Opinion: Why the Rossi vs Marquez Controversy Isn't Going Away Any Time Soon

If the Movistar Yamaha launch at Barcelona made one thing clear, it is that the feud between Valentino Rossi and Marc Márquez will be just as bitter in 2016 as it was in 2015. In Barcelona, Rossi once again repeated the litany of charges he leveled against Marc Márquez at the end of last season. Márquez had decided early in the season he would try to stop Rossi from winning the title, had played with Rossi at Phillip Island, done far worse at Sepang, then stayed behind Lorenzo at Valencia to hand him the title. For Valentino Rossi, nothing has changed since Valencia 2015.

Is this a problem for MotoGP? Those in senior positions in the sport certainly think so. At the Movistar launch, Yamaha Racing boss Lin Jarvis spoke of the need for respect from all parties. On Friday, the FIM issued a press release containing an interview (shown below) with FIM President Vito Ippolito, in which he said the FIM had asked Honda not to release the data from Márquez' bike at Sepang, which Márquez claims shows evidence of a kick by Rossi, to prevent throwing more fuel on the fire.

Entirely predictably, neither strategy worked. When asked about Jarvis' comment on respect, Rossi retorted that neither Márquez nor Jorge Lorenzo had shown him any respect at the end of last year. Ippolito's statement that the FIM had asked Honda not to release the data led to a host of news stories in the media, and more outpourings of rage among fans on social media and forums. This was a conspiracy, to hide the facts from the fans, they said. The controversy was back, and strong as ever.

Why the data is irrelevant

Would it have made any difference if Honda had released the data, as they promised and so many people demanded? None whatsoever, for a number of reasons.

Firstly, what would the data have shown? Racing motorcycles (including MotoGP bikes such as Márquez' Honda RC213V) collect a vast array of information from a large number of sensors placed around the bike. Those sensors measure almost everything, from engine speed to wheel speed, from coolant temperature to oxygen levels in exhaust gases, which gear is selected, how much throttle the rider is using, whether the suspension is compressed or extended, and much more.

In the case of the Márquez/Rossi incident, the data which might show something are the gyro and accelerometer data, showing the attitude in three axes Márquez' bike, the front wheel speed, and the brake pressure readings form the front and rear wheels. What the data shows, I was told by someone who had seen it, is a massive spike in brake pressure on Márquez' front brake.

Does this prove that Rossi kicked Márquez' front brake, as the Spaniard claims? Of course it doesn't. It proves that Márquez' front brake was applied powerfully and incorrectly, but it provides absolutely no evidence of what caused his front brake lever to be depressed. Could it have been a kick by Rossi? Perhaps. But it could also have been as a result of the two bikes coming together, or Márquez' hand being squeezed in the collision, or Rossi's leg colliding with Márquez' arm and causing it to jerk, accidentally pulling the brake lever, or Rossi's leg or bike accidentally hitting Márquez handlebar, pushing the bar forward and the brake lever into Márquez' fingers.

Intent, or who meant to do what

What the data will not show is intent. Whatever the data shows, it will not show whether Rossi intended to cause Márquez to crash by trying to kick his brake lever, or whether Márquez used the opportunity to try go get back at Rossi by squeezing the brake lever himself, crashing in the knowledge that Rossi would be penalized (the craziest fan theory I have heard on the affair).

There is no visual evidence for the kick either. Former TV commentator Dennis Noyes said on Twitter that he had spoken to TV directors from BT Sports and Dorna about the incident, and they had not been able to see a kick. At the time, I wrote that it looked to me that Rossi's leg got tangled up with Márquez' handlebars, an inevitable consequence of two riders coming so close together.

Does this mean that Marc Márquez was lying when he said that Rossi kicked him? I believe that Márquez truly believes that this is what he saw. But things happened so fast, and in such a strange and unexpected way that it is easy for Márquez to interpret the chain of events in such a way. Rossi sat up, was looking over at Márquez and tried to run him to the very edge of the track. The pair were no longer racing, a situation initiated by Rossi, and which Márquez had just a fraction of a second to react to. The entire episode took less than two seconds, the crash happened in a tenth of a second or less. Human brains are hardwired to try to construct patterns to explain sequences of events. Márquez' brain did just that, and came to the conclusion – almost certain erroneous – that Rossi kicked him.

Damned if they do, damned if they don't

How would HRC releasing data have cleared this situation up? It wouldn't. It would merely have triggered another round of arguments and speculation over exactly what the data showed. Supporters of Márquez would have claimed that the only explanation was a kick, and have drafted in a host of data engineers who agreed. Supporters of Rossi would have claimed that all the data showed was a spike in brake pressure, with nothing pointing to the cause of that spike. And they, too, would have drafted in their data engineers to support that claim.

So Honda and the FIM faced a choice: they either refuse to release the data, which has triggered a storm of protest and conspiracies that they have something to hide. Or they could release the data, which would trigger a storm of controversy over what exactly the data showed. Either way, more fuel was poured onto the fire, and arguments started all over again.

The most confusing thing to me in the whole affair is why the FIM expected the situation would calm down. Incidents such as the clash at Sepang, and the bitter hatred it has created lead a life of their own, and cannot be controlled. If the FIM had not made a statement about the HRC data, Honda would have faced questions about it at the Sepang test, and the whole affair would have kicked off again. In Barcelona, the press (especially the Italian press) asked Rossi about what happened last year, in Sepang, the press (especially the Spanish press) will ask Márquez for his reaction to what Rossi said in Barcelona.

My rider, right or wrong

The point is, incidents as big as Rossi vs Márquez in 2015 simply do not go away. In part because the media have an incentive to keep the story going (and yes, I am aware of the irony of me making that statement in an opinion piece on the affair). It is an easy way to fill column inches, and it sells magazines, newspapers, attracts visitors to websites. In part because the participants cannot let situations like this go, as Rossi demonstrated in Barcelona. But above all, because the fans won't let it lie. They are as passionate about it now as they were directly after Sepang, and after Valencia.

That is why they are called "fans". The word fan is almost certainly derived from the word fanatic, and fans are fanatic in their loyalty to the riders (or teams) they support. Their loyalty is blind, and they choose the side of their rider without question. No amount of argument or debate, no amount of data or evidence can change their mind. They become entrenched in their positions, repeating their arguments over and over again, impervious to the arguments given by the other side.

