You know you have a winner on your hands when sleep is the last thing on your mind in the wee hours of Monday morning, you practically want to climb into the television, your mouth is open, fingers tightly crossed, Twitter lies forgotten, your pulse rate is at an all-time high and you have a huge grin pasted on.
You know you have watched a master class in racing when words fail you and the only thing to cross your lips, in a consistent, broken-record fashion are the words, “Oh my God. Oh my God. OH MY GOD!”
You know exactly what I am talking about, if you are reading this and are grinning, just like me, wishing you could relive the first MotoGP race in Qatar, again and again.
You can’t really blame me for waxing eloquent. After all, the race had all the ingredients of a perfect thriller: Triumph, tragedy, redemption, the highs and the lows.
There he was the current king of the track, Jorge Lorenzo, cruising ahead, running a masterful, classy race, cool, calm and collected.
There he was, the championship contender, Dani Pedrosa, at 2nd spot, playing catch-up and then letting the podium slip out of his grasp, not once but twice.
There he was, the new kid on the block, the one everyone is talking about, whose sheer raw, race pace has left the paddock stunned, sliding from 6th to 8th and then, fighting his way back up to 3rd. Marc Marquez proved that he is the man to watch as he battled with the best.
There he was, the Honey Badger, whose phenomenal performance this weekend indicated a podium finish. Cal Crutchlow stayed on Pedrosa’s tail, seeking a way past, not giving up and staying ahead of the masters behind. But a mistake while battling with The Doctor saw Crutchlow slip down to 5th.
And there he was, The Doctor, the man who has so much to prove, seeking redemption and victory after two years of struggling on a bike that disappointed. Valentino Rossi had a tough weekend with a poor qualifying, which placed him 7th. Rival Andrea Dovizioso riding the Ducati factory, Rossi’s former team, qualified ahead at 4th. Twitter was abuzz as naysayers shook their heads and predicted The End. But the spark is still alive and well. Rossi bounced back, despite an error at the start, winding his way up to the top, battling with the young guns, and rising like a phoenix to finish 2nd.
It is perhaps too early to say who will be king of 2013. It is perhaps too soon for predictions. But the race at Qatar has gifted us with a peek into the future – of the rivalries, the battles, the warriors and their machine.
Yes, Honda has a nippy, quick machine this season. There is no doubt it will be on the podium, just as much as the Yamaha. But it is clear too that Pedrosa’s role as ‘the mentor’ is at risk. Here’s a man, who has often enough played second fiddle, and who has sought time and again to come into his own. 2012 could have been his season, as it brought him oh-so close to the championship. 2013 could be his season as well. But he has his work cut out. It is clear that Marquez will not let up the pressure. The young 20-year-old Moto2 World Champion is eager to show that he can battle with the big boys. It is quite possible that Marquez will make Pedrosa’s championship quest a Herculean task.
Lorenzo has shown that he can stay ahead and cruise to victory. But Vale is determined to show his race pace, and is eager to shake off the Great Ducati Disappointment.
For sure, Crutchlow stood out last season and at Qatar, as a strong contender. But it was obvious too at the race that the Honey Badger has to keep a cool head, as it was a mistake at Turn 1 that saw him lose place to Vale.
Ducati continues to puzzle. Despite a phenomenal qualifying that saw Dovi at 4th, the Italian slipped down the grid, ending the race at 7th, with Nicky Hayden at 8th. Ben Spies rounded off the top 10 spot behind Andrea Iannone.
There is no doubt that this will prove to be an exciting season. MotoGP now heads for its first race at the Circuit of Americas. Two weeks couldn’t come fast enough!