We’ve seen some fierce rivalries down the years and with competition levels hitting new heights, get ready for more this season
Motorcycle racing, like many other great sports, is defined by many aspects. Clashes are certainly one of them. We’ve seen some scintillating fights between two or more riders down the years at many a circuit and with competition levels reaching new heights recently, we can expect plenty more heated battles in 2021. We’re going to take a look at some of the most famous clashes we’ve seen in MotoGP™.
Not all clashes end in disagreements in parc ferme – some do of course – but all have the power to get you sitting on the edge of your seat, with your heart racing, shouting at the TV screen or from trackside as some of the world’s best athletes go head-to-head. Sometimes there’s drama, other times it’s racing at it’s purest. But every time, it’s simply incredible.
One of the most famous clashes is Valentino Rossi vs Sete Gibernau in Jerez, 2005. Italy vs Spain, Yamaha vs Honda, tensions through the roof. Jerez has played host to numerous classic encounters and the now-named Jorge Lorenzo Corner – the final left-hander – lends itself perfectly to a final lap lunge.
That’s exactly what Rossi did to Gibernau after the pair had scrapped it out for the entire race. The latter led into the last corner, Rossi dived up the inside, the two touched, Gibernau was forced into the gravel as Rossi took the spoils. A clash for the ages.
We’ll stick with the same corner for the next one. Eight years later, Yamaha vs Honda went head-to-head again at the Spanish Grand Prix. This time at the controls, it was Jorge Lorenzo and rookie sensation Marc Marquez. Dani Pedrosa was further up the road to seal the victory, but the scrap for second was fierce.
Two-time premier class World Champion Lorenzo vs new kid on the block Marquez, Rossi vs Gibernau take two. Marquez slammed it up the inside of compatriot Lorenzo, the two made contact, Marquez finished P2 and third place Lorenzo showed his frustration with Marquez in parc ferme. The two produced another stunner later on in the year at Silverstone. This time, Lorenzo emerged with bragging rights.
Reversing through the years again now and how can we go through some of the archives and not recall Estoril 2006? As far as it goes in motorsport racing, this one had everything. A Championship fight that was going to the wire, crushing despair and the unlikeliest of winners in a photo finish.
Repsol Honda’s Nicky Hayden was on the cusp of realising a dream – becoming MotoGP™ World Champion. But, the late, great American still had to contend with the challenge of incumbent Champion Rossi, then sporting the bright yellow of Camel Yamaha Team. Victory could have sealed the title for the Kentucky Kid but instead, in a cruel twist of fate, he was taken out early on Lap 5 by his own teammate, Pedrosa.
The dramatic crash handed the Championship initiative to the Italian, but the race was far from over. The ever so unfancied Toni Elias had the race of his life to hunt the six in a row title-chasing Rossi, and following an epic last-lap battle, stole the win on the run to the line for the second-closest finish in MotoGP™ history, and for his only ever victory in the premier class.
The price of finishing second proved costly for Rossi, as he missed out on five crucial Championship points, and would eventually lose out on the title by five points. A truly unforgettable race.
We can’t talk about clashes without mentioning Sepang 2015. With just two Grand Prix to go in the season, it was a face-off between fierce rivals and teammates Lorenzo and Rossi for the crown. The race in Malaysia was won by Pedrosa, with Lorenzo P2 and Rossi rounding out the podium. However, that isn’t what the race is remembered for.
Rossi vs Marc Marquez reached fever pitch in Sepang as the duo epically jostled it out in the opening exchanges of the race before the pair came together at Turn 14. Relive the moment for yourself below!
Marc Marquez vs Andrea Dovizioso was a rivalry that treated us to some unreal races in the last few years, the first of which came at Austria’s Red Bull Ring in 2017 when the pair went toe-to-toe in the title race. Last corner, last lap – it doesn’t get better than that. Marquez lost out to Lorenzo’s Ducati the following year, with Dovizioso repeating his 2017 success in another 2019 barnstormer in Austria.
After the Italian rider took a sensational win in Losail, we look back at the 2017 Austrian Grand Prix
Let’s turn our attention to 2019’s Thai GP. Rookie sensation Fabio Quartararo was aiming to cement his first win in the premier class and led for the entirety of the race, but he was shadowed all the way by Champion-elect Marc Marquez. Once more, it all came down to the final corner.
Quartararo chucked his Yamaha up the inside of Marquez’s Honda, both got the back wheels hopping, and the Frenchman almost made the move stick. However, Quartararo would have to settle for P2 as Marquez powered back past the Yamaha to win the race – and his latest World Championship title.
2020 also produced some epic clashes. The final corner in Styria and Joan Mir passing Rossi on the last lap at Misano to grab a podium is two, but we’re going to single out Franco Morbidelli vs Jack Miller at the Valencia GP. Four overtakes for the lead on the final lap eventually saw Morbidelli claim his third win of the season, with Miller crossing the line 0.093s behind his rival. – www.motogp.com