This is hardly a surprise. There is a growing body of scientific evidence showing that it is almost impossible to get anyone to change their minds on anything, no matter how conclusive the proof. If people aren't prepared to change their minds on subjects as important as vaccines, climate change, or the effect of legislation on market operation, gun ownership, abortion or immigration, the chances of them viewing the outcome of a sporting event differently are infinitesimal.

Lessons from history

Estoril 2006 provides a classic example. Even today, nearly ten years later, you can find Nicky Hayden fans who are still furious at Dani Pedrosa for the mistake Pedrosa made in crashing and taking his teammate out, handing Valentino Rossi the lead in the championship. Fans are still fuming despite the fact that Hayden went on to win the championship, and that Hayden himself has long left the incident behind him.

Incidents such as Sepang, or Estoril in 2006, or any number of other incidents in the past are part of the mythology of motorcycle racing. Rossi cleaning the grid at Qatar in 2004, Rossi vs Biaggi at Suzuka in 2001, Doohan and Crivillé at Jerez in 1996, Freddie Spencer vs Kenny Roberts at Anderstorp in 1983, all of these pass into legend, and form part of the rich tapestry of motorcycle racing history. At the time, the incidents cause controversy among the fans, and bitterness among the riders, but as the years go by, tempers cool and they become part of motorcycle racing lore.

Will the fallout from Sepang 2015 be much worse than in the past? The main difference between now and then is the existence of the Internet, and especially Social Media. That allows fans to express their outrage in public, and to do so whenever the whim takes them. But that does not mean that the fans felt differently in the past. Previously, fans could only spew their bile to their friends over a few drinks. Now, it is made public, for the whole world to see.

The melodrama continues

So the Rossi – Márquez situation will continue to rumble on for the foreseeable future. Rossi fans will continue to claim until their dying breath that the Italian was robbed of a tenth world title by Márquez. Márquez fans will continue to claim that the Spaniard had just as much right to race for a podium as any other rider on the grid. Lorenzo fans will continue to claim that he would have won the title whatever happened, as he was simply faster than Rossi throughout the year. Each will claim that the others are blind to the facts and incapable of logic. In this, all of them will be right.

Is there anything the authorities can do to calm the situation down? Not as far as I can see. The Italian media will continue to produce stories backing up Rossi's claim he was robbed. The Spanish media will continue to produce stories saying that Rossi was looking for a scapegoat for losing. The rest of the media will continue to report on the stories in both countries, while piously proclaiming they are just covering the events. And the fans will stick with the sides they have already chosen.

Ironically, the bitter hatred between Rossi, Márquez and Lorenzo is good for the profile of motorcycle racing. Die-hard fans may claim they are only interested in the racing, but the money is in growing the pie, making the sport bigger and attracting new fans. New fans need a narrative to give them an understanding of the sport, and to give them a reason to care about it. Sepang and the fallout from it do just that. That is good for the sport in the long run.

In the short term, it is mildly annoying for the die-hard fans who have heard about little else for the past four months. Fortunately for them, the first MotoGP test at Sepang starts on 1st February, a few days from now. Rossi vs Márquez won't be going away any time soon, but at least we get to talk about what is happening on the track. There is nothing quite like 130dB of roaring MotoGP machine to silence the bickering.

Below is the FIM press release interview with Vito Ippolito:


Three questions to Vito Ippolito

A. Can you give us a brief review of the 2015 sporting season?

It is an undeniable fact that the number of spectators and the TV viewership have continued to expand. This is a reflection of the constant improvements being made in the quality of the competitions. We have worked on that this year and the results are encouraging. It is also worth noting that new countries have hosted several of our championships. That is also one of our objectives and we continue to work in that direction.

B. During the year, the media also picked up on some difficult situations. What can you tell us about those?

True, there have been difficult moments, and I would say that it is inherent to the sport. The most important thing is to manage to find the right response to such situations or at least to limit the damage and make adjustments, as was the case with the International Six Days of Enduro in Slovakia. I would say the same about the end of the MotoGP season, which was a fantastic saga and also a dramatic one.

C. In the two cases you refer to, are the matters now fully closed?

Yes. In the case of the ISDE, the FIM panel restored the rankings of the nations to what it would have been. Finally, the Australian team were declared the winners. This case also prompted us to review some important aspects of the regulations and procedures.

In MotoGP, the dispute was brought before the CAS and the case is now closed. It is true that at the end of the season the polemics around the Rossi-Marquez case swelled to unprecedented levels. For that reason, we asked all the people involved, including the teams, to refrain from engaging in controversy about what happened in Sepang. During the last competition in Valencia, team Honda informed us that they had all the telemetry relating to the incident. Now the data are in our hands, and Honda and the FIM have decided together not to release them so as not to fuel further polemics.

For 2016, the FIM’s goals and plans are clear and we shall continue to pursue them. We shall continue to move forward and I am sure that the changes we shall be putting into effect will bring about positive results. Motorcycle sport has many disciplines and there are therefore a great many fields of action, but I am confident that our specialists will all do a great job. You can ask me again at the end of the year!


Gathering the background information for long articles such as these is an expensive and time-consuming operation. If you enjoyed this article, please consider supporting MotoMatters.com. You can help by either taking out a subscription, buying the beautiful MotoMatters.com 2016 racing calendar, by making a donation, or by contributing via our GoFundMe page.

Tweet Button: 
Total votes: 134
Total votes: 203

Back to top

Comments

Speed, power, & the talent it takes to control the two is why I watch racing. How drama & politics make it more interesting is a mystery to me. That said, I totally understand that reporters need to make a living but I do wonder if the drama would disappear if no one reported it. Even if people wanted to forget, it seems we are not given the chance to do so. Thank you.

Total votes: 187

The only way it goes away is if the riders demand it goes away. They have to ask journalists and fans to move on. As far as I know no one has been interested in doing that. So to the people that say its the fans fault, you are dead wrong. The riders must demand it and they do not. So the drama continues. The story is what carries motorsports. People need to realize this and David nailed it in the article

Total votes: 164

I'm sure if at the end of the season if Vale is out of the championship and its between Marc and Jorge. Someone isn't going to like a taste of his own medicine!

