JEREZ, Spain – To make life easier I've invented “woah.”
“Woah” will be employed whenever I wish to pause the written action and throw in an element of reflection, a time to ponder, muse. “Woah” simply stands for “What (if) On A Honda,” and as you can see it works perfectly. (I'm aware it should really be “Wioah,” but that makes no sense.)
Anyway, a good example of Woah would, obviously, be Valentino Rossi but there are other intriguing candidates for Woah, which I'll intrigue you with later. Actually, Woah™.
We're at the track known as “The Cathedral” by its fans. The surface is slipperier than a dolphin’s foot and qualifying was more akin to tenpin bowling than MotoGP. Due to the 53-degree track temperature and the age of the circuit, the heat made all the effulgent—composed of rubber, oil and screams—rise to the surface and lurk in the off-line, ready to take out whomsoever prepared to go that little bit extra. Indeed, most of the grid went down and that included Pedrosa, Rossi, Marquez and English, twice. English's second accident was actually quite nasty. Despite injury and a hastily rebuilt bike, he went out before the session ended and in one blistering lap qualified in fourth. A serious case of Woah™ here. Excellent work.
Other noteworthy grid slots are Alvaro Bautista in sixth (Woah™), rookie Brad Smith in 12th, and it's nice to see Nicky Hayden up there in seventh. I was expecting a little more from Rossi. He's won here six times but he's hardly ruled himself out of the action by being in fifth. Noteworthy absentees are Karel Abraham and the unluckiest GP racer of them all, Ben Spies. Poor old Ben, if you gave Ben all the tea in China he'd arrange to collect it at Boston Harbor in 1773.
Once again, it's a full Spanish front row with the defending World Champ on pole, Pedrosa in second … Why am I writing this? It's all there below.
MotoGP Jerez Qualifying Results 2013:
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:38.673
2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:38.920
3. Marc Marquez (Honda) 1:38.971
4. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1:39.262
5. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:39.300
6. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1:39.509
7. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:39.654
8. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1:39.847
9. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 1:39.848
10. Hector Barbera (FTR) 1:39.980
11. Andrea Iannone (Ducati) 1:40.087
12. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 1:40.356
13. Aleix Espargaro (ART) 1:40.085
14. Michele Pirro (Ducati) 1:40.182
15. Randy de Puniet (ART) 1:40.466
16. Hiroshi Aoyama (FTR) 1:40.654
17. Danilo Petrucci (Ioda-Suter) 1:40.852
18. Bryan Staring (FTR-Honda) 1:41.324
19. Claudio Corti (FTR-Kawasaki) 1:41.513
20. Colin Edwards (FTR-Kawasaki) 1:41.536
21. Yonny Hernandez (ART) 1:41.779
22. Michael Laverty (PBM) 1:41.935
23. Lukas Pesek (Ioda-Suter) 1:43.220
Marc Marquez, the new wonder boy, is lurking in third waiting to stir it all up in front of 111,000 fans. The lights go out and we're off!
Lorenzo and Pedrosa head the grid, behind them Rossi is on a charge. He passes English and then Marquez to wangle third. A lap later Marquez has decided he wants to run with his Spanish colleagues, who are already just starting to nose ahead. He's over Rossi like impetigo and there's little doubt he's going to pass. When it comes his ostentatious move is, ironically, reminiscent of Rossi. While all this is going on I notice that I'm slowly shaking my head and smiling at Marquez fondly like a proud parent, as I'm sure his proud parents are.
Twenty-five laps to go Marquez, Rossi and English are one. Behind them Bautista, Bradl and Hayden are also crawling through each other’s leathers. As they play, Lorenzo and Pedrosa are increasing the gap.
All the riders are on soft tires to cope with the track temperature. With 24 laps to go they're already going to be losing some the essential grip that will force the riders to settle into their rhythm sooner than usual. Though not for Randy de Puniet, who’s already in the litter tray. He's followed by Iannone and Bradl in quick succession. I'm happy to report there are no injuries.
Twenty-three left, Marquez is slowly reeling in Pedrosa, who, a lap later, responds with a beautiful inside pass on Lorenzo. Not only has Pedrosa taken the lead but he's also put a bike between him and his wily teammate. With 21 laps to left, however, Marquez is right behind Lorenzo, who's not quite let go of Pedrosa.
Lorenzo is in a bit of a tight spot. He needs to catch Pedrosa, but with Marquez barking at his heels he's having to take time out to block him. As a result Pedrosa starts to pull away. With 19 laps left Marquez poses a serious threat but he's not quite close enough to get in the passing zone. That's until Lorenzo goes wide; now he's right up there.
