Sepang Clash 2015 – Who’s really at fault?

Added in: Motorsport

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Italian rider Valentino Rossi (L) chases Repsol Honda Team's Spanish rider Marc Marquez (R) during the 2015 MotoGP Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit on October 25, 2015. AFP PHOTO / MANAN VATSYAYANA

Spontaneous comments by top riders on raceday led to social media wars between fans and haters – the #Sepangclash has resulted in an online wildfire that doesn’t show signs of dousing down anytime soon. The sparks initiated by pre-race statements from the nine time world champion resulted in one of the ugliest on-track brawls in motorsport history. Officially, the Race Director has slapped a three point penalty on Valentino Rossi, resulting in a start from the back of the grid at the Valencia season finale. Unofficially, the jury is still out.

As the adage goes, there is no smoke without fire, so we decided to dig into some background information available through different sources to figure out what could infuriate an otherwise cheery, friendly and playful character like Rossi. Latest revelations divulge what led to the recent slugfest between Rossi and Marquez – it all started with some incidents at Argentina and Assen.

Rossi vs Marquez Sepang Clash 2015 (3)

Calling Marquez a bad loser, Rossi stated “As I said on Thursday, this is for what happened between us at Argentina and Assen. I had confirmation from Alzamora (Marquez’s manager); he told me that Marc thinks I made him lose the championship. He is surely a bad loser.”

Also Rossi’s allegations that Marquez favored Lorenzo in winning the championship is somewhat reflected in the laptimes at Phillip Island which somehow seems unusual considering how he goes for the kill right from the word go. The spiky timeline reflected on the graph shows slower laptimes on lap 6, 12, 21, 25 which Marquez blamed on the overheating of the front tyres- though surprisingly he was able to push on during the closing moments pipping Lorenzo to win the race by tiniest of margins.

Lap time graph- Phillip Island MotoGP 2015

At Sepang, the allegations cast by Rossi were there for the world to see, with Marquez gifting Lorenzo an easy overtake before getting into a dog fight which was enough to blow off Rossi’s pressure valve resulting into something that disappointed a million MotoGP fans. Baffled at the outcome, Marquez said “Valentino overtook me, I followed him for half a lap, and I saw that I could go faster than him, so I tried overtake him back. We started a fight between us and I always passed without making any contact with him. At Turn 14 he passed me on the inside, I sat the bike up, he kept going straight ahead and I saw him looking at me. I didn’t know what to do. Then he kicked out at me, knocking my brake lever, and I crashed. Both what Valentino said to Race Direction and what he did on the track has made me disappointed. I’ve never seen anything like it: a rider kicking another rider.”

Rossi vs Marquez Sepang Clash 2015 (4)

Even if the data hints at Rossi’s claim being true, Marquez’s tactics were perfectly permissible under FIM’s operating legal guidelines and Rossi was penalized for an alleged action which on the contrary was illegal. The replays and helicopter footage suggested that Rossi was simply correcting his foothold disturbed by the Honda’s weight on his knee and the allegations of Marquez of the brake lever being knocked seems ambiguous considering MotoGP bikes have mandatory use of brake protectors. Rossi defended the allegations stating “….if you look at the image from the helicopter it is clear that when I lose the foot from the footrest Marquez had already crashed.  So I don’t want to kick him. Also if you give a kick to a MotoGP bike, it doesn’t crash. It is not that you kick the bike; it is very heavy.”

Rossi vs Marquez Sepang Clash 2015

These are some of the excerpts of the statements being given at length and now the bigger disappointment hangs with Rossi admitting of not being sure if he will participate in the ultimate championship decider at Valencia. “Maybe I won’t even start [at Valencia], I need to decide. It’s an unfair penalty because I didn’t want to make him fall. I repeat myself; I’m sorry he crashed because I just wanted to annoy him.” said Rossi post the Sepang clash.

We believe if Rossi boycotts racing at Valencia, it would be a huge disappointment not only for the followers of the sport but also for Lorenzo who’s near decided 2015 title wouldn’t taste as sweet without Rossi on the grid. Overall, without taking sides – we just tried to go beyond what was shown on television to explore our own conclusions on the incident and what could possibly force a racing demi-god to do the unthinkable. We’re sure there’s much more than what meets the eye. What’s your take?

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  • dd806 says:

    after looking several pictures of both riders Marquez and Rossi, we can see each time a safety protection on the front hand lever brake (you can see the evidence on the enclosed picture inside the red and blue cercles)
    My question is: how it is possible with this kind of protection that an external driver can activate the brake in GP race condition???
    Isnt'it developped by experts in order to avoid that???
    This is a FACT

  • @Dhibu We are waiting for the action too!

  • Dhibu says:

    It was very clear that MM was giving a easy way for Lorenzo as soon as he saw lorenzo is behind him and not Rossi. He did not try to even fight with Jorge. But immediate attack on Rossi. Anybody, who is working hard from the 1st round would feel a lot of pressure and when MM showed a lot of aggression in over takes, rossi cant be silent. Its clear that he did want him to crash, just slow down. MM hit brake levers on rossi leg and crashed.

    If you saw Free practices, you will know. MM was following Rossi and doing all crazy stunts to rossi in FP1, FP3 and FP4.

  • Dhibu says:

    Lets see in Valencia. Javis is also very upset of Jorge Lorenzo for his comments about the incident. He spoke bad in the press conference post race and also showed thumb down when Rossi for presented with trophy. As a Team Mate, this is not a nice approach.

    There are talks about the continuing the 2016 contract with Lorenzo. Yamaha might look for a different Rider.
    Meanwhile, Anthony West says he will not give way for Rossi to go easily. Who is he ? A Stupid ? Rossi will overtake in the first corner.

    Spaniards are trying to get together and stop Rossi. This is like battle between Spain and Italy now. Eager to see Rossi 10th. Waiting for Nov 8th.

  • Deepak says: