It was dry. Then it rained. Then it stopped. The riders all switched bikes twice during the race. At one point, the cameras picked out huge chunks of tire flying off the front wheels of several bikes calling into question the sanity of the riders. All in all, the 2015 San Marino MotoGP Grand Prix was filled with one drama after another, not least in the final results.
The race began as so many have this year, with the three contenders lined up on the front row, then firing off into the distance as a fast procession for the first ten laps. Jorge Lorenzo, a man that is extremely difficult to beat once at the front, did get challenged and passed by the rejuvenated Marc Marquez once, but the Yamaha factory man quickly beat him back. Meanwhile, Valentino Rossi, who lives 5km down the road from the Misano track they were racing on, got caught in to some early tussles with Dani Pedrosa falling back to a distant third.
Then it started to rain.
By the twelfth lap it was clear that the weather was going to force a bike change onto rain tires, which was when all three leaders piled into pits at the same time. They exited moments later but Rossi had lost one place and several seconds to Lorenzo and Marquez. The 9 times world champion then started what would amount to a 15 lap charge that stunned everyone watching, as he, Rossi, would come from behind to set fastest lap after fastest lap, taking third then second place away from Marquez, and finally, passing teammate Lorenzo for the lead. The three MotoGP multi world champions rode each according to their character, Rossi with tactical experience; Lorenzo with measured speed; and Marquez by sheer determination, passing and re-passing each other for a couple of laps.
But then it stopped raining and the track dried out.
The cameras showed, in slow motion, that both Rossi and Lorenz’s front tires were utterly ruined with ragged edges and great chunks of rubber sheering off in strips with each turn of the wheel. But as the entire field re entered pits to change back onto slick dry tires, Rossi and Lorenzo ignored their own pit crews orders to come in and remained on the track in seriously degraded rain tires.
By the last 8 laps, riders on slicks were lapping up to 10 seconds faster than the leaders on the rain tires, but astonishingly they stayed out lap after lap. The battle for the race was clearly no longer as important as the battle Rossi was waging against his teammate Lorenzo for the world championship. Lorenzo, at one point four seconds behind Rossi in second, decided to switch to slicks but again Rossi remained out, losing massive chunks of time to the rest of the field, including a charging Marquez, and Bradley Smith.
Rossi pitted a lap later, re-entering the race in 5th place, but crucially, ahead of Lorenzo. Then, only moments after Rossi exited the pit lane Lorenzo crashed in a fast high side, perhaps having gone too fast on his first lap on new tires. With this development, Rossi backed off knowing he was able to extend his lead in the championship just by cruising home.
Marc Marquez, after a season filled with bad judgment calls and unforced errors, won by using his head and keeping his cool, and was followed onto the podium by British youngsters Bradley Smith and Scott Reading, who enjoyed their first podiums.
Rossi finished 5th, and now leads the 2015 world championship by 23 points with only 5 rounds remaining.
|1||25||93||Marc MARQUEZ||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||146.6||48’23.819|
|2||20||38||Bradley SMITH||GBR||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||146.3||+7.288|
|3||16||45||Scott REDDING||GBR||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||Honda||145.7||+18.793|
|4||13||76||Loris BAZ||FRA||Forward Racing||Yamaha Forward||145.3||+26.427|
|5||11||46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||145.0||+33.196|
|6||10||9||Danilo PETRUCCI||ITA||Octo Pramac Racing||Ducati||144.9||+35.087|
|7||9||29||Andrea IANNONE||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||144.8||+36.527|
|8||8||4||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||144.8||+37.434|
|9||7||26||Dani PEDROSA||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||144.7||+39.516|
|10||6||41||Aleix ESPARGARO||SPA||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||144.7||+39.692|