The two weeks leading up to the deciding moment of the 2015 MotoGP title have been unsatisfactory. Unsatisfactory in the extreme. For only the third time in 24 years, the premier class title will be decided in Valencia. But title contenders and factory Yamaha teammates Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi have gotten wrapped around the axle in a dispute with Repsol Honda #1 Marc Marquez that has stolen the spotlight from the race and shifted it to, of all places, an obscure courtroom in Switzerland.

Because of the controversy that erupted after Sepang, Dorna has canceled the pre-race press conference in Valencia. In hindsight, this may not have been the best move. Instead of keeping the racers’ comments in a controlled environment, we’re left with comments from teams, riders and sponsors that have only fanned the flames.

This is so 21st century. A high-stakes sporting event engenders controversy on the track, the organizing body fails to fully resolve it to the satisfaction of the principals, and the lawsuits start flying. Deflategate on two wheels. Rossi fans are outraged. Marquez fans are outraged. Lorenzo and his fans, firmly in command of the low moral ground, insist Rossi should have been black-flagged on Lap 7 in Sepang, effectively handing the 2015 championship to #99.

The Battle of Sepang Continues

Actually, it’s probably a good thing this is happening in the 21st century rather than the 19th, when Italy might have declared war on Spain.

If Valentino Rossi’s appeal to stay his penalty falls through, he will have to start the race from the back of the grid. Rossi has done well this season despite poor qualifying results, but starting on the back row may be too big a hurdle.

Not having a dog in this fight, as well as being on deadline, I just wish for the whole thing to be settled. Now. Let Rossi’s penalty points be removed. Make him start from the back of the grid. Whatever. Just please don’t kick the can down the road and leave it to be fully adjudicated until next year. We, the fans of MotoGP, need closure. Preferably before Friday. As I’ve said before in this space, right now would be fine.

Recent History at Valencia

In 2012, Jorge Lorenzo had clinched his second premier class title at Phillip Island two weeks earlier and had nothing at stake in this one. The weather was, like a decent rosé: semi-dry. It had rained before the race, and was spitting at the start, but would end up dry, the worst possible conditions for the riders. A select few, including Lorenzo and Yamaha test rider Katsuyuki “Catman” Nakasuga, took to the grid on slicks. Four others, having made their sighting lap on wets, would change over to slicks and start from pit lane. The remainders enjoyed one of the flag-to-flag affairs that almost always scrambles the results.

Katsuyuki Nakasuga was a surprise in 2012, finishing second as a replacement rider for the injured Ben Spies.

By the end of the day, Lorenzo had experienced a highside courtesy of pokey James Ellison, Dani Pedrosa had run away from the field, and The Catman, in the upset of the decade, occupied the second step of the podium between Pedrosa and Casey Stoner, who had run the last race of his first career. (Rumors floating around have him reuniting with Ducati for 2017, which I’ll believe when I see it.)

The 2013 finale was won by Lorenzo in a hollow victory, having failed to keep Marquez out of the top five, resulting in the remarkable rookie’s first premier class title. Lorenzo’s problem that day wasn’t Marquez but Pedrosa, who kept pressure on the Mallorcan all day to prevent him from coming back to the field in an effort to hinder Marquez. Rossi, at the end of his first year back with Yamaha, was unable to lend his teammate a hand while finishing fourth. The Order of Aliens at season’s end was Marquez, Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Rossi, an accurate reflection of their body of work over 18 rounds. Had Marquez not tagged Pedrosa’s traction control cable in Aragon, things might have worked out differently.

Last year’s race was, again, wettish, though the title had been decided weeks earlier. Lorenzo crashed in the rain with six laps left as Marquez was joined on the podium by Rossi and Pedrosa. The day’s procession culminated in the coronation of Marquez for the second time in two years, and the MotoGP world appeared to be his oyster. Little did we know then the trials 2015 held in store for him.

Marc Marquez can’t repeat but he could still be a factor in the 2015 championship.

