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Dancing in the Rain

Dancing in the Rain

The MotoGP™ World Championship has taken a critical turn after the Octo British Grand Prix as Rossi dances to victory.

Rain can produce peculiar results in motorcycle racing; with power more of a disadvantage, in the wet rider skill becomes even more important. Riders such as Chris Vermeulen became famous for their ability in the wet, the loveable Australian claimed his only MotoGP™ win in 2007 at a rain soaked French GP. As electronics have begun to play a bigger role, rain specialists have become a rarer and rarer breed. But racing in the beating rain is by no means easy, as two of the MotoGP™ championship challengers showed on Sunday.

Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) went to bed on Saturday night performing a rain dance; his dry weather pace was simply not enough to keep with the likes of Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and teammate Jorge Lorenzo. It seems that even Mother Nature is a Rossi fan as come Sunday morning Warm Up the heavens had opened and Silverstone lived up to Britain’s reputation of rain. Rossi led the session handily, heading, somewhat fortuitously, Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) as both Marquez and Lorenzo struggled.

Come race time, the rain had settled and wet tyres were fitted. Initially Marquez had been able to keep with Rossi, the pair breaking away, but the Spaniard found himself on the floor as he exited Turn 1. This DNF is the final nail in the coffin of Marquez’s 2015 title challenge. He now sits 77 points behind Rossi in the standings and though it is mathematically still possible for Marquez to claim a third MotoGP™ crown, a miracle is needed.

Marquez has never gone particularly well in the wet. Last year at Aragon he crashed while pushing slicks too hard on a track that was becoming colder and wetter with every lap. Back in 2011, Marquez failed to finish the British GP when racing in the Moto2™ class in similar conditions. Compared to Rossi, Marquez is still a relative newcomer to the premier class and wet weather riding is a skill that comes with experience.

As Rossi cruised to victory, Lorenzo was battling vision problems and aggressive riders. Many of Lorenzo’s worse moments, including his famous Assen crash in 2013 that saw his collarbone shatter, have happened in the wet. These problems were made worse by a misting visor and saw Lorenzo miss out on valuable championship points. With a fourth place finish the Majorcan now sits 12 points behind his teammate.

Lorenzo himself admits that he did not have the pace to battle Rossi for the win: “Valentino and Marquez passed me and I was in third position losing time every lap. They had a better pace than me early on in the race and I couldn‘t do anything to follow them.”

Throughout his racing career Lorenzo has shown great mental fortitude, not only in over coming his Assen wet-race demons but also overcoming multiple severe injuries, continuing to push himself to the limit.

A 12-point advantage may seem small, but round 13 of the MotoGP™ World Championship takes place in Misano, Rossi’s backyard. A win and the championship lead will have Rossi on the crest of a wave, able to ride the success and confidence to the Rimini coastline. It will be a make of break round for Jorge Lorenzo, if he can de-throne Rossi at home and stop him from gaining any momentum.

Marquez could still play a significant role in the title battle; he now truly has nothing to lose. As such he can take even more risks, push even closer to the edge in races and no doubt steal race wins. Every point will matter in the title fight between the Yamahas and losing five, or more, to a rogue Honda could be costly. The championship will be decided by a mistake, the only question is who will make the mistake?

Tags:
MotoGP, 2015, OCTO BRITISH GRAND PRIX, RAC, Marc Marquez, Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi, Repsol Honda Team, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP

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