Total votes: 204

Whatever anyone thinks about the Rossi, Marquez, Lorenzo controversy, ultimately it is good for the sport in the long term. Fans become more vocal and partisan and will hang on to every twist and turn of these three for the next couple of years.
Hopefully the new regulations being introduced this year and new entrants will continue to add to the mix.

As you say, it matters not whether Honda release the data proving a spike in brake pressure. It has been agreed that there was a spike but nothing else. Sometimes we have to trust that journalists have been given the correct information but there is nothing to be gained in physical proof.

Total votes: 197

In the short term it has and will create plenty of interest in MotoGP but as soon as Rossi leaves the sport so too will over half of the "fans" as Rossi has made sure they will not follow anyone else.

Total votes: 177

I've wrestled with it since the end of last season, but the endless regurgitation of this subject (especially by the riders), coupled with Dorna's corruption/ineptitude, and the loss of Indy and Hayden (not to mention Laguna), has given me serious thoughts about joining Dennis Noyes as little more than a casual viewer in 2016.

Total votes: 217

You wont be missed

Total votes: 183

It'll never go away as long as opposite factions keep going on about it, and inevitably they will!
History will inevitably prove me correct with my opinion simply because two days ago I was discussing the Bill Ivy/Phil Read clash with a friend --
-- and that dates back in 1968!

Rossi and Marquez will still be being argued about in Pensioners homes in 40+ years time as some of the current fans clash Zimmer frames on the way to the medicine trolley!

Total votes: 181

As an American raised in an area of ambivalence regarding the American Civil War (rural downstate Illinois in a town made up largely of Kentuckians who came north to work in the factories) and having lived most of my life in Spain and half of that in Madrid and half in Barcelona, I, without, I hope, trivializing two bloody and horrible wars, see any attempts to bring the light of reason to the Marquez/Rossi conflict as hopeless as trying to have a rational discussion of the merits of both the North and The South in our Civil War or or the Nacionalistas and the Republicanos in Spain´s much more recent battle of brothers.

Again, I hesitate to compare war with sport, but let me say this. In my village in the Guadarama Mountains, a wonderful place with a beautiful name, Miraflores de la Sierra, where I lived for many years and raised my kids, there are the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of families that still will not break bread together. And, although cowed by political correctness in many places, there are still rational and moral American southerners, not racists, not nostalgics either, who see in the Confederate flag the symbol of something grand that was unjustly vanquished...and, especially in states like Kentucky, Missouri and the eastern border states, there were families split apart by the contradicting loyalties. Northerners who will deny that there was, for example, as much raw racism in Skokie in the 60s and there was in any Alabama or Louisiana or Missippii small town in the 40s.

Just so, but on a much more frivolous level, there are families, friends, especially in Spain but outside Spain as well, who are either Marquistas or Rossistas and are blind and dumb to any arguments that do not support their thesis....that (fill in the blank) is un hijo de la gran puta (a son of the great whore), and no amount of reasoning, explaining, debating, can alter from their positions. Ever. Ever. Ever.

Before Sepang I would hazard that the majority of Spanish and Italian fans were either Marquez fans who liked Vale too or (in greater numbers) Rossi fans who also liked Marc. Lorenzo was the odd man out. This was also true outside Spain and Italy. Booed in Italy and sometimes even in Spain. Nobody´s baby, so to speak...yes, Jorge has his legions (the espartanos), but in these times of ours, being fast and stylish without a heavy dose of carisma and some hard paint-trading, does´t fill many grandstands.

What happened in Sepang, first on Thursday at the press conference and then on track on Sunday, split that great majority of fans of one or the other (46 or 93) who also liked the other, into two indignant camps. Ugly nationalism with political figures from both Spain and Italy reared its head as well. Politicos who didn´t have puta idea of motorcycle racing, waded in wrapped in the national flag...although that is still a controversial matter in today´s Espanya/Calalunña (please don´t point out the obvious spelling contradiction).

I believe that HRC did not present their "proof" because they knew or had been shown that helicopter shots in super-slo and amplified made it clear that the movement of Rossi´s leg came when Marc was already falling. Never a "kick" in anyone´s rational definition of such a thing.

The journalists who used "kick" in their headlines were irresponsable, but, to their credit, a couple, including Spain´s Mela Chercoles, walked that back after he had investigated. My co-comentator on Tele5, Nico Abad, said that he had talked to "as many riders as he could find" prior to the GP of Valencia and not one of them believed that there had been a "kick" but that they only spoke on condition of anonymity. But this did not mean they thought Rossi was blameless. On that they were divided, in the case of Spanish and Italian riders, with some overlap.

I am glad I am retired now because, as a TV commentator or a journalist, there is going to be no way in 2016, 2017 and foreverafter to avoid this topic. In Spain fans demand of journalists that they "mojarse" (literally "get wet") and that means coming down on one side or another. Same thing happened in both the civil wars to which I referred.

In matters of war you eventually either have to choose or, as old Mr. Caldfield did in Faulkner´s Absalom! Absalom!, nail yourself into the attic, but this is just motorcycle racing and I believe it is not only reprehensible but cowardly for any journalist to continue to breath life into the lie of the kick. As David says, Marc probably thinks its was a kick, and he is probably not interested in disabusing himself of the notion just as Rossi chooses to believe that in Australia Marc rode a calculated race with two objectives, both accomplished, or screwing with his race and then, after managing one last time to balk him and put him behind Iannone, to break away and run Lorenzo down and beat him.

Just as Kenny Roberts and Freddie Spencer have agreed to disagree on what actually took place on the run down into the penultimate corner at Anderstorp on the last lap of the GP of Sweden in 1983, Marc and Vale will never, ever, ever, ever, change their mind about who, in fact, is really the hijo de la gran puta...although they will mellow and someday may even share a stage together at some old-timers gathering just as Rossi and Biaggi, Schwartz and Rainey manage to do...even Freddie and Kenny.

What? Did I hear a rebel yell? Did somebody shout Save your yellow ball caps boys, the Doctor is gonna rise again? And then did I hear voices begin to sing He is trampling out Tavullia where the grapes of wrath are stored?

