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The Dark Horses

The Dark Horses

There might be 65 points between Rossi and Marquez in the championship, but Germany proves there will be reason to fear the Repsol Hondas.

The GoPro Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland saw Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) top every session he participated in, true domination. This is the first time since the British GP in 2014, when he bounced back from missing the podium in Brno and ending his perfect streak of wins, that Marquez has topped every session. At that stage of the 2014 season Marquez’s championship looked certain, but in 2015 the opposite is true.

“We know more or less that step by step we will comeback, but it definitely looks like we arrived back, but still I think there’s another step to do to completely arrive. But I’m happy to be enjoying the bike again. If we find the solution to our problem we can be much stronger,” said Marquez during the post-race Press Conference. Fortunately a test at Misano next week will give Marquez, and Pedrosa, an extra chance to find this step. If the pair can carry on as in German, even without an improvement, then the championship may look less comfortable for Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) at the top.

65 points split Marquez from Rossi in the championship table with Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) just 13 points behind his teammate. With nine races to go is not an impossible hurdle to overcome for even Marquez, he would however need to score eight more points than Rossi in each round to claim the title in Valencia, this because at least plausable when considering the multitude of other riders in the mix.

To gain at least eight more points than Rossi, Marquez would need to win with the Italian third in every race from Indianapolis onwards; unlikely but not impossible if Marquez can carry his form on along with Repsol Honda teammate Pedrosa. Even if Marquez can himself not win the Championship, he can still add fireworks by stealing wins and forcing Lorenzo and Rossi to battle over smaller points differences as well as see them off the podium.

In MotoGP™ a rider is awarded 25 points for a win, 20 for a second, 16 for a third and 13 for a fourth. In the opening seven rounds it was primarily Rossi and Lorenzo battling for wins while the other was low on the podium, if not off it. Marquez appears to have returned to form meaning there are now at least three riders, theoretically, in the mix for the podium. Now there’s a possibility that Marquez could win, Lorenzo could come second and Rossi third, resulting in Rossi rapidily losing his points advantage over both.

All other permutations of this are also possible, just two poor rounds for Rossi while Lorenzo and Marquez excel and everything is more or less back to neutral especially with Lorenzo. 2006 is famous not only for being the last season that saw an American crowned champion, but also for the massive comeback mounted by Valentino Rossi against Nicky Hayden. With eight races left in 2006 Rossi was 35 points down on Hayden, having already begun his comeback performance. Their championship eventually going down to the final race in Valencia. Between them in the standings at the time was only Pedrosa with few other riders posing a realistic threat for race wins meaning that often the lead would only change by five points. In 2015 more change is possible.

Rossi is aware of the importance just one or two places in a race can have in the championship battle: “I put the hook in the seat of Dani and go with him. I know that he can help me make up a lot of distance from Jorge and Dani rides very well in Sachsenring. At one moment I started to think maybe I could fight with him for second, this is very important as if I can put Dani between me and Jorge it’s good for the championship. I extend three points on Jorge.”

He also spoke specifically on the possibility of a Marquez comeback, “I know the battle will be hard in the second half and we can’t make the stupid mistake of forgetting Marquez. It’s quite far now but he will be strong.”

Back to 2015 championship, between Rossi and Marquez are Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team). Lorenzo is certainly capable of taking wins and podiums; having claimed four victories this season and Iannone should not be ruled out either, the factory Ducati rider having claimed two podiums this year. The list of riders who could cause upset continues to grow.

Having missed three races due to arm pump surgery, Dani Pedrosa’s championship hopes are certainly gone, injury once again intervening. This does not mean that he will not feature on the podium though; Sachsenring showed that both Pedrosa and the Honda are still highly competitive, beating both the Yamaha riders. The German track is known to suit the Hondas over Yamaha historically, but even in Assen (prior to his crash and clutch problems) Pedrosa was stronger, as was Marquez.

In a best case scenario for Marquez, or worst case for Rossi, the Spaniard could make up 12 points by winning the race and having Rossi finish fourth, even more if Iannone can find Ducati’s early season form. Already the point gap is reduced by decent margin and there is the ever-looming possibility of an unfortunate crash to cut the gap further, a Rossi with Marquez first would see the gap cut by a third.

The gap may prove too much for Marquez but, based on current form, he’ll be in the mix and at the very least mixing the podium, and points, up. He’s a dark horse, but Marquez should not be doubted. Last year he won the opening 10 races, in 2015 he ‘only’ has to win the closing nine. There’s also Pedrosa to consider, the Spaniard is always a threat come race day and has in years past, such as 2006, proved himself a vital player in the championship battle. Hopefully for Marquez it’s Pedrosa’s winning that helps him unlike the infamous incident in Portugal 2006. If Marquez can't do it then he'll certain throw up results which will help to close the Movistar Yamaha pair down.

MotoGP, 2015, GoPro MOTORRAD GRAND PRIX DEUTSCHLAND, RAC, Marc Marquez, Valentino Rossi, Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP

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