Honda team boss Puig: “Rossi cannot accept that his time is over
According to Alberto Puig Marc Marquez never acted maliciously against Valentino Rossi – Rossi has difficulty accepting that he is no longer the yardstick
With a total of nine world championship titles and 115 Grand Prix victories, Valentino Rossi is a legend in motorcycle racing. Particularly at the beginning of the millennium, the Italian was the undisputed MotoGP king. In recent years Marc Marquez has taken over the reins. Since 2010 the Spaniard has won seven World Championship titles, five of them in the premier class. On and off the track during this time, there were a number of disputes between the two exceptional champions.
Honda team boss Alberto Puig, himself a former motorcycle racer, believes that Rossi has difficulty accepting that he is no longer the yardstick. “Valentino was an incredible rider, he has my utmost respect. At his age, he still has the desire and talent to be fast. He doesn’t accept not to win,” Puig told ‘La Vanguardia’. “But it’s hard for him to accept that his time is over.”
Puig refers to statements Rossi made to the media. After Australia in 2015 he accused Marquez of helping Jorge Lorenzo in the title fight and interfering. Then came the famous #SepangClash in Malaysia. At the beginning of 2018 the next hot scene between the two took place in Argentina. Marquez tried an aggressive overtaking manoeuvre, pushed Rossi off the ideal line and then fell.
Marquez went to the Yamaha pit after the race and tried to apologise, but Rossi’s buddy Uccio Salucci sent the Spaniard away again. Then Rossi told journalists that Marquez was “destroying the sport” and that he “didn’t feel safe” to be on the track with him. In Misano, Rossi rejected a handshake offer from Marquez at the press conference.
Puig: Marquez doesn’t care about opinions from Rossi’s environment
Puig does not agree with Rossi’s behaviour next to the track: “Sometimes he does not use the right methods. I’ve never seen Marquez off the track doing anything malicious against Rossi. They were always racing incidents. I respect Rossi, but there are always phases in life. You may like that or not, but Marc is now number 1. The opinions from Rossi’s environment don’t bother him at all. On the contrary, we have seen weaknesses in her actions.”
Just as Rossi has dominated the track over the past decade, Marquez dominates the current decade. Five World Championship titles in six years of MotoGP speak for themselves. If his series continues, he could soon have collected just as many WRC titles as Rossi. And in Grand Prix victories, the Spaniard has already reached 70 in all classes. According to Puig, Marquez comes very close to the definition of a “perfect racer”.
“Marc doesn’t act like a superstar and doesn’t try to pretend to be someone he’s not. He has the modesty to listen and learn. On the bike he’s a real killer, that’s how it should be,” Puig says. “He’s a machine programmed to go full throttle. He can save situations with his elbow and knee, he accepts more risk than others – so I don’t believe in luck. He tries at every moment to understand what he has to do. That’s why he’s the best.”