Years from now Catalunya 2017 will be remembered as the place Andrea Dovizioso and Ducati scored their second win of the season and in succession. Where MotoGP raced on a bump-filled and dodgy track.
Marc Marquez finished second so he’ll have a trophy to remember Catalunya 2017.
Beyond that, Marquez should probably awarded some kind of trophy of unusual and amazing accomplishment.
From the time practice opened on Friday morning until the end of the Monday test a rough accounting of Marquez’s race weekend and Monday overtime:
He crashed five times. He lost the front in nearly every one of those crashes. How blessed is this guy? He crashed five times in three days and barely sustained an injury. He went faster after nearly every crash. Sure, modern rider protection and track safety have made it so a rider doesn’t have to have his surgeon on speed dial from March through September. But these are still motorcycle crashes. Obviously one would rather not crash because, again obviously, even in small crashes bad things can happen. Fingers get trapped under the clip-on and come away looking ghastly and taking forever to heal or eventually be cut off (Bradley Smith, Wayne Rainey, Jorge Lorenzo, et al).
“There are no small crashes” is the axiom of the older club racer. A rider we know lost the front on the warm-up lap of a supersport race and suffered a small crash. As he slid, his boots hooked the ground and gave him a good on-your-back-to-on-your chest slap where the forehead of his helmet augured into the ground. Pre-crash he was maybe doing 35 mph. Unfortunately, he did not leave the hospital, after that largely insignificant crash, for three years.
Why do riders like Cal Crutchlow and Jorge Lorenzo ride in fear of an unexpected loss of adhesion from the front causing a crash on a MotoGP bike? Because they are intelligent, rational human beings. If you get your ass kicked for no discernible reason in a seedy Wisconsin corner bar, most rational and intelligent people don’t want to go back there. Same deal, kind of.
He tripped and fell. Not while crashing his motorcycle, while moving under his own power. He tripped over his roll-starter in the pit lane. Accidental falls–shock–are a leading cause of injury. People break bones falling all the time. This is not the first time Marc has done a gigantic face-digger. Here, again is evidence that Marquez is very special. Everybody probably knows a clumsy human who temps fate just peeling a banana, someone for whom frequent pratfalls with steps or falling over large obstacles is a common occurrence. But these unlucky and frequently bandaged people are not generally regarded as the fastest motorcycle racer in the world, or perhaps of all time. Marquez can focus his eyes like a laser at 215mph. He can stick the front wheel of a motorcycle on the same tiny piece of asphalt sixty times a day and not be off by more than a few inches. And yet he trips over large objects and is not great on stairs.
He finished second in the MotoGP race. It’s still a minor miracle when he does this.
On the Monday test, after the five crashes, the face-plants and the exhaustion of the race he tested all day with Michelins new front tire. He did 82 laps, more than any other rider at the test. He set the fastest time of the day on the 81st lap.