Sixteen laps, Pedrosa is making hay. He's 2.5 seconds ahead of total war. Marquez does well holding it on the black when he nearly loses it in a serious of attempts to nudge ahead of Lorenzo, who, despite this, looks smooth—seemingly in control of the situation—yet his racing line belies his awareness of the threat posed behind.
Bautista takes English for fourth but it's the man in sixth who’s on a charge. Rossi has the bit between his teeth just as Lorenzo seems to have exhausted young Marquez. The next few laps are a bit disappointing. All the riders are watching their tires and they're too far from the end of the race for last-minute lunges. Rossi sails past Bautista and English as if they're not even there. In his wake the two engage in an intense battle for fifth.
With seven laps to the flag it's Espargaro and Dovizioso who are supplying the entertainment, not so much Woah™ as Erm? In this case Dovi is aboard the full-factory Ducati, possibly the most controversial racing machine since the Tyrrell P34, and Espargaro on his comparatively off-the-peg Aprillia, leading the CRTs, and there's nothing in it. Dovi will ultimately finish eighth, one place ahead of Espargaro. But the point has been made. Indeed, Bautista aboard the Pramac, powered by a Ducati, will finish ahead of both Dovi and Hayden on the factory bikes, woah! (not Woah™ in this case.)
Four laps to go, Pedrosa is miles ahead, looking smooth and as relaxed as you can be while going faster than a spinning black hole. On the other hand Lorenzo is looking a bit shifty. Marquez has caught up again and he's throwing shapes. Three laps, Pedrosa has lost some of his pace, he's just got to tickle it home. But something has stirred within Lorenzo. Maybe he's sensing a problem with his countryman—tire degradation, chatter, ingrowing hair … In any case, he's on the move and Marquez is getting left behind … for a bit.
On the last lap Marquez closes in on Lorenzo but isn't quite close enough to pass until, quite suddenly, Marques just appears on Lorenzo's inside forcing him off the racing line. Lorenzo leans into what was once air and bangs into Marquez who manages to hold it in place. By the time Pedrosa crosses the line Marquez is balancing traction and position. He makes it stick and comes home in second, though not without a sniff of controversy, something I don't think we've seen the end of in his career.
MotoGP Jerez Results 2013:
1. Dani Pedrosa (Honda)
2. Marc Marquez (Honda)
3. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)
4. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)
5. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha)
6. Alvaro Bautista (Honda)
7. Nicky Hayden (Ducati)
8. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati)
9. Aleix Espargaro (ART)
10. Bradley Smith (Yamaha)
11. Michele Pirro (Ducati)
12. Hector Barbera (FTR)
13. Michael Laverty (PBM)
14. Danilo Petrucci (Ioda-Suter)
15. Colin Edwards (FTR-Kawasaki)
16. Bryan Staring (FTR-Honda)
17. Claudio Corti (FTR-Kawasaki)
18. Hiroshi Aoyama (FTR)
Pedrosa's win is significant in terms of points but perhaps in more than anything to his sense of self-esteem. A fairly significant media row broke out last week when Kevin Schwantz cast doubts on him ever winning a world championship. I've made a similar point in the past though I'm not a GP legend outside of a restful night’s sleep.
Marquez's championship points lead speaks for itself, but the conversation regarding that last lap move won't be ending anytime soon. Lorenzo was rightly annoyed with his surprise third place and refused to shake Marquez’s hand after the race, preferring a strangely avuncular finger waggle—maybe because he recognized something of himself in the young upstart. In my opinion there was a space and Marquez took it. It was heavy-handed, definitely rude, but, overall, acceptable. Still, if he makes a habit of passing like that it won't be long before he will find himself on the wrong side of the authorities, or worse.
It was a good race from my countrymen Cal, Brad and Michael Laverty who get's his first point. Bautista and Hayden rode very well too finishing where they qualified and, of course, splendid to see Rossi hanging-on in there.
No clues for figuring out who my man of the race was though … Woah™! Oh, hang on, he is already.
MotoGP Championship Points 2013:
1. Marc Marquez, 61
2. Dani Pedrosa, 58
3. Jorge Lorenzo, 57
4. Valentino Rossi, 43
5. Cal Crutchlow, 35
6. Alvaro Bautista, 28
7. Andrea Dovizioso, 24
8. Nicky Hayden, 24
9. Aleix Espargaro, 17
10. Andrea Iannone, 13
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