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Rain or shine, Rossi delivers

Rain or shine, Rossi delivers

The rain may have presented him with a chance of victory, but you still have to grasp that opportunity with both hands - and Rossi did.

With nineteen years of experience reporting on MotoGP™ for Motorcycle News, MotoGP Commentator Matthew Birt knows the championship inside-out. For the 2015 season he joins the motogp.com team to bring you exclusive news and opinion from inside the paddock.

In a week that a new movie was released about MotoGP and its Hollywood A-list narrator Brad Pitt attended the British Grand Prix, it seems appropriate that racing’s box office star took centre stage.

A gloomy, cold and soaking wet Silverstone could not be further removed from the glitz and glamour of Tinseltown.

But as Pitt dodged microphones and a swarm of selfie-hunters, Rossi was expertly avoiding Silverstone’s bumps and puddles to splash his way to a priceless first wet weather success since the British Grand Prix at Donington Park in 2005.

And so the typically temperamental British summer weather altered the outlook of the 2015 World Championship once again.

The story of 2015 has followed a recurring theme. Rossi opens up points lead, and Movistar Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo claws it back. And repeat. After three races the gap was 29-points in favour of Rossi. Four races later it had been slashed to just one.

Two races later it was back out to an advantage of 13 for Rossi, but two more races down the track and they left Brno tied on points. And the way Lorenzo dismantled the field in the Czech Republic, even Rossi’s diehard supporters were beginning to look anxious.

Now Rossi heads to his beloved backyard in Misano with his lead back out to 12-points.

But let’s be brutally honest here. Had Mother Nature not intervened then it is highly probable that Lorenzo would have beaten Rossi at Silverstone.

That might not be a popular observation but it is unavoidably true. Even Rossi admitted that himself.

Lorenzo and Marc Marquez were in a class of their own in the dry, and had it stayed dry then Rossi’s pace was simply not fast enough to win, as it had not been in Indianapolis and Brno.

What Rossi did so brilliantly at Silverstone was capitalise on the circumstances that unfolded. The rain may have presented him with a chance of victory, but you still have to grasp that opportunity with both hands and Rossi did.

He was the fastest man on the day. And at the end of that is what it’s all about. You can trail by 0.7s at the end of practice and be the same margin off pole position. But come rain or shine on Sunday afternoon is when you need to deliver and Rossi rode a faultless and fearless race.

Not only did he master the treacherous conditions, he brilliantly kept Marquez at bay before calmly holding off a stunning charge from Danilo Petrucci, who had considerably less to lose than Rossi.

It’s no coincidence that the 1-2 in the race was also the fastest two in the wet Warm-up session.

Some will say luck played a part in Rossi’s success. But I’d wager the luckier of the two was Lorenzo when he just escaped being rammed out of the race early on by Pol Espargaro. Losing 12-points to Rossi was tough to take. Losing 25 and it could have been terminal for his title hopes.

And what of Lorenzo? He was simply not as fast as Rossi in the wet. He was over a second slower in the Warm-up and his best lap in the race almost 0.5s off the Italian.

He must be wondering what he has to do to take the lead in the points from Rossi. Just when he builds up a head of steam, Rossi finds a way to grapple the initiative back.

Speaking of steam, Lorenzo said his visor misting up compromised his race. The same happened at Le Mans in 2013 when vision issues dropped him to a lowly seventh. He lost the title that year to Marquez by just four-points. He’ll be hoping doesn’t repeat itself.

The issue at Silverstone was the second time this year a helmet problem has cost him big points and for me, both were inexcusable at this level of the sport.

It all adds to the drama and tension though as we head into the final third of the season.

Remarkably, no rider in history has ever finished on the podium in every race and not won the title. I don’t need to remind you that Rossi is still yet to finish off the podium in 2015.

Meanwhile, Lorenzo is still right in his slipstream despite missing the rostrum in five of 12 races so far. The last rider to capture the title with so many races outside the top three was Nicky Hayden in 2006.

I still can’t make my mind up who is going to win. Right now though, Lorenzo will still be steaming. For Rossi, it’s full steam ahead towards Misano.

And there’s no place like home...

Tags:
MotoGP, 2015, OCTO BRITISH GRAND PRIX, Valentino Rossi, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP

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