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Honda Issues Q&A With Racing Boss Shuhei Nakamoto Concerning Marquez/Rossi Clash at Sepang

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Honda has issued the following Q&A with Shuhei Nakamoto, HRC Executive Vice President, perhaps in an effort to calm fans before the race at Valencia this coming weekend.  The following is from Honda:

“First of all, we would like to state that we believe it is very important to speak about the facts, not about assumptions. A fact is a fact and there is only one interpretation. Assumptions can be translated in different ways, depending on which side you are. For the good of our sport, we would like everybody to just consider the facts that occurred and these are clearly the following: 

– Marc Marquez won the Australian GP, overtaking Jorge Lorenzo on the last lap, and therefore taking away 5 points from him in the Championship.

– On Thursday prior to the Malaysian GP in the Pre-Event Press Conference, Valentino Rossi accused Marc of racing against him in Phillip Island to help Jorge Lorenzo.

– In the Malaysian GP, Rossi intentionally pushed Marc out of the racing line which caused him to crash. Race Direction gave him a penalty for this action, confirmed by FIM. 

As a matter of fact, the aforementioned topics are the only facts we can consider and comment upon, any other discussion would be based on assumptions. To speak about assumptions would only increase the negative atmosphere we are facing in this moment, but will not change the reality of what happened.”

What is your opinion regarding the current situation after the Malaysian GP?

“We as HRC are very regretful this situation has been created. First of all, we would like to underline that Marc has been subject to an accusation with no evidence, after the Phillip Island race. Clearly there are no grounds to support that he wanted to help any rider in the Championship battle, considering he pushed to win the race and did so. After reviewing the images further, you can clearly see Valentino and Marc shaking hands after the chequered flag in Australia, acknowledging a great and fair battle.”

Do you believe the battle in the Malaysian GP between Marc and Valentino is a result of Valentino’s accusation?

“We honestly don’t think this is the case. We all know Marc races at 100% all the time, it’s one of the reasons we all love him and he has so many fans around the world. Marc always pushes to the maximum to achieve the best result possible. He had a great battle in his career with many riders, and nobody complained about that. In Malaysia, we know that Marc was struggling at the beginning of the race with the full tank, as has happened several times this season. Also in Sepang he made a mistake at the beginning of the race and this allowed Jorge to pass him. Then Valentino arrived and they began to fight for third place. The passes were extreme, but safe, from both riders. Two of the greatest champions we’ve seen battling together on track”

Is it possible that Marc slowed down Valentino in those laps?

“The lap times they were doing were quite fast, clearly showing that there was no intention from Marc to slow down Valentino. In addition, after Marc crashed and Valentino had an open track in front of him, his lap times were no faster then during the battle with Marc. We believe, they were both pushing to the maximum. Both wanted third place and to try and catch up with Dani and Jorge, but of course this battle opened up a gap to the front two. This is racing and when you have two talents such as Marc and Valentino you can see a wonderful battle as we saw.”

Do you believe Valentino kicked Marc’s bike?

“It is clear that Valentino intentionally pushed Marc towards the outside of the track, which is out of the rules, therefore Marc had no other option other than to run wide. The data from Marc’s bike shows that even though he was picking up the bike trying to avoid contact with Valentino, his front brake lever suddenly received an impact that locked the front tyre, which is the reason for his crash. We believe that this pressure was a result of Rossi’s kick. The data acquisition from Marc’s bike is available if anybody from Dorna, the FIM or media want to check.”

Do you believe Marc is telling the truth when he says he wasn’t trying to slow down Valentino in Sepang?

“I know Marc well. He is a good guy, with strong and honest values. Marc was just trying to defend his position, as any rider would do, and we believe him 100%.”

What is your position on how Race Direction acted?

“We respect the decision of Race Direction and don’t want to pass judgement if the penalty they administered was right or wrong. However, we do believe there was enough evidence to allow them to take a decision during the race, it was not necessary to wait until the end.”

What do you think of Valentino’s appeal to the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) against Race Direction and FIM’s decision?

“This is in his rights. We will respect the CAS decision.”

People say that it’s unfair that Marc battled with Valentino, as Marc is not fighting for the Championship, while Valentino is.

