Something borrowed. Something blue… the words of the wedding rhyme have a special relevance for the 2015 MotoGP season. Something old? Well, that’s Valentino Rossi. He turned 36 in February—with nine championships and 108 Grand Prix wins—in his new luxury home near Misano.
The new thing is Marc Marquez. Just two premier-class seasons done, and he won both of them.
Borrowed? That’s tough. Has Marquez only borrowed the crown from Rossi, not to mention Valentino’s Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo?
The blue bit is more obvious. Those Movistar Yamahas—with the team hoping for some remission from the increasingly crushing superiority of the factory Repsol Hondas.
The year begins with a burning question. Who or what can beat Marquez? Is there anybody who can interrupt what threatens to become the latest long spell of dominance, reminiscent of Mick Doohan’s five crushing seasons?
Especially after he set the top time at both of the first tests of the new year at Sepang.
Anybody? Well, maybe, just maybe. Lorenzo and Rossi are ready to try. But the teammates will have to get everything right, make no mistakes all year long, avoid taking points from one another, and have a good stretch of luck as well. And Ducati are suddenly back in the frame too.
Can any thing beat Marquez? Oh yes. Circumstances can always conspire, and motorcycle racing can be very cruel.
Doohan was ready to stretch on for several more years until injury cut him short. The same is true of Wayne Rainey, on course for a fourth straight win when he crashed for the last time.
Never forget that Marquez’s own career came close to being cut short in 2011 when an exotic eye problem left him with double vision that took several months to correct.
There are some intriguing reshuffles to the rider line-up. And that new Desmosedici. The GP15 missed the first tests, but blazed into the second round with both riders, the Andreas—Dovizioso and Iannone—failing to mention understeer for the first time in living memory, and the latter ending up a close fourth overall.
There’s a pair of new Suzukis too, which proved surprisingly quick (Aleix Espargaro 10th at Sepang 2), but let’s not expect too much of them just yet after three years out of racing. They have to make them reliable as well. Likewise the upgraded Aprilias, elevated from former CRT (production-based) status to full factory level. Two of them, entering the lists a year earlier than planned. Their test times demonstrated that they have a lot of catching up to do.