I don´t say, get over it, because, unless you are one of those with no emotional skin in the game, you can´t. Won´t. Don´t wanna.

Forever wilt thou love and she be fair.

Total votes: 304

Opinions will morph into shibboleths, and 'facts' will be generated from suppositions to support contentions.

A classic example has been the perpetuation of 'The Pass' at LS '08 to become , in the minds of those so disposed, the root cause of the Stoner-Rossi feud - even though Stoner has always stated that it was NOT that pass that was the cause of his annoyance with Rossi's riding in the race. It has become, for some, the cornerstone of an entire mythology that Stoner was 'mentally broken' by Rossi.

We know, from Christian Gabbarini's later revelation, that Ducati wanted to protest Rossi's riding but Stoner, when someone stated Rossi had caused his eventual crash, said: 'It was my fault, shut up'. For Stoner, that was it - some terse words personally with Rossi in Parc Ferme notwithstanding - and Stoner got on with his career starting from the next race. He never bothered with 'getting even' with Rossi (though he did toy with Rossi before dispatching him from a top-step chance at P.I. the following year..) - but for some, every subsequent race was a personal contest between those two.

Which was, of course, BS - though perhaps Rossi's daft attempt to pass Stoner at Jerez in 2011 was a flashback on his (Rossi's) part - which resulted only in one of the most memorable put-downs in the history of motoGp, by Stoner.

This Marquez-Rossi 'thing' will continue to roil and occasionally fulminate whenever those two end up in contentious circumstances, race-by-race. For those who have a psychological need to attach themselves, remora-like, to one or the other of the protagonists in order to (in some existential way) validate their own less memorable lives, these times will provide the opportunity to pledge allegiance once again via the 'net to their hero.

For those for whom the intricacies of motorcycle racing are of fascination, what has gone down in 2015 will be peripheral to appreciation of each new development as it happens.

Total votes: 234

Could you please use a few less fancy words so we who don't are english experts can understand what you are saying?

Total votes: 135

The more emnity that exists between riders the better the spectacle is, especially when the main protagonist is Rossi. MotoGP is at its gladiatorial best when there's some real personal animosity brewing, and Rossi also raises his level when he has a nemesis to focus on. Now that the feud is out in the open Rossi will employ all the tactics that have served him so well in the past. Sun Tzu said 'Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake', and Marquez did that very well at the end of last season. But this year he'll see what it's like to really engage Rossi in all out war. Rossi will try to goad Marquez into making mistakes on the new Michelin tyres, Marc will try to focus on doing what he does best, riding on the limit, and maybe Jorge stands in the best position to pick the pieces again. There again Lorenzo has very specific requirements from his tyres, and if the Michelin rubber doesn't give him the feel he needs then perhaps Pedrosa is actually worth a sneaky bet for the title this year. Or even Ianone.. It's going to be a great season.

Total votes: 201

Sadly, you make a good case that this will just hang around forever. Who do I support? Dani, Ducati and Suzuki. May they succeed enough to drown out the sound of the childish squabbling.

Can we get back to the racing now?

Total votes: 211

Sure looked to me like Rossi kicked at the brake lever area.

Total votes: 248

... now, I would ask, how likely do you think it is that Rossi was able to, mid corner, look backwards, aim at a moving motorcycle, and deliberately manage to kick BACKWARDS with his foot, and manage to hit the 1-2 inch are of Marc's brake lever between the brake guard and the triple clamp in a manner to apply his brake?

Seriously, get on your motorcycle (I am assuming you actually ride a sports bike, given your assessment) and try to kick backwards with any sort of accurate control over where you're kicking.

Never mind that the video shows Rossi's foot moving forwards as if knocked from behind off the peg.

Total votes: 212

The FIM has a regulation that requires that there is a protector positioned forward of the front brake lever, to prevent the front brake from being accidently activated during a collision with another rider or his bike. Does this mean that Marquez himself, squeezed his own front brake lever too hard when HE collided with Rossi?

Total votes: 188

I may be wired differently, because the idea of taking sides like it's some kind of football contest puts me to sleep. Melodramatic fandom is boring and ugly. Europeans have been hacking each other to bits with sharp objects over nothing since the Romans first encountered pantsless spear-toting long-hairs in the woods back in the old days. Republicanism vs. Nationalism, well there's a lot at stake there, but this? Riding a bomb at 200+ mph isn't dramatic enough? Come on, "fans", get a grip!

I don't care about sides, I want to see good racing. The events of last season are remarkable but there are a half-dozen smaller stories that mean as much for the long-term health of MotoGP as Rossi v. Marquez. It would be nice if the other riders had a chance to develop personalities that somehow don't orbit Planet 46.

Personally I'll be hoping for Iannone to win in the dry, Pedrosa to get a (long) shot at being Champion, and for the non-Yamahondas to develop their game and fight up front, like at Phillip Island.

Maybe we'll need separate TV programs and forums for The Controversy.

Total votes: 192

For God's sake, it's MOTORCYCLE RACING!!! I think of it as the toy department of life, and the notion that it can get blown out of proportion like this is beyond idiotic. It really isn't a sport anymore, but rather a Television Entertainment Product. One I enjoy certainly but the hysterics about this whole matter are simply uncalled for and pathetic. A pox on the lot of them.

Total votes: 176

As many have noted, Rossi is motivated best when he has a clear enemy to focus on.

Nice of Marc to step up for him...

Total votes: 193

Namely when Rossi is no longer mixing it up on track with Marquez or Lorenzo. Should those two return back on form in 2016 that they ended 2015 with, and Rossi keeps on about past events, it will be sooner rather than later..

Not only is continuing on with this a useless distraction, it is hopelessly divisive, somthing which is dreadfully harmful to yamaha and stands in the way of them getting the most out of the new changes coming in 2016, particularly as unity has been a key strength in the yamaha team getting the most out of their bike in recent years.

Total votes: 196

In all this why hasn't the FIM or Dorna asked alzamora his role in firing Valentino up as Valentino said alzamora told him what Marc was allegedly upto prior to Sepang ?

alzamora has not denied it anywhere that i have seen & 1 would think if he hadn't said anything to Marc he would be screaming a denial from the rooftop & sueing Valentino .

