Monday 27 January 2020

Valentino Rossi claims Marc Marquez has ‘destroyed’ MotoGP and says he’s ‘scared’ to race against world champion

Movistar Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi
Movistar Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi

Jack de Menezes

Valentino Rossi has reignited his rivalry with reigning MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez by claiming that the Honda rider has “destroyed” the sport, following their latest clash at the Argentine Grand Prix.

Nine-time world champion Rossi was taken out of Sunday’s Grand Prix when a recovering Marquez rode into the side of his Yamaha and forced him onto the wet grass, leaving him little option than to fall off late in the race.

The move saw Marquez hit with a 30-second penalty that dropped him from fifth to 18th and out of the points, having already served a ride-through penalty for riding the wrong way around the track after stalling his bike on the grid. The Spaniard was penalised for “irresponsible riding”, having already been told to give Aleix Espargaro back a place for squeezing the KTM rider off the track, but Rossi refused to let Marquez off the hook lightly and issued a strong response to his on-track antics after the race.

"This is a very bad situation, because he destroyed our sport, because he [doesn't] have any respect for his rivals, never," Rossi said.

"When you go 300kmh on the track, you have to have a respect for your rival, you have to be strong, you have to make the maximum, but [doing it] like this is over.

"If you take what's happened this weekend - one by one, can happen to everybody. You can make a mistake in braking, you can touch the other guy - [this] happens - this is racing.

"But from Friday morning, he [did] this with [Maverick] Vinales, [Andrea] Dovizioso. He [did] this with me on Saturday morning - and today in the race he [went] straight to four riders, because he [does this] purposely.

"It is not a mistake, because he points the leg - between the leg and the bike - because he knows he [doesn't] crash but you crash - he hopes that you crash. So if you start to play like this, you raise the level to a very dangerous point, because if all the riders race like this, without any respect for rivals, this is a very dangerous sport and [it will] finish in a bad way."

Rossi, a veteran of 17 full seasons in the premier class and currently riding his 22nd season of Grand Prix racing, went one step further by admitting that the prospect of racing directly against Marquez is one that makes him fear for his safety.

"I'm scared - I'm scared on the track when I am with Marquez,” he added. “I'm scared today when I see his name on the board, because I know that he comes to me [and] I know already. You have to think, to hope that you don't crash."

Marquez attempted to enter Rossi’s garage after the race to apologise for causing the accident at Turn 13, only for Yamaha team members to deny him entry, and he defended his action by insisting he “didn’t make anything crazy” and that any contact during the race was not deliberate.

"Today what happened to Valentino was a mistake, [a] consequence of the track conditions because I locked the front," Marquez said, with the Grand Prix taking place in changeable conditions on a drying Autodromo Termas de Rio Hondo track.

"You needed to understand how the track condition was - of course in that line [it] was dry but I [took the] wet patch, locked the front, released the brakes.

"Okay, I had the contact - I tried to turn and then when I see that he crashed I just try to say sorry.

"If you check - [Johann] Zarco with Dani [Pedrosa], [Danilo] Petrucci with Aleix [Espargaro]. Today was quite difficult but it doesn't matter - I did my 100 per cent and of course [it was a] tricky Sunday."

The dispute between the pair is the complete opposite of their clash at the end of the 2015 MotoGP season when Rossi was adjudged to have deliberately forced Marquez wide during the penultimate race in Malaysia, resulting in his rival crashing out and landing himself with a grid penalty for the final Grand Prix that sent him to the back of the grid after qualifying, allowing then-teammate Jorge Lorenzo to claim the title.

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