Like Maradona driving a hot-hatch
by Mat Oxley on 10th April 2018
Sunday’s Argentine MotoGP Grand Prix was like a Gaucho rodeo ride: chaotic, painful and unmissable
First, I have a confession to make: I like a bit of chaos. Few things are more over-organised than modern sport, which mostly runs like a well-oiled machine, so sometimes it’s good to see a spanner thrown in the works.
It’s not unusual for this to happen in South America. Some years ago during the Brazilian GP in Rio de Janeiro, practice had to be stopped because the circuit had a power outage. The owners hadn’t paid their electricity bill, so the electricity company waited for the perfect moment, then pulled the plug. Practice continued once they’d got their money.
This sort of thing rarely happens nowadays. Like I said, everything is too well organised, there are too many rules and very often there is too much health and safety. So I hugely enjoyed Sunday’s action, with a few obvious exceptions. To me, one of the joys of motorcycle racing is that it is a kind of chaos, even when it’s not particularly chaotic. I don’t think any other sport better fits George Orwell’s famous words, written in December 1945, when his mind was already working towards writing 1984.
“Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting.”
Thirty years later, the writer who created the movie Rollerball had similar ideas. “When I look at the film now, I feel like a prophet,” said William Harrison. “In Roman times they had death sports in the Coliseum and the Circus Maximus. They’ve been toned down now into NFL and other sports but they’re still there. When I wrote Rollerball, sports were becoming dark and violent. There was a general nastiness, which I picked up on.”
The disregard for the rules started before Sunday’s race had started, the general nastiness later. Okay, the mass walkout from the grid wasn’t against the regulations, but 23 of 24 riders sauntering back into pit lane to switch to their spare bikes equipped with dry settings looked like a copout, especially if you were sat where Jack Miler was sitting.
At this point race direction seemed to forget there is a rule specifically designed to deal with this instance, introduced following a similar occurrence at the Sachsenring in 2014, when most of the grid started the race from pit lane, elbow to elbow, handlebar to handlebar. That was scary to behold; thrilling too. I enjoy a bit of chaos – did I already say that?
And then there was Marc Márquez, stalling and bump-starting his bike, then committing the cardinal sin of riding the track in the wrong direction. It was obviously an illegal manoeuvre, given a hint of comedy by IRTA’s Tony Congram chasing the world champion around the grid like a copper trying to apprehend a joyrider.
And then there was Márquez during the race, from first to 19th to fifth to 18th. I know, I know, it was too much. Yes, yes, he took it too far. But, wow, just, wow. When do you get to see a rider lapping up to a second faster than anyone else, making the best riders in the world look slow?
It was like watching local hero Diego Maradona lay waste to a rival team’s defence. It was pure poetry, his RC213V juddering this way and that, making all kinds of shapes as he danced across the wet patches, which most of his rivals treated like ice. Damn him all you want, but his talent for riding a motorcycle way beyond the limit is otherworldly. I’ve never liked the term ‘alien’, but on Sunday Márquez really did look like he had come from another solar system and was subject to a different law of gravity.
It was a shame he had to spoil it. In the end, he was Maradona driving a hot hatch like he stole it, with the throttle hand of god.
Source: Motorsport Magazine Online
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