2017 Misano MotoGP Sunday Round Up: Missing Rossi, Marquez' Motivation, And Lorenzo Wet & Dry

Will MotoGP survive the loss of Valentino Rossi? From the evidence of Misano, the answer is yes. According to the official figures released by Dorna, the attendance over all three days was down just 133 fans. Not bad, when the three-day attendance was over 158,000. The Sunday numbers – a better measure, as the three-day figures are mostly derived by double and triple counting – were down a little, from 100,000 to 96,000.

Disregarding the official numbers (justifiably, as there are plenty of good reasons to suspect the books are well and truly cooked at some circuits), judging visually, the grandstands and grass banks were pretty full, almost as full as last year. Despite the horrendous rain which was heaviest as the fans were making their way to the circuit, and continued all the way up until the flag dropped.

Valentino Rossi is irreplaceable as an icon of the sport, known both inside and outside motorcycle racing. But the cast of characters, heroes and villains, which the sport now has, and the intense and close racing we see is enough to keep the overwhelming majority of the fans watching. There will undoubtedly be a drop in attendance and TV figures, but on the evidence of Misano, it will be nearer a survivable 10%, not a disastrous 40%. MotoGP will survive the loss of Valentino Rossi, once he goes.

All three MotoGP classes gave the fans a reason to keep watching. The rain created a spectacle of its own, with crashes shaking up the outcomes. The early leaders crashed out in both Moto2 and MotoGP, with major consequences for the title in the Moto2 race. Though the winner checked out early in Moto3, the battle for the podium – and as a result, for the championship – heated up behind. And both MotoGP and Moto3 were decided in the last few laps, as riders launched attacks and either saw them rebuffed, or got through to seize glory.

Booing turns counterproductive

The absence of Valentino Rossi may not have affected crowd numbers too much, but his fans may have inadvertently affected the outcome. During a soaking wet warm up session, Marc Márquez crashed out with a minute or so to go. The crowd in the grandstands, mostly Rossi fans, cheered as he fell, and then booed and whistled as he rode past on the back of a paddock scooter.

Márquez mischievously blew the fans kisses as he went by, knowing that was a far more effective response than getting upset. But it had annoyed him. "This honestly makes me sad, " he told the press conference after winning the race. "In the podium I can understand, but what I cannot understand is that when you crash, the grandstand cheers. This is something that when we crash we are riding 300 km/h there in the track. We are pushing in the limit. Our life is there. We can get injured. I hope that in the future minimum my fans never do this with any rider. The feeling is not nice."

Márquez carried that niggle with him to the race, and according to one prominent Catalan journalist, it made him more determined to extract revenge. He did that by taking a little more risk in going for the win, pushing harder to get past Danilo Petrucci and win in front of Rossi's home crowd. Had the fans not cheered when he crashed in morning warm up, Márquez may have been more inclined to settle for second, and take points in the championship. But they cheered, so he pushed and won.

Never seen an MX picture before?

Perhaps some of the resentment had been building up earlier, from the barrage of abuse Márquez received after posting a picture of him riding motocross after Valentino Rossi had broken his leg riding an enduro bike. Some fans saw Márquez' picture as a direct taunt aimed at Rossi, rather than just yet another in the long sequence of pictures of Márquez riding dirt bikes which make up his social media feed.

Márquez had thought nothing of posting the picture, and was surprised at the backlash. But the fans lambasting the Repsol Honda rider had fundamentally misunderstood his intentions. They thought he had posted the photo because he hates Valentino Rossi. He does – and Rossi hates him right back – but Rossi not being at a race is not a reason to celebrate. Márquez wants nothing more to beat Rossi on the track, just as Rossi wants to beat Márquez on track. Without Rossi there, victory tastes a fraction less sweet. The jeers of the crowd when he crashed restored some of that sweetness.

Every little helps

Revenge was not his sole motivation, of course. The fact that the championship is so incredibly tight was also a factor. "It was so difficult to keep the concentration because the race was so long," Márquez told the press conference. "The first part of the race I was struggling more. Then second part of the race I was okay, but the last part of the race was when I felt better. In one point I started thinking about the championship and I said, maybe second position is enough. Then I started to think more and I say, okay, I have the potential. I feel I will try. I don't know. I will try because you never know. These five points if in the end of the championship in Valencia, you might need them or not."

He had delayed that decision until the very last lap, however. The warm up crash had made him cautious, knowing that he could easily crash again. So he followed Danilo Petrucci, trying to remain as calm as possible and not push too hard. He bided his time, waiting for the right moment to strike. "The last lap, I prepared really well. When three laps remained, I already had the possibility to overtake him. But I said, I don’t want to fight with Danilo here in Misano. For that reason, I overtook him and I pushed 100%, because for me it was better to take the risk for one lap than to take the risk in the last corner."

Hard, but not as hard as at Assen

Seeing victory snatched from him left Petrucci disappointed, but not as angry as he had been at Assen. Petrucci believed that at Assen, he could have won. At Misano, the Pramac Ducati rider was forced to accept that Márquez was simply better than him at that moment. "Today was similar to Assen," Petrucci explained. "I was trying to control the race, but in Assen I found Rins in the last lap then I was not able even to try to win. This time there was no problem. Apart from Marc! So, I am a little bit sad because I could win my first race, but Marc today was stronger. I have no regrets. For sure, I am very close to the win, but today it was difficult to lead the race in this condition, and especially with Marc always behind."

