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9 races in 14 weeks to decide the Championship

9 races in 14 weeks to decide the Championship

Lorenzo will win it. No wait, probably Rossi. No scratch that, definitely Lorenzo. Nope, 100% Rossi...

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 team to bring you exclusive news and opinion from inside the paddock.

I thought the summer break would provide a brief escape from what was a pretty dramatic opening half to the MotoGP World Championship.

We had the long overdue revival of Ducati and a season’s worth of toil and trouble for reigning World Champion Marc Marquez.

But more eye-catching than all was a galvanised Valentino Rossi mounting his strongest title challenge since 2009.

So heading into the summer sojourn, I was ready to exchange horsepower for solar power ahead of the final push for the title, with the resumption of hostilities in Indianapolis this weekend marking the start of a hectic run of nine races in just 14 weeks to determine whether Rossi or Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo will be crowned World Champion.

But my head has been in a daily spin pretty much from the moment I walked out of the Sachsenring to jumping on the flight to Chicago yesterday.

One minute I’m convinced Rossi is destined to write his name into sporting folklore by capturing a 10th world title at the age of 36. The next minute I’m back in the Lorenzo camp convincing myself that he will beat his great adversary Marc Marquez in the race to claim a third MotoGP crown.

My train of thought in the last three weeks has been along the lines of: “More likely Lorenzo. No wait, probably Rossi. No scratch that, definitely Lorenzo. Nope, 100% Rossi.”

I’m so undecided like so many other neutrals because it is simply too close to call.

Rossi is in the ascendancy right now but his 13-point advantage over Lorenzo leaves him very little margin for error.

To be fair to Rossi, his performances in the first nine races bordered on immaculate and more crucially error free. Consistency is the key to winning the Championship and he is the only rider still to boast a 100% podium record. If he can keep that record going to Valencia then it will take something special from Lorenzo to deny him.

His 13-point lead does look vulnerable when you consider Lorenzo clawed back 28-points in a devastating burst of dominant form in the four races between Jerez and Catalunya.

Had Rossi not seized back the initiative in Assen and Sachsenring then I am sure my mind would have been completely made up that Lorenzo would succeed.

Right now, I can’t see any other outcome than the title race going all the way to a nail-biting winner takes all showdown in Valencia on November 8.

And both Rossi and Lorenzo have a score to settle with the Ricardo Tormo track in Valencia.

Both have experienced the bitter taste of defeat in the season ending race, with Rossi inexplicably blowing an eight-point advantage in 2006 by crashing and handing the title to a gleeful and deserving Nicky Hayden.

Lorenzo’s defeat to Marquez in 2013 was less of a shock but no less hard to accept.

A mid-season broken left collarbone injury seriously dented Lorenzo’s challenge, but a run of five wins in the last seven races saw him miss the title but just four-points.

Having been on the wrong end of final round deciders, both will be hoping history doesn’t repeat itself in 2015.

Adding to my indecision in the Rossi/Lorenzo debate is Marquez. I’ve said repeatedly that Marquez is out of title contention after winning just twice in the opening nine rounds.

The more I think about it, the more I think he could yet pull off the miraculous recovery.

He is well capable of winning all of the remaining nine races as his awesome charge to win the opening 10 rounds last season proves. He still might need Rossi and Lorenzo to have one DNF, which hasn’t looked a remote possibility so far this season.

But to win an 18-round World Championship you also need lady luck on your side.

And Rossi and Lorenzo know the last world champion to go an entire season without a DNF was Lorenzo himself some five years ago.

Blimey, my head is starting to spin again.

Right now, my head says Lorenzo and my heart says Rossi.

Ask me tomorrow though and I might have changed my mind – AGAIN.

MotoGP, 2015, RED BULL INDIANAPOLIS GRAND PRIX, Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP

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