Reviewing the Movistar Yamaha Launch: Despite a Strong Hand, Trouble Brewing Ahead

If anyone thought that the start of the 2016 season would mean an end to the bitter divisions of 2015, they will be bitterly disappointed. The launch of the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team, at title sponsor Movistar's regional headquarters in Barcelona, brought the whole affair back to the surface. It was the first time since Valencia that the racing press had the chance to put questions to Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, and both the questions asked and answers given helped reignite the flames of controversy. Rossi restated his belief that Marc Márquez conspired against him to hand the title to Lorenzo. Lorenzo expressed his frustration at being drawn into something he had no part of. Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis called for respect from all sides, and expressed Yamaha's concerns about the way situations such as Sepang are handled. Above all, the Italian press showed a dogged pursuit of the post-Sepang fallout, bombarding Rossi with questions about the affair, and probing Lorenzo about his thoughts. The soap opera is set to run and run.

Yamaha hadn't invited us to Barcelona to rake over the embers of 2015, of course, though they clearly understood it would inevitably come up. We were there to see the 2016 Movistar Yamaha livery unveiled, and hear Yamaha's hopes and expectations for the coming season. In the afternoon, Yamaha presented their entire racing program, including World Superbike, World Endurance, MXGP and Enduro teams. It was an impressive reminder of just broad Yamaha's racing activity is. As one senior Yamaha staffer put it, "we like to race every bike we make." They have been successful too: throughout the MotoGP presentation, Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis and MotoGP project leader emphasized that 2015 was Yamaha's fifth triple crown (rider, team and manufacturer championships in the same year) in MotoGP. Romain Febvre won the MXGP crown in 2015, Mikael Persson became Enduro Junior World Champion, and the GMT94 team were runners up in the World Endurance championship. Yamaha move to World Superbikes with Crescent Racing, with 2014 WSBK champion Sylvain Guintoli aboard the brand new YZF-R1M, together with Alex Lowes.

It was the MotoGP team which got most of the attention, however. Preseason launches are always awkward. Without the urgency which the promise of bikes on tracks bring, the atmosphere is somehow artificial. The first extended appearance of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi together for the first time since Valencia made the atmosphere in Barcelona even more strained than usual. To their credit, Yamaha did nothing to prevent the discussion of the 2015 season finale, but the tension was obvious. When the two riders were called to the stage to speak, Valentino Rossi entered from the right of the room, Jorge Lorenzo from the left. Whether this was an alliterative choice or not, it seemed symbolic of the difficulties involved in keeping two of the best riders in the world in the same team. Especially when those two have just gone through such an acrimonious season the year before.

The problem of managing success

The problems at the end of the season would not change the way the team worked in 2016, Yamaha racing boss Lin Jarvis said. Having two riders competing for the championship is the kind of problem every team dreams of, and it was something which Yamaha had managed perfectly well in the past. "We obviously realize that while as a team we are trying to win the triple crown they as individuals are both trying to win the same prize. This is something we can never forget," Jarvis said. There was no reason to put a wall in the garage, as there had been in 2008. "One of our strengths is the fact that the team work really well together. The riders are individual competitors against themselves but the team of mechanics and engineers all work really well together. If we put a barrier between them or a wall in the garage, it will be to the deficit of the team, the riders and the engineers."

Yamaha has a point. This was Yamaha's fifth triple crown since the dawn of the four-stroke MotoGP era. Four times, it has been the pairing of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi who secured the individual, team and manufacturer crowns for Yamaha, two for Rossi (2008 and 2009), two for Lorenzo (2010 and 2015). The approach has a proven track record, and so continuing on the same path is the obvious thing to do. The Yamaha YZR-M1 was utterly dominant in 2015, winning eleven out of the eighteen races.

New bike? Too early to tell

There is every reason to believe that success will continue into 2016. The bike will not see any major upgrades for the coming season, Yamaha focusing instead on working out what changes are needed to get the best out of the Michelin tires. The M1 presented to the press was not the bike actually likely to be raced – the eagle eye of ace GP reporter Steve English identified it the bike on show as the 2016 prototype tested at Brno last year. The show bike still had the fuel filler cap at the rear of the seat unit. "The situation is that Yamaha did the new tank and bike to try and understand how to use the Michelins," Rossi said. Whether the fuel would stay there, slightly further back than on the 2015 bike, would have to be tested again at Sepang, Rossi explained. "The first test at Sepang will be very, very important to decide the way, to see if the 2016 prototype is better than our current bike."

Kouichi Tsuji, head of Yamaha's MotoGP project, confirmed that they were still seeking direction with the new bike. "We have a new bike for next year that we are going to test in Sepang," he said. "But the new bike is not always good, sometimes the old bike can work with the new software and new tires." It would be a very busy test at Sepang, with Yamaha having lined up a long list of new parts to be tested in pursuit of the right balance for the Michelins. The one request both Rossi and Lorenzo had was for more horsepower, top speed being the only point where they lost out to their rivals in 2015.