“This is racing! There were no comments or concerns after Dani fought with Valentino in Aragon and beat him, and also in Phillip Island with Iannone – nobody accused Andrea of trying to help one competitor more than the other. It’s been a difficult season and in Sepang Marc simply wanted to take the best result possible for him and his team, it’s not in his nature to settle for fourth place when there is a chance to fight for third. We should also look back to Motegi 2010 when Valentino was out of the race for the title but had a great battle with his teammate Jorge. After the race, when Jorge complained about Valentino being too aggressive and with no meaning as he was out of the Championship, Valentino commented: “I said to Yamaha, what do you expect from me, to arrive behind? If I know this I will stay at home.” We totally agree with Valentino’s approach and will always support our riders to achieve the best results possible.”

What is your opinion of Valentino in this moment?

“Valentino is the greatest ever champion of our sport. We believe he has done a great job this year, and if he wins the Championship he truly deserves it, as he has been consistent and very fast all year. The fact that he is 36 years old increases the respect for such a great champion. Having said that, we don’t understand his accusation related to the Phillip Island race and his manoeuvre in Sepang. We hope that Valentino will think it over and understand his mistake.”

What is your target for Valencia?

“As always, our target is to win! Our hope is that Marc and Dani can fight for the win. If they can finish first and second – it doesn’t matter for us which order – then we will be very happy. First of all, because we want to finish this season with the 4th win in a row, second because if they both are in front of Jorge and Valentino, their result will have no influence in the battle for the title and – finally – we hope everybody will understand that Honda riders race for the win and the pure competition, for nothing else.”


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72 Comments

  1. Gng says:

    Still believing that Honda will not allow it’s riders to waste THEIR machinery for personal wars. And yes, a performance at Valencia to help Rossi keep a points gap at the end of the race.

  2. MGNorge says:

    I thought Nakamoto’s comments were just as expected. As a professional he handled it all with decorum without slinging mud. Just as it should be.

    • Dino says:

      Agree, most of his comments were right on. Facts are facts, assumptions can be twisted any which way…
      Clearly his assumptions of the impact fully support his rider (no shock there), and his blind faith that “Marc is a good guy” clearly shows that he knows where his bread is buttered (Spanish ties to MM, Pedrosa, Repsol, and Dorna).. For him to have said anything else would have been career suicide.

      He was mostly respectful to Rossi, while still insiuating the kick that took MM down. As many have said, any kind of contact between VR and MM could have given enough of a nudge to the brake lever fingers, but was it MM leaning in, or a kick from VR?

      Still, it is MY assumption, and opinion, that Marquez was just Ffffing with Rossi. Rossi could have, should have handled it better, but it was sweet seeing Marquez go down (unhurt is always good). When Marquez got back to his pit, he just got off the bike and sat down in the back. Just walked over and sat down. He didn’t seem all that upset (almost like, “mission accomplished”??). Again, my opinion, MM is just a Class B Douchebag. But he is the next Golden Child of Spanish Racing, so whattya gonna do?

    • Scott says:

      THAT was awesome.

      Thank you, Jason. My sentiments exactly.

      • TimC says:

        While I still concur with the objective penalty (though not the severity) at the moment of infraction, the more I read/consider the leadup to this, the more I think MM deserved a smackdown. And honestly given the general recklessness of his riding and the 2 incidents earlier in the season cited again by Pridmore, he really kind of still does.

    • VLJ says:

      No sure what was more interesting, Jason’s thoughts or the nearly unanimous comments ripping Marquez and Lorenzo.

    • Dino says:

      Excellent insight, from a Seasoned racer. Thanks for the link, Tim!

  3. Scott says:

    Julian Ryder sums up the whole thing pretty accurately here:

    http://www.superbikeplanet.com/2015/Nov/151103rydernotes.htm

    I do, however, dispute his assertion that Marquez wasn’t holding up Rossi, based upon lap times.. The fact is, they were losing ground to the leaders, so the average lap time was slower. That’s simply a mathematical fact.

