The 2015 season doesn't cease to entertain and Valentino Rossi certainly doesn't cease to amaze. Even if you haven't watched the race you by now surely you have read of the outcome. Marc Marquez was all but sure of clinching his second victory of the season but things didn't go quite according to plan. Going by the start of the race, you'd have hardly guessed the outcome. Marquez on his Honda swiftly dealt with an initial challenge from Aleix Espargaro (yes, a Suzuki lead a MotoGP race!) and began to build a strong lead while the Andreas, Cal Crutchlow, Espargaro and Lorenzo diced for the top six spots. Rossi was behind all this.
Forward 12 laps and Rossi was up in second, just four seconds behind Marquez and he had a hopeful Andrea Dovizioso in tow. And then Rossi really turned up the pace. Lap after lap, he reeled in Marquez by anything from two-tenths of a second to half a second a lap. Dovizioso was able to keep up until Rossi went and broke the lap record with a 1'39.019. With three laps to go Rossi was on Marquez's tail. How did Rossi manage to pull five seconds in thirteen laps? Because he chose to go with the Extra Hard rear tyre that was made available especially for the race at Termas de Rio Hondo Circuit which is particularly brutal on tyres. Marquez gambled with the Hard tyre which would provide more grip but less durability... Bridgestone had warned off strong degradation towards the end of the race and the Doctor had chosen well.
Marquez, of course, knew what was going on - he had his pit board scream out to him every lap that the Italian was looming in. Marquez isn't double world champion for nothing. Of course he had a plan. The young Spaniard said that he had conserved his tyres knowing that Rossi was gaining so that he would have enough life in them to have one of those epic last lap dices that he, Rossi and the crowds love so dearly. In the last laps before he fell his lap times dropped into the low 1'39s as he checked whether there was enough life in the tyres. There was scope for a fight to the finish. But sadly it wasn't meant to be. With two laps to go Rossi dived and in a clean move he had the inside line on Marquez. Halfway through the corner Marquez came in slight contact with Rossi and that should have been warning enough. But Marc the Merciless held on and that was his undoing. The next bend was a left hander and Marquez had to know that Rossi would run a little wide to cut the right line. Rossi did but Marquez didn't. His front tyre made contact with Rossi's bike, snapped sideways and pitched the world champion off his bike. The horrific moment was over in a flash. Marquez sprinted back to his bike as others flashed by but realized it couldn't be ridden as he tried to pick it up. It was the end of his race.
Rossi cruised from there to victory number 110. Andrea Dovizioso followed in second and just as we were recovering from the shock of Marquez falling a streak of white shot past Andrea Iannone in the final corner exit and crossed the chequered flag ahead of him. Wily Cal Crutchlow on the CWM LCR Honda made a spectacular pass to steal third spot from the Ducati of Andrea Ianone. It was LCR Honda's first podium since 2013 and a well deserved one for Crutchlow who has had more than his fair share of bad luck. Further back, Crutchlow's team mate Jack Miller who started in 21st made a similar move as his teammate on Hector Barbera and snatched 12th place on the last lap. This made Miller the fastest open class rider. Amazing stuff for a rider who has ridden just three races in the premier class after graduating straight from Moto3. Miller is showing signs that he's another rider to watch out for in the coming seasons.
As we head into the next round at Jerez, Rossi leads the championship by 6 points over Dovizioso. Marquez is down in 5th position with 30 points down with a total of 36. Was this race exciting? Absolutely but the first race at Qatar was still more of an entertainer in my books. The battle in Qatar between Rossi and the Ducati's lasted the entire race and didn't end in tears for either of the riders. Either way. Our nails are already being chewed in anticipation for Jerez two weeks from now.