With so much work on the plate of the Movistar Yamaha riders, and HRC bringing a new engine to Sepang, it will be hard to read much into the times set at that test. The real strength of the various factories will only start to become clear as Qatar approaches. The fact that MotoGP will be testing at three different circuits (Sepang, Phillip Island and Qatar) prior to the start of the season was a good thing, Tsuji said. "Now we want as much data as possible," he told us. In other years, MotoGP has had two tests at Sepang, allowing a better back-to-back comparison of parts, but the massive changes – new tires and new electronics – meant that a wider range of conditions at three very different tracks was better than repeating and refining at Sepang.

While dealing with the tires would be left for Rossi and Lorenzo to figure out, Colin Edwards had been drafted in to help sort out the 2016 electronics, Yamaha team boss Maio Meregalli told GPOne.com. Edwards had already put in two days on the bike at Sepang in January, and would test again in the days before the IRTA test at Qatar. As Yamaha had elected not to join the private test by Honda, Ducati and Aprilia at Jerez in November, handing over some of the work of calibrating the spec software to Edwards is a wise move, freeing up time for Rossi and Lorenzo to focus on chassis development to suit the Michelins.

MotoGP merry-go-round madness awaits

The progress made by the different manufacturers is likely to play a key part in contract negotiations. With just about everyone out of contract at the end of 2016, MotoGP silly season is likely to be a very hectic period. "I'm going to actually not go to any GPs this year, because it's probably the only way to avoid it!" Jarvis joked. But he highlighted the first few races as being key. Riders will watch to see which bikes are competitive, and whether their own manufacturer is adapting to the new technical rules for 2016 before making a decision.

Both Rossi and Lorenzo were expecting to make a decision relatively early. Rossi said he still wanted to race, as long as he could be competitive. He will look at where he stands after the first three or four races, and then make a decision about continuing. Ideally, Jorge Lorenzo said, he would make a decision before the season even started. "If you know what is going to happen with your future before the first race, this makes you more calm," he said. But he wasn't in a hurry. He had confidence in his own ability, and so believed that he could afford to wait to make a decision, in the knowledge that manufacturers will be willing to wait for him.

In all likelihood, Rossi and Lorenzo will both be key to the contract merry-go-round for MotoGP. The chance of either man leaving Yamaha will put the rest of the contract negotiations on hold until they make a decision. Both men are also assured of being able to stay if they so choose. The same cannot be said for any of the other riders in MotoGP, with the possible exception of Marc Márquez and Maverick Viñales. Silly season will probably only start in earnest once the Movistar Yamaha men make up their minds.

New for 2016: bits, bytes, and rubber

The biggest challenges facing the Movistar men are the new electronics and switch to Michelins. Lorenzo believed that the less sophisticated electronics would benefit the top riders most. Riding the bike would be more difficult. "This will help the more technical riders, who will have less help from the electronics," Lorenzo said. It will require a more sensitive touch on the throttle, with less time spent with the throttle fully open. "You have to play more with the throttle, so the more technical and the more sensitive rider will have less problems than the more or aggressive or less technical riders." He also felt that the Michelins could be an advantage for him. "You have to anticipate the braking, release the brake a little bit sooner," he said. That is already more like Lorenzo's current style, the Spaniard releasing the brakes earlier than other riders to carry more speed into the corners. "Theoretically, it can be a little bit better for me, but until we practice in more tracks we won't know," he said.

Rossi was not worried so much about the electronics, though he acknowledged that this was one area where Yamaha had held an advantage, especially in helping to get drive out of corners. The fact that the unified software would be a step back was not a concern. "For me it's not a big problem," Rossi said. "Everyone is on the same level, and I think that we are strong enough to adapt the new system to the bike." The bigger issue was the tires, as far as Rossi was concerned. "The question mark is bigger how the new tires will match with the different bikes. This is important to understand the level for this year."

The new tires are different not just because they are being made by Michelin, but also because Michelin had asked that the tires be fitted on 17-inch rims again, rather than the 16.5-inch wheels which Grand Prix bikes had been using since the turn of the century. The difference in wheel size had a relatively small effect, but it was still noticeable, Rossi explained. "In general, the bike is different in corner entry. Speaking simply, the bike gains some agility, but loses stability. So it is more reactive, but if you make a mistake, it is less safe than last year."

This characteristic was exacerbated by the nature of the Michelin tires, especially the combination of a strong rear and a weaker front. The added grip of the rear meant it was easy to let it overpower the front in the second part of the corner, once riders get on the throttle, Rossi explained. "A lot of riders crashed when you are on maximum lean and you touch the throttle. The front lifts, because it looks like the rear has good grip." Mistakes were punished mercilessly. "With the Michelin, you make a mistake and you pay. With the Bridgestone, if you make a mistake, you lose a little bit of time, not more." That was something which Bradley Smith, also present at the launch, had also felt at Valencia. Smith was proud to have been one of the very few riders not to have crashed at Valencia, having worked towards understanding the limit, rather than pushing to find it and then ending up over it.

