2016 MotoGP Mid-Season Review Part 7: Valentino Rossi

As our mid-season review of MotoGP continues, we come to the man who was so bitterly disappointed in 2015, and started the current season out for revenge.

3rd: Valentino Rossi, Yamaha, 111 points

Yet another impostor. Valentino Rossi is arguably the most complete racer on the MotoGP grid, and probably the most complete racer of all time. His experience is unrivaled, as is his ability to adapt to circumstances. Yet he has thrown away one win and the chance of a very strong result through something resembling youthful impatience. The most experienced rider on the grid has made life impossible for himself as a result of two rookie mistakes.

That is a real shame. For Rossi, like Lorenzo, arrived at the start of this year in better shape than ever during his career. His training is more intense and more focused, his demeanor more single-minded. He has separated from his long-time girlfriend, and hired a rider coach in Luca Cadalora. Quite literally, Valentino Rossi has done everything possible to try to win the 2016 MotoGP title.

Perhaps that has been his downfall so far this year. Rossi had the sweet scent of his tenth MotoGP title in his mouth for much of 2015, only to be left with the bitter aftertaste of Sepang and Valencia. He came to the 2016 season to win, and that has led him to try a little too hard. A poor start at Austin left him trying to compensate and make up too much ground too quickly. He lost the front, and crashed out. After riding with such exaggerated precision all weekend at Assen, he started the second part of the interrupted race with the strongest credentials. He made one mistake all weekend, but it was a mistake which saw him on the floor and out of the race.

It has not all been Rossi's fault, of course. He has had a helping hand from ill fortune as well. At Mugello, Jorge Lorenzo's engine blew up during the morning warm up. Lorenzo went on to win the race. Valentino Rossi's engine survived morning warm up. It did not survive the race, blowing up as he was comfortably stalking his teammate, and looking easily capable of winning the race.

Those three incidents leave Rossi trailing Marc Márquez by 59 points. That is almost certainly too big of a gap to bridge, unless Márquez starts making mistakes. If he does, then Rossi stands ready to capitalize, for his 2016 season has been magisterial. His win at Jerez was one of the most impressive of all time – dare I say, Lorenzo-esque? - taking pole and leading from lights to flag. His victory in Barcelona was similarly impressive, controlling the race from the front and parrying the attacks of Márquez with ease. He has improved on qualifying, his Achilles heel in recent years. He now expects to start from the front row, rather than hoping to start from the second row.

Valentino Rossi signed a contract for two more years before Qatar. If he continues to show the form of the first half of the 2016 season, he may well be in with a chance of the title again next year, and the year after that. Which begs the question, will he decide to stay for 2019 as well?

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...if this mix of rookie mistakes and some bad luck are gonna be the "straw" that breaks VR's back... last year terrible end (no mystery here I'm 100% team Rossi: I think that MM did not play clean. Which is unforgivable in someone like him gifted with so much talent) was the motivation to come back with a vengeance. I mean in the sense to be even stronger and win. But now it's as if it weren't meant to be. What else can he do? Just give all he's got and hope for better luck next year?
On a side note : I didn't do my maths but i think there still is a chance that MM does not get the WC if for the remaining 9 races he finishes 3rd (I know. ... very very unlikely) still the 2 Yamaha boys have the potential to beat him....maybe we're still on for some exciting second half of the season.

What was unforgivable was for Rossi to play silly mind games with other racers and bring shame to Marquez and Honda despite being so talented and one of the greatest riders of all time.

Marquez gave us one of the if not the best race at Philip Island and VR just ruined everything, that penalty served him right.

Nothing is safe in this sport until the fat lady sings.

Like Nicky Hayden always said: "Thats why we line up on Sundays..."

The next crash could be the one that breaks some bones if you are unlucky.

It can happen to anybody and that would change everything.

Its not that I wish it on anybody-really not-, but that factor has decided a lot of WC`s in the past-thats a fact and not to be understated.

So, the WC is still wide open and if you look into the past, there are so many things that can happen in 9 races that it is really explainable that we are so hooked to the TV when MotoGP is on!

