Pit Stop – Senor Marquez – By Lewis Brearley

A staccato wag of the finger from a double world champion is the kind of gesture which would have most rookies wetting the bed.

But Senor Marquez is no ordinary rookie is he?

The new, young, Spanish sensation received dismissals from Jorge Lorenzo both in the waiting pen after the race and on the podium after his successive attempts to apologise for his act of last-corner aggression. In response, Marquez coolly shrugged his shoulders and flashed his trademark boyish smile.

He knew he’d run the tightrope of racing etiquette and he knew also that he had got away with it. Riders up and down the grid expressed their acknowledgment of the aggressiveness of the move but they all hinted that they’d probably have done the same thing had they been in the same position.

Valentino Rossi, the seven time champion of the world was one of these riders. It would have been hypocritical, however, if Rossi was to criticise Marquez for the incident after Rossi’s eerily similar antics at the same corner in 2005.

When Jerez hosted the season opening grand prix in 2005, Rossi barged his arch nemesis Sete Gibernau at the last corner to take a controversial victory at Gibernau’s home race no less. However, it’s hard to use this as a guide to how the Lorenzo-Marquez relationship will progress as Rossi and Gibernau were already giving each other the silent treatment way before their Jerez incident.

The refusal of Lorenzo to accept the offered apology signals an aggrievement with the man who was already known as an aggressive rider before he made the step up to MotoGP and who’s success may just be getting to Lorenzo.

Marquez is ahead of every other rookie to ever grace the sport in the speed of his success; he even leads the championship, thanks indeed to the Lorenzo clash.

But enough with the history and the symbolism, what about the events of the race itself?

This season is certainly providing the big battles for the lead long deemed to have been missing from the sport. Lorenzo passed Dani Pedrosa at turn 2 to retake the lead after being outdragged into the first turn by Pedrosa on his Honda. For the next few laps as Lorenzo edged out a gap and his team mate Rossi battled with Marquez, it looked like the Yamaha was the machine to be riding.

Yet as the race progressed the Yamahas slipped back and the Hondas got faster. Pedrosa passed Lorenzo for the lead and pulled away comfortably all the way to the chequered flag.

For those who had already written off Pedrosa’s championship prospects and established a new role for him as Marquez’s number two, the commanding Jerez win was certainly a wake-up call.

Pedrosa showed everyone, after a disappointing start to the season, that the glorious speed which almost took him to his first world title last year remains intact.

With Rossi looking a fading superstar clinging with gritted teeth to the new generation, a three horse race for the championship looks imminent. However bad mannered it may become, it’s certainly going to be compulsive viewing.

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