Of the four Aliens, Pedrosa can claim the best record here, with three wins and three podia in nine starts. Rossi has two wins and six podia to show for 15 starts since 2000, but the most recent of these came in 2004 when Marc Marquez was 11 years old. Lorenzo, in six premier class starts, has two wins and a third place finish in 2009 to go along with several violent DNFs. Marquez can boast of a win and a third in two MotoGP tries, barely breaking a sweat either time. Based upon history, one would expect the two Repsol Honda pilots to end the day on the podium, joined by a factory Yamaha rider to be named later.

A Riddle, Wrapped in a Mystery, Inside an Enigma

For the factory Yamaha team, preparing for the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana must feel like preparing for a wrestling cage match against, like, six different guys. One thing is certain: should Lorenzo outpoint Rossi by seven or more points, the title is his. Six points or less, the Italian walks away with his record-tying tenth world championship.

It will be difficult with Rossi potentially starting at the back, but we’re all hoping to see him and Marc Marquez go at it again. If it happens, let’s hope it stays clean this time.

Should Rossi’s penalty points stick, his mission becomes clear. Starting from the back of the grid will force him to throw caution to the wind, put his head down, lay on the horn, and make every possible effort to emerge close to the front, assess where things stand vis à vis Lorenzo, and go from there. If the penalty points are thrown out or “deferred” in some fashion (gag me), his predicament will then resemble that of Lorenzo, as expressed so eloquently back in the early 70’s:

“I can’t make decisions, I don’t know which way I’m gonna turn.”
—Ray Davies, The Kinks
Acute Schizophrenia Blues

This is not a “win or bin” situation for either rider. Assuming Pedrosa and Marquez qualify well and become part of the front group, Lorenzo, and perhaps Rossi, must then engage in an exercise economists refer to as “game theory.” Neither can afford to crash, yet Lorenzo must figure out a way to keep Rossi behind him and a few other bikes between himself and Rossi. What Rossi does will affect Lorenzo’s strategy, and vice versa. One mustn’t go slow, but going too fast is risky, too. And it’s all complicated by the fact that the Ricardo Tormo circuit suits the Repsol Honda riders far better than it does the Yamaha duo. All of which ignores the agendas of a number of non-Aliens on the track as well.

Look out, Rossi. Marquez is gunning for you!

Two points here: Dani Pedrosa is on a very hot streak and is likely to have a material effect on the outcome. And this weekend, perhaps more than any in recent history, the pit boards are likely to tell the story.

Most of the articles I’ve read about this weekend’s race steeply discount Rossi’s chances if he is, indeed, forced to start from the back row. That Marquez was able to win a Moto2 tilt from the exact same spot several years ago is, at this moment, almost poetic. The putative Greatest of All Time may have to approach, at age 36, a feat his likely successor accomplished while still in his teens. And while it’s arguably harder to slice through the entire MotoGP grid than a Moto2 grid, it is not beyond reason to suggest that Rossi, if anyone, can pull it off.

The weather forecast for the weekend is, at this writing, idyllic. Every ticket has been sold. The riders and their teams have aired their dirty linen. The CAS is sifting through facts and allegations. The camaraderie between Rossi and Lorenzo that developed between 2013 and now is history. Lin Jarvis and Livio Suppo are as nervous as Mike Tyson in a spelling bee. The table is set, and the guests are on their way. Warm up your DVR, because this is one you may want to watch again.

We’ll have race results and analysis right here as early on Sunday as events allow.

  • Old MOron

    LOL, no prediction?
    Nice preview Bruce. Now we wait… for Friday practice, the CAS, qualifying, and destiny. Please, may it be a noble ending. I guess that means ignoble characters like Lorenzo won’t get what they want. :-)

    • Bruce Allen

      Here’s your prediction: There have been several rounds this year in which the outcome was decided on Saturday. This round will be decided on Friday.

  • Old MOron

    PS: is that lead photo Dennis’s work? Awesome!

    • john burns

      Dennis Chung’s skills are off the charts.

  • john phyyt

    7 points points between 3rd and 7th places; Rossi needs to keep a cool head: If it happens, I believe that it will be a tarnished victory, for the doctor. Still history is written by the victors so he may well have the last laugh.

