Lorenzo claims controversial 2015 MotoGP title

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What I do know this morning is that Jorge Lorenzo is the 2015 MotoGP world champion. I also know that he scored more points than Valentino Rossi and more race victories. He also rode and equally incredible year, just like Rossi, on a bike of stunning engineering. What I can’t be sure of is what to make of the battle of words and erosion of the MotoGP fan base in to a mob of mouth-frothing, vitriolic armchair philosophers chanting “people’s champion” and “Lorenzo’s bodyguard”.

With the win in Valencia on Sunday, Lorenzo secured his third MotoGP title and along with that achievement came the demise of Rossi’s attempt to win his 7th title in a storybook year that saw the 36-year-old rejuvenate his career, his loyal fans and along with that, the resuscitation of the MotoGP championship. A shame then that the series, which should be enjoying the explosion of publicity over one of the best season’s I have ever seen into a war of words and poorly chosen actions on all sides.

Rossi started from the back of the grid having had a penalty for his role in the clash with Honda rider Marc Marquez two week’s prior in Sepang. What he did on Sunday was nothing short of amazing as he sliced his way through the field to secure 4th in the race at Valencia. It was an epic ride by anyone’s measure but it wasn’t enough to win the title, he needed help from the Honda’s or a mistake by teammate Jorge Lorenzo. Neither materialized and Rossi was reduced to 2nd in the championship. Jorge was just too fast for anyone to catch as the lap times prove that.

When the mobocracy on social media says that Rossi is the people’s champion, they aren’t far from the truth in that the Italian has a throng of rabid fans. It’s not hard to see why the tirade on Twitter would reduce itself to third-rate hit pieces on Lorenzo as he doesn’t have that boyish Rossi charm or the Cheshire cat grin of Marquez. What he does have, though, is that metronomic pace that is nearly untouchable and it is exacerbated by the hammer of consistency and that wins world titles regardless of conspiracy.

To juxtapose, in the final race of 2008, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa was seven points behind Lewis Hamilton, meaning that Massa had to either finish first or second to win, and Hamilton had to be outside the top 5 – the same position Kimi Räikkönen had been in a year earlier, when he won the championship.

Going into the last lap, if the order stayed as it was, then Massa would have been champion. Massa crossed the checkered flag and thought that he had won the championship. Lewis Hamilton was still sixth as he came up to the second-to-last corner, but then passed Timo Glock who had just been overtaken by Sebastian Vettel and who was struggling for grip on his dry tires, and so this moved Hamilton into 5th place. Crossing the line Hamilton won the Drivers title by just a single point. If he had tied points with Massa, by virtue of 6 victories to 5 in the season, Massa would have won the title. Massa was world champion for about 8 seconds that day.

What we didn’t get post-race was accusations from Massa that Glock had let Hamilton past or helped him win the title.
To be honest, I haven’t been watching MotoGP my entire life and I really have no axe to grind here. I like Rossi, Lorenzo and Marquez and respect each for their immense talents and in Rossi’s case, what he’s given to MotoGP and vice versa. I can’t say if Marquez was pushing or holding back, I have no way of knowing that from my couch but if memory serves, I don’t recall Lorenzo and Marquez being best mates to be honest. I think Marc races to win period…regardless of who it is in front of him.

I like Rossi too. I do, however, feel that blaming Marc, Jorge or others for the loss of the title is not very becoming of a 6-time champion. Calling MotoGP and DORNA into question and suggesting there was some sort of Spanish conspiracy is a very serious allegation. It is hard to see anything else about the 2015 season other than Rossi and the accusations and that’s a shame because it was an epic season that deserves more than just hints and allegations.

In Formula 1, they have an FIA sporting regulation about bringing the sport into disrepute and to be honest, if MotoGP had this, one could argue that Rossi has run afoul of it. It’s difficult to believe you can swat a hornets nest and expect nothing in return. I tend to believe that the battle between Rossi and Marquez was really between themselves and Valentino’s nest-swatting words unleashed of torrent of stinging rebuke from Marquez. It became personal and Marc couldn’t care less about Rossi’s title bid. He was on a mission to shut the old man up.

Lorenzo had his moments as well but if I were Jorge, I would want to make sure that Rossi didn’t manipulate the series outcome through attaching my name to Marquez as well as it would diminish the effort I put in during my 2015 campaign. I would want to make sure that someone got on top of the “people’s champion” and didn’t cave to the pressure he and his mobocracy could bring to DORNA.