Total votes: 194

As a Rossi fan (fanatic) i would never forgive him for that 2015 finale. Not for the Sepang incident, but for actually had opened is mouth in the pre event press conference. Whatever his thoughts were He should have kept for himself.
But what amazes me the most is how the millions of fans, journalist analysts and so on fail to explain how was possible for Rossi kick an break leaver with the protector just in front of it.
I'm a big fan of Gavin's writing, and i would like him to try to explain how is that possible and ask around to others in the paddock how was possible for Rossi stuck his foot (of all body parts) in that tiny espace.

Total votes: 177

My mistake. I ment David's

Both very good journalists but i'm a big fan of David articles.

My apologies for both of them and for the readers.

Total votes: 194

After 'the incident' I went and checked the front brake protector on my old race bike and some friends current bikes as well.
Those things are only really going to stop accidental brake pressure from bumping fairings when the bikes are fairly upright. And even then not always. The protector only covers the end of the lever and only from objects at roughly the same height

Sticky out bits like arms, legs will have a good chance of overcoming the protector. Also Bear in mind the brake doesnt require much pressure and it can be applied anywhere along the lever and also from angles above and below.

Total votes: 167

My HS physics teacher and I are at odds. Like many, I believe that VR's leg just came off the footpeg and couldn't have found MM handlebar in any way shape or form, but he says I'm ignoring one of Newton's Laws about action-reaction of momentum. Which he claims says that Forces always come in pairs - equal and opposite action-reaction force pairs.

He wants me to explain why VR's helmet nearly leaves the top of the screen as his leg goes down. He says it must be due to leg contact with another object. He calls it a leg thrust. And he's 100% confident of it. HELP!

These are what he's using as evidence to back up his position.
http://i.imgur.com/tD7b6yQ.gifv
http://i.imgur.com/OQbeswD.gifv
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zeOAWvzKXQ

Total votes: 165

What those videos show, is that Marquez turns into Rossi's bike and as a result Rossi's leg moves. Either because it gets tangled up with Marquez' handlebar, or because his foot gets pushed off the footpeg, or maybe because Rossi in a reflex moves his leg outward to keep the bikes apart, which seems a natural reflex to me. In any case, the leg movement is initiated by Marquez hitting Rossi. That Rossi's upper body and/or head moves as a result, is logical.

Total votes: 193

Amen, Brudda.

Total votes: 141

Especially the you tube one. By replaying the moment after MM made contact we focus solely on the 'kick' or 'push' and forget half of the data required to make an accurate comparison. Stamping my foot on the floor demonstrates opposite force (whatever) but this ignores other variables that should also be considered.

Ignoring how we got to them being where they were, it is clear in the first few seconds of that video that MM turned in on VR. What would your reaction be? MM hit VR with his helmet and or shoulder on VRs knee/leg. Especially at such a slow speed, I believe, my reaction would be to push back a little. Perhaps more than a little if I was in the same scenario and in VR's mindset. So not only do we have an opposite force we have a force that is already pushing in that direction, MM. We should also be considering the forward momentum and the unstable base of being on a bike, should we not?

Then we need to consider the brake guard and VR's field of vision to aim such a kick. Was it dislodged by such a small impact?

As David has said, even with the data that was supposedly going to be released, nothing can be proven either way.

Did VR kick? Was it with intent? Was it defence? Was it the impact? An accident? MM pulling his brake? (They are good enough to drop their bikes at high speed whilst heading towards a barrier) I don't know, but I don't think anything shown, or written in the description can prove any form of intent.

Total votes: 138

Facts only matter if you haven't already made an emotional decision and shut down the reasoning process. The evidence is clear that Rossi deliberately ran Marquez wide, way off the racing line, knee'd Marc's brake lever/handlebar, and Marc's front brake locked and his bike dropped immediately. The videos offer evidence that Rossi pushed off, rather that having his leg being tugged.

Evidence exists, and it is clear. "Proof" can never be sufficient if one has stopped observing and evaluating.

Total votes: 140

Though it isn't in the clips I agree that VR ran MM wide, that they weren't 'racing' at this point, that despite VR being in front it wasn't a racing line he took yadda yadda yadda. I didn't claim otherwise. However, how they got to that point is irrelevant to whether VR kicked at MM's brake lever. The only reason to include that information is to also include the emotional influences that you talk about.

I don't dispute that VR pushed MM off him. Though MM stated that he just ran around the outside of VR, evidence shows he turned in. Whether to preempt VR or whether to force contact to make a crash is irrelevant. The turning in and contact by MM will provide forces that would need to be considered to the above discussion.

The evidence shows that his VR's 'knee' doesn't hit MM's handlebar or brake lever. VR's slider is on or 50/50 on and above MM's visor. This can be seen at 2 seconds into the Youtube clip. The videos offer evidence that VR pushes outwards with his knee at MM's helmet after contact has been made. Not backwards with his foot at the brake lever. To claim that VR kneed MM's handlebar or brake lever is using terminology that suggests emotional judgement rather than fact and is akin to saying that MM headbutted VR.

Nothing I have seen has shown what actually caused the spike in brake pressure since that is what is claimed to have caused MM to crash, not because his handlebars were nudged by something.

Total votes: 120

It is reasonable to separate the "kick/knee/self-defense" action by Rossi from the "deliberately running Marc way off the racing line" action. The "running wide" action was sufficient in and of itself to black flag Rossi, and/or penalize him.

Knocking Marc down arguably sealed the deal, but it doesn't matter the reason (attack vs self-defense), as the entire incident was completely and totally precipitated by Rossi's decision to stop racing, and become an enforcer.

Bad sportsmanship on Rossi's part. Slow reaction on the part of race direction, but things turned out as they should have, at least as to the relative championship positions.

Total votes: 130

But the comment was on whether Newton's law can prove that VR kicked at MM's Brake/Handlebar due to his head movement? It wasn't my intention to discuss if VR was a bad sport, unjustified in his actions etc in the same vein that it wasn't to discuss if MM was also a bad sport. If it appears that is what I have done then I apologise.

I only intended to only speak about MM's actions in that his movements create forces that should also be considered for this particular query and that various statements could be made with the videos offering nothing that is conclusive to prove otherwise. I didn't intend to try and place any blame or excuses for VR. Such things have been done to death, this particular inquiry intrigued me a little.