    “Lorenzo and his fans, firmly in command of the low moral ground” I object: To all you haters, Moto GP is not checkers, with death a very real possiblity, By your yard-stick it is okay to bump someone off , but “not okay” to argue for sanction. By all means let your emotional attachments to various riders fire your enthusiasm; but it seems nutty to me to gloss over dangerous behaviour because you “Love” Rossi and “Hate” Marquez or Lorenzo..

    Mick Doohan was a magnificent multiple world champion ; but he was no “Rossi” in the PR stakes; SO WHAT? he still won time and again and came back from the sort of career threatening injury, and THAT demands respect. Rossi is rapidly losing that vital respect and this may actually count in the long run.

    • Bruce Allen

      I was referring to his efforts to have the championship handed to him. I have, or had, a poster of him on the wall of my office until this BS with the amicus brief to the CAS and his comportment on the podium in Sepang. Not cool. Go out and win it, Jorge, just don’t try to get some bureaucrats to award it to you.

  • JMDonald

    May the best man win.

  • wg

    Thank you, Bruce, I love your excellent previews and race results.

    I couldn’t help myself, and created a little spreadsheet to visualize what Rossi needs to do in order to become world champion :).

    Of course he has 4 wins this year against the 6 of Lorenzo, so if he loses 7 points or more against Lorenzo, he won’t be this year’s champ.

    The attached image shows where he needs to end if Lorenzo ends at different positions, indicated in red :).If Lorenzo ends 9th, he doesn’t even have to start :).

    Kindest regards, Wim

    • Old MOron

      That’s a great chart, Wim. Thanks for posting it.

      • wg

        It’s only a pleasure, Old MOron :).

    • Bruce Allen

      Nice graphic of the “if-then” combinations. And in holiday colors no less. Thank you for the kind words, too.

      • wg

        Thank you, Bruce.

        The holiday colours, well, that’s just accidental :). I just try to use contrasting colours :).

        BTW, motorcycle.com has become my daily go-to must read since becoming a born-again biker last year, and that is thanks to your columns and the columns of all journalists here. Often tongue-in-cheek, always well written. I am looking forward to my daily dose of MO every single day with a big smile on my face :).

        Kindest regards, Wim

  • john burns

    Bruce, you keep saying you don’t have a dog in the fight, but then you say “gag me” if Rossi’s punishment gets pushed back till next year. Which is it man? Please retake the low moral ground.

    • Bruce Allen

      What I mean is I want this resolved by tomorrow, one way or the other. I don’t really care what decision they take, I just want a decision. No statement with some fancy passive verb lifting Rossi’s penalty points this week, with the possibility of them being reinstated some time next year. And I think Lorenzo’s efforts to have the title default to him, not to mention his little tantrum on the podium, are unbecoming to the point of douchebaggery. Of the three, I’ve always admired Lorenzo most. Not any more.

      • john burns

        Yeah, but if the decision is Rossi starts from last row, it’s almost the same thing as handing the title to Lorenzo via Marquez’ transparent douchebaggery. I have it Douchebags 2, Rossi 0 if that happens. What would be wrong with letting the penalty stand, but postponed till first round next year if that’s somewhere in the Rulebook? I believe it was JFK who said “The only thing required for douchebags to succeed is for lawyers to become involved…”

      • Fausto Carello

        Final decision: Rossi start last.

  • DKing

    Well, it looks like we have our decision. I hope you’re happy Bruce..lol. They’ve announced CAS dismissed the request for stay of execution. Here’s to hoping Dani and Iannone shuffle ole Jorge back a couple of positions and Rossi gives us a great show battling back to the front. Heck, I’d even settle for Marquez if it bumps Jorge back a little. This might just give Rossi a chance to show the neophytes why they call him “The Doctor”, and this race may just become the stuff of legends in which they will write legends of awesomeness about his epic finish to 2015. :)

  • Fausto Carello

    Latest gossip from Italian press: 2016 Lorenzo on Ducati, Iannone on Yamaha……

    • Vrooom

      The Italians are going to have to swallow awfully hard to hire Lorenzo. I’ve heard Yamaha wants Lorenzo gone though based on his support of Marquez during this penalty issue, so who knows.

