Rossi-Marquez spat has 'poisoned' MotoGP

PARIS • The bitter, high-speed world championship feud between Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez has "poisoned" motorcycling, the sport's chief said on Thursday.

Rossi, the nine-time world champion, was blasted for kicking defending champion Marquez off his bike at Sepang last Sunday.

As a result, the veteran Yamaha rider has been relegated to the back of the grid for the season finale in Valencia on Nov 8. Should his chief rival and team-mate Jorge Lorenzo (305 points) win on home ground in Spain, Rossi (312) must finish second to clinch the title.

The Italian insists that he is the victim of a Spanish plot and has accused Honda star Marquez of pursuing a "dirty game", with the express intention of helping compatriot Lorenzo to the title.

Such is the atmosphere of suspicion that Vito Ippolito, the president of the International Motorcycling Federation (FIM), penned an open letter on Thursday in a plea for peace among the paddock's warring factions.

"The recent events arising in connection with the competition for the 2015 world title have had a damaging effect on the staging of our competitions and poisoned the atmosphere around the sport," he wrote. "We are moving away from the tradition of pride in sportsmanship that is part of the heritage of motorcycling.

"Everyone has the right to express his or her own ideas. But words and actions always have consequences. Every individual has to take responsibility for those consequences."

He added: "Riders, teams, manufacturers and sponsors should not only respect the rules but they should also accept the decisions of the officials. Otherwise, they are contributing to anarchy and undermining the future development of our sport."

Team-mates Lorenzo, 28, and Rossi, 36, have a history of tense relations, which erupted again following the Sepang clash. The Spaniard said Rossi should have been punished even more severely but that his superstar status shielded him.

Rossi, however, called the punishment unfair, saying Marquez, who is out of contention, is "making me lose the championship".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2015, with the headline 'Rossi-Marquez spat has 'poisoned' MotoGP'. Print Edition | Subscribe