"I pushed when there were two laps to go, but in the penultimate lap he did a great last corner. Then he passed me in turn one. I tried to go in turn four, but I saw that he was a little bit wide. I tried to go in, but I lost the front and my bike stay up only because I’m very tall and I tried with the knee to stay up. In the last lap, he go wide all the corner and I say, okay, now I go in. He was far ahead. Now I try to go in, and he was far and far and far. So, I said, don’t think and just push. But he did an incredible last lap and he deserves this win today."

Márquez' win put him level with Andrea Dovizioso in the championship on points, though Márquez leads the championship because he has more podiums than the Italian. But better than third was not to be for Dovizioso, the Italian struggling with a lack of grip he was at a loss to explain. "I realized from the first few laps it was a very difficult race for me because I didn’t have the grip," he said. "I didn’t understand why. But after the crash of Jorge, Danilo and Marc make always the same pace, so I was trying to understand if I have a chance to stay with them until the end. But I didn’t have any better point compared to them to try to fight with them."

"It was so easy to make a mistake," Dovizioso added. "There was a lot of crashes in every category. So, today when I was riding on the race, I thought this is more important to take the points than the zero." He lacked the feeling with the bike to push for a better result, content to settle for third. "I lost some points in the championship, but in the condition we found in the race on the wet, and the confirmation of yesterday about our speed in the dry, I’m really happy. I think we have a chance to fight for the championship."

No room for team orders

Of course, Ducati could have insisted that Petrucci allow Dovizioso to pass him and drop a place, but neither Petrucci nor Dovizioso were well disposed to such a plan. "I have to be sincere. I thought about it. I hope Andrea was close, but I think Andrea could fight for the championship even with not my help this time," Petrucci said. Dovizioso concurred, saying that on Sunday, Petrucci fully deserved the result he got. "He did an incredible race and it’s good to see him on the podium in second," the factory Ducati rider said.

There was another reason Petrucci didn't want to let Dovizioso past. The Pramac rider may have promised on Thursday that he would help fellow Ducati man in the championship, but there was the bigger picture to consider. "If I let him pass in the last corner, I don't know if it would be a good image for the championship," Petrucci said. He has a point: team orders have no real place in motorcycle racing. Fortunately, most racers are far too stubborn and selfish to accept them even if they were given.

Moist Maverick

With Márquez and Dovizioso tied on points, there are three realistic contenders left in the championship, both men agreed. The third man, Maverick Viñales, trails the leaders by 16 points, but was relieved that it wasn't an awful lot more. Where earlier in the year, Viñales had been poor in the rain, the updates to the Yamaha M1 chassis and electronics helped make him a lot more competitive.

"Honestly, it’s positive for our side of the box," Viñales said of his fourth place. "Maybe Marc and Dovi were at the front battling, but if we remember the Sachsenring, I was eleventh and three seconds [slower per lap] in the qualifying. We did a good improvement. I think we did quite consistent laps, especially in the middle of the race. But anyway, it’s not enough. We have to do another step in the wet. I think we take the correct direction, especially with this new chassis and the electronics, but still there are points to improve. I’m happy, and I did my best, my 100 percent, and the result can show that it was difficult to be in front."

"The handling of the bike today was really good. I’m happy with the front," Viñales said. "The front tire and the behavior of the bike with the front was good. I’m happy. I have the same feeling in the dry – we improved the front feeling. But on the rear it was very difficult to get the traction, especially on the left. It was sliding a lot the bike. I could not lean. I touch maybe four of five times the left knee down during the race. It was difficult, like going on ice."

Viñales was one of several riders who were not comfortable with the soft rear rain tire Michelin brought to Misano. It was especially the Yamaha riders who struggled most, unable to get the same heat in the left side of the tire as in the right. "The Yamaha riders, we had that feeling on the left, like it was going on the ice," Viñales explained. "I could not open the gas. It was so difficult. There was a lot spinning, especially in the acceleration of the left. I don’t know. Maybe it was our bike, it was not really accepting that time. As I said, on the front I felt really good. It’s always nice to have that feeling on the front because at the Sachsenring and other tracks it was so difficult. It was good to ride. We did many laps in the wet. We have good data to understand the situation and where we can improve."

With five races to go and 125 points still on the table, 16 points between three riders is not very much at all. The championship is still completely open, though Valentino Rossi's absence and Dani Pedrosa's struggle to get any heat whatsoever into the tires put them both well out of contention. Rossi is now 42 points behind the leader Marc Márquez, an obstacle which is probably too big to scale. Pedrosa, meanwhile is 49 points behind, needing to gain ten points a race on Andrea Dovizioso and Marc Márquez to take back control. Dovizioso has been the height of consistency, and Márquez has shown flashes of genius. Neither man is going to give up positions easily, and so putting enough space and sufficient riders between themselves and Dovizioso and Márquez is going to be nigh on impossible.

