Honda has broken their silence on the clash between Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi in Malaysia. On the seventh lap of the race at Sepang the pair touched and Marquez crashed after a heated scrap on track. The Malaysian weekend was dominated by their rivalry and when Rossi claimed Marquez had been riding to hurt Rossi's title chances in Australia there was little doubt that there would be fireworks on track.
The HRC vice president, Shuhei Nakamoto, said in a stament that the data from the crash shows that there was a sudden impact on Marquez' brake lever that locked his front tyre and caused him to crash.
When asked about the crash Nakamoto said:
“It is clear that Valentino intentionally pushed Marc towards the outside of the track, which is out of the rules, therefore Marc had no other option other than to run wide. The data from Marc’s bike shows that even though he was picking up the bike trying to avoid contact with Valentino, his front brake lever suddenly received an impact that locked the front tyre, which is the reason for his crash. We believe that this pressure was a result of Rossi’s kick. The data acquisition from Marc’s bike is available if anybody from Dorna, the FIM or media want to check.”
With so many allegations and rumours circulating Nakamoto wished to outline how Honda felt in the aftermath and that they believed that Marquez had been wrongly criticised by Rossi.
"Marc Marquez won the Australian GP, overtaking Jorge Lorenzo on the last lap, and therefore taking away 5 points from him in the Championship," said Nakamoto. "On Thursday prior to the Malaysian GP in the Pre-Event Press Conference, Valentino Rossi accused Marc of racing against him in Phillip Island to help Jorge Lorenzo. In the Malaysian GP, Rossi intentionally pushed Marc out of the racing line which caused him to crash. Race Direction gave him a penalty for this action, confirmed by FIM."
When asked if he believed that the clash on track was inevitable after the charged atmosphere of the press conference Nakamoto said:
“We honestly don’t think this is the case. We all know Marc races at 100% all the time, it’s one of the reasons we all love him and he has so many fans around the world. Marc always pushes to the maximum to achieve the best result possible. He had a great battle in his career with many riders, and nobody complained about that. In Malaysia, we know that Marc was struggling at the beginning of the race with the full tank, as has happened several times this season. Also in Sepang he made a mistake at the beginning of the race and this allowed Jorge to pass him. Then Valentino arrived and they began to fight for third place. The passes were extreme, but safe, from both riders. Two of the greatest champions we’ve seen battling together on track
“The lap times they were doing [prior to the race] were quite fast, clearly showing that there was no intention from Marc to slow down Valentino. In addition, after Marc crashed and Valentino had an open track in front of him, his lap times were no faster than during the battle with Marc. We believe, they were both pushing to the maximum. Both wanted third place and to try and catch up with Dani and Jorge, but of course this battle opened up a gap to the front two. This is racing and when you have two talents such as Marc and Valentino you can see a wonderful battle as we saw.”
While tensions are sure to be high in the final race of the season this week in Valencia Nakamoto once again stated his respect for Rossi and that his position in the sport hasn't changed. Having won three world titles for Honda Nakamoto still believes that Rossi is "the greatest ever champion of our sport and he has done a great job this year."