In the first of our ‘Burning Questions’ series, five MotoGP experts assess the rivalry that could define 2016.
THIS STORY ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON REDBULL.COM.AU
It was a firestorm that had its roots at Assen, bubbled away at Phillip Island, ignited at Sepang and dominated Valencia. Valentino Rossi vs Marc Marquez – the war of words off track and clash in Malaysia on it was the story of MotoGP last year.
With the new season set to roar into life in Qatar next weekend, will the rivalry of last season show any signs of abating in a new one?
In the first of our ‘Burning Questions’ series on redbull.com.au, we put that very question to our assembled collection of MotoGP insiders.
Nick Harris: the voice of MotoGP on the world TV feed, and a hugely experienced authority on the sport for more than three decades.
Matt Birt: Nick’s offsider on the MotoGP world feed coverage, and a journalist with more than 20 years of experience in the paddock.
Chris Vermeulen: the MotoGP race-winner now excels in his off-track role as a MotoGP analyst for Fox Sports in his native Australia.
Dylan Gray: MotoGP’s premier pit-lane reporter and on-the-ground newshound.
David Emmett: editor of motomatters.com and one of the sport’s most prolific and authoritative voices.
The Burning Question: The Rossi/Marquez feud was THE story at the end of last season. Do you expect it to continue, or will it peter out?
Nick Harris: It’s gone far too far to blow out and it may get even more intense and personal.
Chris Vermeulen: No, I think it’s going to blow itself out. It’s done its time, and Dorna want it to be forgotten about. I don’t think they’ll ever be friends and we know their business relationship has stopped, but I think the feud itself will pass. We’ll see some hard moves from one another on the track, but that’s where it’ll end.
Matt Birt: For me, it is always going to be bubbling just under the surface and you can never rule out the prospect of tensions boiling over again. At the end of the day we’re dealing with two of the fastest riders in history and two of the biggest personalities we’ve ever seen. Neither is used to losing on or off the track. There is going to come a point very soon where they will be side-by-side in a press conference or fighting for the same piece of tarmac. Only then we will know if cool heads can calm the tension or whether the red mist will descend again and we will be hurtled back into a state of all-out war.
David Emmett: Yes, it will continue. Marquez is a little cowed by the grief he has received, and so is hoping it will go away. Rossi is still incandescent with rage at the perceived injustice of last year, and blames Marquez entirely for what happened. Rossi is also using his anger at Marquez as a further stimulus to work harder. During the pre-season, Rossi has had a grim aspect to him, a lot of the joy has gone. He is in warrior mode. No prisoners.
Dylan Gray: I actually don’t expect the feud to continue, I expect them to be very focused on themselves and not on each other. If they do meet on track, then let’s see – but I think Marc and Valentino are both going to try to be much quicker than the other so they don’t have to meet.