After a history-making weekend of qualifying featuring ultra-fast speeds, unpredictable weather conditions and a couple of incredible saves, the field of 33 for the…
Five races remain in the 2015 MotoGP season. Five races standing between Valentino Rossi and a remarkable 10th World Motorcycle Championship, and an eighth in the premier Grand Prix class.
Rossi leads the championship by 23 points from Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo, with reigning champ Marc Marquez a long shot in third place following a string of retirements in 2015.
Many questioned whether Rossi, now 36 years of age, had another championship in him given the rise of the likes of Marquez and Lorenzo, and Rossi’s own title drought stretching back to 2009.
It seemed that Rossi’s time had come and gone and he simply couldn’t compete anymore, given his unsuccessful stint at Ducati and inability to match the pace of Lorenzo on the same bike.
Yet Rossi has been reborn under new engineer Silvano Galbusera, who replaced long-time crew chief Jeremy Burgess, winning more races so far this season than in the last four.
Can he win it in 2015? Marquez should be in the mix to win a few races, taking points away from Lorenzo and helping Rossi maintain that gap. Rossi had finished on the podium in every race before his fifth place at Misano last weekend, so even if he doesn’t have the outright pace of Marquez or Lorenzo, he has the consistency to wrap it up.
If, for example, Marquez wins the remaining five races, Rossi can shadow Lorenzo in third place and still claim the championship. Let’s not forget, too, that there are some Rossi-friendly circuits remaining on the calendar, including the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island, where the Italian won last season.
Rossi’s second coming undoubtedly helps his case for greatest motorcycle racer of all-time status. An eighth MotoGP world championship would draw him level with Giacomo Agostini for the most premier class titles.
And though he would still be behind Agostini and Ángel Nieto in terms of total championships across all classes, they raced in an era when riders competed in more than one category in the same season.
Rossi is without doubt in the mix of the greatest of all-time debate. Even though the risk factor was so much higher in the Agostini era, the competition is far greater in the modern era.
Perhaps most impressive in the rejuvenation of Rossi is his age relative to his rivals; 14 years older than Marquez, a longevity that’s remarkable in a sport where injuries are so common.
The next event on the calendar could be decisive for Rossi, the Aragon Grand Prix, and another home event for Marquez and Lorenzo. Rossi is yet to win at the circuit, with a win apiece for the Spaniards.
If he can limit the damage with a podium and bank some solid points before flyaway races in Japan, Australia and Malaysia, the 10th title will be looking more secure by the time they head to the season finale in Valencia.
An unlikely title that will add so much to Rossi’s legend.