However, IMO we seem to speak of and put these guys on god like pedestals. This incident just showed that VR is human and, as such, is fallible like the rest of us. What constitutes bad sportsmanship is left to the individual's opinion. Riding interference, to me, is bad sportsmanship and is what RD believe MM was doing. Reacting to it as VR did was an error, but a human error. The manner in which MM cut to the inside of the track in front of VR just before the incident, a move which caused Keith Heuwen (sp? and me) to gasp and question if VR was still on his bike possibly being the straw which broke the camels back and causing VR to boil over. We know by his hand gesture he was already riled.

Though we need to dismiss these things when asked if VR's head movement proves he kicked at MM or his bike, as they are irrelevant. VR says he didn't, MM says he did. MM says he just rode around the outside, video shows that he didn't. I don't believe VR kicked, but I don't know that he didn't. The video shows he pushed back with his knee for certain. Did that twist his foot onto the brake? Had the brake guard been nudged down so that it could be activated by VR? Would the guard drop down on such an impact (on a leg/boot) considering what they are designed to prevent? The videos don't show this crucial area so we are naturally left wondering, or I am at least, but it won't stop me from enjoying watching them both ride again this year.

Total votes: 128

IMHO, the timing of the knee movement (which is visible) in coordination with the timing and immediacy of the fall (which was clearly/apparently caused by a locked/overloaded front tire) is strong evidence of cause and effect.

Rossi's actions immediately prior to the knee movement (running wide, slowing down, looking back), along with his post-race comments present strong evidence as to his state of mind/thought process at the time of the incident.

From the camera angles, it is difficult/impossible to observe exactly what happened to the brake lever, and the exact relative locations of the knee, foot, arm, hand, brake guard, and break lever. I suspect the Newton's Law could prove what happened, if we only had a piece or two more of information.

In all that we seem to be in agreement, though we word things differently. We also agree that we expect to thoroughly enjoy watching this year's racing.

FWIW, I don't put any of these guys on a pedestal as you describe, though I do recognize the talent, dedication, and abilities they evidence.

While you seem to think that Marc was "riding interference", I would take as a "show of dominance and superior skill". I do believe that Marc wanted to show Rossi, and all the observers just who was more talented, faster, and mentally stronger. Whether that was his intent or not, I think the fact that Rossi snapped, both on and off the track, showed Rossi's weakness. IMHO, Rossi will have to work very hard this year to erase that taint from his record. He can't afford to lose the plot again.

Total votes: 124

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiHY-b38XPs
3:56m

Rossi claimed after the race (said in video too) that his foot was lost from his footpeg due to interaction with Marquez’s handlebar. We’ll take that as a given, as both parties acknowledge interaction between Rossi’s foot and Marquez’s handlebar.

I'm of the belief that partisan beliefs will keep some from abandoning whatever view they have of this clash. I'm not 100% certain of my own. My problem with refuting the action-reaction law of motion espoused by Isaac Newton, leaves me in doubt that I'm probably wrong to some degree.

Total votes: 133

I watched it a good number of times and still wasn't sure. So I watched this one for a larger image. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbfIVazHozk

It seems to me that VR's knee moves in when contact is made (0.17). VR then pushes back. At 0.19 a gap between MM's head and VR's knee appears and MM's front wheel begins to turn. VR's knee is still high at this point. Then either

a) VR pushes/kicks down with is leg to further ensure that MM crashes

or

b) has his foot pulled backwards as MM goes down.

If we consider it was b, wouldn't there be some movement of the upper body as he tried to prevent his foot being pulled further backwards?

Would it be best to agree to disagree? I don't believe he did but I'm open to the possibility. Or perhaps get someone with the software to make 3d models so we can try to see whether the foot was on top pushing or behind and being dragged?

Anyway, it was what it was. Testing Monday and so many things to look forward to.

Total votes: 127

.....entirely disregarding all the surrounding hyperbole, there is only one cause of MMs fall, Valentino. And of that there is no doubt whatsoever. Nothing at all in what happened to 'agree to disagree' on, it's a point of fact.

To imply that there is even the slightest ambiguity in what happened is to do Marquez a huge disservice. Kick or no kick, data or no data it's moot.

Hard or even dirty or obstructive racing is one thing, but Valentino's efforts to make war with Marquez culminating in his brain malfunction at Sepang is still hard to fathom months hence and will remain so for some time.

Total votes: 227

because you are such a good writer David:

the bitter hatred between Rossi, Márquez and Lorenzo

should read:

the bitter hatred among Rossi, Márquez and Lorenzo

Total votes: 173

'Between' is actually correct in this instance, because that word expresses 'the relation of a thing to many surrounding things severally and individually, among [only] expressing a relation to them collectively and vaguely'. “Between”, OED Online 2d (1989).

Vin Petrol (Rossi and Marquez fan...)

Total votes: 159

Clearly Rossi has been practising his leg dangle for years, waiting for this very moment with which to unleash a well placed boot to the brake lever of Marquez.

Total votes: 199

imo marquez had nothing to loose
almost a guarantee that if he fell rossi would almost definitely loose the wc
so lots to gain huh?
marquez is a very clever cunning and ruthless individual who it would seem will stop at nothing to stop rossi winning in 2015.
it is in the best interest of all journos closely related and invited to debriefs and dorna events to keep a very mutual and firm lid on things.
dont expect any of them to poor fuel on the fire.
but for me the writing is on the wall..

Total votes: 211

It for sure won't ever end as long as Rossi keeps it going.

Total votes: 173

was cancelling press day and having the riders have their own media sessions. I don't know why but I just HATE the uncomfortable press conferences! When they used to sit Jorge or Dani right next to #58 right after he ruffled one of their feathers, just to shake the cage and see if they fight(?). Never liked those.

I will say I'm not sure I agree with not being able to change ones mind (though I'm sure the science says different). I finished the Sepang race feeling like Rossi was completely out of line (I suppose I do still feel that way) but since I've had time to digest the info and look at the race again I have to say I'm kinda more on the side of Marquez being way out of line (though I usually always feel that way about #93). I gave him the benefit of the doubt at first, but (to me) it is obvious he was up to hijinks. but Rossi played right into it!
And I am one of those "fans" (though I am looking at that label differently now) that thinks it didn't matter to begin with because #99 was the clear winner. Maybe if Phillip Island went differently it could have changed things, but Rossi wasn't going to take Marquez for 3rd in Sepang and I just really don't think he would have been able to catch and pass Dani and Marc even if he started the grid normally. And I do think it is an absolute SHAME that people are looking at Jorge's championship differently. He was the fastest rider this year and the most deserving imo.

