Comeback Kings | Valentino Rossi Blog

Monday, April 25, 2016

Comeback Kings

Their circumstances were different, but both Valentino Rossi and Brad Binder stole the show in Jerez with incredible comebacks.
Crashing is an inevitable part of being a Grand Prix motorcycle racer unfortunately, everyone crashes no matter how talented or experienced a rider is. Coming back from a crash is an important part of being a MotoGP™ rider, most have the incredible ability to return to the garage after a crash and get right back out on track and go faster. Go faster is exactly what Valentino Rossi did on Sunday in Jerez.
Austin saw ‘The Doctor’ crash out of a race for the first time in over a year and after a difficult start to the season some were wondering if he’d find his 2015 form again. But in Jerez Rossi bounced back from a crash like almost never before and took his most dominant win to date, once again silencing any doubts. Having now taken 113 wins in the World Championship, this isn’t the first time Rossi has crashed one race and won the next.
Few fans will forget the infamous ‘donkey helmet’ Rossi wore for the 2009 San Marino GP. In Italy, and many other parts of the world, people who make silly mistakes are often called a donkey, the helmet a bit of self-deprecating humour after Rossi crashed out of the Indianapolis GP. His crash in Indy in 2009 was his first DNF since 2007 and while there was no special helmet for the Spanish GP, both Misano and Jerez witnessed an almost identical outcome as Rossi won from pole position and put himself right back in Championship contention. But in Jerez Rossi also showed off a new set of tricks.
For the first time in his premier class career Rossi led every lap of a race after starting in pole position. He out Lorenzo-ed Lorenzo, running away at the start of the race and expertly managing the gap even when tyres dropped off. Once again it’s a three-way battle for the championship, Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo proving they have the pace to finish on the podium almost every weekend and Marc Marquez showing just how much he’s grown up since 2015.
Were this the Spanish GP a year ago, few would have been surprised to see Marquez fall while trying to close the impossible gap to Lorenzo and Rossi. Instead he produced a calm and mature ride, focusing on getting solid points and protecting his championship lead after a difficult race. Marquez has yet to make a mistake this season, the only rider to take to the podium in all four races. As both Lorenzo and Rossi have shown in the past, consistency wins championships not outright speed.
Rossi’s return to race winning form was great to see but the ride of the day easily went to Brad Binder in the Moto3™ World Championship. Issues with ECU software during Qualifying meant the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider was sent to the back of the grid due to a penalty on Sunday. What could he do from 35th on a grid full of aggressive young racers? What could anyone do? In recent memory only Marc Marquez had won from the back, starting 28th after a late crash in the 2010 Portuguese GP and in again at Valencia in 2012 when a penalty saw him start 33rd on the Moto2™ grid. Both races saw Marquez put on a master class, each pass alerting more and more fans to his incredible talent.
In Jerez Binder’s performance blew both of Marquez’s comebacks out of the water. Fans could have been excused for thinking they were watching someone playing the MotoGP™ video game as Binder took positions at every corner, his late braking putting others to shame. Even the most experienced members of the paddock let out a shriek as Binder’s KTM bucked and weaved, the South African converting the race from damage limitation to a championship, if not career, defining moment. Three seconds separated Binder from second place, what would have happened if he’d started on the front row? A small percentage of riders in the World Championship get to experience the thrill of a first win but none have ever gotten it from starting last.
The rear of a rider’s leather suit often displays their nickname or logo; Rossi has ‘The Doctor’ while Andrea Iannone has ‘The Maniac’. Currently Binder has ‘Bradical’ printed on his leathers but perhaps ‘Comeback King’ would be more fitting after Jerez. Watch out because now Binder has tasted victory and it's an addicting taste.

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