Fueling the fire

While there was a lot of attention for 2016, the controversy of last year is not going away any time soon. Both Lorenzo and Rossi addressed the subject, though they had very different view of the affair. Jorge Lorenzo wanted nothing to do with a situation he felt he had no part of. "The thing is that this thing in Sepang happened, with Márquez and Rossi, I was not involved, never on the track. It's not my game, it's something they have to solve all together." Lorenzo believes the outcome of the championship was an accurate reflection of his strength as a rider. "The statistics speak for themselves: I am the one with more victories, with more pole positions, more laps leading, a lot of podiums, I don't have to demonstrate anything to anyone. I've been the fastest one, and the one who deserved more the world title." The experts, the people who know about motorcycle racing and who see every MotoGP weekend, not just the races, they could see that he was a deserved champion, Lorenzo said.

The one thing he did regret was the gesture he had made on the podium at Sepang, Lorenzo acknowledged. He should not have made the thumbs down gesture while Valentino Rossi was being awarded his trophy, after Rossi had been involved in the incident which caused Marc Márquez to crash. "The only thing that I regret and that I ask to be forgiven is the gesture I did on the podium in Malaysia, that I think was not the right image that I should do. I should keep to myself my opinion, and don't demonstrate it," he said.

Unsurprisingly, Rossi viewed it very differently. Though he told the press he was now looking ahead to 2016, and was over how the end of the 2015 season had unfolded, he still dwelt on the Sepang fallout in some depth, egged on in no small part by the Italian press. The first couple of weeks after Valencia had been hard, he admitted, but preparing for the Monza Rally had helped. "I had to restart for another race and that’s what I needed. To drive and enjoy. Sincerely that weekend was the disappointment finished and I started to think of the future." That was also the period in which he dropped the appeal against his Sepang penalty with the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The aim of that appeal had always primarily been to get the penalty lifted for Valencia, so that he would not have to start from the back of the grid. Once that was impossible, he had no interesting in pursuing his appeal, Rossi said.

A lack of respect

Rossi denied he would be motivated by revenge, against Márquez and Lorenzo. His main motivation was the love of competition, and the challenge of beating his rivals, he told the Italian press. His responses to questions about respect were prickly. Lin Jarvis had said that everyone needed to show each other respect to help calm the situation, but Rossi felt respect had been singly lacking in 2015. "At the end of last year, especially Márquez, but also Lorenzo did not show any respect for me. I always had respect for them, but we will have to see what happens. Respect has to be something mutual," Rossi said.

Despite feeling that Lorenzo had shown him a lack of respect, Rossi had shaken the hand of the Spaniard at the start of the presentation. "You have to be strong enough to leave your personal problems aside," Rossi said. "Lorenzo is my teammate, and has been for many years. We have to be professional, and work on developing the Yamaha. It's easier to work when the atmosphere is good, and I expect that to be the case." Would Rossi also shake the hand of Marc Márquez when he saw him again? "Fortunately I can say that Márquez is not my teammate."

Why had Márquez done the things Rossi claimed he had? Rossi had no ready explanation. "I asked myself this many times, but I can't find an answer. I think I was a scapegoat for Márquez, he had lost the championship by making too many mistakes, and he needed someone to blame." Rossi did not believe that his outburst at the Sepang press conference had caused the problem with Márquez. "I don't agree with the people who say that Márquez acted against me after the Sepang press conference. That's not what happened, he had decided to do anything he could to stop me from winning the title. My statements didn't change anything."

Rossi also criticized the way the situation was handled by Dorna. "I think the organizers could have handled it better," Rossi said. The image of MotoGP had definitely been damaged, but now was the time to return to the track, and concentrate on racing.

What now?

Concentrating on racing would be the right thing to do, but after seeing Rossi's body language in Barcelona, you can't help but feel that the anger still burns inside him. In the past, it was always Valentino Rossi who manipulated the emotions of his rivals, and used those emotions against them. At the start of 2016, it looks more like Rossi will be the victim of his own emotions, rather than Lorenzo and Márquez. The two Spaniards know they cannot win the battle with Rossi off the track. The excessive and sometimes downright threatening behavior of Rossi fans, both online and at events in Italy, where the Márquez fan club has been subjected to threats, have made intimidation commonplace. Any online discussion of the events of 2015 is soon swamped by hordes of Rossi fans, backing their hero unconditionally. Both Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Márquez have learned to ignore the abuse and insults hurled at them regularly online.