I don't see Rossi as primarily bitterly disappointed by his 2015, but more as inspired and fueled with it, continuing his triumphant charge. Albeit with chinks in his armor now apparent, making it that more compelling.

Perhaps there is refreshment in the "rookie-like" nature of 2016 Rossi, for Rossi. New electronics, new tires, and very very fast company. The end of Rossi's career can feel a bit like the beginning, which can be essentially positive in one layer. He has his own academy and Sky practically making camp with him at his ranch, bringing forth a joyful expansive Vale.

But the errors. So hard to watch, as a fan of the sport with desire for a close championship. And lover of humanity...the "old guy muster up an unlikely last #1 plate despite the odds" compels me. And even with the many events on and off track over the last year that disappointed, despite the hype and darker side of popularity bordering on religiousity, Rossi has provided me with something very special all these years that remains. Touch with unwavering love for the sport.

Everyone was a bit of a rookie for the first half of 2016. Interestingly it has been young Marquez, on the unruly and ill-fitting of new electronics/tires Honda. Marquez that was accosted on his own front lawn by sensational aggressive television humiliation lampooners. Marquez that is freshly working with his own young unbridled exhuberance. Marquez that is first to show seasoning in the new era.

I love Valentino Rossi. At 45 yrs old I am fully invested in the narrative that Rossi pull out one more title at his age. A special record tying total number of titles. The Austin and even more the Assen crashes hurt my heart. I was disappointed with Vale for making things so hard on himself. And potentially robbing us of a 2016 legendary season, and triumphant legacy.

Now I am stuck with crappy fantasy of Marquez falling off or having a mechanical. This sucks. Eventually a "Rossi as human" narrative may leave a good wake for posterity. I can identify with it. So can the next young Astronauts.

The season isn't over. Anything can happen. And this Rossi can help make it so...will we see a race where he draws Marquez into a battle that pressures a fall? By WHOM?! Those lever protectors are there for good reason, and I would love a reminder. Or poetically for 2016 perhaps one of their bikes finishes short one wing, left by the curbing for all to see...over and over and over again.

...you are a poet! :)
Thank you for reminding us that Rossi did give us some great memories....
In my wildest fantasy I'm still hoping to see him win this 10th title this year and lifting the trophy wearing the donkey ears over his head.....:)
I know, I know.... it's just a very silly and totally impossible fantasy. But wouldn't it be fun ?

or maybe king-of-all-trades? , his downfall is started since his involvement on JL and MM "Time Attack game", he cannot bear to hear some said "he is too slow" , he is forgot the past version of himself, his game is always hiding his true speed, i DOUBT VR is SUNDAY RACER, he is already have that speed beforehand but purposely hiding it, to baiting, to provoking, and giving pressure for the rival to make mistake ON RACE DAY

- if he is doing the past of himself on assen, he is baiting MM to charge the front, DNF is on the stake here, he have the speed, but no, he is freeing himself from front group, he? VR? without pressuring rival? are you kidding me?
- on catalunya, he is doing FINE, baiting MM, DNF is on the stake there too, he have the speed, BUT THAT TOO LATE, if it past version of himself, he would baiting from -5 laps to go or maybe more
- on mugello, he is doing FINE, tailing and baiting with JL, DNF on stake like usual, he have the speed, but i doubt he could baiting JL, JL is stubborn racer
- and the last time on ring, MM is charge from behind, he is using SLICK for god sake, it's SLICK, and VR on Inter, but so stubborn, too late pitting, it is DNF on stake here, SLICK vs INTER dogfighting on questionable condition, he is missing the chance

yes this one is 1 nonsense year from VR, more nonsense than any other rider even iannone himself, he is losing points on mixed/wet race, but if we could have 2-3 more mixed/wet race again this season, actually there is HIS CHANCE don't you think?
so all of you yellow brigade, why don't start the ritual of rain dance? haha

Some strange comments appearing. 

Rossi needs it wet. Rossi can't take another dissapointing year. 

Haven't these both been fully and unequivically dispelled now? I personally think Marquez has won the title this year but it isn't done until it's official. I also think Marquez considers Rossi as his title rival this season and not Lorenzo and unfortunately he may be right if Lorenzo doesn't turn something around.