To truly ride a motorcycle is to push your limits, to go beyond your comfort zones, to exceed what you thought you could handle. When it comes to MotoGP championships, a paradox ensues: some passes you just can’t make, some corners you just can’t take, and some races you just can’t winner. Somehow Marc Marquez has found a way.
Marquez is sitting comfortably at the top of the 2016 MotoGP after his home-race victory at MotoGP Aragon. However, Marques hasn’t gotten to the top of the standings by winning. In fact, his wins have been few and far between. Marques picked up three wins in thirteen races this season. He has not had a podium finish in three of his last four races.
The question is, with can Marquez lagging, can Valentino Rossi catch up in time to win the 2016 MotoGP championship? It’s all about the tires now.
William Hill MotoGP Riders Championship 2016 odds are heavily stacked in Marquez’s favor at 1/50 versus 11/1 for Rossi. Both men seem to be pushing themselves and their bikes to extremes to compete for wins. Marquez set a race pace in FP4 while pushing hard on cold tires. Both Rossi and third place man Dani Pedrosa crashed earlier that morning. After the accident Rossi expressed thankfulness to his airbag-equipped Dainese track suit.
The matter of tires.
In order to be a competitive threat to Marc Marquez, Valentino Rossi will need to be strong on the hard tire. A hot sun and a warm track would play well into the Italian’s favor. Rossi may also opt to go with a soft tire, but that might only go so far. Sooner or later the right side of the tire would prove to no longer be up to the test. The reality is that Team Yamaha just isn’t as well equipped to make a turn from the back tire as the Team Honda is.
Marquez openly admitted that tire selection has played a huge role in the results. In his view, and in the eyes of many, the importance of tire selection has been more defining this season than most:
“This year this is one of the nicest thing of the championship. Maybe today I was the fastest one and tomorrow with lower temperature I will struggle with the tires,” said Marquez.
Riders down all weekend. Petrucci continued race despite showing possible signs of concussion.
Of the 21 riders in MotoGP, 14 fell last weekend in Aragon. Cooler temperatures along with Aragon’s peculiar eccentricities were the perpetrators. A thirty second stretch between turns, along with cold air from the hillsides, mean tire sides can cool between corners. Sudden braking is all takes to cause a crash. Three riders all separately crashed in the same area.
Scariest of all was the decision to send Danilo Petrucci back out on two wheels after his crash. Petrucci says he recalls crashing and then nothing.
“I was conscious but I didn’t remember where I was. I said, ‘OK, I’m standing, my bones are all together,’ so I came back to the pits. But when I went back out I didn’t remember where I was. I was quite scared. I did six laps this morning and I didn’t remember four and a half of them.”
Petrucci exhibited signs that could be synonymous with at least a minor concussion. Riding, let alone racing, in such condition could put a rider, and others around him, at a higher risk of accident. Meanwhile, the FIM saw fit to hand Nicolo Bulega a €300 fine for unsportsman-like conduct (flipping another rider the finger in practice). Perhaps it’s time the FIM take a good hard look in the mirror, and address Petrucci’s fitness to race.
Looking ahead to the Australasian leg and finale.
MotoGP’s remaining race schedule is as follows:
Oct 16 – Japanese Grand Prix
Oct 23 – Australian Grand Prix
Oct 30 – Malaysia Grand Prix
Nov 13 – Valencia Grand Prix
Marc Marquez has won the Japanese Grand Prix twice. In 2010 he won racing in the 125cc class. In 2012 he won in Moto2. Valentino Rossi has won the Japanese Grand Prix in the 500cc class (2001), and in MotoGP (2002, 2003, 2008). The real stars of late have been Spanish racers Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo combined for wins between 2011 and 2015.
Some of you may remember that last year, Valentino Rossi had a chance of taking the championship from Marquez up until the final race and the controversy that stirred up. Four races out from the championship final, Marquez may be firmly in the lead, but in MotoGP, anything could happen between now and that final checkered flag.