Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Dead horse, beaten. Pt. 2: Rossi vs. Marquez

Since I wasn't there, don't have access to Rossi's and Marquez' data (or the ability to mind-meld with them and actually know what they were thinking) I can't meaningfully contribute to the debate that has been raging for the last ten days, as to whether Marquez was purposely slowing Rossi and/or whether Rossi intentionally made Marquez crash. Of course, that hasn’t prevented millions of other punters from weighing in with their uninformed opinions. 

Based only on the video coverage, I feel the evidence supports but doesn't prove the charge that Marquez intentionally held up Rossi. Point: Rossi. I would characterize Rossi's move as hard racing, not a move worthy of a penalty. Point: Rossi.

So although I'm not a rabid Rossi fan, I understand his fans' anger and dismay.

My take on it, however, is that if Marquez was intentionally slowing Rossi, then Rossi reaped what he sowed by complaining about him at Philip Island.

One of my Facebook friends is a racer of long experience. He summed it up succinctly when he said that Marquez had finally succeeded in doing something no other racer has ever managed: to get into Rossi's head.

If I'm not a Rossi fan, it's mainly because he's the one with a long history of playing unseemly (and in his case, unnecessary) head games with rivals from Biaggi to Gibernau. But really, what was Rossi thinking with that diatribe in PI? Was he goading Lorenzo by implying that the only way the Spaniard could catch up to him was with help from his homeboy? Or telling Marquez, “I see what you’re doing.” Why? To make him just move over and let him through in the remaining races?

Even if Rossi believed his own story, that was bound to piss Marquez off. 

In that sense, Rossi got what he deserved when he tried to pass and get clear of Marquez at Sepang. Given his long experience (and the fact that he's an intelligent guy) Rossi should have known he risked a penalty for his role in Marquez' crash. He was lucky not have been black flagged, which really would've hurt his title chances.

His reaction to the penalty, which included a petulant, "Well maybe I won't race at Valencia at all" was exactly the kind of reaction he usually provokes in his rivals. I mean, what the fuck dude? You're still leading the championship.

So maybe Marquez really is in his head.
I couldn't help but noticing that my social media feeds were full of these "gay" memes, linking Marquez and Lorenzo. Ironically Rossi was dogged by gender-preference rumors for years. When I became the only motorcycle journalist to actually write about those rumors, Rossi's fans fucking attacked me—even though I took pains to point out that I didn't personally give a shit whether he was attracted to men, or women, both or neither. Those same fans obviously don't mind tossing a few gay slurs in the direction of Lorenzo or Marquez.
Meanwhile, MotoGP—having long ago decided to build its entire brand on Rossi—is reaping what it has sowed, too. 

Last week the FIM issued a letter, in which it argued that, “Riders, team, manufacturers and sponsors should not only respect the rules but they should accept the decisions of the officials, whatever they may be. Otherwise, they are contributing to anarchy and undermining the future development of our sport.”

I don’t think any stakeholder has an obligation to remain silent and take a punishment that he genuinely feels is inappropriate. The whole letter, with it's whingebag, "Can't we all play nice?" message is pathetic.

Rossi may really feel aggrieved at this point, or he may just be fucking with MotoGP. He’s appealed the punishment to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The Court only meets a few times a year; the last time it heard a case related to the FIM was the Ant West doping case. I’d pay good money to be a fly on the wall in a court session that has been promised soon, so it can rule before the race this Sunday. 

You can find a list of recent decisions handed down by the court here: http://www.tas-cas.org/en/jurisprudence/recent-decisions.html The cases make for eye-glazing reading. Most involve procedural matters, such as an athlete’s amateur status, or doping sanctions. There aren’t many analogous cases, although I did find one case that involved a decision made by the judges at a taekwando match. The arbitrators are lawyers, not technical experts in the sport they’re ruling on. Perhaps that’s why Wikipedia says that CAS is reluctant to overturn decisions “on the field”. 

Based on that, I’d say it’s unlikely CAS will reverse Rossi’s penalty, although I think that MotoGP is basically obliged to stand by whatever the Court decides (because the FIM has agreed to CAS jurisdiction.) 

What’s a certainty? Only this: Valencia’s TV ratings will go through the roof and MotoGP will earn extra millions in video streaming fees. This whole thing has turned into a shit-show worthy of the Republican Presidential primary process.

I hope that when it’s all over, MotoGP doesn’t think, “Hey, it was a shit-show but it attracted lots of viewers, let’s just keep the controversies coming.”

1 comment:

  1. Pedrosa was fast and ahead of Lorenzo. Marquez is normally the fastest, why did he hang around to hinder Rossi and any him? It's obvious the Spanish riders are cheating