    • Scott says:

      Leaving the Moderation Zone in 3… 2… 1…

    • mickey says:

      lol moderation zone.. BEEN THERE!

      whenever guys are mixing it up they will post lower lap times that someone running free and clear..no surprise there, although I have read that Rossi’s fastest lap time was on lap 4 while dicing with Marquez and that after Marquez was out of the picture that in the next 20 laps Rossi when Rossi was running free he only turned 1 lap faster than Lorenzo. If someone has different info please post.

      it’s a mess for sure, and if you read some of the other sites it has gotten really nasty, REALLY NASTY between Rossi and Marquez fans. Must say this site posters have gotten a bit testy in defense of their favorites but overall it’s been very “gentlemanly” here with no blocking and no kicking lol

  4. VLJ says:

    In none-too-shocking news, Yamaha formally rejects Honda’s “kick” claim…

    http://superbikeplanet.com/2015/Nov/151103yresp.htm

  5. hh says:

    Gary…overstating perhaps or but isn’t sport supposed to be something that takes us above our everyday efforts, good drama, not bickering melodrama. Next year everything will start again, hopefully, with clearer heads. On to Valencia to see how moto gp 2015 finishes. Can’t wait for the movie.

  6. Racer39 says:

    Valentino Rossi has dominated this sport in many different ways. He has won 9 world championships, he has won the hearts of millions of people around the world with his personality, (on and off the track) with his humor, celebrations, being a gentleman to the good and bad. So if someone new tries to come and steal the spotlight from him, it won’t be easy. Lorenzo is trying with his hammer and ,,Lorenzo’s land” imitations, Marquez is trying to jump into his mechanic’s hands and walk with the sword in the gold helmet… It seems to me like a circus MotoGP. Wayne Rainey and Mick Doohan didn’t need to do any of that. They were pure racers. Valentino has brought a new era into motorcycle racing and it can not be copied. There is only one ,,Let it be.” Rossi is the most complete racer. He has the skills and limits that he uses only when necessary. He is the most intelligent of them all.
    He doesn’t take risks only if he has to. (QP-9-th then wins the race) He thinks about the whole picture, the championship. Takes the most points possible at each race riding at 90% of his talent and the machine capabilities. Another Rossi will be born in the 3046… The incident in Sepang shines the light over and over again on the Clown from Spain. Marc Marquez. He tried everything. Riding his RCV like a Bull chasing a red flag. Putting other riders in danger many times, just to get the spotlight on him. He wasn’t racing for the win, (the lap times prove it, you don’t make that fantastic last lap on the last lap…) Makes me sick in the stomach. Now he has crossed all the lines. ,,This last lap was good for spectators…” (In his own words he explains why he rides like a Clown.) He doesn’t have a good character, morals or empathy in his heart. The difference between him and Valentino Rossi in IQ is about the same as their point standings…

    • mickey says:

      Sounds like VR could kill the Pope and you’d justify it saying the Pope had it coming. Geesh

    • MGNorge says:

      I guess many of us have our heroes?

    • notarollingroadblock says:

      If VR were so smart he would have dealt with MM via a “race incident” or even just out racing him, not running him off for anyone with clear vision to see. As someone at crash.net said: “2015, the year The Doctor became the patient.” He did it all himself with his mouth and his riding at Sepang. Then there’s the other 2 class clowns, MM & JL…

  7. Racer39 says:

    The Turtle 46…

    I have it all
    The glory, the fame and beautiful home
    I have enough money, to pave the road
    From Tavulia to Rome…

    Mad Max, Sete, Casey and Jorge
    I conquered them all
    Still have a little space
    For one more title on the wall…

    I’ll redefine the meaning of old
    Before my tires get cold
    One more time I’ll be bold
    Then, I have a beautiful woman to hold…

    From America to Brno
    Then to Silverstone
    Soon after down under
    I’ll sit on the trone…

    I will do it again
    It will happen soon
    No one remembers
    Who was second on the moon…

  8. hh says:

    The schemes, the posturing, the blame, the selfishness. It is a toxic mess. There is no joy in moto gp. Everyone needs to apologize to the fans and take responsibility. This is a broken championship, hardly worth having or watching. In the words of Johnny Rotten, “ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated.”

    • Gary says:

      You are overstating a bit. I suspect MotoGP will survive just fine. Especially if the sanctioning body decides to delay Rossi’s penalty … which they probably will.

  9. EZMark says:

    I hope Mr. Nakamoto’s last statement comes true. If Pedrosa and Marquez finish 1-2, then it is entirely up to Rossi. If he starts from the back row and passes all but 3 riders, I think everyone would agree that he earned the championship regardless of Malaysia.

