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MotoGP Valencia: Rossi blasts Marquez after title defeat

“Marquez wanted to finish his work and try to protect Lorenzo in the last race” – Valentino Rossi.
Valentino Rossi renewed his attack on Marc Marquez after Sunday's MotoGP title defeat at Valencia.

Rossi saw a seven point lead over Jorge Lorenzo evaporate when a fourth place finish - from the back of the grid - was combined with victory for his Yamaha team-mate.

Marquez shadowed Lorenzo throughout the race, visibly riding hard to stay with the Yamaha rider but never making a pass. The pair were then caught by Dani Pedrosa in the closing stages.

For Rossi, the fact Marquez didn't try to overtake was proof he "wanted to finish his work" and "protect Lorenzo", labelling the final race as "embarrassing" and "bad for the sport".

Rossi had been sent to the back of the grid for causing a clash with Marquez at Sepang - a few days after triggering a public feud with the Spaniard by accusing him of trying to help Lorenzo at Phillip Island.

The Italian cut swiftly through the field at Valencia, reaching his realistic limit of fourth place by lap 13 of 30. With Lorenzo, Marquez and Pedrosa long gone - Rossi's championship hopes depended on both Repsol Hondas beating Lorenzo.

That didn't happen and the race finished with Marquez 0.263s from Lorenzo and Pedrosa +0.654s. Rossi, never headed in the 2015 points until today, thus saw a tenth world title slip away by just five points.

“This is the final of the championship that me personally, and also I think a lot of people, don't want to see. Because it was a great season, with a great battle with Marquez and especially with Lorenzo,” said Rossi, speaking in front of a mixed audience of media, Movistar Yamaha guests and VR46 fan club members - some of whom were in tears.

“I think that this championship had the potential to become one of the best of the last years, because the battle with Jorge can arrive at the last point at the last race.

“But unfortunately, the last three races something changed. Something happened that nobody expected. First of all me, but also a lot of people. That is Marc Marquez decided to protect Lorenzo to help him win the championship.

“So, the problem started at Phillip Island and unfortunately became worse and worse. We arrived in Malaysia where unfortunately we touch and Marquez crash. When I learn on Thursday that I had to start last here, I knew already my championship was finished because I was sure Marquez wanted to finish his work and try to protect Lorenzo also in the last race.

“I said this already Thursday and it happened exactly as I expected.

“Today the race was quite embarrassing. The last lap I think was quite bad for all the sport, because something happened that never happen before. I'm not desperate [at losing the title] because I think I play my cards in the best way, but I'm very sad with this finish.

“I was ready to lose the championship to Jorge, who is always very fast, but this way for me is not fair.”

Marquez denies ever assisting Lorenzo: The outgoing double champion taking five points from the Yamaha rider by passing him for victory at Phillip Island, citing front tyre issues for his fluctuating pace, and insisting there was nothing unusual in the frantic Sepang battle until Rossi made his extreme move.

And Valencia?

Marquez said if he was trying to help Lorenzo he would have been five-seconds behind, not applying constant pressure from a few bikelengths away. The #93 added that a planned late attack for the lead never materialised because he lost time when briefly passed by Pedrosa. asked Rossi to respond to Marquez's explanation.

“For me if you check the races of Marc Marquez in the last two years you know he always tries to overtake and minimum on the last lap. So the question is, why Marc Marquez never tried to overtake Jorge Lorenzo and never tried to make one attempt on the last lap?” Rossi replied.

“The situation became very embarrassing for Pedrosa, because Pedrosa was far [behind] and in the last laps he recovered two-seconds, which means that it is the pace of Jorge and Marquez just waited.

“And for me, he [Marquez] likes that it is clear that he helped Lorenzo, because after when he take off the helmet he is just saying it is not true. But, when he knows I will look at the television and it is clear that he helped Lorenzo, for me he is happy.”

Rossi also turned his sights on Honda: “The position of Honda is very strange. I don't know how a manufacturer can be agreed that one of its riders make the Yamaha win and try to fight just with his team-mate [Pedrosa]. This is very strange. But sincerely I don't understand.”

Speaking to the Italian media Rossi went even further, branching out his attack to include criticism of Lorenzo (for his post-Sepang comments) and the championship organisers (for not addressing Rossi's concerns after Australia or Malaysia).

Paddock opinion remains divided as to whether Marquez could have tried to pass Lorenzo on Sunday, or was on the limit just to stay with him.

Others are debating whether the last place start made any difference to the title outcome, with Rossi only setting the fifth fastest lap of the race.

“Today I wasn't particularly fast but it's true also that with the new tyre at the beginning of the race I was in traffic and cannot give my maximum. For sure if I can start in a normal grid position I can try to do something, try to fight with Jorge.”

Either way the allegations made by Rossi mean the 2015 season, in which his title challenge at the age of 36 captivated the motorsport world, ends on something of a sour note.

The Italian won seven championships between 2001 and 2009, but a downward spiral began with a broken leg in 2010, followed by two winless seasons at Ducati.

A bittersweet 2013 saw Rossi win a race on his Yamaha return, but blown away by Lorenzo. A shock change of crew chief underlined that Rossi wasn't content to make up the numbers and he turned the tables on Lorenzo last year, albeit a distant second behind the all-conquering Marquez.

Rossi tangled with Marquez at Argentina and Assen during the opening half of this season (since which The Doctor claims the 22-year-old has held a grudge) then spent the remaining rounds locked in a tense title duel with Lorenzo.

Although Rossi was never headed in the points until today, Lorenzo has been the rider to beat in the dry since the summer break and was tied with Rossi after Brno (round 11 of 18).

Rossi then exploited Lorenzo's weakness in mixed weather to fight back at Silverstone, Misano and Motegi, only for Lorenzo to reel him in again at Aragon and Phillip Island.

Then came the dramatic twist when Rossi was penalised for deliberately forcing Marquez wide, resulting in a fall for the #93, at the penultimate Sepang round.

The Italian was hit with three penalty points, which combined with an earlier point from Misano meant a last pace start at Valencia. Rossi took his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) - asking not only for the Sepang penalty to be reduced, but suspended until the final appeal judgement is made.

The CAS dismissed Rossi's request on Thursday, when the riders involved were told by Dorna and the FIM to refrain from speaking any further about the incident to calm the escalating tensions.

That public truce lasted until today.

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Rossi, media scrum, Valencia MotoGP 2015
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November 08, 2015 5:56 PM

36 years old and it took a joint effort from Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez, HRC, and Dorna to stop him taking his 10th title. There's one part of me that wants Rossi to retire so i can stop watching this corrupt sport after watching it since 2001, but then there's a bigger part of me wanting him to stay for another few years. Let's hope he'll come back even stronger and more ruthless than ever next year.

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