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How long until Marquez kills somebody?

Posted By Ray Tubbs, Thursday, April 12, 2018

Nevermind that Marc Marquez clearly broke a simple rule before the race in Argentina even started by riding the wrong direction on the grid.

When Marquez forced Aleix Espargaro off the track in Lap 9, he should have been black flagged immediately. Even for a rider of his skill, there was little chance of a successful pass given the track conditions. Marquez hit Espargaro, plain and simple, and it was entirely due to Marquez being overly aggressive - which has become his thing in the last year.

That contact cost him a position, but what kind of penalty is that for Marquez? Marquez can make up a position in his sleep. He should have been disqualified for causing danger to the life of another racer.


Marquez crashing another racer named Espargaro, in this case Pol, in Moto2 in 2012. (unattributed photo)

What Marquez did to Valentino Rossi in Lap 20 mirrors what he did to Espargaro. Same turn. Same ill-advised attempt to pass. Only this time, he wasn't satisfied with the contact and forced Rossi off the track completely, causing the nine-time-champ to crash in the grass.

When Marquez wasn't black-flagged following that incident, I knew at that moment that MotoGP officials are too weak to do anything about Marquez. The problem is that they may not do anything at all until Marquez puts somebody in the hospital, or worse, kills another rider with his irresponsible behavior on the track.

Penalties are not enough. Marquez should be barred from winning the championship this season. Repsol Honda certainly isn't going to step up and discipline their rider, so MotoGP should take the measure of punishing Marquez.

They won't, though. The four-time reigning champ? They'll do nothing. The penalties inflicted on him on Sunday were barely even slaps on the wrist, costing him points for one race.

Marquez claims he hit a wet patch and locked his front brakes to avoid crashing. That may indeed be the case - the track *was* wet for part of the day, after all. However, Marquez's behavior up to that point was already established as dangerous, if not reckless, and he knew what he was doing when he dived in to go under Rossi. The wet patch is nothing but an excuse.

Marquez's irresponsibility and poor choices on the track are going to get somebody seriously hurt or killed if he's not reined in.

Having said all that, Rossi needs to quit crying about it and remember that he has won MotoGP championships NINE TIMES. He is a world class rider, even if he is past his prime this season. He has been antagonizing Marquez for three years (ever since Rossi bested him by finishing 2nd to Marquez's 3rd in the 2015 season), so it's no surprise that Marquez lashed out like he did. That doesn't excuse Marquez, and I'm not blaming the victim here, but come on, Rossi - man up and complain not to the press, but to MotoGP officials.

I can understand why Rossi refused Marquez's apology after the race, though. I wouldn't have accepted it, either. Marquez has been behaving poorly for more than just this race, and Rossi seems to be the target of his aggression on a number of occasions.

Rossi has already threatened to quit this season if "things don't go well." I never thought I'd hear him say something like that, but he will be 41 years old when his freshly-signed contract extension expires in two years. Maybe he's too old for MotoGP now.


The immediate aftermath of Marquez's behavior in Argentina. (photo by MotoGP)

Both Marquez and Rossi are posing for the cameras now. Maybe their long games are more about legacy and less about racing. It must suck to be Rossi and know that you'll probably never win another championship. It must also suck to be Marquez and know that even with four championships in place, racers like Rossi still don't respect you.

Marquez hasn't been DQ'd since Australia in 2013, when he missed his pit window. As a matter of fact, only two riders have since been DQ'd: Hector Barbera, who earned a DQ in Austria in 2016 and Germany in 2017 for screwing up ride-through penalties, and Alex Rins, who got his DQ in Malaysia in 2017 for not entering pit lane properly after a crash.

Note that these disqualifications - black flags - are all for procedural errors. Until MotoGP starts black flagging riders for overly aggressive and outright dangerous riding, racers like Marquez will continue to escalate, eventually seriously injuring or killing somebody.

Maybe Marquez is simply too young to remember the on-track death of Marco Simoncelli in 2011. Simoncelli was an aggressive rider like Marquez, so maybe Marquez remembers Simoncelli quite well and is hell-bent on emulating every aspect of Simoncelli's career - except for the winning four championships part, at any rate. Simoncelli only ran the top level of MotoGP for two years, but they were controversial years.

To wrap up: Marquez needs to be black flagged until he gets himself under control, and Rossi needs to quit crying and speak to Marquez in the only language he seems to understand - by handing him defeats on the track.

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