  10. Connieusa says:

    Interesting to read the beginning of the article where Mr. Nakamoto makes a clear distinction between ‘Facts’ and ‘Assumptions’. I really thought we would get some kind of unbiased opinion. But of course, that would be too much to ask from a guy who wears a Honda shirt.

    Fact that Rossi ran Mark wide on the turn. Agreed
    Fact that the telemetry shows the brake lever being pushed. Agreed
    Fact that Rossi kicked the break lever. Well, that’s not a fact, it’s a belief, according to Mr. Nakamoto own words. Beliefs are not facts and, like assumptions, should also be left aside.

    • tigen says:

      ^^^ Precisely this. Marquez made a decision to, instead of going out wide, suddenly turn in and aim directly at Rossi, impacting Rossi’s leg with his brake lever.

  11. CldmstrDon says:

    The ear to ear grin on the baby faced Marc Marquez hides a cunning and malevolent character who has shown time and again that he is willing to bash into people and crash them to get what he wants. While many riders occasionally display very aggressive moves, none do so with the consistency shown by MM as recalled from his time in Moto2 and now seen in MotoGP. I had hoped he would grow out of that phase and make a name for himself that could be admired. Alas, that day, if it ever comes, is long way off.

    • Bart says:

      Totally agree CLD! MGP is no place for this sort of passive/agressive riding!

      When I was a rookie road racer I got booted on the leg a couple of times by the far superior riders I had finally learned how to catch.

      I earned those bootings, learned from it, and became a better racer for it.

  12. Jim says:

    The narrative can also be manipulated when you cherry-pick your facts.

  13. “Fan” reaction has wackier than the event itself. Rossi talking shit before the race started this whole thing to start rolling. Personally thought racing was all about passing the guy in front of you.

  14. Tim says:

    I’m rooting for a stay from the court. While Rossi let his emotions get the best of him, I hate to see a season-long battle for the championship ruined by 5 seconds of childish behavior. Let the championship be decided on the track. If Marquez was in the points lead, or close, then I’d probably feel differently. However, Rossi’s action isn’t costing Marquez the championship. Let him and Lorenzo battle it out and may the best rider win.

  15. Trpldog says:

    How about the unthinkable?
    Rossi – “I apologize, I lost my head and messed up. I’m sorry.”
    Marc – “No problem, I’m sorry that I did what I did, I apologize also.”

    That kind of stuff goes a long way. Virtually unheard of any more.
    Let’s get on with it.

  16. VLJ says:

    What is your opinion of Valentino in this moment?

    “Valentino is the greatest ever champion of our sport. We believe he has done a great job this year, and if he wins the Championship he truly deserves it, as he has been consistent and very fast all year. The fact that he is 36 years old increases the respect for such a great champion. Having said that, we don’t understand his accusation related to the Phillip Island race and his manoeuvre in Sepang. We hope that Valentino will think it over and understand his mistake.”

    Great answer. Pure class, while also serving Honda’s purposes.

    Japan, Inc., as always, the smartest guys in the room.

  17. Vrooom says:

    It certainly appeared that Marquez was generally interested in mixing it up with Rossi in Malaysia. Another fact he doesn’t mention is that Marquez’ bike touches Rossi’s leg before the alleged “kick”.

    • Tim says:

      I agree. The article makes this statement, “It is clear that Valentino intentionally pushed Marc towards the outside of the track, which is out of the rules, therefore Marc had no other option other than to run wide. The data from Marc’s bike shows that even though he was picking up the bike trying to avoid contact with Valentino, his front brake lever suddenly received an impact that locked the front tyre, which is the reason for his crash…”

      The video clearly showed that Marquez leaned in on him creating the actual contact. The statement above defies what one could clearly see. While I have no problem with Rossi being found at fault and penalized, as he did clearly and intentionally push Marquez wide, the statement above contradicts the visual evidence of Marquez leaning in. Marquez was clearly messing with him, and Rossi lost his cool.

  18. Grover says:

    What did you think he would say?

  19. Dave says:

    People say that it’s unfair that Marc battled with Valentino, as Marc is not fighting for the Championship, while Valentino is.