When heavier is better

Pedrosa, along with Alvaro Bautista, had perhaps the toughest day at the office. Though his light weight is often regarded as a huge advantage, it is probably more often than not quite a disadvantage, as he can't get the heat into the Michelins, especially in the soaking wet. "You have to arrive to the minimum temperature," Pedrosa explained. "Below that, you don't start the chemical thing in the tire, so it doesn’t work. When you arrive at the minimum, you start to work with the suspension, with the gas and it's like a chain reaction. But if you don't start, you don't go."

That was exactly Pedrosa's problem, an inability to get the tire temperature above the minimum point at which the tire starts to work. "Tire temperature for me was under the limit, like I had in Assen. I crashed this morning and I tried to be there in the race but I was doing 1'54s, because I had zero grip. I can't lean the bike, I cannot go on the throttle, I cannot do anything on the bike. I was almost crashing in every corner."

It was especially bad while the track was fully wet, but once the water started to dissipate, the tire could warm to above the working temperature. Once that happened, the bike became radically different. "At the end of the race when it stopped raining and there was less water, boom! Suddenly I reached the tire limit and I started to have some temperature. I dropped almost six seconds from my lap time. I finished lapping 1'49, 1'48 high instead of 1'54." By that time, though, it was far too late.

Pedrosa and his team had tried everything to fix this problem. "We've tried everything, but like I say you can do everything you want on the bike – we added weight on the bike today to simulate me being heavier. But you need to go reach the minimum of the tire and this is hard to handle. The big riders have more feeling in this situation and they will complain in the other part of the window. But sure today nobody will tell you, 'ah, Dani has an advantage'. You can see the disadvantage is bigger than the advantage."

Alvaro Bautista has exactly the same problem, though he is a little taller and a little heavier than Pedrosa, and so the problem is not quite so pronounced. "Dani also struggled a lot, and Dani and me are not so heavy, and maybe our riding style, our weight, and all these pieces, we struggle more than other riders, especially on rear contact," the Aspar Ducati rider said.

The perils of distracted driving

If Bautista and Pedrosa had been unable to get going because of tire temperature, that had not been an issue for Jorge Lorenzo. The Spaniard had taken off like a scalded cat at the start, quickly taking the lead then pulling out a gap. He was the fastest man on track by a country mile, hitting lap times that the rest would only match after the halfway mark, once the track dried out a fraction.

But Lorenzo would be punished for his enthusiasm. On lap 7, Lorenzo came through Turn 6 and flung himself into the air, the rear of his Ducati Desmosedici GP17 coming round on him and causing a massive highside. The reason, Lorenzo explained, had nothing to do with overeagerness, and everything to do with getting used to the Ducati. "I just wanted to change the map on the electronics, and this caused me a little bit to lose concentration in some corners," Lorenzo said. "Especially in that corner, I made the change of direction a little bit quicker and not using the rear brake, with less pressure, and because the track was so critical that a small change to your riding makes a big difference, and I couldn't stay on the bike."

The crash is down to the usability of Ducati's electronics setup, Lorenzo said. "The system on the Ducat is a little more complex, so it's still not natural to me, because I usually don't change it too much within the weekend. So I'm still not completely adapted to all the possibilities, where I am, where I have to go. And this causes me to lose a little bit the concentration of riding, just sliding. That doesn't mean that I couldn't ride, or I went away from the track, but it's changing a little bit the riding in the change of direction, slightly faster and not using the rear brake so much and I completely lost the rear and I was flying."

Wet, dry, and in between

It was a shame, Lorenzo said, because he had felt so strong in the wet. "Big pity because today we had the first chance to win with the Ducati, but we lost it. But it's a matter of time before another podium arrives, for sure, and maybe even a victory," Lorenzo assured. "In the dry, we are not far, but also we are not the fastest with the best pace. But we are very close. And this weekend, I believe that in a dry race, we could stay there with the front group, a little bit better than in Silverstone. But it rained, and in the rain I knew I was really strong, because in the warm up I felt strong, I wasn't pushing, so in the race I felt even better. We made a modification which gave me a little bit more confidence, so just riding quite calmly I opened the gap, one second each lap."

Two things spring to mind listening to Lorenzo's explanation. The first is that Ducati would benefit from employing a competent usability designer, who could make the electronics and engine brake settings much easier to use. The second is that Lorenzo is just fine in the wet, as long as the conditions are stable and predictable. If it's fully dry, Lorenzo can be quick. If it's fully wet, he is probably the fastest of them all.

Lorenzo's problems come when conditions are neither one thing or another, when a track is drying strongly, or when spots of rain are falling and starting to condition the track. When the track is greasy, Lorenzo's confidence goes out the window, and he goes from being a potential winner to a rider capable of hanging on to a top 10 placing. Addressing that issue is extremely tricky. How, after all, do you practice on a track which is neither one fully wet nor fully dry?

People's hero

There was a special cheer went up for Johann Zarco around the circuit. The Frenchman ran out of fuel on the final lap, coasting to a start at the final corner. From there, he jumped off the bike and started to push it, getting it all the way across the finish line just in time to take 15th, and score a point. "I got the fuel problem before corner 11, I immediately understood, ah, fuel problem, so I tried to stay in sixth gear and really use the minimum of the bike. This was working until corner 14, but then the last two lefts was even less. And from the last corner, I had to get off and run next to the bike, and it was long. I knew that there are two lines, the start line and the finish line, and the finish line was really far. It's good to have the crowd for that. We have to remember MotoGP races are like a show, and so at least I did some show, and we won't forget it."

