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The Seagull, a Pirouette, and Some Motegi Weather As Well

This post was supposed to be about the Australian Grand Prix. A tad late I admit. But Motegi came along and elbowed its way in. Jorge Lorenzo was relieved – he is back in the championship game after all. Marc Marquez was determined – must win. And there were typhoon warnings. What will happen next?

Think about it. What did you like the most? Riders making a pitstop? The delicate pirouette some of them did? Was it the bike swap? Or was it the quick change in their position, up and down the charts? Or was it the infamous black flag? Yes, the one that broke many a dream and wiped clean many a smile.

Photo: Bridgestone

Photo: Bridgestone (editorial use only)

Whatever it may have been, you have to admit, the Phillip Island race was perhaps the most interesting of the season. Exciting, you say? Sure, ok, that too.

For me, though, once was enough. I prefer watching our warriors race the real race.

I prefer our riders doing that delicate ballet we call racing, as they look for an opening, and then taking it… or not, depending on who is at the front. It is an art, racing is. It can’t be described as anything else.

I prefer our riders pushing their machines to the maximum, chasing their prey, making the move, swapping places, winning and losing.

I don’t like watching them watch for pit wall signs telling them to box, or counting laps, or worrying that their tyres will turn to putty soon. You get my drift. So, once is enough, thank you very much.

Bridgestone, please do get your act together and test them tyres dude!!! Strangely enough, a Bridgestone press release labelled the race ‘intriguing’. Now that’s a word I would never associate with the 2013 Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island. Hmmm.

Now that the vent is out of the way, moving on.

The Qualifying was more or less, uneventful, barring the Unfortunate Seagull Encounter. I was eating my brekkie, and my stomach turned. I had to close my eyes for a bit. Though, I admit to a pang for Jorge Lorenzo. It couldn’t have been easy trying to clock in a fastest lap with a stuck seagull flapping on the bike.

But it’s unflappable Lorenzo. He stunned with a brilliant lap time and pole position, seagull or no seagull. Of course, I had a little awwww moment when Valentino Rossi said he smiled in his helmet every single lap. You may go awww now!

The Pedrosa Leap Photo: Repsol Honda team (editorial use only)

The Pedrosa Leap. Photo: Repsol Honda team (editorial use only)

Race Day dawned with Bridgestone and Race Direction. The Race will be 19 laps, we were told. The Riders have to pit within 10 laps we were told. Tyres will have to be changed, we were told. We spent the better half of warm up watching our fearless riders jump on and off bikes. Some did the Leap. Some the Ballet. Some a gentle Pirouette. It was fun.

The race started. They shot down the circuit, pushing their bikes. This was Marc Marquez’s moment in the sun. Chances were that he would be crowned World Champion, breaking records… lots of them. Valentino Rossi fell back. Cal Crutchlow took 4th. Rossi got ready to battle Alvaro Bautista. I moaned and groaned. No, I shouted at the heavens above. NO! (Drama Queen, I know).

The Lorenzo Jump. Photo: Yamaha Racing Team (editorial use only)

The Lorenzo Jump. Photo: Yamaha Racing Team (editorial use only)

But I must admit, I was a tad distracted. I was watching the lap counter run its course. Dani Pedrosa made his way to the pit. There was no one there, he later said. Rossi and Crutchlow pitted together. The Italian grandmaster though did the bike swap faster than Cal could say honey badger, before zooming down the pit exit. He even found time to adjust his leathers. Rossi da coolest! Lorenzo made it in at lap 10. But Marquez left everyone sputtering as he zoomed past the spit exit and on to another lap. Whoa!

Marc Marquez and Pedrosa battle - just for a bit. Photo: Repsol Honda team (editorial use only)

Marquez and Pedrosa battle – just for a bit. Photo: Repsol Honda team (editorial use only)

He made it in at lap 11, one lap too late! What would happen? What would happen, we wondered. It was nasty. Marquez got the black flag. Disqualified! All that work extending his lead for nothing!

The race went pretty fast after that. Lorenzo took lead and a smooth finish to a podium first. Pedrosa grabbed second and Rossi got his 3rd after a brilliant battle with the arch rivals Crutchlow and Bautista! We even got half a lap of rain.

Photo: Yamaha Racing Team (editorial use only)

Photo: Yamaha Racing Team (editorial use only)

Lorenzo was ecstatic post-race. Understandably so. He was back in championship running. Whoever thought that would happen?

Marquez said in a post-race press release, “Today was our first experience of a Flag-to-Flag race, and suffice to say it wasn’t a good one. My team and I had set out a strategy and we thought that we could come in after lap 10, but in reality this counts as an extra lap. We hadn’t had that in mind, and this was a huge mistake. We had everything well planned and I followed the instructions on my pit board…”

I cheered as the trio sprayed champagne, and tried to catch my breath! What a race! What excitement. What madness!

Even as I celebrated, I felt a teeny-tiny bit bad for Marquez. The championship was within reach, so close, yet so far away.

Will Motegi be the decider?

Foggy Motegi! Photo: Yamaha Racing Team (editorial use only)

Foggy Motegi! Photo: Yamaha Racing Team (editorial use only)

Even as I was getting ready to post this, things went to hell in Japan, i.e. the weather decided to throw a tantrum. The Friday sessions were cancelled for all categories. Race Direction, in a press conference said that the reason was the lack of a helicopter. Apparently, Japanese law doesn’t allow choppers to take off when there is low visibility. Makes sense, given that Motegi currently has low cloud over, poor visibility with promise of rain – a lot of it – on Saturday.

MotoGP however will not run as the lack of a chopper means (if there is an injured rider) there will be no way to transport him immediately to an accredited hospital. It’s an hour’s drive – so road isn’t a viable option.

Race Direction said too that there were looking at l0nger sessions on Saturday. If Saturday gets cancelled, then Sunday will be a long, drawn-out session – practice, qualifying and race.

Enough with the rain dance, people!

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1 Response

  1. I bet Crutchlow was fuming in his helmet when Rossi nuddged in front into the pits and then left in front of him. I thought the Pedrosa leap was going to be the best bit pre-race given his height, Lorenzo’s turned out the most amusing, looked like he had a springboard he got so much height!
    Silly Marquez no point being technically best at bike switching if it’s on the wrong lap!
    Hope this Japan “weather”, if you can call it that, improves, not keen on the new timetable ideas, I need sleep!

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