Repsol, title sponsor of Marc Marquez's factory Honda team, has condemned Valentino Rossi's actions during Sunday's Malaysian MotoGP.
The pair clashed when title leader Rossi, frustrated at Marquez's constant overtakes for third place, deliberately forced the Spaniard wide on lap 7 of 20. Contact was made, with Marquez falling.
Earlier in the weekend Rossi had accused Marquez of helping his title rival Jorge Lorenzo, also adding some personal insults, setting the scene for Sunday's battle.
Repsol, like Marquez and Honda, insist that Rossi kicked the #93, causing him to crash. Rossi denies kicking Marquez, saying his leg moved after the contact and when Marquez was already falling.
Race Direction declared the TV footage to be inconclusive and thus accepted Rossi's claim that he did not intend for Marquez to fall.
But since forcing Marquez wide resulted in an accident - deliberate or not - Rossi was given three Penalty Points. He will now start from last place at the Valencia title showdown with Lorenzo, due to already having one Penalty Point from Misano.
Repsol clearly expected a stronger punishment.
In a post-race statement titled 'Pedrosa wins and Marquez crashes after unsportsmanlike kick from Rossi'
the petroleum company branded the Italian's actions as “absolutely unacceptable” and called for “strong regulation... which punishes behaviour like that seen today clearly and decisively”.
Repsol even hinted that it could reconsider its 40-year involvement in the sport, which includes title sponsorship of the factory Honda team since 1995.
“Repsol are deeply saddened that situations like that which occurred today in Sepang exist, especially as the company feel proud of sporting values: Companionship, competitive spirit and commitment from riders. Without these values, it would not make sense for Repsol to participate in the sport as a sponsor.”
The full statement can be seen below:
“Dani Pedrosa achieved a great victory today in the Malaysian Grand Prix - a win that was unfortunately overshadowed by the unacceptable and unsportsmanlike conduct of Valentino Rossi against Repsol Honda Team rider, Marc Marquez.
“On the seventh lap of the race, with Marquez and Rossi immersed in a battle for third place that involved several overtaking moves between the two, the Italian - in an absolutely intentional action - dealt an unsportsmanlike kick to the Repsol Honda rider that knocked him to the ground.
“Although Marquez was fortunately able to escape unharmed from the attack, for Repsol the conduct of Rossi is absolutely unacceptable because it endangered - in a premeditated and unsportsmanlike manner - the safety of the Repsol Honda team rider. Repsol consider this an unsportsmanlike act incompatible with the values of sport and competition.
“Repsol are deeply saddened that situations like that which occurred today in Sepang exist, especially as the company feel proud of sporting values: Companionship, competitive spirit and commitment from riders. Without these values, it would not make sense for Repsol to participate in the sport as a sponsor.
“Repsol also call for a clear and strong regulation in the interest of the safety and physical integrity of the riders, which punishes behaviour like that seen today clearly and decisively.
“The positive thing about this race was the great performance of Dani Pedrosa, who gradually pulled away from his rivals to score his second win of the season –following that achieved in Japan two weeks ago.
“After this race, Marquez remains third in the overall standings with 222 points. Pedrosa moves up to fourth with 190 points. The World Championship will conclude in two weeks' time, with the Valencia Grand Prix”
Rossi raced for Repsol Honda in 2002 and 2003, winning the title in both seasons.