I have spent most of my professional career trying to convince managing editors, executive producers, and other powerful media types that motorcycle racers are highly trained professional athletes and not just adrenaline junkies with no regard for their own safety. Today was not a good day to repeat that argument. Today was one of the toughest races anyone can remember, made even more frightening, awesome and epic by the fact it took place on Phillip Island.
Marquez, Rossi, Vinales, Zarco, Iannone and Crutchlow pushed, shoved and banged into one another all race long. There were broken tail units and black rubber traces on leathers. Thee were overtakes in places that shouldn’t be possible, and the general scrabble made it impossible for anyone to break away, and anyone who tried to follow found their perfect lines interfered with in the rudest possible fashion. Except when Marquez hit the front and pushed. Zarco and the factory Yamahas were so intent on their fight with each other and Iannone’s Suzuki that Marquez escaped.
We saw Marquez at his best. We saw Valentino Rossi go toe-to-toe with all his young rivals and give at least as good as he got. We saw Maverick Vinales get back to his early-season form. We saw Johann Zarco do things no rookie has done since, well, Marc Marquez.
We also saw Andrea Dovizioso finish 13th and surely lose a chance of even taking the fight to the last round. With a lead of 33 points, it will a surprise if it isn’t settled next weekend in Malaysia.
I am now off to purchase a new supply of superlatives. I appear to have run out.