Barely two weeks ago, they sat, hunkered down in their pit garages, watching the glum mist roll across the Twin Ring circuit in Motegi. It rained, drizzled, and they waited for the sun to come out, to shine, so that they could ride. This could be it, they thought. This could be the race that decided the 2013 champion of the world.
And so they kept themselves busy. Alvaro Bautista played Candy Crush, Valentino Rossi tried to take a snooze, and Marc Marquez showed off his helmet and t-shirt (the less said about that, the better. Read Lisa’s post to get up close and personal with that particular incident).
The sun did shine finally, and race day dawned after one day of sitting around and a startling Saturday qualifying (whoever thought Nicky Hayden would take 3rd place).
We clasped our hands, hissed at the television screen, screamed in exaltation, groaned in despair and laughed at the result. It was Jorge Lorenzo all the way – with the other Spaniard (no, not Dani, sire) at 2nd. Two silly mistakes (yes, two) left Valentino Rossi at 6th. Gasp! Ridiculous, I say. Ridiculous.
But I was still laughing.
2013 had promised us a fantastic year, and it delivered. From Vale’s return to the rookie’s dominance, it has been nothing short of phenomenal. Apt then that the championship battle continues – on to the last race of the season at beautiful Valencia. 13 points separate Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo.
Who will win? Marquez, the young contender leads. Lorenzo isn’t his fan and is determined to make the rookie work for every second gained and every point taken. But Marquez, who has stunned people with his grace and bullheadedness isn’t of the faint-hearted. He has taken on the old guard several times over, and gives as good as he gets.
Lorenzo however has gained fans this year – especially after pulling that Superman impersonation in Assen. I think I am still recovering from that. Then, who can forget the phenomenal Silverstone Lorenzo-Marquez confrontation? I still get breathless. And well, for the sake of this post, we must…absolutely must, recall with a shake of our head, the Honda Phillip Island boo-boo. Now, that Australian race was definitely a turning point in the championship game. What do you think?
Happy happy for us though! Considering we went into Valencia last year knowing that Lorenzo had been crowned king. Well, we have sorta known the champion well before Valencia most of the time. Except in 2006. Remember the infamous Vale fall on Lap 5 and Nicky Hayden’s 3rd? It was enough to push the Kentucky Kid into champion mode.
If you are in the mood of a teeny trip down memory lane, check out MotoGP.com’s crazy article on all the final race championship showdowns in the sport’s history.
I bet you also know how much I suck at Maths. So, check out these funky calculations MotoGP.com has done – all the permutations and combinations are on here.
If you ask me the rookie has it good in Valencia. He has been breaking every conceivable rookie record there is. This is what he had to say pre-race weekend: “It’s been nice to have a week at home after a long three weeks away, after my accident in Motegi I’ve doing muscular rehabilitation on my neck in anticipation for the race, and it now feels much better. We’ve had good races in Valencia; I’ve always tried to give it my best there. I have fond memories of last year’s race in Moto2 but the weather will also be a factor to consider because it is very changeable. I’m already looking forward to getting back in the pit garage and getting on the bike! Obviously we know what is at stake in this final Grand Prix of the year, but we will – as ever – approach it as we have done every other race, and work hard from the Friday and do our best”
Lorenzo meanwhile had this to say: “So we come to the last race in Valencia. It’s going to be exciting, maybe the most exciting of all the season. We are still in the fight and that is the most important thing right now. I’m very stimulated because three races ago we thought the championship was over. Instead we have a chance to fight for the title. Valencia is my home race and it will be very emotional considering our position in the classification. We don’t have anything to lose but everything to win, and this card plays on our side. Maybe our main rival can feel much more pressure in Valencia than us because he is so close to victory. I look forward to riding there and pushing with all my force. If we can continue to ride at our level we can fight for the win and then wait for the circumstances. You never know what can happen, especially if the forecast is uncertain as it was last year. We trust in ourselves and we expect a good race in front of our fans. We will never give up until the end!”
It is absolutely impossible to write off Lorenzo. You don’t become two-time world champion just like that, now do you?
While you take a breather, I am going to take a trip down memory lane. Oh, how I wish I was at Ricardo Tormo this weekend.
Meanwhile on the other side of the garage
Nobody likes a split-up. And well, to be honest, for us fans, it always seemed like the Valentino Rossi-Jeremy Burgess marriage was a match made in heaven. They seemed to the best of pals with a brilliant working relationship. Race results weren’t exactly what Vale, the team, or we, the fans, wanted, but at least they were trying. But the last thing, I expected was this Vale statement, made during the pre-race press conference in Valencia: “I think that next year, Jeremy will not be my chief mechanic…yes, this is our last race together.” Later, Burgess said during a press conference (that left me with a broken heart, call me a sentimental fool) that he had been “blindsided”.
And so it is that the old guard is changing – it has been for most of this year, hasn’t it? But then, that is a story for another day. For now, Race Day Valencia is calling and it’s time to count points and guess the 2013 champion!