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Rossi & Lorenzo: the tough task of number 2 riders

With Rossi's (presumed) return at Aragon, Yamaha, and Ducati too, will have to start thinking/worrying about team orders

Rossi & Lorenzo: the tough task of number 2 riders


Mathematically there are still five riders in the fight for the title: Marquez, Dovizioso, Vinales, Rossi and Pedrosa. In that very order.

In reality, though, only the first three will battle it out during the final phase that kicks off on Sunday at Aragon, in Spain, continues with the three long-haul races and then concludes with the showdown at Valencia.

It's not just a matter of maths: Pedrosa, -49 points from the front, is in fact the second rider for team HRC that has always focused on Marquez. The situation is more complicated for Yamaha and Ducati though, as they have top riders of the caliber of Valentino Rossi (-42), who plans to get back on his bike this weekend in Spain having missed the Misano race, and Jorge Lorenzo (-109) who cannot simply be asked to help their team-mates.

The evidence? Just ten days ago, Lorenzo stated, despite also claiming his loyalty to the Ducati cause, that his main aim is to win a race before the end of the year. So.... even if this means finishing ahead of Dovizioso. Thus taking away precious championship points.

There is also one problem that the two-wheeled world has never dealt with. While in F.1 there has been talk about what is and isn't allowed in terms of helping a team-mate - remember the controversy about the encoded radio messages? - the subject has never even come up in motorcycling.

ENCODED MESSAGES - a pity because today, with the possibility of being able to send messages to a rider's dashboard, it would be easy to disguise an order to surrender one's position as a simple warning. And it would be a lot less visible than a pit board. A board that also, in most cases, has been simply ignored by the TV cameras (just ask Loris Baz with reference to his Superbike days).

This is a serious problem for Ducati and Yamaha. And both manufacturers are giving it serious thought, even if riders and managers claim that “it's not yet come up”.

The reality is very different. A rider's title goes far beyond the often immeasurable ego of the riders.
What do you think about the fact that, after the F.1 chaos at Singapore, Maurizio Arrivabene won't give Kimi Raikkonen any specific orders in future, leaving him free, if you will, to even bother Sebastian Vettel or finish ahead of him?
We're not joking.

For Ferrari, just as for Ducati and Yamaha, the brand comes before the rider.
But there is a but. And this comes down to the egocentricity of the champions.

SENNA'S 'GIFT' TO BERGER - Remember Ayrton Senna in 1991 at Suzuka?
It was the penultimate race of the year, the title was as good as his and it had been 'suggested' that he let his team-mate (and friend) Gerhard Berger take the win. And what did he do? He dominated the race, before blatantly slowing his McLaren-Honda on the final lap to allow the Austrian past before following him across the line.

This is why Lin Jarvis and Gigi Dall’Igna will have a problem on their hands from now until the end of the season.
For Gigi, though, it may actually be quite simple: he would just need Jorge to win at Aragon, giving him that taste of being the first Desmosedici across the line. Jorge has already won twice at the track, in 2014 and 2015. If he could do that, we think the Spaniard would then happily give way to Dovi.

But what is Jarvis to do with Valentino, who aims at the very least to win as many races as possible before the end of the year, if not finish ahead of team-mate Maverick Vinales?

...AND VALE'S TO LORENZO - You'll remember 2010, when Valentino came back after the Mugello incident?
The Japanese GP: with Lorenzo already fighting for the title, Vale snatched third place from him after a thrilling duel.
Let's get ready for a thrilling championship finale...

 

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