Monday, October 30, 2006

Final MotoGP race 2006...

Occasionally there are events you see- either live or on TV (delayed telecast)- that you can say after wards "I saw it all happen!"

Last night's MotoGP was such an event. I have already blogged about my sweaty man love for Troy Bayliss, so it was extra grouse/orsum/wicked to see him lead from start to finish and win his first ever MotoGP race, and also be the first to take wins in both World Superbike and MotoGP. Troy's victory was overshadowed somewhat by the fact that the 2006 world title was yet to be decided- the first time in 14 years that it was going to come down to the final race.

And it was unlike anything anyone expected. American Nicky Hayden was taken out of the last race by his own team mate and gave up his world title lead to Valentino Rossi. Rossi started this event 8 points ahead of hayden, then grabbed pole and the pundits called it: Rossi to win world title. Backing Rossi at this point is like backing Roger Federer at 40 love match point, or Bradman to make 100 while on 99... etc.

The Sporting Gods had their money on someone else:

"In a stunning turn of events, Hayden, whose motto is 'Chasin' the dream,' won the 2006 MotoGP World Championship after championship rival Valentino Rossi crashed on the fifth of 30 laps, losing the front end in the looping second turn while in seventh place in the title-determining Valencia Grand Prix."

I am going to say something that i thought I would never say about Valentino Rossi: choker. Honestly I have never seen the multi-time world champ look so tentative on a bike. Shocking start, (first on the grid, 7th turn one) and then he did not even look like he was going to make his way up the order. The maths was as follows: if Hayden won the race, Rossi needed to be second.
Nicky Hayden- World MotoGP champ 2006
In my view, if Rossi had stayed upright, Hayden would have pushed harder, with a 2nd or first in the offing. I think Rossi would have finished outside the top 5.

In short, I think Hayden could have won no matter what Rossi did.

History will record this as the year that the unbeatable Valentino Rossi was beaten. I think it's the end of Rossi chasing "other things" like F1 drives, rally drives (he's off to Rally of NZ shortly) and perhaps even marks the point where he tones down the "larrikin" (though I hope not). Yes, he fell off twice this year by his own hand. Yes, he was punted off by other riders and yes, he had mechanical problems on occasion.

Hats off to Nicky Hayden. This could not happen to a nicer guy. Last year at the Phillip Island MotoGP, Mr Tricky and I were in the hallway that lead from the press conference area. Nicky was walking through (no entourage with him) post-race and we congratulated him on his podium finish. He smiled and said (in that Kentucky accent of his): "Hey guys thanks. I had a GREAT time!"

Oh. God. *Swoon* :)

Hayden wins: Cycle News Online


posted by thr at 9:47 am


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