On track, though, things are very different. There, it is man to man, and both Lorenzo and Márquez know they are capable of beating the Italian. Mind games only work when a rival is on edge, and uncertain of being able to beat you. In a straight fight, an attempt to engage in mind games can be viewed as a sign of weakness, the need to resort to psychological warfare proof of a lack of confidence in a rider's own ability. Mind games are more likely to strengthen the resolve of Lorenzo and Márquez, rather than weaken them.

After the Movistar Yamaha launch in Barcelona, it is hard to shake the feeling that the friction in MotoGP is going to get worse, rather than better. The current cease fire (or is it just a cold war?) will not last long, and Valentino Rossi stands ready to reopen hostilities at the first opportunity. If he does decide to do so, or if Marc Márquez or Jorge Lorenzo decide that it is best to get their retaliation in first, then the real winners will be Dorna. Interest in the sport was already through the roof at the end of 2015, with TV audiences much larger than normal. More controversy will see audiences grow even further, a fact which will be seized upon by Dorna when it comes time to renegotiate TV and sponsorship contracts, a major source of income for the Spanish organizers. It is not just the drama on track which helps sell the sport, the melodrama off track helps too.


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Comments

The sport is very exciting for me - I follow much of it - BSB, BSS, WSBK, WSS, Moto3, 2 & of course GP - but this year the drama and melodrama has added even more interest for me, as I'm certainly not immune to all the noise.

There are so many unknowns this year - If the Hondas or Yamahas don't get on well with the new tires or ECU maybe somebody else gets a huge headstart while the big two get it together - it could be business as usual or who knows, Ducati's experience with the electronics maybe sees them win 5 of the first 6 and or... who knows?

I for one can't wait to watch it unfold.

Your articles are so full of fantastic detail and depth, we'd be lost without you. Thanks so much.

Great article

A few points:
- Wouldnt the 2 liter increase in fuel help increase the horsepower?

- Rossi talks about respect but accuses Marquez of cheating and in the process demeans Lorenzo accomplishment - Its quite sad how delusional he is.

The 'respect' comments from Rossi are interesting, as they read to me as if he was expecting special treatment. The old "do you not know who I am?" line.

As you say David, this is going to run and run...

Rossi is a rare "cross-generational" talent, so to speak. In sport, any sport, it's a fruitless endeavor to compare a current generation of athlete to a previous generation - simply because head-to-head comparisons between athletes IN THEIR PRIME is impossible between generations. The only comparisons we typically actually see are newer, younger athletes near their physical peak competing against the previous generation as they progress down the bell curve from their physical peak. In sport, any sport, an athlete in prime physical condition has an advantage - "old age and treachery" can only make up for so much, and inevitably the older generation will fail against the younger. This is the cycle of sport. This leads to the "newer is always better" phenomenon where, based on the victory of new over old (even though it was not a truly "even" match, which is impossible) the newest generation is deemed "the best ever". Watch any sport and you'll see the same; combat sports are particularly prone to this as the older athlete can fail spectacularly; this also inevitably leads to the "they aren't as good as they were made out to be" argument where the older athlete's accomplishments are diminished - the competition wasn't as strong (based on other observations of the athlete's generation failing against the newer) being the general reasoning there.

Not only did Rossi dominate his generation, he's perfectly capable of competing with the next generation. Do you not know who he is? Maybe he does deserve that respect.

A great point.

I don't think Rossi is bigger than the sport as a whole but I think he transcends it as a sportsman and an athlete. Not only has he crossed generations of competitors he has had to do it through many technical changes. That combined with his record of championships and wins and the stories behind some of them, of which he has enough for several documentaries, makes him a candidate for one of the best athletes the world has ever seen.

I often think that there is one defining trait of truly great people and that is the reaction they get from people. They are either loved or hated, there is no in between simply because it's impossible to not care about them within their field.

Social Media: I think the paragraph in the article about idiot Rossi supporters on social media brings the article down. There is the same percentage of idiots for all the riders (and all and anything that people comment on) it's just that Rossi has many more fans. Facebook comment sections are places that deserve no attention.

You are making something out of nothing. Rossie merely stated that he respects Lorenzo and Marquez but felt he had received no respect in return.

Read his comments again, he specifically mentions respect should be mutual, nothing to do with imagined special treatment.

The 2016 contains a lot of unknowns - tyres, electronics etc - however for me, the biggest unknown is how "close" the racing is going to be. You can bet the first time that fairings touch, there will be a string of protests and counter protests, arguments and thinly veiled threats. After Rossi's punishment for the incident in Sepang, you can bet that the next time Marquez does something... well, Marquez-like, there will be a baying for blood and demands that he is sanctioned/banned/disemboweled. How Dorna deals with that will have a huge bearing on the season - I expect as much of the fighting to be in race control's office as on the track.

