If you have even a passing interest in sport – and I don’t mean just motorsport – please, DON’T MISS Sunday’s Valencian Community Grand Prix. It promises to be a race to tell your grandkids about, as championship leader Valentino Rossi takes a meager seven-point advantage over rival Jorge Lorenzo into the last round of the MotoGP season. Added drama: Rossi starts dead last because of a penalty.
Valentino Rossi hasn’t won the World Championship since 2009. He’s 36 and way past retirement age, in a sport where one of his main rivals is 14 years younger. Four days to go until the penultimate Grand Prix of the season, in Malaysia, Rossi accuses Honda‘s Marc Marquez of helping fellow Spanish rider Jorge Lorenzo in his fight for the title. It sounds like the Italian’s been watching too many documentaries on JFK’s assassination, but then the race starts. After a few turns, Rossi is 4th and Marquez 3rd. There’s an extremely hard fought battle between them. They touch, they cut each other off, they overtake each other. Lorenzo is 2nd and he marches on, as Rossi is being held back by a very aggressive Marquez. Rossi exits very wide from a turn, takes a look behind and slows down. Marquez catches up and leans towards the Italian’s Yamaha, his helmet touching Rossi‘s knee. Rossi appears to push back, as the Spanish rider loses control and falls, while his rival goes on to finish 3rd. Did we just see the championship leader lose his cool and make a dirty move?
No, we didn’t. It sounds ridiculous, but his foot slipped. Even Marquez stated after the race that he wasn’t pushed. Even so, Valentino Rossi was still penalized for going too wide out of that corner and will have to start last in the championship showdown at Circuit Ricardo Tormo. His appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport was denied, so Rossi needs to ride like a bat out of hell on Sunday, if he is to win his 7th MotoGP crown.
It may sound far-fetched, but it actually isn’t. Rossi has started as low as 8th on the grid four times this season. He achieved a podium finish on all occasions and even managed to win twice. Also, remember that he still holds a seven-point lead, so the Italian doesn’t actually need to win the Valencian Community GP. He just needs to stay as close to Jorge Lorenzo as possible. If his Yamaha teammate wins – like he did last year – Rossi needs to be 2nd. But the farther down Lorenzo is, the easier it gets for Rossi. For instance, if Lorenzo finishes just short of the podium, 9th place is enough to secure the title for Valentino Rossi. That is a little unlikely though, as I can’t really think of three riders that could realistically finish ahead of Lorenzo, if I have to leave out Rossi.
My best guess is that Dani Pedrosa will win, and I’m basing this on the fact that he won the Malaysian GP two weeks ago and is the rider with the most wins at Circuit Ricardo Tormo. Also, Lorenzo won’t be foolish enough to risk too much, knowing that if he retires it’s all over and that he just needs to stay ahead of Rossi. By how many places, depends entirely on the Italian.