Having admitted that he struggles with the Spanish circuit, taking that into consideration, fourth for Movistar Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi, at the Gran Premio Motul de la Communitant Valenciana was a great result.
The MotoGP class completed the season finale at the Spanish circuit, round 18 of 18, his place in the championship (second) was decided but the season was yet to be concluded. The nine-time Italian world champion battled for a podium spot, but in the end, he could not match the pace of his competition or the power of the Ducati. A lot of riders had a personal reason to do well as the end of the 2016 season also marks the end of a lot of people’s careers with their current teams; the provisional entry list for next year have just been released.
Front row start for the Italian
Rossi qualified to start on the front in Qualifying, a late lap managed to secure him a front row start; he joined his record-breaking teammate Jorge Lorenzo on his final race for the Movistar Yamaha team, and the newly crowned 2016 Moto GP champion, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda).
He did not get the best of starts, immediately dropping down the standings, but he forced his way back to the front. Lorenzo and Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) broke away at the front, and Rossi ended up in fourth behind his future teammate Maverick Vinales (Team Suzuki Ecstar); who seemed to be holding up the Italian.
It took several laps for Rossi to finally get past Vinales; he then ended up catching up to Iannone. No matter what Rossi did to overtake his Italian mate, the Ducati power outshone the M1 every time they came to a straight. Rossi managed to overtake on several occasion, and stay ahead, but if he did not have enough of a lead heading out of turn 14, all of his hard work was immediately undone on the start-finish straight.
Rossi battled throughout the race
Once Rossi got ahead, after an intense battle, Marquez was then able to overtake the ‘maniac’, who gave him the same treatment he gave to Rossi. This allowed Rossi to focus on chasing his teammate, and he was starting to close down the gap between them when he came under attack again from Iannone. This is when Marquez acted, he passed Rossi after a few challenges heading into turn two of the 18th lap. Marquez then continued in pursuit of Iannone and Rossi did what he could to keep in touch with the two.
Rossi had to settle for fourth at the season finale
Two thirds of the way through the race, Rossi was again able to pass Iannone through the chicane. Every time, Iannone was mainly able to retaliate as they headed into turns one and two. Rossi appeared to go to hot into the corners, in an attempt to out-brake Iannone to compensate for the lack of power in a straight line, but he would also go wide and lose time and momentum. With six laps remaining, the Italian again lost out to Iannone who was able to pull away, and had no choice really but to settle for fourth at the season finale.
Rossi’s thoughts on the race and the season finale
The Italian said he was “pushing from the beginning to the end”, he thought the “first half of the race wasn’t so bad” as he was in second position, but he found he “wasn't fast enough to make a gap” and so after that he found he “suffered on the second part”. He knew “Marquez was very strong” and as a result he “arrived in second place” as Rossi ended up in a “fight with Iannone”. He said, “Unfortunately he beat me because he was faster”, and so he was fourth, but still he felt it was “a good race”.
Analysing the 2016 season, one that has allowed us to witness nine different MotoGP winners due to several changes including all teams running with the same ECU, and Michelin becoming the new tyre supplier, he felt it “brought a lot of positive things”. He listed, “second place in the championship, a lot of podiums and front row starts”.
Already looking towards next year, Rossi wants to “try and win more races, more than two” as he knows they are “always competitive”. He admitted that “unfortunately [he] made some mistakes” and also that he was “a bit unlucky with the engine in Mugello”, all of these he feels meant he was “a bit too far behind in the championship”. Overall though, he still felt, “It was a good season.”
Incident in the paddock leading to a rider being trolled
Prior to the race, Rossi was involved in an incident in the paddock that has gained him some unnecessary and probably unwanted media attention. With massive events like a MotoGP, especially the final meeting of the season, paddock passes are sold or given out, and several ‘friends’ of the sport are given hospitality passes. Of course, it is every MotoGP fans’ dream to get into that paddock, but what has happened will probably throw the access for visitors into disrepute.
There is footage of Rossi and his Yamaha MotoGP press officer Alen Bollini, on a scooter making their way through the paddock; they are accompanied by security who are trying to assist Rossi and co in his swift passing down a busy roadway. It is very crowded, and a female with blonde hair, is to the side using her phone attached to a selfie stick.
The ‘victim’ is not paying the attention she should in a paddock
Her attention is on her phone and her back is to Rossi and any other oncoming traffic in the paddock. As she is distracted while she ‘collects memories of her experience’, she is walking backwards into the centre of the road. Rossi is riding through, and as he passes she steps into his path, he responds by braking, and then pushing her away with his leg and arm; an ‘attack’ people on social media have compared to the ‘incident’ involving Marquez in Sepang 2015.
Now the question is who is at fault? Rossi is there to do a job, due to the popularity of the rider, everyone wants a piece of his time, yet he has a schedule that he has to keep to. Rossi does attend certain events that allow the fans to meet him, otherwise, he struggles to live in the paddock, because who doesn’t want a minute’s peace?
Who should be allowed into a paddock of a high profile event?
The woman clearly has no etiquette when it comes to a paddock. When in a paddock, full of riders travelling on scooters, not only should you concentrate on what is ahead of you, you should concentrate on what is going on behind you also; through sight, sound and smell.
Having grown up around bike racing, this writer has never had to learn the hard way, instead growing up recognising the smell of the two-stroke engines amongst others as they passed. Reports suggest the women involved in the incident may consider suing, the question to be asked is whether a true fan of the sport would do such a thing, having not been behaving as she should in a paddock.
What will it mean for the future?
It is time for Dorna to act as something has to give. The riders are there to do a job as mentioned previously; they have to be in that paddock. Should they limit who is allowed in and around the paddock and the hospitality areas? Are they even briefed on health and safety before they are let in? Or should the riders be stopped from using any vehicles to travel around?
Yes, the MotoGP is a business, but is the money earned in selling passes to allow these people in, able to cover the compensation and cost involved when they sue for their own negligence? Whatever happens, the woman should realise the circumstance she left that rider in. The nine times Italian world champion has apologised for the incident, however, there are still issues that need to be resolved.