Likewise, the fans will be a different animal this year. After last year, (as David has mentioned) there are a lot (probably millions) of embittered Rossi fans who have slipped into outright hatred of Marquez and Lorenzo and I broadly predict that no matter what they do, both will face insults, abuse and booing at many of the rounds. Rossi, whilst not doing a great deal to stop the abuse of his rivals in the past, has never encouraged the yellow hordes in their hate campaigns; however I wouldn't be surprised if he lights the blue touch paper this year. Basically saying that he won't shake hands with Marquez (and you can bet he will be asked to at Qatar) is probably all the encouragement they need.

Whilst Lorenzo is a veteran of not being well liked and will deal with it as he did in 2015 and every other season, I don't think that Marquez will handle it quite as well. His 2015 season showed signs of someone under pressure, trying to win every race and making mistakes. Whether he did actively try and prevent Rossi winning the title (and it looked to me that he did at Valencia; if nowhere else) Marquez (unlike Lorenzo) has previously been used to generally being loved by the crowds; I don't think that will be the same this year and I don't know how he will handle the pressure of being cast as the villain - I don't think that it is something that he will like.

I am just hoping for an exciting season in which everyone (fans and racers) makes it to the final flag in Valencia in one piece.

Rossi really needs to draw a line on the Sepang saga, especially with the italian press; they seem keen to further stoke the fires of last season and Rossi seems to be 'happily' playing along to their tunes. While it's a good recipe for juicy headlines, their prodding and distractions will harm Rossi more than Lorenzo and Marquez.

Personally I can't wait for the tarmac action to start. I am hoping that Honda solves their issues, the Yamaha is good and that Ducati offers a serious, constant challenge to the podium positions. I really feel this will be one epic season both on and off track :-)

I think Rossi's view on the actions and motivations of Marquez is spot-on. Just review the Assen post-race press conference and you see the sheer anger of Marquez when Rossi is speaking. Marquez showed he is living in his own reality, by his constant talking about his perfect corner and that he should have won. At the end, he even said: "I know what I have to do from now". That seemed like a threat at the time, and I'd say it proved to be exactly that.

I think race direction handled this case very poorly, by not taking any actions towards Marquez, despite his obvious intentions in Sepang (they even admitted they could see "he was doing something"), despite his repetitive bumping into Rossi during the season, and instead giving Rossi a championship-deciding penalty for running wide and slowing down. This has created a precedent where it is OK to aggressively sabotage the outcome of a championship when you're out of it yourself.
This time it was out of sour revenge, but what if someone had betted a lot of money on Lorenzo becoming champion..?

Anyway, on a positive note, I think this is going to be a very interesting season. Although with all the new variables, it could just as well turn out that one team gets things a lot more right than the others, which could be bad for the championship battle. I have good hopes for a bit of shifting of power during the season though, when everybody gets the bikes and themselves dialed in better and better.

>> At the end, he even said: "I know what I have to do from now". That seemed like a threat at the time, and I'd say it proved to be exactly that.

What was the threat? I'll put Rossi into position (in front of me), then make him slow down, run me wide and break the rules, then he'll be penalized and Lorenzo will win the title? Sounds like a great plan. If you are delusional. Yes, Marquez was pissed after Assen. He's a racer and right or wrong when a racer comes out on the losing end he feels like he's been screwed over. One piece of evidence for that is Marquez after Assen. Another piece of evidence is Rossi's ongoing behavior after PI. If all these guys didn't have egos the size of the sun they would not be where they are and easily accepting defeat is not one of their strong points.

If Marquez was holding Rossi up so much at Sepang they why was Rossi's fastest lap during his duel with Marquez? Once Marquez fell, the gap to Lorenzo only got bigger. Several times this year Rossi has closed down a significant gap late in the race but this time he couldn't because he didn't have the pace that weekend. The lap times seem to suggest that it was Rossi getting a tow from Marquez and getting in his way as opposed to Marquez holding up Rossi.

>>I think race direction handled this case very poorly, by not taking any actions towards Marquez, despite his obvious intentions in Sepang (they even admitted they could see "he was doing something"),

Why use the quotes when it is not an actual quote? Like this one by Mike Webb referring to Marquez: "His passes were clean. He rode within the rules." Or this one from Mike Webb referring to Rossi: "Valentino reacted to what he saw as provocation from Marquez and unfortunately his reaction was a manoeuvre that was against the rules. It's irresponsible riding, causing a crash. So he's been penalised for that." Seems clear cut once you put all the wishful thinking aside: one rider didn't break the rules and one did.

Maybe you meant this quote from MW: "It's my opinion on the way he was riding, the lap time, my perception is that as many riders do he [Marquez] was trying to change the race,". Maybe if you are wearing yellow glasses it can seem to be on your side but then read the rest of the statment: "But I was very clear with him that he didn't break a rule. So he's not been penalised." Which clears Marquez of any written rule infractions. As far as unwritten rules, well they are unwritten because they are not rules.

>>and instead giving Rossi a championship-deciding penalty for running wide and slowing down

After all the hubub the penalty did nothing to Rossi's finishing position at Valencia. He never had the pace all weekend to challenge the front three.