Both the support classes also threw up fascinating spectacles. In Moto3, Romano Fenati put on a display of sheer wet-weather brilliance, winning by nearly 29 seconds. Despite Fenati's victory, Joan Mir remained comfortably in the championship lead, his advantage now cut to 61 points from 64. But it is still a commanding lead, and Mir is likely to wrap up the title with plenty of time to go.

Moto2 saw the first ever Swiss 1-2 of the intermediate class, Domi Aegerter posting an impressive win over Tom Luthi on the Interwetten bike. Aegerter became the first rider on a Suter chassis to win a race since Valencia in 2014. But it was Luthi who got the most advantage from the tight duel at Misano. With Franco Morbidelli crashing out, the Italian's lead had gone from 29 points to just 9. What once looked like a sure thing for Morbidelli is now looking increasingly difficult. Tom Luthi may yet sneak up on the Estrella Galicia rider and snatch the Moto2 title from his grasp.


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Total votes: 38
Total votes: 26

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Comments

I'm going to guess they sold the vast majority of tickets before Rossi was injured and declared unfit to race.  So if you've paid for your hotel, rental car, etc (may or may not be refundable) and tickets (definitely not refundable) you'd probably go anyways.  If nothing else, you can boo MM93.

Another point was how many yellow 46 flags there were for a podium ceremony even though you had two Italians on the podium.   How many 04 and 9 flags/tshirts/hats did you see?  I hope you're right, but someone is going to have to step up to fill his shoes and while MM93 has plenty of followers in Spain and around the world, he's clearly not at the level of Rossi and isn't ever going to be popular with the Italians.

 

Total votes: 28

And why do they need to 'step up'?

Personally I just want to see riders ride.  I don't want to see a rider playing to the crowd (especially against their personality) just so that there's a new personality for Dorna to sell to make occasional fans of the sport more permanent.  It's the sport I like, not the business.  It's never easy for a business of any sort to shrink as it affects everyone involved, less money for all (the top riders being the least of it as they're still likely to get paid well) but it happens and may actually be better for the sport if it allows it to remain true to it's core.

Total votes: 25

Thanks for another thorough and prompt recap, David. When I watched the race, I found myself dumbfounded at Marquez's risky riding. Pushing so hard when a clear second was in his grasp, ahead of the points leader. Why push so hard and risk it all? The spectacle was thrilling but my rational, objective side didn't understand it.

Now, knowing after the fact that Marquez crashed during warm up to the jeers and taunts of fans, it makes complete sense. Good on you, Marc, and massive respect. My God, the only thing cooler he could have done other than blow a kiss was to win the race, and he did both.

Pipe down, Misano, and show some class.

Total votes: 70

As Marc said himself, the additional 5 points may be crucial come the end of the season. 

Was it a risk?  Sure.  But he saw the opportunity to get them this weekend, so he pushed.

Every single time they go out on track is a risk, on the last couple of laps, after watching Danilo all race, he decided it was worth it - that he had the capability to at least give it a shot and likely pull it off.  He no doubt knew Danilo had been sick all weekend and may have been fatigued and less likely to fight back, as well.

That's smart racing.  He knew full well what he was doing and it was calculated.

Total votes: 19

I was fortunate to be at Misano to watch the 2007 MotoGp event. The fans jeered and booed Stoner while he was incrementally increasing his lead on Rossi. When Rossi's motor expired half the "fans" packed up and walked out with still half a race left. Unfortunately this weekend was not unique in that respect.

Total votes: 51

If I  see a motorcycle go down, no matter the circumstance(race or road/dirt or tar) my heart skips a fewbroken heart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total votes: 8

I don't like booing in general but in baseball it's all a part of the game, according to a show on BT Sport, as apparently fans giving visiting team outfielders insults while they are stood out by the stands on their own. It's all taken as a bit of fun and part of the history and everyone gets their turn. From that point of view a bit of booing in Italy for some riders on the podium isn't a big deal. The guys getting booed are on the podium, after all. I don't like it either way but it's a long way from things like the abuse some footballers take (including racism, as a comparison point.) It's also a by-product of the sport becoming bigger. More casual fans mean less informed fans. Not a nice thought but it's a true one, I think. 

It also isn't a Rossi follower phenomonum either, Rossi has been booed himself in Spain as well as death threats to Simoncelli, etc.  

Cheering when a rider falls off is something else entirely. It's nothing but nastiness. 

A lot of people cheered when Marquez' engine blew up in Silverstone and all I could think was 'don't you want to see the reigning champion fighting for the whole race? Even to see him be beat by someone you prefer?' 

Gutted for Lorenzo, looked like he was going to make something happen for a few laps. The crash gave me flashbacks of 2008. 

Total votes: 21

I don't know if it is just me but it seems that JL is in a happier place/space in the Ducati tent than he was in the Yamaha tent. 2018 could be his year.

Total votes: 77

Great comments from the riders. and you to David & Zara, Thanks MotoMatters.

