Wednesday, October 14, 2015

















If Valentino Rossi wins at Phillip Island for the second year in succession this weekend then I think a 10th World Championship will be his.
With nineteen years of experience reporting on MotoGP™ for Motorcycle News, MotoGP™ Commentator Matthew Birt knows the Championship inside-out. For the 2015 season he joins the motogp.com team to bring you exclusive news and opinion from inside the paddock.
If Valentino Rossi wins at Phillip Island for the second year in succession this weekend then I think a 10th World Championship will be his.
I know I said recently how unwise it was to make predictions in such an utterly unpredictable MotoGP season, but a win for Rossi in Australia would mean he’d head to Sepang next week with a minimum advantage of 23-points over Movistar Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo.
And I think that would be an insurmountable deficit for Lorenzo to claw back in just two races.
We are not yet in must-win territory for Lorenzo, but we are not far off it.
For me, Lorenzo simply can’t afford to be beaten by Rossi in Australia. If Rossi does get the better of him, then it would be a seriously damaging defeat for the Spaniard’s title aspirations.
The pressure on the two Yamaha men is now almost overbearing and it is going to be fascinating to see who will hold their nerve.
It will also be intriguing to see if their relationship can survive the pressure cooker atmosphere of the last three races, or whether the bitterness and animosity of 2009 and 2010 will creep back in.
Much has been made of Lorenzo’s post-race comments in Japan last weekend where he said luck had been his biggest enemy after the weather intervened at Silverstone, Misano and the Twin Ring Motegi.
I personally don’t believe it to be a malicious dig at Rossi. The Italian though felt it disrespectful to suggest that credit for his advantage is down to the misfortune of Lorenzo.
It was the first sign that their intense battle for the biggest prize in world motorcycle racing is ramping up the tension.
That tension is only going to intensify between now and the end of the season. I can’t see how it can’t given their history and what is at stake.
One mistake by Rossi and he could hand the initiative firmly back to Lorenzo. The tightrope Lorenzo is now treading is even more precarious. One more mistake from him and surely Rossi will be World Champion.
Right now, I’ve got Rossi as a marginal favourite, simply because we have seen that being the most explosively fast rider on the planet sometimes isn’t enough.
Lorenzo is the fastest rider in MotoGP in 2015. Ask Rossi and he will tell you that. Ask Marc Marquez and he will tell you that.
But racing isn’t just about raw speed and consistency. You have to be prepared for whatever circumstances get thrown at you.
And in recent races, it has been the wily old fox Rossi that has mastered Lorenzo in managing curve ball situations that emerged.
At Silverstone, Misano and Twin Ring Motegi, I’d have put my mortgage on Lorenzo winning after practice and qualifying.
Having looked unbeatable in the dry at Silverstone and Misano, it promptly rained on his parade and he took just 13-points in both from a position of unrivalled superiority on Friday and Saturday.
And in Japan last weekend, he looked unstoppable in the wet, only for it to dry out!
The incredible Twin Ring Motegi race showed how quickly the whole complexion of Rossi and Lorenzo’s epic title fight can change.
In a matter of minutes, Lorenzo went from dominating by over three seconds to suddenly being on the receiving end of a humbling defeat to a resurgent Dani Pedrosa and Rossi.
Before his front Bridgestone rain tyre turned to jelly on a rapidly drying track, Lorenzo looked like slashing Rossi’s advantage to just five-points.
Instead he is in Phillip Island 18-points adrift, with Rossi coping better once his front tyre grip dropped off a cliff.
I think it is appropriate that we are in Australia this weekend. It’s a country famous for dangerous animals like spiders and snakes. Great white sharks too are known to have circled in the waters around the jaw-dropping Phillip Island track.
Lorenzo loved being the shark in his post race celebration after winning in Aragon.
He needs to bite back after Motegi and be the shark again at Phillip Island. If not, Rossi might just eat his title hopes alive.

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