    “This is racing! There were no comments or concerns after Dani fought with Valentino in Aragon and beat him, and also in Phillip Island with Iannone – nobody accused Andrea of trying to help one competitor more than the other. It’s been a difficult season and in Sepang Marc simply wanted to take the best result possible for him and his team, it’s not in his nature to settle for fourth place when there is a chance to fight for third. We should also look back to Motegi 2010 when Valentino was out of the race for the title but had a great battle with his teammate Jorge. After the race, when Jorge complained about Valentino being too aggressive and with no meaning as he was out of the Championship, Valentino commented: “I said to Yamaha, what do you expect from me, to arrive behind? If I know this I will stay at home.” We totally agree with Valentino’s approach and will always support our riders to achieve the best results possible.”

    SMACK BAM ON!!! And it’s Rossi’s own words and actions………

  20. Brinskee says:

    …and now the transitional Thursday press event has been cancelled in favor of a mandayory meeting with the “Permanent MotoGP Bureau” comprised of the head of the FIM and Dorna. I’d love to be a fly on the wall at that meeting.

    I suspect that they’re trying to keep a lid on the emotions leading up to the final race, but what makes them thi k that they won’t all just hold separate press conferences? Seems a little silly to me, maybe they’ll impose a media ban?

    Finally Nakamoto’s facts are quite skewed, and as others have mentioned, Marc could have inadvertantly pulled his own brake lever as a result of the impact from Rossi’s bike. He may have even been covering his brakes, they were decelerating after all.

    What a mess.

  21. TF says:

    In my opinion, if the front brake caused the crash it is because MM rammed the right side of his bike into VR’s left leg. Any contact with the brake lever was incidental.

    Question: is anyone really surprised about what comments would come from an HRC VP at this point?

    • Gary says:

      i think the silence coming from the Yamaha camp speaks volumes.

      • Tim says:

        Don’t expect a comment from Yamaha. Whatever they say could be taken as showing favortism to either Lorenzo or Rossi. They have the championship already, it’s just a question of which rider lifts the trophy. They have no reason to alienate one of their own riders.

        • Gary says:

          I respectfully disagree. Good PR is a lot more important than a championship. Believe it or not.

          • Jim says:

            There is no good PR to be had here. Yamaha has taken the correct path.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            I suspect Yamaha aren’t too concerned about alienating one of their riders (read Lorenzo). JLo does a good enough job of alienating himself, and no one is paying attention to him right now anyway due to this clusterfark. Besides, Yamaha’s support for Rossi wouldn’t be an issue for Lorenzo. Yamaha’s opinion doesn’t have any bearing on the outcome of the appeal, and therefore no affect on the difficulty level Lorenzo will face when racing for the championship.

            How good the resulting PR is from a statement like this depends on how strong or weak one’s position is (and how much class the message is delivered with – kudos Nakamoto). It could be that Yamaha’s case for Rossi just isn’t that strong.

            I mean, what is Yamaha supposed to say? “Our engineers put on their magical tin foil hats during the last two races and determined beyond a doubt that Marquez could have easily taken Val and JLo at will during any point in the races. He is so much faster than either of our riders. I mean he can just embarrass us if he wants. Anyway, he chose to punk Rossi more than JLo because Rossi isn’t Spanish. So Rossi had no other choice but to run Marquez off the track. Unfortunately, Marquez – ever the squid – chose not to take it up the tail and fell after Val may or may not have kicked at his bike during contact. Just look at all of the videos available supporting race direction’s decision and try to read ‘between’ the lines. You will see the tractor beam mounted to Marquez’s bike that jerked Rossi off of the race line and right into Marquez’s path. Marquez then initiated contact and stabbed the brakes to dump the bike. Rossi fell right into his evil plan. There is no question or debate about this.”

            Okay, I suspect Yamaha would deliver their message with a little more panache than that.

          • Dirck Edge says:

            Yamaha already said Valentino was at fault, I believe. They just said the punishment was too harsh.

        • Jim says:

          Exactly so.

      • mickey says:

        According to MotoGP.com Yamaha responded about an hour ago, saying they disagree with the wording that implied a kick since that was not proven and beyond that they don’t want to discuss it anymore.