There is a time & a place for it Jorge, that was not the right place.

The Kalex cup, Suter has not had a win in all of 2015, 2016 & all 2017 up till now, Meh!

Total votes: 9

Is it purely for the media to make them look better?  Dorna is surely going to know based on intake.

Rossi's 42 points is almost definately too hard to scale.  Maybe if there was one person ahead in the championship but to expect 3 to have multiple DNFs for the rest of the season is lottery like... then again perhaps that's a good way to describe this season.

Personally I know where Lorenzo is coming from.  Just a road rider but one that loves riding in the rain, but only if the surface is consistant and it's solidly wet.  If you are going to drift you want it to be predictable - at least with my reflexes.

Great write up as usual.

Total votes: 8

I sat In Grandstand C Saturday and Sunday, and saw Pedrosa, Marquez, and many other riders crash from all classes. I only heard gasps and groans of despair when a rider crashed. We applauded after seeing a rider get up uninjured as a sign of support for their efforts, bravery, and in relief they were not injured. As a rider passed by on the back of a scooter, they received another round of applause to bolster their spirit. This was the grandstands reaction for every rider, Marquez included. I heard no jeers or taunts. However, I offer all of the riders my apologies if the intent of our cheers were misconstrued.

Total votes: 29

The jeers on the podium were not misconstrued.

It is only Rossi's fans that boo riders on the podium.

Jools tried to laugh it off as pantomime, but than isn't it.

Pantomime is in fun, booing riders because they beat your hero is simply petty.

Total votes: 46

Every society has its fair share. It's physiological like bacteria. And it's therefore natural that ANY popular sport gets its percentage of morons. The bigger the sport the greater the number. (My guess is that curling has very few of them) I seem to recall that not long ago Vettel and Hamilton were booed and whistled on the podium without igniting a long debate about the responsibility of the rider for the moronic behaviour of some of his supporters.
So I'm rather fed up with all the moral superior stance of some that starts sounding so self righteous and becoming as extreme as the party it was meant to condemn.
If we stick to facts there are some morons booing 93 and 99. They do not boo nor whistle as some say "because they beat 46". As a matter of fact these morons don't boo 25, 04 , 29, 26, 35... to name just a few of those right now in the championship who actually beat 46 not later than some weeks ago. So please, give it a rest: the guy wasn't even there!
And now for some context: the sad story of the Instagram posted by MM that ignited some stupid reactions, well it's very saddening to say that it was not initiated by some stupid fan but by none other than a very respected op-ed columnist and long time editor of La Gazzetta... I don't know what got into him. It was stupid and low and unacceptable coming from a journalist of his level. And unforgivable.
Still this sad story - I mean the feud that started in 2015- will never be over. Even the reasonable folks who enjoy the sport and would never ever boo a rider were touched by it, no matter which side they were on. Let's just say that it's a new bacteria stronger and more resilient. And we can live with it.

Total votes: 27

MM93 made a big step towards the 2017 championship in Misano. He could have easily settled for second behind Petrucci, especially in Italy under these conditions, but that’s just not how MM is, he is always pushing. Probably the hostility of a part of the Italian crowd (shame on them) just makes him that little bit extra motivated. Regardless, he is always pushing to find the limit in practice (and crashing quite a lot as a result of that), just to find his balance in the race. What is on the limit for MM would probably be way over the limit for any other rider. There are so many instances in which virtually anyone would crash, but MM still manages to stay on, crushing lap records in the process. It’s the most spectacular thing to watch. I don’t think luck has anything to do with it, it’s just sheer focus, concentration, mental power and riding ability. This young man is so very strong, both mentally and physically. Working hard and still having lots of fun. I can’t help but to admire this guy. Having said all this, for the remainder of the season I hope the other riders will make his life as hard as possible on the track, and I’m sure they will. I’ve never ever seen such a thrilling MotoGP season. We are blessed.

Total votes: 32

... of 'other' fans is quite amusing too.

I've seen people wishing Rossi to crash into a concrete wall, I've seen people booing Jorge, Marc, those who visit the forums on this site will recollect that one of the members got spat on and called a c*** at Phillip Island on this site by a Stoner fan for wearing a Rossi t-shirt.

No set of fans are totally guilt free, but the volume of Rossi fans is always going to make the minority of idiots outweigh those of other riders. Just go to the Crash comments section and you'll see that there is a vile streak within all sides.

If this behaviour is to be tackled, then first of all it has to be acknowledged that the issue isn't restricted to one, unique set of people. I know this post will annoy some people - but you know what? Those of you who disagree, you're probably part of the problem, blinded by your own bias.

