Halley's Comet burned overhead Thursday in the press room at the Sepang International Circuit, as the normally staid, benign PR exercise known as the pre-race press conference morphed into a platform for Jorge Lorenzo to launch a scalding mind-melt on rival Marc Marquez.
Marquez's one-point penalty on his license for colliding with Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa at Aragon was the topic of conversation at the press conference. Marquez accepted the wrist slap but said it wouldn't change his aggressive riding style even though he must start from the back of the grid if he receives one more penalty point this season. Marquez received two points on his license for crashing in the same spot as Cal Crutchlow during morning warm-up at Silverstone just seconds after Crutchlow fell, sending Crutchlow and marshals scurrying out of the way.
A clearly annoyed Pedrosa didn't offer much comment about Marquez's penalty, while Valentino Rossi tried to add levity to the media inquisition by saying it would have been better for him and other riders if Marquez was banned for two or three years.
Then the microphone was handed to Lorenzo, who was bumped out of second place at Jerez earlier this season by an aggressive, late move by Marquez. Lorenzo appeared to have been waiting for this moment, seemingly sharpening the sarcastic side of his sizable intellect on a grindstone all week.
"I think it was too much. It was unnecessary," Lorenzo said with a poker face about the penalty point levied against Marquez. "For me it was unfair or too much because Marc made some mistakes in Moto2. He has some little problems with (Ratthapark) Wilairot and with some other riders, as in MotoGP when braking. But just inexperience, no?
"For me, one point on the license is unfair. For me, the right thing is to put one point more in the championship, because like this the other riders in Moto3 and Moto2 can take example from this riding style and they can do the same.
"We can have a better show in our sport because the safety of the riders doesn't matter so much. The important thing is the spectators enjoy the show.
There are few riders who play the 'hall monitor' role to his peers better than Lorenzo.
"The Jerez action was a great show, looking at the marshals running like chickens in Silverstone was a great show. In Laguna Seca, he overtook Valentino outside of the track, it was a great show. So they should provide an incentive for these types of actions."
Marquez squirmed and then responded only, "Great joke," when a journalist followed up by asking his opinion of Lorenzo's comments. Lorenzo wasted no time pouncing again, lurching forward to the podium microphone.
"No, I have this opinion. It's not a joke. I think like that, and I expressed to yourself my feelings."
Lorenzo didn't relent when questions continued in media scrums after the press conference.
"I was messed up seeing Dani fly and when I found out I had leg problems and could not walk got sick, but it's what people buy and what you ask for, as in the Roman circus people asked to kill people," Lorenzo said. "Very modernized, but yes, we are gladiators, and if we hurt and we cannot keep running anyway, the end is. So far there has been advocated for the safety of the riders and perhaps the show's best encourage such actions , that's all I said.
"People obviously do not want people to die, that's obvious, because times have changed and what the Romans thought is not what you think now. But when falls, when friction, more people buy the product."
Honda received a stronger penalty than Marquez, losing 25 points in the Constructors' Championship for not protecting Pedrosa's traction control cable. Marquez's bike cut that cable when it brushed against Pedrosa's RC213V, causing Pedrosa to flip off the bike in the next corner.
All four Honda prototype bikes showed up at Malaysia with new carbon-fiber traction control cable guards. It's unlikely Marquez came prepared to the Sepang press conference room with a sarcasm shield.