        • Roland says:

          Yeah, it’s quite understandable to not wanting to deal with this mess anymore.
          I’m fed up too. The next race will only decide the “provisional champion” . We’ll have to wait like 6 more months to see the stupid end of this.
          I heard Movistar canceled the celebration party after the next race. They too don’t want to be part of this mess it seems. But then who does?

  22. Gary says:

    I don’t know if Rossi deliberately kicked Marquez’s bike. To me it doesn’t matter. He behaved like a whiney little @#$% prior to the Malaysia race and like a dildo during it. I’ve lost a lot of respect for him.

  23. mickey says:

    BTW I need Marquez to win so that I’m at least tied for the “How Many Races will Marquez Win” contest from February here on MCD. I was the first one to respond and I said 5. I think there were two others that said 5 as well. He has 4 wins now. bwaahaahhaah

  24. joe says:

    MM is probably wining so much he got Honda involved. Facts, which even Honda failed to address when asked if MM slowed down. Look at his race lap times when he won the previous race. how did he makeup so much time?

    Marc is a good guy? What about his unquestionable passing all year causing issues to other riders.

    Facts, what about the videos from Marc’s bike, did it show the kicking and why was it not produced..

    Honda if you don’t want to provide the truth, stay out of it…

  25. Ricky Crue says:

    Brakegate!!!!!

  26. Jeremy in TX says:

    Interesting interview, even if the position is unsurprising. I’d like to see one from Yamaha.

  27. mickey says:

    Didn’t we see a video of some Ducati rider slapping a front brake lever of another rider and crashing him in 2013? Niccolo Canepa or something? right here on MCD a few months back?

    Not saying that is what happened here, but it can happen right?

  28. Rick Jongsma says:

    He asserts that Marquez’ front brake lever “received an impact” and is clearly trying to make the case that Rossi kicked the lever. On November 17, 2011 the FIM mandated that all moto gp bikes must run front brake lever guards to prevent this possibility from happening. Unless the guard was not in place, which would have been illegal, the only thing that could have “impacted” the front brake lever would be Marquez’ fingers. He’s arguing for only facts but trying to insert flawed opinion.

    • Dave says:

      The lever guards do not cover the whole lever from all directions, just the end of the lever. He says the data is available for all to see so the lever pull did happen. Are you saying that you believe Marquez intentionally locked his front brake with his own hand?

      • Scott says:

        Here’s a great picture of MM’s bike:

        http://www.mcnews.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/MotoGP_2014_Rnd2_Stoppie_Marquez.jpg?9c5952

        Notice he’s doing a stoppie with ONE finger. It clearly doesn’t take much pressure on that lever to lock the wheel, especially at full lean.

        Also, note the configuration of the brake guard. It leaves the top his hand and wrist exposed, so it’s not unlikely that the slightest contact with Rossi’s foot could create that pressure.

        The theme of the day in the media is “Honda has PROOF that Rossi KICKED the brake lever!!! AAAGH!!!” But that’s the MEDIA talking. The only thing Honda said was, they have proof the lever moved. Which I’m sure it did, when Marquez ran into Rossi.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      You can hit the rider’s arm or handlebar and cause the lock. You don’t need to hit the lever itself.

    • There’s no reason not to believe acutely increased front brake pressure brought Marc down. The precise cause of that increased pressure remains open to debate! And despite multiple camera angles, certain aspects of the incident are likely known only to the riders involved.

      • Joe B says:

        two people in an elevator, one farts. They both know who did it. One says, “my leg slipped”… but “it remains open to debate”. In the past, Valentino Rossi was capable of pulling a rabbit out of a hat, the most talented rider ever. Now, he is a bumbling clown. Next race is 4am Pacific coast time.

        • Scott says:

          Maybe they both farted, and nobody knows which one smells.

        • Hot Dog says:

          Two guys on motorcycles going around corners. One decides to not go around the corner and instead goes straight to the outside of the curve. The other motorcyclist rides into the one going straight and falls down. “Well he fell down, so it’s his fault”. It ain’t a fart but much more of a rancid stench – Rossi pie in Mark’s eye.

          • The rider on the outside had several options rather than to run into the rider (who was, of course, ridiculously off-line, and though I’m a fan, way outside of good form in doing so) on the inside. It’s blindfolded not to recognize Marc’s odd propensity to run into people from behind. Both have pie in their eyes.