      • Fausto Carello

        Right you are Vrooom, but Gigi Dall’Igna (Ducati) said he will be very happy to have Lorenzo riding for Ducati next year. We will see….probably very soon.

        • Old MOron

          Interesting. I wonder if Gigi thinks the Ducati will suit Lorenzo’s style. Or maybe he’s just desperate for an alien pilot.

          Dovi already had his time on a Yamaha. It would be very interesting to see what The Maniac can do. With the Doctor and the Maniac at Yamaha, it would be like the fun days of the Doctor and the Texas Tornado. On the other hand, I like Iannone on the Ducati. The two seem to go well together: The Maniac rider on the maniac bike.

      • Ozzy Mick

        Stoner back at Ducati? Just sayin…

  • Mark Dickinson

    I’m a Rossi fan but something just doesn’t seem right about this action that no one seems to be able to see clearly of what Rossi’s leg movement was doing just before the crash. Races should be won by racing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhhUk30XhVQ

  • Vrooom

    Bruce, you seemed to leave out that Lorenzo has his little *(^&$$)( Marquez to run interference for him. That’s going to assure Lorenzo the championship I believe, as Marquez will allow Lorenzo to win and try to keep Rossi behind him, and probably Pedrosa in front. That’s my conspiracy theory. There’s also Iannone, who despite binning it 2 out of the last 3 races is the only guy who’s likely to be able to beat either of the other 3 aliens (Pedrosa, Marquez and Lorenzo) besides Rossi. This penalty deal is bad for moto gp. Everybody’s angry about it. Rossi lost his appeal.

  • Old MOron

    Oh man, the Valencia finale: The Doctor, The Bitch, and The Weasel.

    Is anyone else hearing this?! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0BrdMi-oyc&feature=youtu.be&t=41s

    • wg

      I love it!

  • wg

    Ok, with the decision from the CAS out of the way, it is time to speculate :).

    Let’s assume it will stay dry, and at least a few riders will let Rossi go past easily.

    I reckon Pedrosa will win, and if the Ducs can stay whole, including their tires, they may well end up 2 and 3. Next, likely Lorenzo, unless Marquez really just tries to win instead of hindering others. I do suspect that he will make a nuisance of himself however.

    Even so, if Lorenzo ends 4th, Rossi has a good chance.
    If one of the Duc riders has a DNF, it gets trickier, and only if MM really just tries to win, Lorenzo may still end 4th, which means Rossi still has a good chance.

    If MM keeps on doing his normal thing, with Lorenzo 3rd, Rossi still has a chance, but he should avoid any confrontations with MM, and a few more riders will have to let him pass easily.

    If both Ducs have a DNF, it gets tricky. MM doing his utmost to win will mean we’ll see Lorenzo end in 3rd position, which means Rossi still has a good chance.
    However, if MM plays as before, Lorenzo will end 2nd, and that means that it could well be Sepang all over again, as Rossi has to finish third in that case. All of this provided of course that enough riders let him pass, and that he’ll manage to pass those who’d just rather do battle before letting him go by.

    In short, if it is all Aliens at the front, we may see war if the gentlemen cannot control themselves and their emotions.

    Now, if it does rain, it will become rather difficult to predict what will happen. If it is the entire race, Rossi may well end up front despite his last row start. If it is raining only part of the race, all he can do is follow the same pattern of tyre changes as Lorenzo, and keep up with him.

    I honestly do hope we will get to see a good, honest race, with no DNFs, and all doing their utmost to win. It’ll make for a great spectacle, and it will really make the best win the championship.

    • Ozzy Mick

      @wg. Interesting speculation with interesting scenarios but I’m afraid I can’t agree that “it will really make the best win the championship” when the one leading the championship is given such a hefty penalty.

      • wg

        :)

        The heftiest penalty really is the start from the back of the grid. However, if Rossi can get past most of that quite quickly, aided or unaided, AND everybody out there is just going to try and win, nothing else, the best will win :).

