Saturday, June 20, 2015

2015 MotoGP: 7 races down and the battle has just begun

It feels like it happened only yesterday, when the opening race of the 2015 MotoGP season took place at the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar. The night of the March 29th cannot be forgotten; how can it be? We got to witness the Yamaha M1 blazing past the Ducati Desmosedici GP15, one that literally astounded everyone by its scorching pace.

The finish by Valentino Rossi stunned everyone when the 35-year-old stood at the top step of the podium, making everyone clear about his intentions.

Valentino Rossi. Photo: Reuters

Rossi is the championship leader with 25 points

And that’s not all.

When the MotoGP headed to Austin after a two-week gap, at the Circuit of The Americas, the reigning championship leader Marc Marquez also put on a show for his fans in the qualifying round (Q2). Due to technical problems, he had to leave his number one bike on the track, climb over the pit lane fence, run on the pit lane towards the Repsol Honda box, get on his number two bike and get back to the race with less than four minutes remaining on the clock. Even with all this, he managed to have a qualifying lap; stunts like these are something that no one has ever seen.

Even Andrea Dovizioso on his Ducati, right on the rear of Marc in his flying lap, couldn’t believe what he was witnessing. On the race day, Marc, as usual, maintained his 100% win record at the circuit (three wins and three poles since the tracks addition into the calendar in 2013).

Marc Marquez. Photo: Reuters

Rossi has just one point lead over Dovizioso

After this, the championship moved to Argentina to Termas de Rio Hondo, a circuit of only two years old. Marc Marquez grabbed the pole and looked in an absolute thrilling form for an epic battle with the doctor himself – Rossi. But with just two laps to go, Marc touched the rear of the M1 and was seen sliding on the track towards the gravel.

Rossi picked another historic win – his second out of the three races into the season.

Valentino Rossi picks another historic win. Photo: Reuters

Rossi has a six point lead over Dovizioso

The rule of the ‘underdog’ began in the Circuit of Le Mans, France. Yes, Jorge Lorenzo, who had just 37 points in the first three races, 29 points behind Rossi, did not even get a chance to step on the podium.

Jorge Lorenzo. Photo: AFP

Lorenzo registered the pole position lap and on the race day, he was seen in such a form that one couldn’t possibly imagine that the guy struggled in the previous three races. He definitely had his mojo back. Obviously, he won the race and that too with a lead of over 5.5 seconds on Marc Marquez.

Third step of the podium was filled by Valentino Rossi.

Rossi has a 15 point lead over Dovizioso – who finished seventh

In Le Mans, France, Lorenzo mastered the race day after qualifying the third fastest on the grid. He became the race leader on the first lap of the race and for the next 28 laps, no one dared to come near him.

A master-class ride saw him taking the top step of the podium with a win margin of over 3.8 seconds.

Rossi has a 15 point lead over Lorenzo with 87 points, who moves ahead of Dovizioso by four points

After this track was finished, MotoGP moved to its most beloved track, Autodromo del Mugello, Rossi’s home race where he has a hefty record of seven race wins. Saturday qualifying saw the front row grid make a sandwich of Ducati with Lorenzo’s Yamaha between them.

An injured Andrea Iannone picked the pole position and the crowd lit up.

Why not? It was an Italian rider on an Italian bike, and that too on an Italian circuit.

Andrea Iannone. Photo: Reuters

Race day saw Iannone suffering from a hairline fracture in the shoulder bone, battling it out with the likes of Marquez and Pedrosa. Valentino was seen starting from eighth on the grid, then moving to ninth place in the first lap. He surely didn’t give up and suddenly gathered such a breath-taking pace to overtake the likes of Smith, Pol and Pedrosa to move into third, while Marquez crashing out on lap 17 ran on third with only six laps to go.

Once again, Lorenzo revisiting Le Mans led the entire race from start to finish and won with a margin of over 5.5 seconds on Iannone. This win let Lorenzo equal Agostini’s record of 88 podiums in premier class.

Rossi has a six point lead over Lorenzo

With an absolute cracking situation on the championship standings and a gap of two weeks, MotoGP now moves to Lorenzo’s Land – Catalonia, Barcelona.

The thrill began in the qualifying itself; the Suzuki duo of Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales took the top two spots in the grid, while Lorenzo picked the third spot. Everyone knew what the fate of Suzuki was going to be on the race day and that is exactly what happened. As soon as the red light went out, Suzuki was nowhere to be seen. It seemed like a wolf-pack making their way through the stationary trees.

Lorenzo once again was seen as the race leader.

Valentino soon caught up with the top tier after starting from seventh on the grid. On lap three, he was on third place but lap four saw him going into second, behind Lorenzo.

How? It was due to the fact that Marc Marquez crashing out on the second lap in turn 10 with a slight miscalculation of braking power. For the next 21 laps, it was Lorenzo versus Rossi. Fans hoped to see another cracker like the Lorenzo-Rossi showdown in 2009 on the same circuit.

Lorenzo Rossi showdown in 2009. Photo: Reuters

However, after a couple of laps, it was inevitable that Lorenzo will take this victory home. In the final two laps it seemed like Rossi was closing in on his teammate but to no avail. Lorenzo finished with just a 0.8 second margin on Rossi. Due to the scorching heat of the track, one of the riders crashed out but that didn’t distract Lorenzo from chasing his fourth consecutive win first time in his eight year career in the premier class.

Rossi has just one point lead over Lorenzo

Championship standings seem like it is on a repeat mode; in Austin, Rossi had a one-point advantage over Dovizioso, now he has the same advantage over his teammate Lorenzo. Who knows what’s going to happen in Assen on June 27th. However, one thing is for certain, Lorenzo is definitely eying on that fifth consecutive win and that would make him the championship leader with a 24-point advantage over ‘The Doctor’.

Rossi is well aware about the situation and therefore the 35-year-old stated,

“I’m the oldest but I’m not old enough to not be a champ”.

Rossi is certainly eying on his 10th World Championship title. He isn’t going to easily give away what he has been longing for since 2010.

Marquez is currently running fifth in the standings. The reigning champion has crashed thrice in seven races and has 69 points in the standings. Same is the difference between him and the championship leader.

Next stop: TT Assen, Netherlands.

Stay tuned for more! Maybe the championship will have a climax and we will find ourselves with a new championship leader.

from The Express Tribune Blog

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