Heading into the final race of the MotoGP season on Nov. 8, there are several questions surrounding point leader Valentino Rossi.
Will Rossi win his eighth MotoGP title at the Valencia Grand Prix? Where will he have to finish in order to fend off Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo? Will he be forced to start from the rear of the grid for what occurred at Sepang in Malaysia?
The seven-time MotoGP champion is waiting to find out where his starting position will be at Valencia following a clash with rival and two-time defending champion Marc Marquez in the previous race at Sepang on Oct. 25. The incident took place at Turn 14 on Lap 7 when Rossi allegedly knocked Marquez off his bike, causing a crash as the two rode in close quarters with one another at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
The controversial event has caused a major divide between two racing superstars, the media and fans alike heading into the final race of the season. It also resulted in a penalty being handed down by Race Direction and supported by the International Motorcycling Federation (FIM) Stewards.
“The decision is that Race Direction has imposed three penalty points on Valentino Rossi for irresponsible riding, that is, deliberately causing contact,” said Racing Director Bill Webb. “Deliberately running wide in a corner in order to try and force another rider off line.”
Rossi went on to finish third at Sepang, earning 16 championship points and is due to begin the race at Valencia seven points ahead of Lorenzo in the chase for the title.
Because Rossi already had one penalty point on his record, the additional points give Rossi a total of four. The sanction for accumulating four penalty points is starting the next race from the rear of the grid, meaning Rossi would begin his day in Valencia at the back as he quests to finish the season on top.
The 36-year-old from Urbino, Italy, later accused Marquez of “making me lose the championship” due to the fact that he was penalized in the aftermath of the incident. He appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after being demoted to the rear for the final race and was granted a temporary suspension of his penalty. CAS will make an official decision by Friday, Nov. 6 regarding the original penalty imposed by Race Direction.
Many fans of Rossi have maintained his innocence in deliberately forcing Marquez off line and have started a petition to sway MotoGP into overturning the penalty. So far, there are over 700,000 signatures.
Regardless of Rossi’s starting position, if the two riders finish equal on points after Valencia then Lorenzo will take the title because he has more wins in 2015.
Below are the scenarios with regard to the championship.
- If Lorenzo wins the race then Rossi needs to finish second to become world champion.
- If Lorenzo finishes second then Rossi needs to finish on the podium to become world champion.
- If Lorenzo finishes third then Rossi needs to finish sixth or better to become world champion.
- If Lorenzo finishes fourth then Rossi needs to finish ninth or better to become world champion.
- If Lorenzo finishes fifth to ninth then Rossi needs to finish no more than six places further back to become world champion.
- If Lorenzo finishes lower than ninth then Rossi will be world champion.