Ryder Notes: The Games People Play

On the ground in Czecho’

Right at the end of qualifying, Valentino Rossi was on his last flying lap in another desperate attempt to escape from the third row. He knew Lorenzo had the best race pace and he knew that Marc Marquez had put in another stunning lap to run Jorge close for pole. Marc had done his best lap, but when Valentino came flying by he couldn’t resist and snapped back into the Yamaha’s slipstream and stayed there for the best part of a whole lap.

This might be regarded as unsportsmanlike behaviour in some quarters, but all’s fair in love and final qualifying. Valentino saw him and knew what he’d do. He had one request though; ‘I wish he give me 20 meters more so I don’t hear.’ Marc had indeed stayed very close and remarked, without humor, that he had indeed wanted to have a close look at the Yamaha as he wouldn’t be allowed to do it in qualifying: ‘Behind him I feel comfortable.’

Valentino’s sense of humor was put under further strain when he was asked to reminisce about his first ever GP win, the 125cc race here in the Czech Republic nineteen years ago, when, he was helpfully reminded, Marc was three years old. Yet he still had a good joke ready when he was asked about Moto3 pole man, Italian starlet Nicco Antonelli, who was sitting beside him and just happens to be managed by the VR-46 organization. “He speaks good English. Already a lot better than Iannone.”

On a serious note, Lorenzo’s race pace looks unbeatable, although Marquez will undoubtedly try and follow him. Rossi found a second today but needs more to race with the top three. When Moto2 pole man and championship leader Johann Zarco mentioned his 71-point championship lead, Valentino’s eyebrows shot northwards and a wistful look crossed his face. If only…

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