Italian MotoGP star Valentino Rossi has revved up his rivalry with Marc Marquez on the cusp of the new season by cutting all ties with the Spaniard amid accusations of betrayal and lies in a fiery end to last season.
“After what happened we could never have personal relations. Not in the slightest,” Rossi slammed in a report in Gazetta dello Sport on Friday.
In an interview that was also reported in Spanish media, nine-time world champion Rossi claims he felt “betrayed” and “lied” to by Marquez, whom the Italian has claimed was one of two Spaniards that helped Rossi’s own teammate, Jorge Lorenzo, clinch the title by five points at Valencia last November.
Yamaha rider Rossi had seen his titles hopes crushed before the finale when he was forced to start from the back of the grid as punishment for his role in a controversial collision with Marquez in the penultimate race of the season in Sepang, Malaysia, where Rossi was accused of kicking Marquez off his bike as the pair jostled for position on a bend.
Rossi, who fought his way through the field to finish fourth at the final race after failing to get past Lorenzo and Honda riders Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, later accused the Spanish trio of a cosy agreement to stitch up the result.
Now, on the cusp of the Italian’s 21st season and 17th in motorcycling’s king category, Rossi claims he felt “done over” by Marquez.
Asked if he “over-estimated” the Honda star, Rossi said: “More than anything I got done over by him. He really betrayed me. He came here telling me he was a fan of mine, but it was all bullshit.
“I almost believed him… but from him it was all lies.”
Rossi said relations with Marquez changed after he won at Assen, where on June 21 Marquez suffered a rare podium flop. But he believes the pair can still show mutual respect, at least out on the track.
“At Assen, I understood he would only be friendly to me if he beat me,” said Rossi.
“But we still have to be rivals on the track, for a few years hopefully, and that’s where both of us should be showing our respect. That will be important.”
Rossi, 37, said he is hopeful of “continuing” in thesport and with Yamaha “for another couple of years”. If so, it would dispel claims that this would be his final season.
“Although I’m starting to have a few white hairs,” he said, before outlining plans for a future in motorsport.
“At 39 years old, I could still have 10 years on four wheels in front of me, doing fascinating races like Le Mans and the Dakar (Rally).”
His outburst at Marquez mean fans can likely expect fireworks over the upcoming, 18-race season.
But it comes less than two months after already tense relations with Yamaha teammate Lorenzo were further strained.
“I’ve always respected Jorge Lorenzo, he’s respected me a little less. Let’s hope the respect will be mutual this (coming) season,” Rossi said in January.
Yet when the engines start to roar next week in Qatar (March 20), Rossi believes it is Lorenzo, more than Marquez, who will be his biggest threat in his quest for a 10th crown in Valencia this November.
“At the moment, I would say it’s (more) Lorenzo,” he said. – Agence France-Presse