Valentino Rossi’s 110th MotoGP victory at Argentina on Sunday was one of his most dramatic top podium finishes. The legendary Italian rider was hunting down the reigning world champion Marc Marquez and while they rode close to one another in the penultimate lap, Marquez’s front wheel was hit by Rossi’s rear, sending the double champion into a tumble. The spectacular clash threw the reigning champion out of contention despite Marquez having led the race for most part. Race Directors initiated an immediate investigation but based on the footage, they soon declared it a racing incident.
In the qualifying that ended on Saturday, Marc Marquez had taken the pole ahead of Cal Crutchlow, Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Iannone, Valentino Rossi, Pol Espargaro, Andrea Dovizioso, Scott Redding and Bradley Smith. In Sunday’s main race, Marquez blasted off to a 4-second lead over Rossi by using softer rear tyres. But despite slipping back to the eighth spot in the opening lap, Rossi fought his way through the field. In a strategic move, the Italian had used extra-hard rear tyres in contrast to Marquez’s softer ones. While Marquez looked like getting away to his second consecutive victory, the entire race got focused on the battle of two MotoGp giants in the penultimate lap. Rossi had developed a sound pace in the second half of the race and he had begun eating into Marquez’s lead with 12 laps left. By this time, the Italian was already at the second place. At the start of the penultimate lap, Rossi made his first pass as he braked for Turn 2 but because he had run deeper, he was instantly re-passed by Marquez. Now Rossi made his next move under braking for Turn 5 at the end of the back straight. This time, when Marquez tried an instant cut back the pair made the contact with Rossi at the apex. While Rossi got into the lead, Marquez desperately tried to win back the first spot. This was when the real drama unfolded. As their lines crossed again, Marquez clipped the rear of Rossi’s Yamaha and he got knocked down.
It was a sad end to an otherwise great enterprise from Marc Marquez. In tumbling seconds before the finish, the Spaniard was hugely disappointed as all his hard work came to naught. In his 20-year long GP career, Rossi has clashed with the likes of Max Biaggi, Sete Gibernau, Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo and he knows Marquez’s state of mind better than most riders. Rossi does not believe that the incident will shake Marquez. Regardless, it holds a psychological significance in times to come.
While Rossi won his second race of the 2015 MotoGP season, the second place was taken by Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso, third by Great Britain’s Cal Crutchlow riding CWM LCR Honda, Dovizioso’s team-mate Andrea Iannone was fourth, Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo finished fifth, Monster Yamaha’s Bradley Smith was sixth, Suzuki Ecstar’s Aleix Espargaro was seventh, Pol Espargaro on his Yamaha Tech 3 was eighth, Scott Redding ninth and Maverick Vinales tenth. In the run up to the championship, which is still a long distance away, Rossi now holds a six point lead over second-placed Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso with Marquez 30 points behind.