Either way, for me, just like deflategate, I hope we can just get passed this and back to some racing. I can't take any more of the melodrama.

Total votes: 164

Of course the controversy will not fade, quite on the contrary... I just hope Dorna has done the necessary winter investments in buying proper speakers to camouflage the booing which will most certainly occur at every podium ceremony in 2016.

Total votes: 186

....that the only person to have maintained any level of dignity throughout this whole charade is Danny Pedrosa. I hope he takes the title this year.

Total votes: 179

It appeared to me that MM93 tipped in just prior to the crash.

Is it a bit too simple to conclude that his brake lever (or elbow) hit either VR46s bike or more likely his leg thus causing the brake pressure spike/crash?

A good bit of top level riding is to anticipate prior to reacting and I think MM93 must of though VR46 would be 'finishing the corner' himself by tipping back in and getting on with it. VR46 hesitated slightly longer. Perhaps to further emphasize his displeasure with what was happening in the race.

I think it's easy to find some fault with both riders actions at that point. However, I think MM93 caused his own crash albeit with heavy influence from VR46

The data from the gyro would likely indicate the 'early' tip in from MM93 preceded the brake pressure spike

Total votes: 187

I race and am familiar with the brake level guards used in road racing. I can't see any way in which a rider wearing racing boots could get their foot between the guard and the lever. It's is just such a stretch that if by some chance it did happen, it would be a one in a million shot. I do not think Rossi kicked Marquez, but maybe he did. IF he did kick Marquez and managed to kick the brake lever... that was just [bad] luck.

I agree with David that the data can only show THAT something happened (the front brake was suddenly and aggressively applied). It can not show WHY it happened. I also agree with him that since the data can't prove one version of the evens or the other, there was no reason to release it. What I do not understand, is why they do just say that publicly. It leaves everyone to create their own reasons for not releasing the data. If I was Rossi I would be bothered. Honda says we have proof of a kick, FIM sees it and asks Honda not to release the data. Sort of leaving Rossi on the hook since they never said "It shows something happened, but doesn't prove why it happened".

I'm disappointed in Rossi for how he handled this whole thing. If Marquez was doing what Rossi accuses him of, I wish Rossi had found another way of addressing it. I continue to think Lorenzo is almost totally unlikeable given his comments and tone through out all of this, but I think he was the uninvolved beneficiary of the whole thing. I do not think he was privy to Marc's plans, if Marc even had any plans. I think Marc showed his true colors for the first time in 2015. He isn't all smiles, he can be a bit of a brat when things don't go his way. It'll be interesting to see if he has learned that finishing 3rd or 4rd is better than crashing out of a 3rd of the races. In 2013 and 2014 it looked to me that, on track and off track, Marquez was stepping up to become the new Rossi. After 2015 I'm not as sure, and I definitely find it harder to see myself becoming a Marquez fan in the future. Before 2015, and even half way through 2015, I wished Honda would replace Pedrosa. He just can't ever seem to get there and he is generally not the most interesting guy or racer. After the way he conducted himself at the end of 2015, he might be my favorite rider. He was calm, he was respectful, he gave thoughtful answers to the reporter's questions. The biggest surprise out of all this for me personally, is that I might be a Pedrosa fan. Who knew?

Total votes: 196

I am genuinely shocked that this statement was made:
"Would it have made any difference if Honda had released the data, as they promised and so many people demanded? None whatsoever, for a number of reasons."

Well, I guess that it would make no difference if the ONLY thing you're trying to glean from it is information about the front brake and how (or by who) it was applied. That's very convenient, considering it's the only thing discussed.

It's very ironic that the article states"Racing motorcycles (including MotoGP bikes such as Márquez' Honda RC213V) collect a vast array of information from a large number of sensors placed around the bike. but completely ignores all that data other than the front brake pressure at that one particular point, as if that is all that matters.

It's not. Having access to that data could easily prove (or disprove) that Marquez was intentionally interfering with Rossi. Hell, even this simple lap time chart from Valencia goes a long way in showing that Marquez had no intention of trying to pass Lorenzo, to actually race.

What more could be extrapolated from the wealth of info provided from the data at Sepang? I suspect it would be enormous.

Since this is an opinion piece, I'll offer mine: I think HRC knows exactly what that data would show, and that would show Marquez was intentionally interfering with Rossi. Is that technically legal? Sure is. Is it also being a giant asshole? Definitely. This is a much more likely reason for withholding the data they pledged to provide than anything this article offers.

Sorry, David. I love this site and admire your work, but I think that saying the data from Sepang is irrelevant is absurd.

Total votes: 206

There is a clear misunderstanding about exactly what data was on offer. The data in question is the data from the incident between Rossi and Marquez. That is the only data HRC offered to show to journalists, and then retracted. Even then, the amount of data we would have been shown would have been limited.

What HRC would never have done is supplied all of the data from the race at Sepang. For the very simple reason that such data tells a huge amount about the design and capability of the bike. Throttle, wheelspin, engine temperature, air temperature, O2 measurements, put all of this data together and a clever engineer can figure out how much power the bike is making, what the power delivery is like, and what Honda are doing with the traction control strategies. Those are all strictly guarded commercial secrets, which HRC have no intention of giving away.

I have been shouted at and thrown out of garages for staring at a screen full of data for a little too long. Even when I was just standing around waiting to talk to a rider, and staring idly at the screen for want of anything better to do.

So, fans may want to see the data from Sepang (and Valencia) to see if Marquez was really a) interfering with Rossi and b) not trying to overtake Lorenzo. But that data was never on the table. Only a tiny subset of data, covering a few tenths of a second.

Total votes: 175

Fair enough about much of the data being of a proprietary and closely guarded nature. But, showing _just_ the throttle positions surely wouldn't reveal much of any secret info and would go a loooooong way in refuting that Marquez was intentionally interfering in the championship.

