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GP Week : Issue 211
24 GPWEEK.com // 24 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: Clichés are clichés for a good reason. They reflect the truth. One of them has dogged Marquez throughout this season, gathering momentum as he scooped up win after win ... the only person who can beat him is himself. He’s done so twice now, at the past two races. And while two successive race crashes (his first since Mugello, back on the second of June last year) thwarted his hopes of securing his second championship in front of his home crowd at Aragon; he is still on target for another record. He has two more races to make himself impregnable, and should he do so he will knock the previous youngest-ever World Champion Freddie Spencer down another place, winning his second title still at a younger age than the American hero of the Golden Age. Marc’s Misano crash was the first evidence of vaulting over- ambition perhaps since his Moto2 days. A quirk of the track for once favoured the Yamahas, and Rossi in particular had found electronic and machine setting that meant he was even able to overtake the Honda on the straight. This is normally unthinkable, but here the Yamaha’s usual higher corner speed for once translated into a faster corner exit. Marc slipped off trying to keep up, perhaps fooled by his own perception of invulnerability. The Aragon error was a very different affair. You could see it in a variety of ways: ranging from an example of pure hubris overcoming common sense to one of raw courage in the face of increasingly overwhelming odds. Doesn’t matter ... the result was the same, and had not his closest title rival, Repsol Honda team- mate Dani Pedrosa, succumbed to the same delusion, Marc would have made it a lot harder to amass the points advantage he requires to create another little bit of youthful history. Both the factory Honda riders admitted it was their mistake, making the wrong decision in very tricky circumstances. All had started the 23-lapper on slick tyres, with the drizzle already spotting. It stayed that way for most of the race, then started to rain harder round about two thirds distance, first just at one point but as the laps counted down more heavily and over the whole track. Open-class hero Aleix Espargaro was the first to pit, and his reward was second place. But the Honda riders did the mental arithmetic differently. Lap times were not much slower than they would be on wet tyres, at first anyway, and with just five laps to go, the loss of 25 seconds (Dani’s estimate) would be impossible to make up. The longer they continued to tip-toe around the worse the penalty of stopping became. At the same time, the track got wetter, the puddles got bigger, and their slick tyres got colder. The likelihood of crashing grew geometrically. In hindsight, both looked increasingly silly, as their speed dropped, and the ultimate crash became increasingly inevitable. Had it worked the other way, each would have looked heroic. The margins between hero and zero can be very small. In the end, Lorenzo, who had gambled on stopping, took his first win of the year; but in truth there was only one winner – Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, who had not been obliged to make any decisions at all. By luck, the tension of the World Championship battle had just become at least one race longer. hUbris, and hOW it prOlOnGed the chaMpiOnship OPINION OPINION MotoGP MICHAEL SCOTT