Caught your breath? Shrugged off the last vestiges of adrenalin that pumped through your veins, as you watched the final MotoGP race of the season?
Now, tell me. Was it everything you wanted? Everything you thought it would be?
It was. Wasn’t it?
There it was, the final battle – wild, crazy, brilliant and thrilling, just the way a finale should be.
By the end of it, it didn’t matter who the 2013 champion was. As far as I was concerned, both the players deserved their name right there on the trophy – the rookie and the defending champion. Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo.
We entered the 2013 season with a lot of hope and expectations. There he was, Marc Marquez, the young rookie, full of promise and bursting with talent, determined to make his mark and prove his worth amongst the big boys in MotoGP. There he was Jorge Lorenzo, smooth as silk on the track, with a new teammate, also his former rival, and determined to hold on to his championship for yet another year. There he was Dani Pedrosa, the man who stood in the shadows, waiting for turn in the spotlight, getting ready to burst forth and take the crown from Lorenzo. And there he was, Valentino Rossi, the Doctor, making a return, looking to prove himself yet again, to the fans and the naysayers, that he had it in him…that he still had it in him.
We leave the 2013 season now with so many memories – many of which still make us gasp in happiness, shock and astonishment.
But the one memory I know I will take with me into the 2014 season is the one I made today – as I sat spellbound in my chair watching the final race of the season play out in front of me. They raced… truly raced.
Because this was the way a race should be – power-packed, mature, crazy, mad – the kind that left me gasping for breath and screaming at the screen. Though, I admit that the screams were less from frustration and more from sheer excitement.
So it began: The lights went off and Lorenzo took off, not like a shot, but calmer, as was his new strategy. The two-time world champion tried to slow down the race pace – a tactic that didn’t really work. But it was enough to get Dani Pedrosa interested. And wow, was he interested. Pedrosa pushed, and pushed, as he and Lorenzo exchanged places innumerable times. It was enough to leave me wishing, he had raced like this through the season. Oh well.
Until, lap 10.
Lorenzo and Pedrosa had managed to avoid a few ‘incidents’ as they battled for top spot. But things got a tad hairy on lap 10. Pedrosa tried to make a move on Lorenzo, but the former world champion refused to be bamboozled. Pedrosa got pushed wide and slipped places, handing Marquez the lead. Race Direction is, of course, reviewing the overtaking manoeuvre. A decision is still awaited.
Lorenzo took back his lead. Meanwhile, behind, Pedrosa caught up with Rossi and Bautista and took 3rd place. Vale, on his last weekend with crew chief Jeremy Burgess, settled into 4th place.
Things became quiet after that, as the riders settled into a rhythm, stayed safe, and tried not to rock the boat. Marquez spotted Pedrosa coming up behind and let him past. It was definitely a mature move from the 20-year-old. It wasn’t his battle to fight, Marquez later said. Vale stayed on at 4th place, while Bautista took 5th place. Cal Crutchlow on his last race for Tech3 (before his shift to the dreaded Ducati), had crashed out early in the race.
Lorenzo crossed the finish line to a well-deserved victory, even as Marquez took home the championship trophy. “It’s a dream come true,” he said at the post-race press conference. “The biggest surprise is to get the title at the first season, but also get the BMW, and the pole of poles…We are also on top in the ranking of crashes,” Marquez said with a laugh.
Marquez continued his 2013 trend of setting records – of all sorts. This includes becoming the first rookie to win the premier-class world title since Kenny Roberts in 1978. Marquez, at 20 years 266 days is the youngest rider to win the premier-class world title since Freddie Spencer who 21 years 258 days old when he won the 500cc title in 1983. Marquez is also the 4th rider in 65 years of grand prix racing to win world titles in three different categories. He joins Mike Hailwood, Phil Read and Valentino Rossi.
The circuit resounded with the pop of champagne corks, cheers and fireworks. There is no doubt that this was the perfect way to say good-bye to MotoGP 2013. The work isn’t over, as the teams will begin testing from Monday. After all 2014 isn’t too far away – and soon it will be time for another championship and many more battles.
Till then, in the words of Marc Marquez during the post-race press conference, “Enjoy the moment because you don’t know if it will happen again. I hope it happens again!”