MotoGP Malaysia: Rossi accuses Marquez of helping Lorenzo.

Valentino Rossi sent a shockwave through the pre-event press conference in Malaysia by accusing outgoing MotoGP champion Marc Marquez of helping the Italian's title rival Jorge Lorenzo. Rossi starts this weekend's penultimate Sepang round with a reduced 11-point lead over his Yamaha team-mate after Lorenzo finished second and Rossi fourth in Sunday's thrilling Australian MotoGP. Marquez, Lorenzo, Rossi and Andrea Iannone were covered by just one-second at Phillip Island - Marquez snatching victory from Lorenzo on the final lap, while Rossi lost out to Iannone. The race has been universally praised, with no less than 52 passes between the lead quartet. But after watching the action back on TV, Rossi declared that Marquez had been “playing” with them and even labelled him as "Jorge's new supporter”. The Doctor paused often to smile between each sentence, but never looked at Marquez and his words appeared carefully chosen: 

“If we have another race like Phillip Island we have to speak with him, with Marquez, because during the race it was more difficult to understand, but after when I saw the race later it was very clear that he play with us very much," Rossi said. 

“Because mainly I think that his target is not just to win the race, but also help Lorenzo to go far and try to take more points on me. So I think that from Phillip Island it is very clear that Jorge has a new supporter! That is Marc. 

“So this changes a lot, because for sure Marc has the potential to go away alone [at the front] and maybe for sure can be another type of race.” 

Rossi then leaned back from the microphone, glancing briefly at Lorenzo on his right hand side (who had been stroking his chin whilst listening to Rossi). Again Rossi did not look at Marquez, who was sat smiling on his left, and instead reached for a drink. 

Asked if he felt Marquez had helped him, Lorenzo quipped: “Yeah, mainly on the last lap.” 

But Iannone agreed with Rossi that Marquez had been “playing” with the pace, although he stopped short of suggesting a reason. 

“It was an incredible race for sure. I also think Marc played with us! Because after 15 laps, after corner five, going really slow and I pass him easily. But I don't know why. For sure [he] have a really good pace and if it was a strategy, I don't know.” 

Then came Marquez's turn to respond: “Of course no. Of course I did my race and in fact if I want to help Lorenzo I wouldn't pass him on the last lap, not push to the limit and not take the risk. I don't why they say [that]. 

“I've already said and also we saw on the data that the Honda is pushing a lot the front tyre and at that race it was the softest compound we have. I was struggling a lot doing 27 laps in a row. It's true that I tried to manage well the tyre and that in the middle of the race I tried to push and open a gap, and it was not possible. 

“But you already know that my race [strategy] will never be push [flat out] from the beginning to the end in first position. I did my best. I did the best race for my team and the most important for me is that we won. 

“Of course sometimes you try to manage the race, but I just will help [another rider] if it is my team-mate. If it's not my team-mate I will push for the victory. ” 

The once cuddly Rossi-Marquez relationship has already been soured by this year's clashes at Argentina and Assen. But with the Honda rider out of title contention most expected Rossi to focus his formidable on- and off-track attention purely on Lorenzo. 

So why did Rossi choose to bring Marquez into the battle? 

Perhaps, already suspicious that Marquez harbours a grudge from their earlier clashes and aware of the huge role the #93 could play in the title outcome, Rossi wanted to put the spotlight on the Spaniard. 

After today's words, Rossi knows that Marquez's every move will be closely examined for anything that could be interpreted as favouring Lorenzo in the last two rounds. 


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