Reigning double champion Marquez once again began as title favourite, only for frequent DNFs to put him out of the championship hunt. Lorenzo scored more points than any other rider in the second half of last season and few would therefore be surprised that he fought for – and ultimately won – the 2015 crown.
But not many would have predicted that Rossi, the oldest rider on the grid and five years after his last title challenge, would hold the points lead for an amazing 17 of the 18 rounds.
As Herve Poncharal recently stated, all things considered it may actually have been Rossi’s best ever season, even if the record books show the Italian losing out to Lorenzo by just five points.
The highlights of Rossi’s year naturally include his race wins in Qatar, Argentina, Holland and Great Britain. Incredible consistency saw the Italian megastar stand on the podium an unparalleled 15 times and finish every race, as his exploits helped pack grandstands around the world.
Two of Rossi’s wins came after a clash with Marquez, the old master finally turning the tables on the young apprentice, but a third incident – at Sepang – would prove the talking point of the season.
Rossi’s fearsome ability to disrupt rivals through carefully chosen comments in the media is well known. But the decision to publicly attack Marquez, rather than try and destabilise Lorenzo, left many puzzled – and the outcome could barely have been worse for Rossi.
Perhaps the most shocking part of their Sepang showdown was that Rossi – the king of hard racing and brilliant overtakes – resorted to such an extreme move to end the kind of battle he usually revels in.
Of course, unlike Marquez, Rossi had a title to think about and had spent the second half of the season unable to match Lorenzo’s dry pace, then became convinced Marquez was plotting to help his fellow Spaniard.
Throw in some uncharacteristic late defeats in battles with Dani Pedrosa (Aragon) and Andrea Iannone (Phillip Island) and it’s easy to understand the amount of pressure Rossi was under to save his world championship dream.
Ultimately it didn’t happen, and – regardless of who was to blame – fans were denied a fitting title showdown by Rossi’s back of the grid start at Valencia.
Nevertheless, Rossi’s performances were the main reason why 2015 was such a standout season – until Sepang anyway.
This is the second year running that Rossi has won the fan vote, having dropped as low as eleventh during the Ducati years.
However Rossi’s average score of 8.4 is relatively low for the poll winner (it would only have been good enough for third last year) no doubt due to the end of year controversy, which also tainted the fan scores of Lorenzo and Marquez.
About the vote:
Rather than repeat the Riders’ World Championship standings, the MotoGP Star of the Year poll expects viewers to take into account factors such as machinery, performance relative to a team-mate, riding style, experience, injuries, progress and personality just as much as race results.
Over 100,000 votes were cast for the 2015 Crash.net MotoGP Star of the Year poll, where viewers awarding each of this year’s participants with a mark out of ten.
2015 MotoGP Star of the Year: Top 10
1stValentino Rossi ITA Movistar Yamaha8.4
2ndAndrea Iannone ITA Ducati Team7.9
3rdJorge Lorenzo SPA Movistar Yamaha7.7
4thDani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda7.6
5thMarc Marquez SPA Repsol Honda7.19
6thMaverick Vinales SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar7.18
7thBradley Smith GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 37.09
8thDanilo Petrucci ITA Pramac Ducati6.4
9thAleix Espargaro SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar6.2
10thAndrea Dovizioso ITA Ducati Team5.9