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|09-14-2015, 03:50 PM||#1|
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MotoGP Misano: Marquez wins a wild one
The top three protagonists of the 2015 MotoGP season were at the front for the first half of the race at Misano, but then the rain really mixed things up at the end.
The weather conditions, after shuffling things up in Silverstone (U.K.), once again disrupted the action in Misano (Italy), turning the 13th round of the MotoGP season into a gambling house. In a race characterized by uncertainty—it started and ended in dry conditions, but was wet for 13 laps in the center phases—Marc Marquez played his cards wisely to cash in for his fourth victory of the season.
The Spaniard spent most of the race in the leading group together with the factory Yamahas ridden by Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo. The trio came into the pits simultaneously during lap seven to switch bikes and exit on rain tires, but only the reigning world champion opted for what in Formula One is referred to as an “undercut”, reverting to slick tires once again in lap 18, while Rossi and Lorenzo went on for three and two more laps respectively, arguably more concerned with one another than the final outcome itself.
Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez came out on top of a wild Misano MotoGP race after playing his cards right and switching bikes at the right time.
Eventually, Lorenzo crashed during his first lap out, while Rossi rejoined the race in fifth position, which he kept until the finish line to extend his lead in the championship from 12 to 23 points. It was then Bradley Smith and Scott Redding's chance to shine on the podium. The Yamaha Tech3 rider took a gamble and stayed out on slick tires for the whole race, while his compatriot on a privateer Honda swapped bikes after a crash, finding himself on the right kind of compounds earlier than most of the competition. The sold-out crowd of some 90 thousand fans, however, only had eyes—and lungs—for the local hero commonly referred to as “the Doctor.”
“It was a strange race, and it's difficult to explain everything that happened, but I think the second bike switch was the key,” Marquez explained. “I noticed my bike was spinning a lot and I was losing some ground on Rossi and Lorenzo, but I also saw their tires leaving chunks. The tricky part is that the new surface is quite dark, so it's not easy to gauge how wet it really is. I was bit dubious about coming back to the pits, but my team gave me really good information on the pit board and helped my decision. I know the title chances are slim, but I'll try to win as many races as possible and see what happens.”
Marquez is still 63 points behind Rossi, but only 40 from Lorenzo, who lost the rear in turn 15 and suffered a contusion to his right hand in the crash but ruled out any fractures after undergoing a medical examination on the track.
Jorge Lorenzo (99) took off at the start and began to run his usual scorching pace out front, but the rain completely scrambled those plans and caused him to suffer a nasty high-speed crash in Turn 15, luckily without injury.
“It's the second time in a row we have some bad luck,” commented Lorenzo. “It was not just wet, but unusual circumstances. Today I didn't have the pace to perfectly warm up the tires, so they were still cold after the second bike switch and I lost the rear. Both here and in Silverstone I could have won or finished second, but that's racing and not all is lost. If I win all the remaining races, I can still become world champion regardless of what Valentino does.”
Rossi, on the other hand, seemed to adopt the worst possible strategy, as he was the last rider to come into the pits for the second bike switch. A decision, or indecision, that arguably interrupted his streak of 16 consecutive podiums. Hindsight, however, is 20-20, and Lorenzo's mistake still allowed him to leave his home GP with an extended lead.
Sometimes you just have to be lucky, and Valentino Rossi (46) had some at Misano, managing to extend his points lead despite coming in very late to switch bikes during the latter portion of the race.
“It's not easy to decide when to come back into the pits when a world title is on the line,” analyzed Rossi. “You have to be careful and not take too many risks, but I waited too long and lost time. Our potential was higher today, as I was fast both in the dry and in the wet, but when it's in between I always have problems (laughs). I wanted to switch bikes two laps earlier, but some drops of rain started to fall again and I saw Lorenzo was still behind me, so I continued. It was my decision, and my responsibility.”
Rossi's advantage is arguably significant but, with five races still to go, he is not keen on playing defense. “It's all relative,” he said. “First of all, I won't count Marquez out until the mathematics say so. Also, both him and Lorenzo have the potential to win in all five races, so I can't think about the numbers too much. If I finish behind them, I could lose nine points per race. Too many. I have to keep trying to win or finish on the podium.”
Rossi's chase toward a tenth world title is not over yet. But, after Misano, the Italian is a few inches closer to his goal.
MotoGP Misano race results:
1. Marc Marquez (SPA) Repsol Honda Team
2. Bradley Smith (GBR) Monster Tech 3 Yamaha
3. Scott Redding (GBR) Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda
4. Loris Baz (FRA) Athinà Forward Racing Yamaha
5. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP
6. Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Octo Pramac Ducati
7. Andrea Iannone (ITA) Ducati Team
8. Andrea Dovisiozo (ITA) Ducati Team
9. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team
10. Aleix Espargaró (SPA) Team Suzuki Ecstar
11. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) LCR Honda
12. Jack Miller (AUS) LCR Honda
13. Mike Di Meglio (FRA) Avintia Racing Ducati
14. Maverick Viñales (SPA) Team Suzuki Ecstar
15. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
16. Stefan Bradl (GER) Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
17. Nicky Hayden (USA) Aspar Honda Team
18. Hector Barbera (SPA) Avintia Racing Ducati
19. Eugene Laverty (IRL) Aspar Honda Team
20. Claudio Corti (ITA) Athinà Forward Racing Yamaha
21. Karel Abraham (CZE) AB Motoracing Honda
DNF Pol Espargaró (SPA) Monster Tech 3 Yamaha
DNF Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP
DNF Yonny Hernandez (COL) Octo Pramac Racing Ducati
DNF Alex De Angelis (RSM) E-Motion Ioda Racing Aprilia
DNF Michele Pirro (ITA) Ducati Team