I was hoping for fireworks after that heart-rending Qualifying session on Saturday. Though, I must admit, I wasn’t really holding out for much.
I figured Marc Marquez would make his flashy, yet smooth move and probably win the race. I considered and made peace with the idea that Jorge Lorenzo was back and would probably make it to the podium. I kept my fingers crossed…had to… Vale was at 9th and he struggled all weekend. What about the fiery Honey Badger, I wondered? There was bound to be fireworks there. All in all, I figured we would be in for a predictable, but exciting race.
Come 12.45am, because that’s when the race ended my side of the world, I was out of breath, my heart was racing, and I was dying to watch the Indy Grand Prix again, and again… And again!
Exciting is perhaps the most banal word to describe exactly what happened at the circuit on Sunday. Yes, there were ho-hum moments. But the sum of the last few laps more than made up for any ennui we may have felt.
Like A Tiger
The race kicked off and Jorge Lorenzo took off, taking the lead, shoving Dani Pedrosa to the second and relegating Marc Marquez to third position. But no one in their right mind would ever write off Marquez. The 20-year-old has been a roll in his rookie season. Sensation you said? Absolutely. Plus, he seems to have taken a liking to the American circuits. Anyway, Marquez has more or less set a pattern. If he isn’t leading, he is stalking… like a tiger. So, we watched as he watched, creeping up on Pedrosa, reducing the gap, until, whoosh, he passed his teammate with 19 laps to go. As is inevitable, Marquez then set his sights on the win. He made his move with 15 laps to go – a daredevil, he took on the reigning world champion and proceeded to extend the lead. I know, I know, you will probably say Indy is a Honda track. But hey, Marquez made that bike fly! My favourite bit of the race? Sliding through Turn 5. Stunning! By the time the race ended, we all figured it would be an all-Spanish podium with Marquez, Pedrosa and Lorenzo spraying champagne on everyone.
The Doctor’s In
Who doesn’t love battles eh? The Vale fan in me settled down to watch the race, fingers tightly crossed. My faith was well rewarded. If there is ever a man who could climb from 9th on the grid to take a 4th, it would be the Doctor. The beginning was rather woeful – scrunched between two Ducatis can’t be too palatable. But, Valentino Rossi was determined. He passed Nicky Hayden and settled down to attack Stefan Bradl. He was flying. He passed the German with six laps to go and then began hunting Alvaro Bautista and Cal Crutchlow. It was a battle that lasted the length of the race, right down to the last lap, and the last corner. I screamed, shouted, and then screamed some more, as Rossi swept past Crutchlow and crossed the finish line to take 4th place. I will probably never be able to recreate those moments in words. Instead, I think, I will watch the re-runs… till Brno anyway.
Vale later said in a Yamaha press release, “I did a very good lap time in the second half and had great battles with Bradl and Bautista, but especially with Cal on the last lap, that was very funny. Fourth place here is good considering this track is one of the worst for me, and considering I started from 9th, but I am quite happy.”
There were tyre issues, he said. “We still have to work and understand why in the first laps I can’t ride the bike and use the extra grip of the tyre. In the second part when the tyre slides, I can enter the corner faster, I can go faster and I can make good lap times.”
There is just something about Cal Crutchlow that makes him so endearing. I think it’s that devil-may-care attitude with a dollop of passion and a bucket full of absolute determination. The race began with Cal sliding down the grid courtesy his teammate Bradley Smith. There were a lot of oh-nos running through my head. I am now used to seeing Cal on the podium – it suits him. Smith was no match for Crutchlow and Alvaro Bautista. The telly was focused on the front-runners, but the real action was the battle for 4th. Crutchlow and Bautista spent most of the race changing positions, climbing practically all over each other, and fighting in that bite-my-nails-down-to-the-quick way. Until the end, of course. Crutchlow passed Bautista who fell prey to Rossi. Our Honey Badger hung on to the very end, until the Doctor decided enough was enough. The crowd roared as the three crossed the finish line with less than 0.2s split between them. Crutchlow later said: “I knew it was going to come down to the last lap and probably the last corner and I did my best to keep 4th. But unfortunately Valentino made a good move up the inside of the right before the last corner and I couldn’t get him back. I had a lot of fun though. I think the three of us gave the American fans something to cheer.”
The Angry Young Men
Ducati is really having a terrible time at MotoGP. At least their riders are giving us a good race. It’s sad though, watching riders like Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden battle each other, instead of the folks up front. It isn’t surprising then that the Italian and American are, well, irritable. The Kentucky Kid, fresh off the summer break and facing a forced hiatus from MotoGP, was without doubt determined to up Dovizioso. But the Italian isn’t one to give up place that easy. And so they fought for position, till the very end. They traded places and as they reached the finish line, opted for a little motocross as well. They touched, jumped over the curb and raced towards the finish line. Hayden was in the lead. Dovizioso was all over the back trying to get by. They were so focused on each other that they forgot good old Bradley Smith. The young rookie, charged past both of them, and took the prized 8th position. Hayden had to be content with 9th and Dovizioso, the 10th. Hayden apologized to his teammate. The Italian was unhappy, but didn’t really want to create a controversy. He said in a Ducati press release: “…in the last corner, he wanted to get by me at any cost, using a really aggressive maneuver. I didn’t expect it because I hadn’t left the door open. Nicky came beside me, and we touch, and it certainly wasn’t a safe move, but we can say it was a racing accident. We were called to Race Direction because of course it’s important to talk about these things and immediately clear them up. Honestly, I’m quite annoyed to have lost two positions, and I also wanted to keep Smith behind me. Still, there’s no sense in creating controversy in a situation like this, so for me it’s over.”
Well, it is racing! Isn’t it? Next up, Brno. It’s going to be back-to-back racing. And no, I ain’t complaining.