Total votes: 33

...and there are fans of the sport.  Although I will favour certain riders, whether that is because of the way they ride, the country they're from, that they're underdogs, have never had a win, are righting a long period of bad luck or simply because the way they conduct themselves, it is the sport that attracts me.  (It goes against my grain to wear a certain riders paraphernalia or even put their number in my logon name as I'm not that tied to a rider)  Rossi has a lot more fans but also a much higher proportion of those that are fans of the personality.  They are far more likely to behave in such a manner, perhaps because they see less sport and more theatre.  It is certainly true it's not restricted to one rider and I'm sure it occurs for all sorts of riders at every race, but the bigger the riders fan base the more likely they are to have more periferal fans of the sport.  You need to get a critical mass of fans like that before you notice that sort of behaviour crowd wide, and that sort of behavior often feeds back on itself.  I find it to be one of the uglier aspects of human nature - mob mentality - and it's why I often don't like attending big sporting/cultural events.  
I first really noticed this specific behavior (cheering for crashes - and the wider aspect as well) when I was a youngster and attending the national motocross events in the largest city here.  I was motocrossing myself at the time but there were many spectators who were there for the spectacle and couldn't relate as well to what the riders were going through.  I was aghast at how the crowd would cheer when riders crashed, the more spectacular the crash, the more they'd cheer.

 

Total votes: 15

I was in Brutapela Gold (Rossi fan club stand). Cheers when MM crashed, boos and whistles every time his or lorenzo's name were mentioned. When Lorenzo crashed in the race it was howls of delight, like animals. Not everyone of course, but a good number.

Reminded me of comments in the movie Gladiator about 'the mob', people who are too thick to realise this is a dangerous sport and these guys are riding for our entertainment, or quite possibly just don't care. Think Marc responded in the best way possible, both with the blown kiss and the win.

Total votes: 37

I also appreciate that Marquez went on the record saying that he didn't want his fans to boo other riders who crash.  People here have called me self righteous before but I just don't understand that mentality at all.  Boo your boss if you feel unfairly treated at work.  Boo your mother in law because, well, you have your reasons.  But to boo someone who's done nothing to you, especially when they're on the ground and possibly injured?  I guess that's easier when you're just some anonymous person in the stands and there's no consequence to you, but I still don't get it.

Total votes: 35

I would love to read a description of what it is like to be in a supporter stand during the race.

It must be like a football environment with all in their  the team gear, waving their flags and viewing the racing with one eyed fervour. The feeling of having a commonality and connection with those around you must be great but is there too much focus on that one rider or is there still a general appreciation of the racing and other riders generally.

Total votes: 7

Meanwhile in the interest of constructive criticism, I am finding the color commentary during the race weekend somewhat difficult to read. It is as if the author is trying too hard to be artistic in her wordsmithing. I would prefer a simpler style of reporting more common in sports reporting. Just my humble opinion of course...

Total votes: 33

I enjoy reading the reports during the race weekend, I think the style is great.

Total votes: 15

Not trying to create a war of words but FTR I like the race weekend report 'style' too.  There are other sites that report on the race weekend less 'artistically' if I want. Everyone's entitled to an opinion tho ;)

Total votes: 13

I was in Prato 1 (grass bank) and although I missed the warmup, there was definitely some cheering and cries of "bastardo!" going on when Lorenzo crashed out of the race. It left a sour taste in my mouth.

Otherwise it was a fun day, even though taking in the event live was a handful, because the rain went on up until the MotoGP start, and the mud was EVERYWHERE.

I was really surprised that the Yamahas didn't put up more of a fight. 

Total votes: 12

Is there a reason Honda can't add ballast to Dani's bike to bring his bike/rider weight up to everyone else's? Seems to me it would solve their problem of too little weight to heat the tires. I may not know as much as Honda's engineers tho,,,

Total votes: 13

I think there's a big difference between dead weight and the weight and strength of the rider. I expect that ballast wouldn't be as effective at getting heat in the rear tire as a 175# gorilla leaning over the handlebars coming onto the straight.

Maybe he could wear a little backpack full of water, but then he'd be exhausted by the end of the race. Lower tire pressure seems a better solution, but I believe there are minimum pressures for safety.

Total votes: 10

Dani said they actually did add some weight. But probably not a lot: you can't really compensate body weight with dead weight. A heavier body is useful to wrestle the bike around, on the contrary added dead weight is just more weight that needs to be wrestled around...

Total votes: 9

Actually blows my mind.

Seriously, he's had 8+ months to get used to the system, he could have learned to launch a space shuttle (not himself) into orbit in that time.

Another jaw dropper was Zarco running out of fuel: in a wet race? With reduced throttle openings? Someone tried to be a little too clever, and poor ol' Johan had to pay with some "sweat equity". Shame, as he rode really solid race.

Total votes: 23

I believe they did add ballast to his bike but the dynamic weight movement of a rider is very different to a tire than simply adding a lead weight to the bike somewhere.

Total votes: 8

I'm admittedly pretty much just making this up out of thin air, but I theorize that MotoGP won't take a massive hit when Rossi leaves because although he is still obviously an amazing talent who's often challenging for the podium and occasionally for the win, he's not the dominant force he once was on the track.  That is not to criticize him at all, but the reality is that he hasn't won a championship for many years and his race wins have been (relatively speaking) few and far between for that period as well.  I speculate that if you are attracted to the man, not the sport, you're only atttacted for as long as the man is dominant. Rossi's Ducati years must have been rough for fans who were more interested in him than the sport as a whole, and although his return to Yamaha has brought him more success it feels like his heyday of a decade ago is, well, a long time ago and probably not to be repeated.

