Friday, 30 October 2015

Rossi & Marquez: A MotoGP editorial

WTF are you doing?  Falling over is what...
I've been watching replays and reading reviews over the MotoGP incident that rocked the world last weekend.  I think I've resolved it in my mind.

Here is what I saw:  Marquez was making a point of staying close to Rossi.  They stayed within inches of each other lap after lap on two completely different machines, one of which was a quarter second quicker per lap and 7km/hr faster in qualifying.  Marc says he was managing tires, but Dani Pedrosa, on an identical bike with identical tires was half a mile up the road riding away to the race win.  Marc's demonic Bridgestones that suddenly go off when he's in front of Rossi and come back to him when he's behind seem like what they are: an excuse.  Pedrosa's identical tires on an identical bike weren't so cursed.

Data is where the answer to this would be found.  These bikes are wired to the nines with sensors and record everything.  A detailed analysis of Marquez's laps will show whether he was delaying inputs to stay with Rossi, but I don't imagine Honda will be forthcoming with that information.

When Rossi ran wide after sitting up and coming off the gas (he was 4 seconds slower on the lap the incident happened), Marquez stayed right next to him, coming off the gas at the same time.  On the slow motion video below you can see him angle in to be right next to Rossi even though he'd obviously missed the corner.  Provoking an incident is what Marquez was trying to do.  At any point when Rossi sat up and slowed down Marquez could have ridden around the outside of him or slowed down and cut under him, but passing wasn't what he was looking for.

I'm in a difficult situation with this.  I haven't been watching MotoGP for very long.  My first full season was Marc's near perfect one, and I'm a fan, but this kind of riding isn't worthy of him.  I'm not paying to see him playing mind games with people.  If I wanted to see that I'd watch politicians.  I'm paying to see him ride the fucking motorbike like no one else can.

At 0.25 seconds a lap, Marquez should have been seconds ahead of Rossi by lap 7.
His 7 km/hr straight line speed should have had them no where near each other in the last part of the track.

Marquez is playing a game that goes well beyond Rossi.  There is no one in MotoGP who would be angrier with the idea that Marquez handed him the title than Jorge Lorenzo.  Rossi only has a season or two left in him, but Lorenzo could be racing well into Marquez' career, Lorenzo is an ongoing threat to Marquez.  Conspiracy theory makes this look like Rossi is the target, but he's a bit player in a longer game.  Marquez is playing on nationalism (both he and Lorenzo are Spanish) while diminishing Jorge's championship.  Jorge Lorenzo, 2015 world champion (thanks to Marquez) is going to piss off Jorge to no end.  Lorenzo doesn't just not know of any 'Spanish plan' to derail the legendary Italian's chance at a tenth world title, he'd be actively against it.

If you've got a kid antagonizing another kid in the playground, and the kid being antagonized suddenly lashes out, you don't just penalize the retaliator.  The kid doing the antagonizing is playing silly buggers and getting a smack in the face is what he can expect.  The antagonized kid should have just walked away, but sometimes that isn't possible, especially when emotions are heightened.  Running to race direction the moment he went down after dogging Rossi for lap after lap makes Marquez look like whiner.  I'd have had much more respect if he'd taken it on the chin and then laughed instead of seeking legal advice.

Actually, I'd have liked to have seen Rossi wave Marquez by and let him get a couple of seconds ahead.  I imagine Marquez would suddenly have had brake/tire problems again and they would have been side by side once more a few laps later, only making the whole thing look even more obvious; Marquez was committed to an entanglement with Rossi.  That Rossi got played is bothersome.  That Marquez, after playing silly buggers, then rushes into the pit to lodge a formal complaint is worthy of a thick ear.  If you're going to antagonize someone, expect some beats... or, you know, just ride the damn bikes!