        If no one DNFs, it will likely be Pedrosa, Iannone, Divizioso and possibly Marquez in positions 1 to 4 – they have the motorbikes with the highest top speeds, followed by Lorenzo and Rossi.

        Exact order in that case is difficult to predict, but I would expect Pedrosa to come first, followed by the Ducatis, then Marquez, next up Lorenzo, and finally Rossi.

        If the Ducs DNF, it is just the Aliens, and likely in that order.

        In either case, Rossi would be world champ.

        This all assuming Rossi does get past everyone else quickly, and everybody races in a honourable fashion.
        Somehow I do expect this to happen. I am an optimist :)

        Kind regards, Wim

        • Ozzy Mick

          I share your optimism and hopes for an honourable race!

  • Ozzy Mick

    Hmmm….Tragic story – for the sport, an interesting report by Bruce, and even more interesting comments! Fascinating. I’m not taking sides, not having seen any of the race but maybe, just maybe, the Doctor will “stall” at the start in his desperation for a fast start. The field takes off and he gets left far behind. He takes it easy for the first coupla laps to ensure that his bike is OK, and to warm up his tyres (tires).
    He’s so far behind that Lorenzo catches up to him. By which time he is up to some semblance of racing speed. They dice but…Rossi’s cold tyres cause him to slide into Lorenzo when the Doctor attempts to pass him on the inside, taking Lorenzo out. “Mama mia! I am so sorry to Lorenzo. I no intend to crash. I thought my tyres were warm enough, no? So sorry. Now give me the championship!”

    • ‘Mike Smith

      Now that’s thinking outside of the box! It would be the new definition of douchebaggery though.

      • Ozzy Mick

        No box. I real name Guiseppe…Rossi. I teach my grandchildren well. Douchebaggery I no comprende.

    • Old MOron

      Ha ha, funny stuff, Mick.
      “Hi-a no-a see da blue-a flaga…”

      • Ozzy Mick

        Hope it doesn’t happen though, OM – for the sake of the sport. But would you put it past Rossi? What’s he got to lose? His “reputation” and “sportsmanship” which Stoner has experienced first hand? In some minds, that’s already been tarnished, no?

        • Old MOron

          Casey, is that you? :-)
          No, it won’t happen. God help us. It can’t. I hope all parties are getting a hold of themselves.

          • Ozzy Mick

            No response…just a Stoney silence.

        • Old MOron

          PS: commiserations for RWC. Good show, just the same.

          • Ozzy Mick

            Thanks OM, but I’m OK with the RWC – my ex is Kiwi and so is our first born. Besides, us Aussies consider them our little cousins in the Eastern State – you know, the ones who line up as kids waiting for the big boys to pick them for their football or cricket team? Meme…
            Note no complaints or dummy spitting from the Aussies in the RWC about blatant refereeing oversights that cost them 10 points, unlike another sport that you and I (used to?) love.

  • Ozzy Mick

    BTW, spare a thought for Italians named Lorenzo. One of my buddies is, and he’s considering changing his name if Rossi doesn’t take out the championship haha. Wonder what those named Marc will do?!?

  • Bruce Allen

    You read it here first. Pedrosa and Marquez finish 1-2, pushing Lorenzo back to third. No one on the grid, especially the Italian riders, wants to be the one standing between Rossi and the championship. Rossi is in the top ten early, then carefully works his way through the next three riders by Lap 28, at which point only Brad Smith stands between him and the title. He methodically lines Smith up, and passes him in the last turn of the last lap, coming in sixth, and winning the title by a single point. People will be talking about this one forever. Lorenzo, ten seconds behind Marquez, can do nothing but watch his pit board spell D-O-O-M. I’m having an out-of-body experience, but it could happen.

    • Ozzy Mick

      Nice one Brucey…out of body experience. heheh.

      • Old MOron

        Yeah, nice one, Brucey. I finally got it.
        Just how far out of body did you get, maybe about eight miles?

        • Ozzy Mick

          Ummm…actually, I don’t get it! Maybe Brucey is riding pillion with Lorenzo?

          • Old MOron

            LOL, here are my convoluted connections:

            When someone makes a wild prediction, we sometimes characterize him as “tripping” or “high”.

            Bruce qualified his prediction with, ” I’m having an out-of-body experience, but it could happen.”

            I thought that you took his “out-of-body” experience to mean “high”.

            So I tacked on: how high? About eight miles.
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoSwOrytf_M

            Hey, it’s Friday!

          • Bruce Allen

            Actually, you would be wrong, but not by that much. In my younger days, sure,,, But if Lorenzo fails to get away, it’s not that hard to imagine 26, 93, 99, 29, 35, 38, 46 late in the race. Possible the satellite team rider has orders not to impede the factory rider…just sayin’…it just needs to occur in the last turn…wait for it…wait for it…aspettalo…

          • Ozzy Mick

            Interesting, as always, Bruce. They look like lottery numbers. Is that the way you see the race?
            “Aspettalo”? You said before that you don’t know any Italian – or is that Spanish?

          • Ozzy Mick

            Right, I got it! I’m in China at the MO, so no youtube…but it’s Saturday

          • Bruce Allen

            That’s the order I’m kind of predicting as Smith and Rossi head into the final turn, after which the last two digits are reversed. Let it happen this way and they’ll be interviewing me on Jensen Beeler’s podcast.

    • john phyyt

      And Marquez has a last lap hiccough and runs into the rough and struggles to rejoin just behind “oh no” St Valentino; whom he passes on the inside but pushes him wide , WHAT!

    • wg

      Nice one indeed – and you are a master story-teller. Love it!

    • Curtis Brandt

      Entirely plausible. I won’t be betting against you.

    • Mahatma

      lol.That would be the fairytale ending for sure

  • Bob Dragich

    Check out the real story on the latest between Rossi and Marquez here:

    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/motogp-dodges-rossmarquez-confrontation-bob-dragich?trk=pulse_spock-articles

  • JMDonald

    I hope to see a clean race with Rossi finishing high enough to win and Lorenzo low enough to lose. Not that I have any emotional investment or anything. It is not quite a game seven type contest with both teams healthy I was hoping for but if Rossi wins this weekend with all this controversy I will be OK with it. Go Rossi.

  • Bob Dragich
    • Old MOron

      Hey Bob, just curious here. Normally I don’t pay too much attention to people who are trying to leverage an existing web page to direct hits to their own.

      In this case you are directing MOronic readers to your own linkedin page, basically grabbing a little free advertising. Okay, it’s hard to turn down “free”.

      Since it’s Friday afternoon and I’m kind of winding down, I clicked on your linkedin profile. Turns out you work for Verticalscope. Wait, what?

      Verticalscope owns MO, right? So what’s the point of siphoning hits from these MOronic pages? Are you conducting some sort of click-through experiment? Are you trying to get information that Disqus won’t provide for a reasonable fee?

      LIke I said, just curious.

      • Bob Dragich

        I’m not at Verticalscope any more. Also, I don’t make any money off my LinkedIn posts, so it’s not free advertising. It’s just easier to post a link to what I’ve already written than to repeat it all here.

        • Old MOron

          Understood. Thanks for your reply.

  • Ozzy Mick
  • john burns

    it’ll be interesting to see how it shakes out if Lorenzo’s leading and MM is in 3rd when Valentino gets there. Ramming speed!

  • Bruce Allen
    • Old MOron

      I can’t seem to post on wordpress. Oh well, if you’re not riding anymore, you’re becoming a visionary, a philosopher, and a strategist.

  • DKing

    I hope I’m not waking up at 6:00a.m on a Sunday to watch Lorenzo lead from pole. So in Spiff’s absence…..Go Rossi!…..end transmission.

    • Gruf Rude

      Hope dashed . . .

      • DKing

        Sure was. What a shame. :(

  • Bruce Allen

    Race results here while you wait for Mo to post https://motogpindy.wordpress.com/2015/11/08/motogp-2015-valencia-results/