>>This has created a precedent where it is OK to aggressively sabotage the outcome of a championship when you're out of it yourself.

This is such a Rossi-centric statment its hard to believe. Marquez had every right to race Rossi hard and within the rules even though he was not in the running for the title. That's why they don't remove people without a chance for the title from races late in the year. Every race is against everyone on the grid. Its only Rossi and some of his fans that seem to believe that is not the case.

>> This time it was out of sour revenge, but what if someone had betted a lot of money on Lorenzo becoming champion..?

I'm sure many people were betting on the title outcome, maybe even one or two for Lorenzo. Unless you trying to say that Marquez was betting on Lorenzo without actually saying it?

Chris

" Every race is against everyone on the grid. Its only Rossi and some of his fans that seem to believe that is not the case."
Precisely because VR fans, or any race fan for that matter, believe that every race is against everyone Sepang was total un sportsmanship! MM had the pace and the speed to break from VR but chose to willingly fight in a brutal way on lap 3! With....how many more laps to go? Almost everyone has agreed that MM stayed with VR to mess with him "within the rules" but no matter how you call it's messing with the other racer not racing.
I agree it is time to move on and look forward but honestly in all the years have been following motogp I have never seen something like that

"He never had the pace all weekend to challenge the front three."

I'm afraid that's not quite right either Chris. Rossi was in front of Marquez in FP2 and had the wood on all of them in FP3, second only to Iannone. Your statement is incorrect.

... was obviously slower, because there was no point trying to run faster. the damage was done, Lorenzo was already way too far up the road due to Rossi being aggressively hounded and roughed up by Marquez to that point.

Was Rossi right to do what he did (and by that, I mean run Marc wide in the corner, and that's it - talk of kicks and deliberately hitting Marc's brake are sheer fantasy - try kicking backwards mid corner with any sort of accuracy on a sports bike against a moving target)? By the letter of the law, no. But I can imagine just how damn frustrated he would have been with the behavior of Marc behind him, 2-3 laps into a race.

Marc was slowing down both of them by fighting with that ferocity, and that's never going to help either of them win the race by catching Lorenzo.

As to Marc's passes being clean, well that's open to interpretation. Technically clean, maybe. Super, super aggressive, detrimental to the ability of both of them to catch Jorge and generally totally inappropriate for the opening laps? Definitely.

You're right, Rossi was on pace during the practice sessions that weekend. My bad.

During the race he didn't have the pace of JL or DP. Rossi's fast lap (from the entire race) was slower than Marquez's fast lap (only 6 complete laps). Hard to see where Rossi was held up when both of their fast laps were during the first few laps and Marquez was the faster one. Once Marquez fell and Rossi had open track the gap up to Lorenzo increased while the gap back to Dovi opened up.

>> was obviously slower, because there was no point trying to run faster. the damage was done, Lorenzo was already way too far up the road due to Rossi being aggressively hounded and roughed up by Marquez to that point.

Rossi has closed up larger gaps than 6 sec in fewer laps many times in his career. In a few races this year the rider leading in the early stages lost the lead when their tires went off and the gap closed. So you are saying Rossi threw in the towel at 1/3 race distance? Not very convincing. It always amuses me when the people who argue that Rossi is the best ever say he gave up trying. You don't win the number of races and titles he has by ever giving up before the checkered flag.

>>Almost everyone has agreed that MM stayed with VR to mess with him "within the rules" but no matter how you call it's messing with the other racer not racing.

No, almost everyone has not agreed that. I just rewatched the race and its interesting to hear the commentary. All the announcers were going on about how this was the fight that we've all been waiting to see. 54 passes at PI, how many this race? They were saying it was personal, it was, and was some brave passing, and there was, but nobody even mentioned the possibility that Marquez was holding back. Just like at PI, where at the time it was the best race ever and if anyone was to be yelled at for messing with Rossi's title chances it was Iannone, it took Rossi to introduce and guide his narrative that Marquez was doing something unusual. Was Marquez racing hard? Sure. Holding back? Doubtful. Both him and Rossi were making mistakes.

Chris

After all the hubub the penalty did nothing to Rossi's finishing position at Valencia. He never had the pace all weekend to challenge the front three.

I'm far from a Rossi's fan, to say the least, but he and he's crew did their magic so many times before Sunday's warm-up so you could never bet against him based on poor practices.
Without such a burden, who knows how it would've turn out?

(be gentle with my English :)

But young and maybe surrounded by people who say yes a lot (like most the top wealthy riders). I don't belive Rossi was wrong last year in his beliefs but was wrong in his actions. He ended up giving the title away and granting Marquez a victory of sorts.

For 2016 I hope for hard, clean racing and that the best man wins, who ever that may be.

"I don't belive Rossi was wrong last year in his beliefs but was wrong in his actions."

That's exactly how I finally feel about the case.