All of the white noise aside, Lorenzo put in a performance of legends on Sunday as did Rossi and it is a shame we aren’t speaking of those rides instead. Unfortunately, we’re parroting phrases like “Lorenzo’s bodyguard” and “people’s champion” as fanboy lemmings.

Perhaps the bigger tragedy in 2015 is the spoiling of one of the best seasons in memory due to emotional rhetoric and mobocracy but at some level, I have come to expect that this is what racing has become. Look at the NASCAR debacle, F1’s current situation and even stick and ball sports. It’s not very becoming if I’m honest.

Rossi galvanized the sport and it was never going to be easy to be the first person to challenge that dynasty as Lorenzo found out. He’s not as well-liked for whatever reason but it didn’t matter who came next, they were never going to be loved like Rossi. Then came Marquez to knock off the Rossi replacement and his boyish charm and grin reminded people that there may be life beyond Rossi and this was an exciting champion they could possibly like. Then it happened, Rossi came back and that galvanized the sport once again.

What I am left with is the sinking feeling that Rossi is much better and winning six titles than he is in losing the six titles.

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Tom
Guest
Tom

Lorenzo quote after the race :

“In another race they would have tried to overtake but not in this one, We are Spaniards and it was right that the title remain in Spain”.

This gives me a bad feeling about the 2015 championship. Not much to change about it though.

Negative Camber
Guest

It’s interesting because apparently national pride is only applicable in context. In Mexico, Perez was all the rage and so to is Hamilton and the UK but perhaps three men from Spain beating the Italian is not a good thing in MotoGP? Just asking, not suggesting one way or the other. Just interesting I guess.

Tom
Guest
Tom

When I try to look at it in a sporting way I would expect Marquez to go for the victory for himself, for Honda and for his fans. Playing the cards like this feels like bad sportsmanship. I know Lorenzo tends to be faster on a dry day and in the end the man with most points wins. But there was a reason why it was so close at the end. Lorenzo was fast, Rossi consistent. Something keeps nagging in the back of my head though that Lorenzo needed Marquez to intervene which puts a mark on the championship for… Read more »

228929292AABBB
Guest
228929292AABBB

Keep in mind though it would have gone your (and Rossi’s) way if Rossi had just got on with it instead of trying some stupid mind game blaming Marquez a couple weeks ago, which backfired. He was set to win the crown and got pissy and started slinging mud, and made everything he’s living with now himself.

228929292AABBB
Guest
228929292AABBB

For the life of me I can’t imagine why Lorenzo would say that. He has no idea what’s in their heads and why cast doubts on your own win? Holy honesty.

Mike Martin
Guest
Mike Martin

No kidding…….with that logic, the guy playing catch up must now consider along with everything else the others in the field who are from the same country as his main rival. For those out of the WC to perform in a way that favors a fellow countryman over another championship contender could be considered colluding to ensure a result.

Jamie Huntoon
Guest
Jamie Huntoon

MM decided this years champion

Negative Camber
Guest

I understand your point but did Rossi not decide the title? He had several races that were missed opportunities surely? It’s like in F1 when people say that about Vettel or Raikkonen when they won by a point. Each point counts in every race and every missed point is a title decider. Not just Sepang etc. Still, I understand your point about starting at back of grid and being harassed etc.

Member

A month and a half ago, Rossi seemingly had it in the bag. For me, after all the hoopla and bluster, the only thing Rossi really had to do was not kick Marquez. He could have then just out driven his competitors, and we’d have an even more spectacular final race. If I’m oversimplifying the matter, please let me know. PS. Rossi’s recovery drive brings up something I’ve thought about but haven’t had the blog entry to talk about it. Even if a front running car starts from pit lane, they usually end up finishing right about where they would… Read more »

Andreas Möller
Guest
Andreas Möller

Watching the race, I didn’t feel anything untoward happened. Rossi did an amazing job getting to 4th from the back of the grid, but Lorenzo was fastest (as he had been in quali), with the two Hondas trying their best to keep up and overtake. Marquez had a couple of attempts during the final laps, as did Pedrosa. The only thing was Marquez fighting Pedrosa, rather than letting him have a go at Lorenzo. But then again, racers are racers, and it wouldn’t have helped Rossi anyway (unless both Honda riders could get past Lorenzo). Watching Rossi greet his team… Read more »

Guillermo De Simone
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Guillermo De Simone

Valentino started mind games with MM when Marc was out of the WC war. And what he did at Sepang was criminal. All the situtiation backfired him. Nevertheless Velentino and Lorenzo were teammates during 3 seasons (54 races) with 17 wins for Jorge and 7 for Valentino. Rossi maybe was best rider ever, but surely not the last 3 years when he lost sistematically with his teammate.