I wish Rossi the best and hope he continues to help animate the sport for as long as he's able, but he may be doing the sport a favour by slowing becoming a little less than dominant, because maybe some people who were drawn to his story and charisma have been able to grow into full fledged MotoGP fans as Rossi wins less and other riders' personalities take up a little more space, and as the racing has become so tight and unpredictable.  Maybe we've already lost most of those who were mostly interested in just the man, and we're already left with fans who embrace the whole sport.  David's race day attendance analysis may bear witness to that.  

Total votes: 22

I tend to agree. While Rossi's career has been captivating to watch and undoubtedly increased the audience, this seems more historic than current. I doubt there have been many new fans brought to the sport by VR over the past five or six years and I'd bet that the vast majority who have been watching for that long and longer will continue afterwards, as long as the racing remains this exciting. MotoGP has hit the sweet spot lately and that, I think, will be its' salvation. I hope so anyway.

Total votes: 20

Thank you for the great report David.
Watching the first two races was painful all these falls! Just to finish the race was epic.
Fenati was unstoppable. Great feeling to see him take the win so adamantly.
Shame that Morbidelli crashed but Luthi definitely mastered it and so the championship is still very exciting. Then Motogp. My great surprise was Dovi... he's been the master of rain. He has the confidence and the positive streak of 4 wins... is it the home race that made him more nervous? And therefore less inclined to fight? I'm puzzled.
Marquez won rightly so. But I think that there has been a readjustment of the narrative: he knew he fast faster than Petrucci and the drying track allowed him to push. Basically for almost half of the race he shadowed Petrucci doing his almost exact laptimes. What was indeed strategic was the last lap attack when there was no way petrucci could have matched his speed
My guess is that even if he had passed one or two laps earlier he would have still been faster.
So now as they say the championship is for Marquez to lose. And for Dovi to win. I'm not counting Vinales out but there will be one or two wet races and I doubt Vinales will be able to fight for the win. It'll come to him I'm sure of that by next season.
One quick thought about Lorenzo: I'm not sure that starting like a bullet and then drift back or worse crash is proving beneficial. Unless he needs to do it in order to find his old habits and the more he does it and the greater chances of getting to podium will come. Time will tell. But boy was he fast at the beginning!

Total votes: 14

Lorenzo once said, that starting strong and fast right from the line was something that great Stoner was doing and that he needed to learn that so he could take advantage of his metronome pace at the front on Yamaha. Glad to see he hasn't lost great starts and fast first laps on Ducati.

Total votes: 13

Let's not forget that before the race an Italian rider was leading the WC on an Italian bike. So the crowd had some home riders and bikes to support even without Rossi. So Aragon will show a better picture probably.

Total votes: 6

Right now its about the championship. Fascinating race it was. No wet practise, racing on a treacherous surface and the three title protagonists cementing solid points. Given Vinales dry pace and pole, Marc's crashes and Petrucx' pace in warm up, I reckon Dovi played safe. Of course he will never admit it but knowing Marc's do or die attitude and raw ability, I reckon he backed off to secure a solid finish or win if Petrux and Marc skittled each other out. That did not happen and I guess he figured that as long as he stayed on two wheels with Vinales adrift of him it was a damage limitation exercise which panned out okay for him. The much awaited head to head between Marc and Maverick is still highly anticipated. A dry weekend at Aragon could be it. I hope so. The boo's etc. Marc is clearly unaffected by any form of fanbase intimidation. Aragon is Marquez home territory. Valentino will always be the big ticket in Italy and no Italian rider since #58 has rallied Italian support akin to Rossi.  The Spanish shift will be interesting. Marquez vs Vinales. Lorenzo is a moot point. He's an orphan in a way. An Islander, not a Catalan, nor Spaniard. I wonder how long it will be before Marc gets booed in Catalunya and Maverick gets booed in Aragon. Fickle fans. Nature of the game.

Total votes: 7

Good point about Jorge being an islander. He is a solitary person, isn't he? A bit like Casey. As far as I know Marc is 100% Catalan though.

Total votes: 10

I have been watching GP motorcycle racing for 40 odd years and will still be a fan of it well after Rossi has hung up has helmet. Rossi has been a tonic that has increased the profile of the sport incredibly. But I watch for the racing. I don't care that much who wins. Watching MM93 at Misano was a privledge. He is a freak. If you cannot be impressed by what he does on a motorcycle then I wonder what you see in the sport.

I think the future of the sport is in safe hands. We should not underestimate Carmelo Ezpeleta and Dorna. They have capitalised on the Rossi phenomenom and carefully negotiated a path with competing interests on all sides. A post Rossi MotoGP is still going to be a spectacle filled with drama and theatre, just as it is now. 

Who can forget Mugello this year and a Moto3 race with 20 odd riders all vying for the win. You just dont get that sort of drama in any other sport. I'd still watch if that was all the racing their was. There is just as much drama and as many personalities in the junior classes as the main event.

The respect and sportmanship shown between riders - even ones who dont particularly like one another - is a wonderful part of the sport, and understandable in the context of them having their lives in one anothers hands. Thats a sobering thought right there and the so called 'fans' who boo riders - even in jest - are missing the point about motorcycle racing. These guys face serious injury and death to bring the spectacle of racing to the fans. I would like to see a little more respect afforded to all those riders, regardless of what country they hail from or what brand of motorcycle they ride. If you want to boo someone go to a footy match and have a go at the ref. They are fair game ;)

Long live MotoGP. The greatest sport on the planet. Oh, and thanks David for a great round up.

