99 vs 46: Can Rossi Still Win the 2015 Title?

This weekend is going to be a fiery one. Both camps know there is sometimes more to Valentino Rossi than meets the eye. Regardless of what position he'll be in on Sunday in the Valencia grid, everybody is asking the same thing: can he do it?
Some ask this question in hope, and of course, I am thinking about his fans. Others, who obviously "don't like him too much," are maybe asking the same thing in fear or disdain.

Seven points is not that much of a gap, not even for one race. Lorenzo and his team know that Rossi doesn't even have to win the race to claw his tenth GP crown. In case you need some memory refreshing, the winner earns 25 points while the runner-up gets 20. Sixteen points go to the third fastest rider, with 13 points for the 4th and 11 for the fifth-best finish. Below the 5th position, the gap is down to 1 point for each step down.

This means that if Rossi manages to stay with Lorenzo at Valencia, the odds are in his favor. Lorenzo sort of needs to have Rossi as far from the podium as it gets, but even with the Spaniard's machine-perfect racing style, this task is a hard one.

Rossi is well acquainted with the podium and missed a place there on only two occasions, San Marino and Australia. At Phillip Island, JL99 finished second, and Rossi fourth, while at Misano, Rossi indeed finished fifth while Lorenzo crashed out of the race.

So not having The Doctor on the podium is not exactly the best choice if you plan to spend some cash at the bookies. Seventeen rounds are gone, 418 laps completed and just under 2,000 km (1,243 miles) were raced at an insane pace, but things are still down to the wire.

Now it's time for the final math

Rossi appealed to the Court of Arbitration in Sport and asked to have his penalty lifted or reduced to one point. The CAS will issue a solution to his appeal no later than November 6, so that Rossi knows how he should tackle the final act of the season.

So far, here is the math that will decide who is crowned as 215 MotoGP king, put in an easy to read form by
  • If Lorenzo wins the race then Rossi needs to finish second to become world champion.
  • If Lorenzo finishes second then Rossi needs to finish on the podium to become world champion.
  • If Lorenzo finishes third then Rossi needs to finish sixth or better to become world champion.
  • If Lorenzo finishes fourth then Rossi needs to finish ninth or better to become world champion.
  • If Lorenzo finishes fifth to ninth then Rossi needs to finish no more than six places further back to become world champion.
  • If Lorenzo finishes lower than ninth then Rossi will be world champion.

Needless to say, what the Court of Arbitration in Sport has to say will have a major impact on the final race of the season. One of the greatest seasons in the MotoGP history is about to end the same way, but whether Rossi will be last to start on the grid or not will make a huge difference.

The grid is split

Italian journalist Riccardo Cucchi of Rai says that the final round might be even crazier than we can anticipate, and this is because most of the riders on the grid might think about supporting one of the "factions."

I am not talking about the epic sight of riders taking a slow start and letting Rossi pass without moving a finger because that would be "suicide." The media and the Race Direction will be all eyes and would surely condemn such behavior as race fixing, so it would not help anyone.

Still, we might get to see riders who support Rossi not putting up a serious fight if he starts from the back of the grid. This, combined with the superior power and acceleration of the Yamaha YZR-M1, might make such behavior less obvious, at least to the sharp eye.

Cucchi says that some riders openly showed their support for Rossi: Iannone, Petrucci, Elias, Vinales, Smith, Miller, and Hayden. Those openly for the Lorenzo and Marquez camp are indicated to be Bautista and Bradl, Barbera, Hernandez, and Pedrosa. The Espargaro brothers, Dovizioso, Crutchlow, and Redding, did not make any comments on their "choice."

How these choices will affect the race is a thing we're thrilled to see, especially if Rossi's CAS appeal receives a negative answer.

Is there race after the back of the grid?

Some believe that Rossi starting from the back of the grid will leave him without a fighting chance at Valencia, but we've seen Ben Spies riding a Yamaha, falling and finishing 10th back in the day. Even starting last on the grid, Rossi has a good 30 laps to show what he's made of.

If Valencia is a wet race, Rossi will be even happier, as the pace will be slower than in a dry one, and he feels just great in the rain. Lorenzo knows that he must aim for a victory and hope that Rossi doesn't catch up too soon.

On the social networks, the Doctor's fans demand extra awareness from Race Direction to spot the alleged help Marquez might give JL99. The claims may indeed be exaggerated, but we can expect RD to have a hawk's eye on the track.

While everybody is expecting the CAS' decision, the petition in favor of lifting or easing Rossi's penalty reached north of 700,000 signatures, with optimistic Rossi fans estimating it to reach one million by the end of the week.

How much will this impress the Court of Arbitration in Sport is hard to tell, but one thing is sure: this is the most intense end of a MotoGP season in decades, and we're dying to see how Fortuna's dice roll in the end...
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