Unless, of course, HRC already knows (which I'm pretty sure they do) that it would prove the opposite.

Total votes: 177

Why is this still up for debate? Race direction advised they found Marquez was interfering. It is obvious if you watch the race. Why would you need data?

Either way Rossi should have dealt with it better. He brought the war by opening his mouth up. They are both in the wrong with how they raced and it will detract from GP at least until one of them leaves the series and that is what pisses me off. Jorge was going to win the title regardless (barring something unforeseen) so fighting about if it was a kick or if Marquez was jerking with Rossi is inconsequential.

Total votes: 158

I've followed 46 since 125s and had a whale of a time along the way but I agree with the majority who read the excellent posts on this site, it's not a cut and dry situation, full of nuance and detail the masses will choose to ignore.

My initial reaction to the incident was feeling depressed that it had come to that point and a vague feeling of disappointment in my sporting idol. I think I'm probably a naive muppet to be honest!

Thanks for another excellent article David; my long LONG overdue supporters sub will start soon; well once I get past my daughter's birthday at the end of Feb ;)

Total votes: 169

It matters in the sense that Rossi may have been penalized for Marquez's mistake. There's no rule in racing that a racer must take the most time optimal line.

Total votes: 189

drama. that's why we watch. the people who watch moto gp who say they aren't interested in the drama are kidding themselves. stop being martyrs. how many times have journalists fondly recounted stories of the Rainey/Schwantz feud? the racing is better when it's personal.

Total votes: 155

They want controversy, it keeps Moto GP in the limelight, in people's thoughts. The one thing that would have been different if they had released the data is that they would have saved their integrity- at least the part where they said they would. AND if when they released it they had said this proves the brake was depressed but now how it happened then they could have calmed some of the controversy a little. But no, that didn't happen. Everyone likes a good conspiracy.

Total votes: 179

I don't know... Normally I would agree that "the bitter hatred between Rossi, Márquez and Lorenzo is good for the profile of motorcycle racing".

But the events just made me sick to my stomach. I still can't bring myself to watch the last two races of the year, while normally I try watch all the races as soon as possible (always means downloading because I want to watch the BT Sport broadcast and I live in The Netherlands).

The 2016 season has more than enough elements to make it one of the most interesting seasons in years, but I find myself struggling to be enthusiastic. I don't feel like watching two great heroes lashing out at each other.

But maybe most of all it's what orangespoon described perfectly; I don't like the vague feeling of disappointment in my sporting idol....

Total votes: 148

ive said before if the data was to be compared to all available video footage then it would show if rossi possibly could have applied mm brakes by comparing timing and video we are talking 100s 10s of a second that itd take to be in a possible position to apply the brake.
as brake guards are by the very definition designed to stop these thing happening its highly unlikely that rossi kicked the brake without himself being tangled up and falling too

Total votes: 156

David tweeted a link (thanks David!) of an interview in a spanish newspaper with Carmelo Ezpeleta. Unfortunately my spanish is not as good as my english, but it was still a nice read. This was the first interview with him that I have read at all.

http://www.marca.com/motor/motogp/2016/01/26/56a66650ca4741c6408b459e.html

It is interessting how relaxed Ezpeleta is (or maybe pretends to be?) about the Rossi-Marquez-Lorenzo-case at the end of last season and the MotoGP circus in generell. He is very balanced in his answers, never getting emotional. Judging from TV pictures I always assumed he is that Mister-Burns-type of a guy, which was a very superficial prejudice of course. After reading the interview he seems to be a likable person, at least to me.

However there is one quote of him I wanted to share with you because it leaves a lot of room for speculations. He was asked whether he had spoken with Rossi and Marquez in a privade situation about the incidents of the 2015 final. Here is his answer:

"Los dos y yo, y creo que más gente, sabemos lo que pasó. Pero no vale para nada insistir en el tema."

my free translation into english: "The two of them and myself, and I believe some more people, know what happend. But it is not worth arguing about the subject and insisting."

What I am wondering is why Ezpeleta says, that there are, besides Rossi and Marquez, other people who know what happend. Is he meaning some insiders? From Marquez standpoint there happend nothing: He rode his races with his best possible performance and the aim to get the best possible result for himself. From Rossis standpoint however there did happend something: Marquez didn't race 100% in order to help Lorenzo respectively harm him. So when Ezpeleta says that he and other people know what happend, this implies to me that there must have happend something in the first place. As there did not happen anything in Marquez' theory, I assume that he could mean that there was indeed something unregular going on, to put it that way. I for myself at least (want to) interpret his quote a bit in this way but am totally aware of the fact that there is a lot of speculations in my reading :-)) What do you think?

Total votes: 164

In this case, his speaking tone may reveal his meaning.
He may have been emphasizing the word "know" to imply
the contrary. Something along the lines of:

Several people know what happened. But each
one of them has a different opinion, and it's not worth
arguing over it.

Total votes: 155

From my understanding of the spanish language and of how the interview was transcripted in the newspaper, I don't think he meant this in an ironic way. However I am not totally sure about this of course.

When Ezpeleta says that the two riders, he himself and some more people know what happend he his limiting the number of people who know what really happend - as opposed to us who can only speculate what happend - to just those few.

Total votes: 128

1- The data do not say who was right or wrong. Dorna publishes them and say: sorry. can't reach a conclusion. It's over.
2- The data demonstrate that Rossi was wrong. His fans won't be happy, but as Rossi was punished, it's over.
3- The data demonstrate that Rossi was right, which means that he was wrongly punished by Dorna and unjustly deprived of the possibility of winning the championship. Big fuss. And the only hypothesis that explains why Dorna decided that the data must not be published.
As simple as that.

Total votes: 132

You couldn't be more wrong. See here how easy it is to distort facts?

Rossi was penalised for making Marquez crash, not for kicking him. Race Control explicitly said they saw no evidence of a kick. The penalty for Rossi stands whatever the data shows.

The only thing that would make a difference is if the data did show the kick, in that case Rossi wasn't punished severely enough and that could have repurcussions for the 2016 season.

Total votes: 124

If Rossi kicked or didn't. It looked like he kicked, and as such he should have been penatized appropriately during the race.

Total votes: 134