The feeling that a champion with so much talent, that I loved so much, was able to have another simple objective than try to be the fastest possible, even when points didn't matter anymore, even with some stupid (because without possible proof) declaration is still disturbing in my opinion but ok, it's only a sport.
And it is still only a feeling.

Anyway, this sport is not football (that I appreciate by the way), I prefer it when rivalry means respect so I really hope that fans will be reasonable.
And Rossi could lead the way by letting this affair behind him and make peace.

But he is Rossi and he won't. It is more probable that the dalai lama brings an assault rifle in the next press interview ;)

This becomes a little bit similar to footbal "fans", perhaps over a little time we get riots at the racetrack between these "fans", when that happens I can no longer tell my footbal friends that we can sit along the track every one, Rossi, Lorenzo, Marquez or Pedroza fan and we can congratulate one another for being defeated or just conquered the other, I sincerely hope this will never happen ...........

I still haven't seen anything on Alzamora. Rossi said he said directly to him that he wouldn't win the championship prior to all the handbag events. It seems as if everyone forgot about this statement.

VR did nor say those words. He said that Alzamora told him that MM held a grudge. Maio Meregalli was present Interesting how things get distorted....
And yes it would be nice to hear more on that story

I predict that the larger more "normal size" riders will have a slight advantage in acclimating to the new (oldish) cpu's/pcm's/ecm's.
The wheel size change to a street size wheel is awesome! (I run 17's on my Supermoto). But, what is to be seen is how the bikes act once you start leaning them over, aggressively, finding the limits and exploiting them better than every other rider on the same or similar skins (tires) without low siding or (hopefully not) high siding. Braking techniques are going to have to be updated along with corner approach, entry, line, apex reference, running out of the corner, powering out, picking it up sooner than you should to get the power down so you can go further forward faster than the others.
#BringOnMotoGP2016!
Testing will be happening fairly soon :)

I think people need to reconsider the generalisation that only Rossi fans are out to cause trouble.When the whole affair kicked off big time ,it was some fans from all 3 of the involved riders that were unsavoury, not just some Rossi fans.We are all passionate about the rider we support,and we all have a valid opinion, but it seems Rossi fans are being persecuted even when their statements are rational.Certainly on my social media feed,and by some respected professionals in the Motogp arena.The apparent ease in which Marc's failings are attributed to inexperience rather than petulance and frustration coupled with dangerous tactics doesn't gel well with what are usually informative and well written articles.Marc is one hell of a rider,possibly the best natural talent for a while,but he has rammed Rossi three times this year-with no penalty-experienced enough to beat VR and JL twice to the WC,but not to learn how not to run into Rossi,or JL,or Bautista when frustrated.I think he tried to force Rossi into losing at Assen and Argentina,came off worse,and held a grudge for the rest of the year.Without the machine advantages of the previous year, he couldn't dominate,and it didn't sit well at all.

The problem here is that Rossi's 'fans' take his side no matter what. There are zero arguments in fact to support any of his accusations, yet many of his fans claim there are and go to any lengths to fabricate them. That's called denial. They are so blinded they cannot see what's right in front of them and prefer to live in delusion.

So the problem is that his fans don't have a valid opinion at all, it is based on nothing. And that's why this blew up. A bunch of people not hindered by any factual knowledge spouting off against people who use reasoning and common sense to conclude Rossi has either gone completely mad or he's pulling off the biggest hoax in sport history.

The funny thing is, Rossi thinks so little of his fans he knows he can get away with whatever he says. It doesn't matter, he knows people will blindly believe any word coming out of his mouth. He used people like you to try to get to Marquez, Lorenzo, Dorna and god knows who. He whipped this up because he knew he was going to lose the championship. It was a hail mary if I've ever seen one.

Is this really intelligent discussion like the tag line of this site has been for a long time? "You people are blind!" is really insulting.

Taking comments from idiots on social media (who, as others have noted, came from fans of all riders involved) and painting every Rossi fan with the same brush is almost as bad as constantly insulting people on Facebook. It's just as ignorant.

Plenty of people have given their opinions in the forum about why Rossi was right or wrong and given their opinions on Marquez' behaviour throughout the year. It doesn't make anyone a blind follower because their opinions don't line up with yours.

The best way to remove those idiots power is to ignore them and come to places like this where you can give an opinion and actually have a discussion without having to assume a passive aggressive tone to every reply you get just because you support one particular rider.

...as an English football/soccer fan (of a certain age!), I have slowly become more and more disenfranchised with the whole soap opera. The ludicrous salaries being paid, the stupid feuds and the idiotic way that players and fans behave.

After a few years away from watching motorcycle racing, I have wholeheartedly embraced it again over the last 3 or 4 years and I sincerely hope that it doesn't start descending into the same ridiculousness. The signs are there - blindly obstinate fans and petty arguments between riders. I just hope it goes no further.

The on-track action was just brilliant in 2015, but here we are still talking about the bullsh*t.

