Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I sometimes wonder whether I should call this blog a ‘Motoring Blog’ or a ‘Motorsport Blog’ – after all, that’s the only topic I keep on writing about, with a few posts of random nothingness here and there.

But there is a small issue:

My employers are not called ‘F1 Racing Magazine’, ‘Autosport’ or, even ‘Auto India’. Which means nobody’s going to give a monkey about my views on ‘Should Renault devote more finances to developing wheel nuts that convert atmospheric CO2 into oxygen?

But I am slightly miffed by what happened yesterday in the MotoGP Qatar Grand Prix. I have always worshipped Valentino ‘The Doctor’ Rossi, but he did something completely unexpected last night.

Yes, he didn’t win – now that he’s made winning such a habit, one might be forgiven for expecting him to win every other race. Yamaha weren’t in as good shape as the Bolognese powerhouse – Ducati and Stoner were raping (there is no other word for it) everyone else on the track with the Desmosedici GP7. The gap between Stoner and the second placed Rossi never fell below 0.45 of a second a lap. Now that, in motor racing terms is the equivalent of a year. Stoner sure looked unbeatable.

As the lights went out, Rossi had a poor start, fell back to fourth, even as Stoner turned up the heat at the head of the pack. But as Rossi has so often done, he chipped away at the advantage that Lorenzo and Capirossi had and passed them both. He managed to close the gap between him and Stoner to a little under 2 seconds, and then faded away and eventually settled for second place. All of this is fine. He probably had worn out his tyres while trying to play catch up. He was probably having too many vibrations from the front wheel which made it next to impossible to stay on the limit all the time. His Yamaha’s set-up was probably not quite up to the task. The Yamaha was probably not quick enough. PROBABLY.

But this was what the Doctor had to say after the race:

"But after that I was making up the gap, and maybe I could have caught him, but after yesterday's rain the asphalt became a bit more aggressive, and I had some small problems with the front tyre, so at one point I had to decide whether I should crash or give up."
"So I thought a bit, and since we knew we were a bit on the limit, I gave up. Well done to Stoner, he was quick and he deserved the win. In any case we're second, we've demonstrated that we can go quick, so see you at Motegi."

So he admitted it. Remove the word probably from all those sentences. He wasn’t quick enough. He didn’t go balls-out, for he realized there was no point in it. Stoner was unbeatable last night in Losail. That’s the heart-breaking part. I would like to believe he could have done it. He would have found a way. Like that magical debut race for Yamaha in 2005 in Welkom, South Africa. That was a Rossi masterclass. That was when the rider had proved that he was bigger than the machine itself. He had taken the M1 to the dizzying limits and beyond, walking a tightrope for the entire duration of the race.

See you at Motegi, then.