Opinion: Rossi screw-up ends title chances?

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To call Sunday’s MotoGP race an unmitigated disaster for the factory Movistar Yamaha duo of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo would perhaps be understating just how much the to hugely experienced riders failed to deliver the goods.

Rossi has a reputation befitting someone with his experience – the nine-time world champion is widely cited as one of the most naturally talented and intelligent racers in the paddock, able to think at light speed all while wrestling a 275bhp motorbike around at 200mph.

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And to add to that, he’s surrounded by a crew with literally centuries of experience and countless world titles to their names, headed by Yamaha bosses Lin Jarvis and Massimo Meregalli and crew chief Silvano Galbusera.

So it almost beggars belief that Rossi would ignore their instructions during Sunday’s race, staying out on track instead of pitting while the slick tyre shod Marc Marquez cut huge chunks of time out of their lead.

And to compound the issue, when he did eventually pit, the it was not for slicks the same as Marquez’s but instead for intermediates not up to the job on the drying track – a decision perhaps forced by a team unable to begin switching tyres when they didn’t know when their rider would finally enter the pits.

On the other side of the Yamaha garage, Jorge Lorenzo’s wet weather crisis continued for a second consecutive weekend. Unable to get any feeling from his tyres (something that wasn’t an issue for the three other Yamaha riders), the reigning champion saw Marquez’ title lead double.

And while his hesitation at both Assen and Sachsenring in the past can be partly understood considering the painful injuries both tracks have inflicted upon him, it’s the job of someone with Lorenzo’s skill and experience to bounce back from setbacks like that.

Whatever the reason for both his and Rossi’s slump at the weekend it may well be terminal, however, as handing such a substantial lead to the new and improved Marc Marquez 2.0 could well mean the title chase is already over.

 

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Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer