2 weeks ago the Malaysian MotoGP race made the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Dani Pedrosa was on a roll after snatching a win in Motegi and a solid ride in Phillip Island. Pedrosa was utterly dominant in Sepang and Lorenzo was barely able to keep in touch with him. Is this a sign of things to come from the diminutive Spaniard in 2016? We’ll have to wait and see.
But as my first sentence of this article suggested the focus was somewhere else, notably on 3rd and 4th between Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez. In the build up to the race I had a strong gut feeling that after Rossi decided to play some mind games and take potshots at Marquez, accusing him of helping Lorenzo in Australia, Marquez would not take them lying down (Or maybe the gut feeling was my stomach telling me I ate too much for dinner last night).
Whatever the case there was every reason to expect sparks to fly when those 2 met on track. The end result was Marquez on his butt and nursing a bruised ego and Rossi nursing a bruised reputation. Off course, the fan army on both sides refused to let it go (apologies for the Frozen reference). Accusations were fired left, right and center and World War III nearly started. Lorenzo didn’t help the situation by trying to poke his nose into something that did not involve him at all. Luckily the Moto3 and Moto2 were far quieter affairs, although the Moto3 title is going down to the wire.
3 races ago it looked like Danny Kent had wrapped it up to become the first British rider to win the Moto3 class since Barry Sheene. But come the flyaway races an unlikely candidate emerged to keep the champagne on ice: Miguel Oliveira. The former Mahindra rider has been quick and consistent throughout the season and his recent winning streak has kept the Briton honest through these flyaway races. The 2 future teammates will be hoping for a trouble-free race, devoid of any mistakes and getting involved in any in race shenanigans. Valencia’s long, long home straight will be the perfect place for slipstream attacks.
Kent has the fastest bike on the grid but Oliveira is equally capable of hitting the front and trying to escape the slipstream. Whatever happens from this point onwards… history will be made because Moto3 shall see the first British champion since Barry Sheene or the very first Portuguese champion. Prediction Time: Oliveira wins the race with Fenati and Antonelli in second and third but Kent takes the championship.
Although the championship was decided earlier this year, that doesn’t mean that everyone stops trying to race. Tom Luthi certainly was going to race hard and push for a win regardless of the championship being wrapped up or not and so will Johann Zarco. Malaysia was a disappointing race for Rins and Alex Marquez having crashed out of the race so they will be looking to make amends. Jonas Folger has also picked up where he left off in Malaysia.
Valencia also sees the return of Tito Rabat and Dominique Aegerter who have been sidelined by injuries. Rabat will be racing in Moto2 for the last time after having signed with Marc VDS Racing in MotoGP alongside Scott Redding. Prediction Time: Johann Zarco finishes off the season in style with Rins 2nd and Folger 3rd
But THIS is the showdown everyone has been waiting for. Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo going toe to toe with each other for the title. What makes this contest even more interesting is Rossi’s back of the grid penalty for the Sepang debacle. After Malaysia, the most RIDICULOUS thing I read on social media was a mass appeal by Rossi’s hardcore fanatics to other riders to allow Rossi through without a fight. This rubbish is as good as asking them to not race at all and I am certainly not prepared to see another 2005 US GP just because riders have to bow to the whims of fans.
They are here to race and if Rossi wants those points he’s going to have to do it the hard way. Also there is no guarantee that Lorenzo would have a poor qualifying session. Those Yamahas have been quick and consistent throughout the season so I don’t see how this so called appeal should make any difference. Prediction Time: Dani Pedrosa stamps his authority as the champion of Spain with Lorenzo 2nd and Rossi taking the championship in 3rd.Published 05 Nov 2015, 14:19 IST