Marc Marquez, the youngest rookie on the circuit, solidified his championship lead, leaving the old guard scrambling for footing. Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo did however manage to join him on the podium. It was brilliant MotoGP racing as usual at Brno.
By Chitra Subramanyam
We all love young interlopers who leave the old guard in a tizzy. Unless of course it is Sebastian Vettel. Then, all we want to do is scream in frustration. Or pray to the Good Lord, try and bribe Him with chocolate chip cookies or look heavenwards for a spot of rain.
But then, I am not talking about F1. I will leave that to my friend Nikki Grubb-Clarke. Instead, I am going to reflect on the splendid world of MotoGP, and the brilliant race that was Brno.
Qualifying left me with high hopes – this season has been nothing short of spectacular courtesy Marc Marquez, though my real hero has been Cal Crutchlow. So, I was looking forward to good old Honey Badger spraying some champagne on the podium. After all, he was at pole. In my dreams, giving him company would be Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez. There you go, my dream podium. But it was not to be. Instead, I was left with a race – that was spectacular, as always, but also had its own share of heartbreak.
The Honey Badger had that look of determination…and bedroom hair. But the lights went out and he found himself knocked off the top three and into 4th place, with a determined Alvaro Bautista nipping at his heels. Crutchlow and Bautista exchanged places, pushing their bikes, leaning into corners and sliding out to gain place. Crutchlow wanted that podium. It was fabulous moment, that is, when the television wasn’t too busy focusing on the front-runners. He was 2.6s off Dani Pedrosa, faster than the lot in front. Then, it happened, that moment that left all of us screaming at the screen. Crutchlow crashed. But we don’t call him Honey Badger for nothing. The marshalls pushed his bike, as did he. He rejoined the race, right at the bottom at 20. Hey, he didn’t give up. He pushed and pushed, going faster than the lot in front. He ended the race at 17th place.
Then, he goes and tweets: “Sorry everyone! Tried my best…wasn’t good enough this week. Try again next week.
So here’s a hurrah for Cal Crutchlow: a good guy who always gives his best, and the last person who should be apologizing for crashing. He has always been brilliant!
Speaking of brilliant, Marc Marquez left the old guard with a serious case of heartburn. I mean, when was the last time you saw two people looking totally bummed out for coming 2nd and 3rd. I mean I know y’all racing for championship points and stuff like that. But hey, don’t look so miserable. Go on, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa. Down a little champagne, Silverstone is coming up next. It doesn’t really help that Marquez has broken a record…again. That 20-something-something doesn’t cease to amaze. He has taken his 4th win in a row (and 5th of the year). No premier class rookie has ever achieved this in the 65-year history of Grand Prix racing. Wait, there’s more. He has also become the first rider, since Vale, to win four or more successive races in the premier class. You can take a breath now.
Superman Jorge Lorenzo had it good. Especially after that Qualifying, which to tell you the truth was not up to the M1 standards. But that was just at race start. So, Lorenzo tried to shake Marquez off. But we all know how Marquez works, don’t we? He stalked, planned, stalked some more and then… just as Lorenzo got comfortable, on lap 16, Marquez moved. Lorenzo grabbed his 1st place back. But, not for long. They changed places again, and then again, until lap 19, when Lorenzo finally lost his place. The torture did not end. Pedrosa was right behind, trying to edge past. He made it by on lap 20, leaving Lorenzo to run in the 3rd place till the chequered flag.
Lorenzo later said in a team release, “When Dani overtook me, it was too far to fight back, I didn’t have the rear tyre or physical condition after pushing a lot all the race. The championship is not lost yet, but it’s very difficult now. We need just a few tenths to win the race, so we have to pray for that at Silverstone.”
Speaking of praying, it’s never really good news when our fearless riders have to look heavenwards for some divine help during races. Is Yamaha listening?
Valentino Rossi had a disastrous Qualifying, so all things considered, I heaved a sigh of relief when he grabbed 4th place. Honestly though, I was also relieved that he made past Alvaro Bautista without any incident. Given Bautista’s, what seems to be Vale anathema, the Vale fan world was relieved as well. But the GO & Fun Honda Gresini rider wasn’t an easy prey. He gave Vale a hard time. There was some solid racing and brilliant overtaking there. I missed it, because everyone, read the sports channel folks, was too busy watching the lot up front. He grabbed 6th place at the start of the race and took 5th after Cal crashed. Then, he settled down to battle Bautista, until finally, towards the end of the last lap, made a crucial pass. It was a Vale stamp of ‘no-go, the 4th is mine’. But Vale was still unhappy. I don’t blame him. I did send him a big hug, because a) it’s Vale; and b) he will win again. (I know I am fan-girling again. But you can’t blame me. Bumping into him (not metaphorically, you hear) at Mugello was the highlight of my trip!)
Rossi later said in a release: “Today was better than Indy, especially because my disadvantage to the top is half. I wanted to do better; we have to try to do better. The first three guys are impressive, very strong; I want to stay closer to them. Unfortunately I was ten seconds back, another fourth place but I want to be closer so we have to work. We tried to improve this type of setting in the last two races but it looks like it’s not fantastic. Also today I suffered a bit too much at the beginning of the race. We won’t give up and we will try next week to make a better job.”
The Ducatis continued their spree of bad luck. I really can’t get more polite than this. It’s sad when two talented riders end up racing each other. It’s exactly what happened at Brno (a la Indianapolis). Andrea Dovizioso took 7th place and teammate Nicky Hayden 8th. The Ducati Corse general manager, Bernhard Gobmeier said later in a team release, “It was a difficult weekend for us again because we had the same problems as last week at Indianapolis. Both of our riders did a very good job, and they gave their best efforts, but we’re aware that despite the little improvements we’ve made so far, we still have a long way to go in improving the GP13. Obviously, more technical steps will be necessary to bring us closer to the second group. We’ll also continue with our intense testing program. We have some new parts to try as we work to improve the bike’s behaviour.”
The Brno race was crucial in a way. Marquez has solidified his championship lead with 213 points. His teammate, desperate to catch up is at 187 points with Lorenzo at 169. Next up is Silverstone. What will happen then? Lucky for us, we really don’t have to wait that long.