I’ve been a fan of the series since Rossi was racing 250’s. In fact, when I started racing in 1998, I couldn’t race an EX500 like all the sensible kids. No, I had to race an Aprilia RS250 like that adorable Rossi kid. Plus it’s a much prettier bike and everyone knows 2 strokes > 4 strokes.
In the 15 years since I first attended a GP, at Assen, I’ve been to 22 rounds in 5 countries. I’ve been to every US round except 2. All of my vacations revolve around motorcycle races. If there isn’t a race there, it’s not worth visiting. As a race fan, I’ve spent thousands of dollars on airfare, hotels, transportation, dining, museums, and shopping. But when Rossi retires, there’ll be nobody left to root for. I was really hoping Marquez could take his place. Sure, nobody can compare to the G.O.A.T., but Marquez at least had spunk and incredible talent. Pedrosa is proving himself now that he’s healed, and he’s a lot more comfortable in front of the cameras than he used to be, but he’s not a powerhouse. Lorenzo is incredibly talented, but he’s like our pet Greyhound- an absolute machine on the track, capable of winning races with ease and grace, but has the personality of someone who spends all their free time in a cage.
Watching the past few races, and hearing about what Marquez was like the last time he rode at Rossi’s ranch, it’s clear the kid isn’t ready for prime time. This piece by Major Taylor, one of the greatest athletes on two wheels, ever, offers some excellent advice for young athletes like Marquez. This excerpt in particular:
“Modesty should be typical of the success of a champion. It always seemed to me that a real champion while possessing self-confidence on the eve of a race never became conceited. On the other hand I have seen mediocre riders who fairly breathed conceit in advance of the race in which they were entered. I have also noticed that when a rider who had confidence in his ability was defeated, after doing his level best to win, always received an ovation from the gathering. The reverse was true in regard to the conceited rider, regardless of how hard he tried in a race. The public has long since drawn a fine line between self-confidence and conceit. Sport lovers know that when they see a real champion he is going about his work in a businesslike manner. He does not have time nor the inclination to scorn his competitors, but rides against everyone of them as though he were his superior, with the result that the public is sure to witness a fine performance every time he starts.”
Yes, I am a die-hard Rossi fan. Yes, Rossi made some punk moves in his racing career. But he NEVER, and I don’t think any other MotoGP rider, ever pulled that “pie-biting*” shit Marquez pulled after it became clear he wasn’t going to win every championship he ever races in.
Like any race fan, I love watching a great race, and most MotoGP races are pretty boring. Australia 2015 was absolutely the best race of the 21st century. Why couldn’t Marquez bring that same ferocity to Valencia? Who told him he could bring his ego to work the way he did in Sepang? Rossi is famous for playing head games, and Marquez is clearly not mature enough to handle them. The kid should be demoted to a satellite team to learn some humility.
I’m sure plenty of the satellite riders could give that Repsol Honda a run for its money, and it’s shameful for Honda to protect a rider who doesn’t actually try to win races, but instead helps a Yamaha racer win. That is what makes Marquez’ behavior totally unacceptable. Lorenzo earned all the wins he got this year, but Valencia. Without Marquez’ help he would’ve easily come in second, still taking the ring. But Marquez was a pie biter, so this championship will forever bear an asterisk.
I’ll still be celebrating my 46th birthday at Austin MotoGP, but if Rossi were racing rally cars or anything else, well, I guess that’s where I’d be celebrating the big 46 next year.
Also from Major Taylor’s Website:
* Note – In the track races of Major Taylor’s era, teaming and cooperation between riders to physically block or “pocket” a strong rider was forbidden. Major Taylor was often a victim of these corrupt practices. The term “pie biter” probably refers to a rider who agrees to block a stronger rider in exchange for a share of the purse.