A groundswell of support for under-fire Italian rider Valentino Rossi has led the championship leader to vow to fight on in the season’s final race, the MotoGP of Valencia, on November 8.
The swashbuckling nine-time world champion was sanctioned in Malaysia on Sunday for kicking defending champion Marc Marquez off his bike.
That means he has to start the race from the back of the grid and, should his chief rival Jorge Lorenzo win, Rossi must come second to clinch the title.
But Rossi insists he is the victim of a Spanish plot.
Claiming that Marquez, out of the running after a broken wrist during the season, had achieved his aim of hassling him with his “dirty game”, helping his compatriot Jorge Lorenzo get the upper hand in the battle for the 2015 world title.
But on Italian social media, sports stars have leapt to Rossi’s support.
The veteran speed king had allowed doubts to linger over his participation at Valencia with his comments over a Spanish plot against him.
“Reading all your messages has allowed me to overcome my bitterness and anger and today, we’ll be starting work on Valencia! Thanks for all your support,” Rossi wrote on Twitter.
Italian Rugby Union International Mirco Bergamasco said on his Twitter account it had been a dubious move from Rossi, but suggested he’d taken pleasure from watching the incident as Marquez got what was coming.
Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini wrote on his Twitter account: “A thought for Valentino Rossi. I hope he wins the title.”
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi even called him from Latin America to encourage him.
Meanwhile Yamaha have launched an appeal on the grid decision.
“The championship is not over yet but this sanction cut me off by the legs,” said Rossi.
He called the punishment unfair, saying Marquez is “making me lose the championship”.
Spain’s Dani Pedrosa cruised to victory in Malaysia while Lorenzo, who is aiming for his third MotoGP crown, seized second place, followed by Rossi.
Lorenzo and Rossi have a history of tense relations, which erupted again following the Sepang clash.
The Spaniard said the popular Rossi should have been punished even more severely but that his superstar status shielded him. – Agence France-Presse