It's not just football/soccer that has that problem, it's in American football too, and becoming more prevalent. Fans that are so wrapped up and enamored with their team/athlete that all they care about is winning. I hate that mentality, and it turns me off to a sport when it becomes pervasive in the fan base. It's like these people, these "rabid" fans, stake their own identity on the success or failure of their sports teams. They are so wrapped up in their desire to have backed the "right" team that will win that they miss the spectacle of the sport entirely. These people aren't fans of the sport per se, they are fans of a particular participant. To these kind of fans that absolute best result is a lopsided, blowout victory for their team. And I don't get this, as that to me is an extremely boring competition to watch. These people will inevitably miss all the amazing, scintillating performances because they are so wrapped up in whether "they" will win or not.

Competition should be about doing your best, giving your all, competing hard, and realizing that on some days you'll come up short. Spectating should be about appreciating and being inspired by what you see on the field/track/court whatever. But less and less does that seem to be the case.

I'm looking forward to a good year of racing. I'm hoping the fans, and the rider(s) who is(are) goading them on, don't spoil it.

Maybe a race or two from Casey, a win from Crazy Joe, and a tight championship between Marc and Jorge. Dani will win a few, and may even fight for the championship. Write Rossi off at your peril, they say, but I'm willing to take the chance. I expect podiums, and a win or two, from him, but don't expect him to be in contention for the championship. Too much anger, and the other riders aren't going to drive off the track (aka Petrucci) for him this year.

I expect to see a lot more riders with top 5 finishes this year.

This discussion has touched on something that I think will rear it's head sooner or later, that being corruption in the sport. And doping. It must be the easiest thing in the world to throw a race, and I wouldn't be in the least surprised to find that some big names are stuffed to the gills with performances enhancing chemicals.

PLEASE don't genaralise all Rossi fans in the same way, that's just a foolish assumption on the part of those who don't know any better!
There are two factions, Fans, and Fanatics!
I consider myself a Fan having followed Valentino's progress since his arrival in GP's at Shah Alam!

I was also a Fan of Sheene, Hailwood, Ivy, Agostini, Cooper, Simmonds, Croxford, Aldana, Rayborn, Nation, Spray, ----
---- the list is endless!

I'll content myself in the certain knowledge that a lot of you will relate to those names, whilst others will say, "WHO???"

For a moment I will accept everything Rossi said about the arrangement between Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo. They conspired to prevent him from winning the race. Or Marquez felt that what happened at Assen should not have gone in favour of Rossi, so he decided to act in such a way that Rossi would not win the championship. The premises of both the argument are different. One is based in conspiracy theory which involves a pre-determined action on the part of Marquez in order to honour the contract between Lorenzo and himself. The second premise based argument will be that Marquez felt that injustice had been done to him and therefore to counter Rossi he decided to help Lorenzo. Rossi's outburst at Sepang in the press conference and the reaction to that from Marquez during the race which was clearly an attempt to keep attacking Rossi (with the intention to slow him down perhaps?) is no doubt very true. But it could be Marquez just angered by Rossi and deciding to mess with him. And his fall, we will never know if it was Rossi's kick or the front brake of Marquez in his own hands leading to a slide and a fall.

Now if the conspiracy theory is to be true, I am surprised that Honda is not in the picture. Marquez is not a free agent; he has to answer his employer Honda and I cannot see how Honda supported its rider in his quest to help him and I do not see how Honda will condone one its riders helping another who is on a Yamaha win the title. The only remotely possible answer to that is given the fractious relationship that Rossi had with Honda, Honda would also like to see Lorenzo becomes world champion. This is a story steeped in fantasy and simply impossible. I more educated approach would be perhaps we are not aware of the various dimensions of the episode and so let it rest.

>> I cannot see how Honda supported its rider in his quest to help him and I do not see how Honda will condone one its riders helping another who is on a Yamaha win the title

Maybe after seeing all of his data Honda realize that MM was not holding back and that the finishing order of PI and Valencia was the result of racers racing. PI was an out and out dogfight and Marquez won, not much for Honda to be annoyed at. At Valencia a Yamaha was going to win the title regardless of who finished where. Did Honda want their rider to punt one of the Yamahas off the track without the benefit of winning the title? I doubt it. Sepang was obviously the result of a racer not racing, and that racer was Rossi. So what behavior of MM's would Honda not support?

As far as the 'kick' goes, the discussion is just something for Rossi fans to feel right about since he was accused by many of doing it on purpose. His penalty was not for the kick, it was for the running wide and not racing. I don't think it was a kick, when two bikes come in contact with each other there is bound to be some reaction forces the rider needs to compensate for. Just a lap earlier Rossi's foot came off the peg in I think the same area. So no kick but definitely misbehavior on the racing line just before. Debating on the kick or not is merely a distraction from the true rule infraction that is cut and dry.

Chris