MotoGP: Rossi not ready to write off Marquez as title threat
Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo remain the huge hurdles confronting Marc Marquez in his bid to resurrect his world championship chances in the second half of the season.
This is despite Marquez ending a six-race losing streak with victory in Sunday’s German GP, which signalled the start of the annual summer break.
The championship regroups on August 9 for the 10th of 18 races at Indianapolis with Rossi still in control of the championship lead. With nine races remaining Rossi says he will not make "the stupid mistake" of writing off Marquez’s chances, but he rates the Spaniard’s title chances as "difficult."
Although swamped by an impressive Honda 1-2 in Germany, Rossi clinched an important third place to extend his title lead over Yamaha teammate Lorenzo to 13 points. Marquez trails Rossi by 64 points and his massive task challenge is that he must catch not one, but two of the fastest and confident riders in MotoGP.
"For Marc to catch two riders – me and Jorge – makes it more difficult for sure. But not impossible when you have a lot of races to go, anything can happen," Rossi said. "Marc has gone back to his chassis from last year and this is a help for him, psychologically and also technically, so I think he will be very competitive from now to the end.
"For this reason he is not completely out of the championship. But it is also true that our Yamaha M1 is very good, better than last year, with some tracks coming up where it will be very competitive. So we can fight more with Marc. For this reason it is difficult for Marc because the distance (in points) is big but it is not finished."
While Rossi notes Marquez’s midseason surge with his second win of the season in Germany, it is Lorenzo who remains his immediate focus. And crucially Rossi plans to maintain the momentum he established by finishing ahead of Lorenzo at the Sachsenring.
"To arrive in front of Jorge in Germany was very important because I extend three points on him and have a small advantage at the end of the first part of the championship," Rossi said. "I am happy but I know that the battle will be very hard in the second half. And we don’t want to make the stupid mistake not to think about Marquez for the championship.
"He is quite far now but second half he will be very strong. But first we can enjoy the holidays and a little bit of relax with this good podium in Germany."
At his best, Honda star Marquez can apply fearsome pressure with a string of wins but so too can the Yamaha pair who have won seven out of nine races so far.