The 2015 MotoGP season has just come to an explosive conclusion(cue Diwali!). Jorge Lorenzo claimed his third premier class title and fifth overall. Valentino Rossi, or ‘The Doctor’, came agonizingly close to grab that elusive tenth world title. Marc Marquez had a disappointing season, both on and off the track, while his team-mate Dani Pedrosa was the best rider towards the final few races and has set a good platform for himself for next season. This season was without a doubt one of the most exciting seasons in a LONG time. It seemed as if just the off-track antics gained more attention than the whole of last season!. The championship came right down to the final race in Valencia, Spain, and you couldn’t be sure till the final lap! The reaction from the Yamaha team principal in the garage probably summed up the season perfectly, absolute joy, pride and heart-break all rolled into one. On one hand Jorge Lorenzo had just overturned a considerable sum of points deficit to beat team-mate and rival Rossi, on the other hand Rossi had come within touching distance of being crowned world champion for an astonishing tenth time. Some would say that the fact that he could not compete with Lorenzo fair and square in the final race was due to his own fault. Towards the second half of the season he began to have frequent clashes with Marquez, which for me personally was disappointing to see considering how good their relationship had been. Slowly but surely Lorenzo was catching up and one could sense that there was a very real chance that Rossi could blow it, and he did. I am of course referring to the penultimate race of the season in Sepang where he clashed with Marquez( this time the clash was quite literal though). The crash became a huge trending topic all over the world. It was even given a name and came to be known as the ‘Sepang Clash’( wow, such a creative title, right?…). As usual both parties were accusing each other of foul play, Marquez saying that Rossi had blocked his line while Rossi had said that he did not kick out at Marquez but simply held his line, and that Marquez had leaned onto him, which caused contact and the eventual crash. It was the usual blame-game being played, but to be fair, this time the two riders were kinda true. Rossi did block Marquez’s line and the latter had tried to disrupt the Yamaha rider’s exit off the corner. But, no matter how badly Marquez had tried to get in the way of Rossi, the Yamaha rider had no right to retaliate the way he did. I’m using words like “retaliate” and “obliterate”!!, this isn’t a sport, THIS IS WAR!( For those of you who don’t get sarcasm, please don’t take the previous sentence seriously!). Race Direction had ruled out the incident as a ‘racing incident’ and Rossi was penalized. He was given a four point deficit and would be made to start from the last place of the grid in the final race of the season. The punishment of docking points was fair, but the decision to make him start from the back of the grid was maybe a bit too much. This was the final nail in the coffin( or, the lighting of the funeral pyre if you choose to cremate and not bury!).
Come the final race of the season, the championship was Lorenzo’s to lose. He had obliterated the lap record the previous day to claim pole position. The fact that he had all the cards in his hand probably added some pressure on himself, which makes his victory even more commendable. He won the title by producing one of his best races, the skill and concentration he showed was second to none, and in the end, he deserved it just a little bit more than Rossi.
Even though Rossi had to start from the back of the grid, he put on a stellar display and had done ridiculously well to claim a very respectable fourth. Two Yamaha riders, two brilliant racers, only one winner, but in this race both of them had driven and competed like world champions .It wouldn’t be fair to say that Rossi did not deserve to win the title and he gave it his all. Rossi was experiencing a case of ‘what if’s’. He missed out on the title by just 5 points. I’d say that the ‘Doctor’ got a taste of his own medicine (am I right? am I right? Yeah, you’re laughing!).
But he has sent a message to his fellow sportsmen that he is far from done. Even at 36 he pushed Lorenzo (arguably the best in the world in the last five years or so) to the absolute limit. Throughout Rossi’s career there have been many who have tried, and failed, to ‘dethrone’ him. Just look at Max Biaggi for example. Once you got on the list of people who get on the bad side of Rossi there was no getting off. But maybe, just maybe, Marquez can challenge him. He’s got youth and flair (or, ‘swag’ as it’s now known!) on his side. Rossi is not one to give in though, he will keep chipping away at his competition. And if the recently concluded season is anything to go by, then one thing is for sure, next year Rossi will be more aggressive than ever. And when that happens, you know you’re in for a thrilling season. The 2016 season could be one of the most competitive seasons of all time, as always the Yamahas and the Hondas will be vying for the title, but I get a feeling that Ducati could really up their game and pose as genuine contenders, and the satellite teams could cause a few difficulties too.
All in all, the final third of the 2015 season could be a trailer for the eagerly anticipated blockbuster 2016 season. Can Lorenzo defend his crown, can the young prodigious Marquez, along with Honda team-mate Pedrosa, mount a serious charge at the title, can the ‘people’s champ’ and the veteran Rossi show who’s boss, or will the next generation, Ducati, take down the ‘traditional’ powerhouses?
It will start all over again in Qatar on the opening night when these gladiators will face off again for the ultimate prize.
MotoGP 2016- Come along for the ‘RIDE’
(Fine, I’ll stop with the puns)