For those of you who have been following the MotoGP racing this season, you know what I am talking about. The world elite motorcycle racing category, the MotoGP, sees world’s most gifted motorcycle racers duke it out on circuits on every continent of the globe (well, apart from Africa). And for the first three quarters of the season it was nail biting.
Incredible racing, faster and faster, masterful overtaking and advances in motorcycle technology that could only be dreamed of. And that by some 24 very talented racers. But of the 24, 4 stood out by a great length; 3 Spaniards and 1 Italian. These were quickly dubbed the “Aliens”.
And these 4 have been dominating the sport of a few years, particularly the 9 times world champion and very charismatic Italian; Valentino Rossi. To be 9 times the world champion does say one thing; he knows how to race.
But the other three aren’t slouches; Rossi’s team mate at Yamaha is Jorge Lorenzo, an incredibly talented racers who is currently the fastest man on the fastest bike. But with an attitude and temper to match. On the Honda side are Marc Marquez, the upcoming King of MotoGP, a man who has already proven himself to be incredibly fast but with a bad season behind him. His team mate, Dani Pedrosa, has been very unlucky with several crashes, and has only in the last few races shown that he deserves a spot at the very top.
So far, so good. In all the races leading up to the championship, that is, all but the last 3 races, the battles upfront were epic and heart-stopping. Even people who weren’t into MotoGP racing, or even motorcycle racing in general, had to stop and watch the incredible suspense these 45 minutes of intense racing would bring.
But it’s in the last 3 races that things went downhill. And it went downhill in a head-basket. Without going into details, it became a daytime soap opera drama. Where there used to be a lot of respect between the racers, now there was mud slinging, insults and finally physical violence on the track.
The two title contents, Rossi and Lorenzo (remember, they are team mates), were at a few points over each other. And when the other team riders interfered with the race, tempers flared. And when you are riding at 350 kph, you’d better keep your temper in check. But unfortunately, the riders didn’t.
So in the last race of the season, one rider, Rossi, was penalized and sent to the back of the grid, while his team mate and direct competitor Lorenzo was at the very front. An impossible position to be in, but given Rossi’s talent, he managed to crawl back to 4th position but was short 2 positions so he had to forfeit the title.
But the annoying thing were the attitudes of the racers. Where once they were “Supermen”, with talent, good humor & fun, men to be idolized, now the Rossi vs Marquez battle showed that these are mere humans, victims to their own ego and desires. And Lorenzo has the perfect opportunity to stay silent and take the high road, but didn’t, instead jumped up & down, turned blue and almost went off to the corner to sulk. Teenager stuff, not grown men.
The only one of the four that marked his adulthood was Pedrosa who tried to say the right thing and calm everyone down, but it was too far gone (though Pedrosa in former years did have some meltdown episodes of his own with Lorenzo, so much so that the King of Spain had to intervene). But at least he kept out of the fray, which was a good thing.
So now we have a newly crowned world champ, Jorge Lorenzo, who arguably is one of the best racers, but with a title that will always be put into question, as will future titles. Now, when someone wins, you’ll be asking yourself whether they got the win by themselves, or if they were helped by other racers. What was at play: Talent? Politics? Ego? Financial? Pride? If it’s only talent, that’s great, but all the other issues should be left at their motorhomes.
And the idols are no longer idolized; they are just very talented human beings with several faults; just like normal human beings..
And in all the drama, one man who deserved much more attention was the American Nicky Hayden who raced his last MotoGP race. What a pity he didn’t get the media attention he deserved, but everyone was turned to the free-for-all fight up front and forgot about the other racers.
For me, the fun is out of this kind of high level, high stakes, motorcycle racing. I think I’ll go looking for a less drama sport; maybe chess or checker world championships.