Total votes: 21

I could not agree more.
As a fan "since all this was fields", your well thought out and worded comment is a mirror of my own belief that what we have been so lucky to watch for the last few years does indeed make this the golden era.
One of the greatest benefits of today is the ability to enjoy live viewing and almost instantaneous in - depth reporting on the sport we love.
Thank you all for making this thing I love so much more fun than watching a three month old duke video.

Total votes: 8

MM reminds me more of a cat that always lands on its feet with supreme agility, rather than an ant that toils away in relative obscurity. And a cat could make for a much cooler helmet design, IMO.

So he pushed to win the race because of the warmup crash and the resulting jeers from the partisan crowd. The win, and blowing a kiss to the hostile grandstand. Brilliant.

Total votes: 12

On the subject of Rossi`s departure,I have had the pleasure to spectate at a number of european rounds of Moto Gp (travelled from Australia) over the last 8 years and I have come to this conclusion.The vast majority of Vale`s fans are not motorcyclists.On observations that I have made they tend to be mums and dads with there kids in tow (how much childrens clothing is sold with the VR46 logo attached),grand dads and older folk, not many fans arrive in leathers or biking gear.This vast fan base was probably not viewing or following motorcycle racing before VR exploded on the scene so Dorna will have to accept that real motorcyclists will still be there to watch the GPs when he departs.In regard to booing,I was in the Ducati stand on Corontario in 2010 when Nicky Hayden slid into the gravel trap on Saturday P2,the Ducatista thought it was Casey and started chearing,they were in horror when Nicky pulled his helmet off,I left the Ducati stand and watched the rest of the weekend from the grass,Italian fans to me are the poorest spectators I have witnessed,sorry if this affends anyone.

 

Total votes: 21

You mention 25, 04 , 29, 26, 35. How many of them have ever been close to a world championship in the past? Even Scott Redding has "beaten" Rossi before. It doesn't account for anything unless they're a legitimate championship contendor. 99, 93 and 27 are the only world champions in the last 10 years except Rossi... and guess what? All of them get the same treatement. Vinales was everyone's darling as the anti-Marquez for a few months after joining Yamaha, but even he has started getting severe heat on social media from Rossi fans, especially after the internal conflict about Chassis.

Total votes: 19

Booing isn't a good form, but when i was at Silverstone i witnessed the Rossi fan stand cheering any Marquez crash or misfortune.  Not a good look, especially when they cheered a nasty looking Alex Marquez crash - this kinda of thing is really ugly and a massive shame :(

 

Total votes: 19

It will undoubtedly effect ticket sales and revenue. But the quality of fans will rise when some of his supporters leave with him.

On one hand the rivalries Rossi has built with Biaggi, Gibernau, Stoner, Lorenzo and Marquez has undoubtedly lead to some of the most unforgettable races and seasons in GP history. But when his demigod status has created a legion if fans who think cheering a rivals crash is permissable it's little wonder some riders have had a gut full of the poisonous atmosphere.

Total votes: 16

Great write up David! Do you think Marquez still "hates" Rossi? I mean I know Rossi still hates Marquez but I almost felt like MM had moved past (which I think is an insult in itself! Haha).

Moto2 and 3 were thrilling! And honestly I think Hafiz Sayren was my highlight. I was almost getting choked up seeing how happy he was talking to Dylan. THAT'S what it's all about!!!

Total votes: 9

This once and then I'll rest my case and never post about it again. As I said in a previous post morons will be morons. And there isn't much that can be done about it. Rossi being one of the most famous riders still racing gets automatically the biggest number of morons. What really drives me mad is the twisted reasoning of wanting Rossi to leave so that we'll finally be free of the morons! How stupid is this?! So we deprive the sport of a great rider because we don't like his fans ? That's the smart solution? And so the sport will be free of the morons? Have you forgotten that some Pedrosa fans (Pedrosa of all people FFS! The nicest quietest gentleman of them all) sent bullets to Simoncelli? Has anyone ever taken the time to read on social media what the Spanish fans say about Rossi's mother? So if we are to be coherent Marquez should leave the sport too. Or we have different degrees of judgement: sending bullets ok. Insulting family and friends ok. Booing not ok. And so on. Maybe it's Dorna that should do something about it. Some educational videos and messages about good behaviour on race days in the stands. But it won't stop what goes on on social media. And that will not stop when Rossi is gone.

Total votes: 24

So he attracts a lot of fans who aren't really followers of MotoGP generally. A lot of them don't know who rides for what team, or even who the riders are much beyond Rossi and his current nemesis. His celebrity status is big enough that for many he's the main attraction to GP, which is a double edged sword. On one hand more people watch and and the sport grows - good. On the other hand some of his fans don't really have the respect they should for the other riders, and the risks they're taking to make GP such a spectacle. That doesn't mean I personally want Rossi to retire, its just the way things are at some tracks. Biaggi, Gibernau, Stoner, Lorenzo and now Marquez have all borne the brunt of fan contempt over the years, magnified by Rossi's huge following.

Total votes: 8