DE­NIED!

Rossi back in busi­ness, but heart­bro­ken af­ter crash­ing out of lead in Sep­ang

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Motogp - By Si­mon Pat­ter­son MO­TOGP RE­PORTER

Mo­togp fans were de­nied the chance of an epic last lap show­down be­tween Valentino Rossi and Marc Mar­quez in Sun­day’s Malaysian Grand Prix when Rossi crashed out of the lead and what looked set to be a thrilling fi­nal few laps.

Seem­ing to be back to his im­pe­ri­ous best by post­ing metro­nomic lap times as he led from the start to lap 17, Rossi was be­ing hunted down by Mar­quez in the clos­ing stages when dis­as­ter struck. The Ital­ian’s crash was his first mis­take of 2018 and in­cred­i­bly the first time he’s crashed out of the lead of a race in the dry since the Ital­ian Grand Prix at Mugello way back in 2000. This time the nine­time world cham­pion ran a lit­tle wide at turn one be­fore los­ing the front and crash­ing out.

“I have mixed feel­ings about the race,” he told MCN. “Be­cause on one hand it was my best race of the sea­son and at a dif­fi­cult track for us. But on the other I’m very dis­ap­pointed about the mis­take, be­cause it’s frus­trat­ing to per­form like this and end with zero points. Even if I hadn’t won, I could have ex­tended the gap from Viñales in the cham­pi­onship stand­ings and been only five points from Dovizioso in sec­ond.”

And while it looked like Mar­quez had the ad­van­tage as he re­cov­ered from an over­heat­ing front tyre in­curred when he was get­ting past Jo­hann Zarco, the Spa­niard ad­mit­ted af­ter­wards that, while he was clos­ing on Rossi, he wasn’t sure ex­actly how the fi­nal laps would have played out.

“I was rid­ing by in­stinct, push­ing to what I could feel from the bike and I could see that he was do­ing the same. But even if he hadn’t crashed, the plan was to try, be­cause you know what I am like! I didn’t have any­thing else to give. Both of us were at the limit and the only plan I had was to try to catch him and fight. But we were rid­ing at the same level all race.”

Push­ing at the front, the duo took over five sec­onds off the Sep­ang race record leav­ing the bat­tle for sec­ond be­tween Alex Rins and Jo­hann Zarco some three sec­onds in their wake. But just as a cli­mac­tic fi­nale seemed cer­tain, Rossi’s crash meant the record crowd were de­nied a clas­sic last lap bat­tle be­tween the two ri­vals.

In fact, Rossi ad­mit­ted af­ter­wards that his big­gest re­gret wasn’t the dam­age to his 2018 points tally but the lost op­por­tu­nity to put on a show.

“I wanted to push hard to the end, but I knew that Mar­quez was go­ing to catch me at some point. It’s a great shame for ev­ery­one that I crashed, be­cause it would have been great fun if we had been able to race to­gether for the win. I was strong and I could have fought for the vic­tory, but so was he.”

‘It was my best race of the sea­son and came at a dif­fi­cult track’

Mar­quez was clos­ing in when Rossi crashed out

Nine-time world champ rues what might have been

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