Valencia: The skies opened up on the day of his coronation. Could his daredevilry under the most horrendous conditions at the season-ending Valencia MotoGP bring off a miracle again? This was one challenge that was beyond even the considerable prowess of the Catalan world champion who crashed out in the 12thminute of the bizarre wet start with the rain seemingly timing itself to pour the most water on the big occasion.
Serena Williams once said, “Champions are not defined by their wins but by how they can recover after falling.” Nothing could have been more apt in defining the overall achievements of the world MotoGP champion Marc Marquez of the Honda Racing team. This time, however, there was to be no quick recovery as the champ hurt his shoulder again and was cursing himself in disappointment as he began the forlorn walk back to the paddock.
Marquez was not the only one to be beaten by the conditions. Nine riders were to hit the tarmac or the gravel in under 15 laps and the red flag had to go up. This was more like a parody movie of wacky humour as riders and bikes flew in the air. The race was stopped and restarted later when the rain laid off a bit. Alex Rins was given pole with Andrea Dovizioso, known as ‘The Maniac Joe’ second and it was Dovizioso of Ducati who won the GP.
There might have been a different story to tell had the veteran Italian Valentino Rossi kept his cool, but in a desperate attempt to recapture old glory he tried to hunt down Dovizioso as it started drizzling again and went off the track with just laps to go.
Earlier, Pol Esparago who was attacking Marquez on a corner was the first to come down at the serious end of the race among the leaders. Soon, Marquez met the same fate as he chased Dovizioso after having fought him off all season as the one biker who pushed the champion the most.
As rider and bike cartwheeled, Marquez came up holding his left shoulder again at Turn 8. The signs were ominous as conditions got more and more treacherous by the second as puddles of water built up on the track.
The Catalan did not even have to race on his home turf for the championship as he had ensured his fifth title at the Japan GP itself. But fate had willed that he would hurt his shoulder again. The rest was a technicality as the rule book ordered a restart.
It seemed to be a family affair and bad luck for the siblings on Sunday as Alex Marquez lost the lead in the Moto 2 GP s as he crashed in spectacular fashion and sparks flew as his bike scraped the turf. He managed to get back on track quickly for a podium finish and at least one Marquez was on his bike at the end of a race over the last weekend. Those who braved the weather and trooped to the Ricardo Tormo circuit outside Valencia in colourful raincoats or under unfurled umbrellas may not have bargained for such a day in Catalunya.
The multifaceted champion, who has pushed the limits in his sport and drawn comparisons to Federer for sheer artistry and to Tiger Woods for having achieved so much when so young, also does a lot of MotoCross riding to bone up on handling the bike in off-road conditions. It was thought he knows all about handling a bike that virtually dances in the wet. Marquez is known to restlessly push all the time, but then he is the one who lives on the edge. He may have paid the price by way of his pride on Sunday.
Can Oncu of Turkey, just 15 years old, sprang a pleasant surprise in the day’s Moto3 opener under dark skies. His was a wild card entry as he goes into full time series racing only next season. With plenty of riders taking a tumble in the spiting rain and the very wet track, Oncu slipped into the lead as the front running Tony Arbolino crashed and built such a long lead of six seconds that he could even take a backward glance on the final lap before he and the crowd broke into crazy celebration....