In a moment of madness Valentino Rossi concedes he has virtually thrown away his bid for a tenth world championship
when he lost his nerve in a brutal battle with Marc Marquez in the Malaysian Grand Prix.
The massive meltdown has ended the mutual hero worship with both Rossi and Marquez now savage in their condemnation of each other.
Relations between the pair are now at a sub-zero level of coolness.
The vicious rivalry was exposed during a tense four days at Sepang and reached a controversial climax when Rossi deliberately bumped Marquez out of the race.
Race Direction found Rossi guilty in a post-race hearing and he must now start the final race in Valencia from the rear of the grid.
Although he leads the championship by seven points Rossi concedes that the penalty makes it “quite impossible” to overhaul Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo at the final race in Valencia.
Rossi’s bizarre pre-race claim that Honda star Marquez was “acting like a child” and riding to assist Lorenzo win the championship infuriated Marquez.
As the pair staged a titanic duel in a breathtaking contest it was Rossi, for 20 years the master race strategist, who cracked first.
“Marquez has decided the championship, he made me lose it,” said Rossi.
“It will be very difficult now and to start from last in Valencia makes the championship quite impossible.”
Rossi and Marquez traded barbs after the race with Marquez, the 22 year old newbie superstar, was quick to say that Rossi, 36, had “lost control” in his now or never bid for a slice of MotoGP history.
Marquez claimed that after pushing him wide at turn 14 Rossi forced him to crash by hitting out with his left leg.
“For me, it doesn’t matter if you are Valentino or another rider in this type of incident you are out of control,” Marquez said.
“When you are a rider you know what is going on – to take off a leg and push another rider out, it is difficult how you can think this on the bike.
“I heard that the Yamaha was coming, I shut off a little bit and he stayed completely straight and he looked at me two times and I was thinking ‘what’s happening, what do I need to do’, and I stayed there.
“I didn’t expect that he would take off the leg and push my handlebars and my front brake. Then I lost the front and when I was in the floor I saw him look behind again.”
Rossi move to slow on purpose and carry Marquez wide and then looked to check that he had Marquez squeezed for room was incriminating evidence accruing to Race Director Mike Webb.
Rossi said he did not regret his personal attack on Marquez at the pre-race press conference when he infuriated the Spaniard with his claim of riding to assist the championship campaign of Lorenzo in the Australian Grand Prix.
This savage verballing of Marquez was the beginning of the meltdown and showed that Rossi had totally misjudged his uncompromising and bullet proof racing mentality.
“I do not regret it but the reality is that I made Marquez become more nervous and more angry; I made him react in a worse way,” Rossi said.
“But what can you do? If I had said nothing, I think he would have more or less done the same thing.
“I thought that if you say the truth, it would make him think a little bit more – but his reaction was the opposite. Maybe he prefers Jorge. But in the future now I will avoid him.
“Marquez is the only rider who tries impossible braking, to put you out of the track – then he gets angry.”
“I looked at Marquez five or six times in the first laps, I looked at him to say ‘what the fuck are you doing, why you do another time’ and it was the same at that corner,”
What became clear is that Rossi’s stinging attack that questioned Marquez’s character and ethics had cut deeply.
It forced Marquez to revise his pre-race observation that he still had respect for Rossi’s status and achievements in the sport.
“I have changed my mind on this and I think the mind of many other people has changed,” Marquez said after the race.