Honda Team Principal): For the Repsol Honda Team what happened today is something we never want to see in racing, as it is unacceptable that a rider would intentionally create a dangerous situation causing the crash of another rider. We love motorsport and we like to see riders competing for victory, but there must be a limit and mutual respect of each other.”