Mike Martin
Guest
Mike Martin

I just don’t understand why Marquez felt Lorenzo needed him to insert himself into the fight. I’m more of an F1 fan but I do enjoy Moto GP so from a pragmatic point, I just wish the main players could have battled it out without others being somewhat more than a contributing factor. Sure, Rossi played dirty the race prior but why was Marquez racing a WC contender so hard when he was eliminated? The championship was decided just as much by Marquez’s actions as Lorenzo’s wonderful talent. That’s a shame.

partofthepuzzle
Guest
partofthepuzzle

Marquez was clearly at fast or faster than Rossi in Malaysia. He had the speed and the skill to challenge him and he’s getting paid millions of dollars to ride at his peak abilities.What was he supposed to do, just dial it back and let Rossi ride off in front of him?

Mike Martin
Guest
Mike Martin

Of course…..I agree that he was and your point that he’s well paid to do his best is certainly valid. I just don’t get why a rider that’s out of the race for the WC raced a contender so hard. From my perspective, it seemed Marquez was trying harder to slow Rossi than to pass him.
I’m a fan of the sport more than any particular rider so I understand everyone may not agree with my point of view.

dude
Guest
dude

“What was he supposed to do, just dial it back and let Rossi ride off in front of him?” That’s what he did for Lorenzo at Valencia. He is “paid millions of dollars to ride at his peak abilities” to win for Honda, except he didn’t. But when his teammate try to come through, he speed up almost crashed him out. If he had to speed to past back his teammate, and is also known as the most aggressive driver in the grid, then why he never made an attempt? “I think Marc races to win period…regardless of who it… Read more »

Alex Brașovan
Guest
Alex Brașovan

Finally some common sense about this whole situation. After the race, all social media were filled to the brink with idiotic Rossi fanatism and almost zero credit given to Lorenzo and his achievements, which all left me feeling disgusted. In the end, I think the best rider won the title, and the only one who should be blamed for Rossi not winning it is the man himself.

228929292AABBB
Guest
228929292AABBB

I think this is well written and fair but to be honest I don’t think MotoGP suffered or eroded. There were rough patches sure but this was a magnificent season I bet viewership and attendance spike way up next year. My wife came home halfway through Valencia, couldn’t give a sh*t about MotoGP but had the basic story from me. Walking around the house putting stuff away, slowing down, circling the living room, sitting…I look over with 5 laps to go and she’s on the edge of the footstool with her fists clenched eyes locked on the TV and making… Read more »

partofthepuzzle
Guest
partofthepuzzle

There’s no real evidence at all to support Rossi’s claim that Marquez (and now Pedrosa) conspired to foil his chances. Ex. if the Honda guys were riding to protect Lorenzo’s lead, why would they make that charge at the end when they could have easily hung back more safely? So, Rossi’s either off on a nutty tangent or he’s intentionally playing head games with the Honda guys, Lorenzo and the whole MotoGP world. Maybe a bit of both. Oh and the move on Marquez in Malaysia was inexcusable. I love the guy but these antics only tarnish his legacy. I’ve… Read more »

Bacon Wrapped Sushi
Guest
Bacon Wrapped Sushi

I’m glad you wrote a piece about this race. This was the first MotoGP race I’ve seen in quite some time (5+years) and I already set up the next season to DVR. Just awesome racing. It is more pure. The reactions I had of Danny Pedrosa making an attempt on Marquez had me squealing. The attempt Rossi made from last to fourth was insane and great to watch. No DRS, and insane passion from the commentators really made the race fun to watch. The repeated stuff often, but because there was so much passion I didn’t care. After it was… Read more »

Rapierman
Member
Rapierman

I’d like to think that this is not going to go the way of boxing. :-P

longshot
Guest
longshot

Nice article, especially with the Paul Simon references :)

Joe Jopling
Guest
Joe Jopling

Moto GP lost any credibility when they put rossi at the back of the last race of the championship…..and basically killed off potentially the best race of many seasons…of all the punishments, that was totally senseless….and I remember Mark M giving Lorenzo a big shove off the track last corner.. a couple of seasons back, going on to win, and that was declared a racing incident…….haven’t looked for a conspiracy theory…but there must be one somewhere…