Marquez bemused by aggressive Rossi actions, denies tailgating him

Marc Marquez says Valentino Rossi had spoiled his own San Marino MotoGP qualifying lap before he passed, is left bemused by rival’s aggressive response

Marc Marquez - Repsol Honda

Marc Marquez says he is perplexed as to why Valentino Rossi came back at him with an aggressive and compromising overtake during qualifying for the San Marino MotoGP, denying he was intentionally following him for a fast lap.

In a premise reminiscent of their controversial 2015 Malaysian MotoGP incident, Marquez is seen to be making a fast pass with little room for error on Rossi as he attempted to complete his fast final Q2 lap, though he’d end up running wide onto the run-off which would have had his time deleted anyway.

Having caught Rossi unawares, the Italian responded with a more aggressive block pass a few corners later which led both to sit-up, and which has duly incurred the interest of stewards. 

Speaking to reporters afterwards, Marquez – who is known for his tactic of tailgating, much to the chagrin of some riders - was quick to insist he wasn’t following Rossi for a tow or reference.

Indeed, Marquez insists the Italian had already spoiled his lap by running wide before he caught up with him and wasn’t on a ‘flyer’, though he was still riding ‘fast but not super fast’ on the racing line.

What did Marc Marquez say about Rossi incident?

"At first I didn’t understand what happened because that kind of overtake in qualifying practice is a little bit strange," our sister publication reports, click for full transcript. "I don’t know what the intention was, you must ask him. 

“But anyway, I will explain from the beginning to be clear because people will say 'he was following again Valentino' but it was not like this.

"I went out from the box on my last run and, you check, I was completely alone. Then when I arrived at the back straight Valentino was waiting or riding very slow and then I just stopped behind him, because of course I was in front of him in the timesheets and my intention was not to push until my last lap.

"We started the last lap, I put some gap between us. Then when we went out from Turn Six he touched the green so his lap was cancelled. Then I saw he was riding fast, but not super fast. Then I had the chance to overtake on the back straight.

"It's true that then in the fast corner I touched the green, but I only saw on the TV [after] because on the bike I didn't realise. So I kept pushing, but then we arrived at Turn 14, I just go in and I saw one black-and-yellow bike arriving very fast on the inside with a speed that was impossible to turn the corner.

"Lucky for me I was able to avoid the crash, this was a good reaction. And the second reaction with my hand, I want to be clear that it was not to say 'sorry' it was just to say, 'what's going on here?' because I didn't understand.

"But anyway, the best thing for me is that this time I was able to avoid the crash."

Does Valentino Rossi deserve a penalty?

If Marquez’s version of events is correct with regards to Rossi being on the racing line but not on a fast lap – and telemetry will no doubt reveal all – then it stands to reason that he was at fault even before you take his rather bold response into account. 

But then we’re on Rossi’s home turf and Marquez himself – somewhat passively aggressively – points out he isn’t a threat to him, so it’s possible a ‘suspended penalty’ could be employed. Then again the stewards may feel compelled to make an example of him given his status. 

“I don’t care because he's not a contender for the championship. I don’t know and I will not lose time to push for a penalty. It's not my decision."

In the end, neither are particularly winners. Marquez may have gotten onto the front row but probably didn’t have the pace to challenge the Yamahas, while Rossi apparently had already lost his lap so would have managed no higher than seventh on a day his team-mate took pole position.