Now banned from racing for four years, one can’t say that Andrea Iannone hasn’t left a mark on the sport. The Italian is certainly very fast and is well-loved by the Italian press and other Italian riders. However …
First and foremost, Iannone may very well live to see history view his off-track exploits as more memorable than anything he did on track. A four-year ban by WADA for banned substances should top the list but let’s face it, his plane ride from Phillip Island to Malaysia in 2015 will protect Iannone’s asterisk on the sport forever. That was when Iannone suggested to Valentino Rossi that the Phillip Island MotoGP race wasn’t a slug fest and one of the best MotoGP races of all time; instead the way Iannone saw it, Marc Marquez slowed down just to mess with Rossi and the rest.
Most people who have to travel frequently for business know that it’s just the way the travel life works: every once in a while you’ll be seated next to some kook with his own cauldron of poorly thought out conspiracy theories and other questionable judgements. The trick is getting off the plane and wiping that person from your memory. Sadly, Rossi internalized Iannone’s theory and what followed was one of the most trying periods in the sport of Grand Prix racing. That conversation was a pail of gas thrown on a fire. A blaze that ended with Rossi starting on the back row of the grid at Valencia, and missing out on his tenth title.
It’s unfortunate but in a decade it’s possible that Iannone will be more renown for a race he didn’t win (he finished third at Phillip Island ’15) than his 2016 Red Bull Ring MotoGP victory.