Columns 4.11.2017 05:30 am

Gladiators are ready to rock MotoGP

Gladiators are ready to rock MotoGP

This year’s MotoGP championship goes down to the wire at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia.

There is, for true petrolheads, no comparison between the sanitised computerised world of Formula One and the seat-of-the-pants skills and sheer bravery of the boys astride the big bikes of MotoGP.

With Lewis Hamilton having already wrapped up his fourth world championship piloting the near-invincible Mercedes with two races to be run – the Grands Prix of Brazil on November 12 and Abu Dhabi a fortnight later – there is little left to get excited about, other than Hamilton investing in more bling and self-serving hyperbole.

Interestingly, this year’s MotoGP championship goes down to the wire at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia on the same date as Formula One’s dead rubber at Sao Paulo’s Autódromo José Carlos Pace, in a duel between the reigning champion and a solid journeyman who has suddenly become surprisingly good.

Marc Marquez is a 24-year-old Spanish two-wheel superstar, already a three-time champion, who is probably only second in the estimation of the aficionados to the charismatic Italian, Valentino Rossi, the holder of nine world titles.

But the “Professor” is now 38 and his battered body no longer fully able to consistently place the contest firmly in the faces of the next generation of riders.

Rossi’s fellow Italian, Andrea Dovizioso, has been round the block as one of the chasing pack. He comes from Forlimpopoli, a tiny community with a population of little more than 13 000 souls.

But this season, the 31-year-old battler has found himself aboard some really competitive machinery as a works Ducati rider and relished the renaissance this has allowed him – winning six events in this year’s 18-race series.

Whether Dovizioso manages to make that seven in Valencia, where Marques and his Repsol Honda team tend to set the pace, remains debatable. But he has certainly brought a new dynamism to MotoGP, which has always favoured the bravest of the gladiators.

Especially in the wet, where he is demonstrably quicker than the riders around him aboard the “Duke” he has proved successful on.

He gave a comprehensive lesson in wet conditions by winning at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.

It is supposition perhaps, but it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that Dovizioso will be praying for rain in Spain.

Jon Swift

Jon Swift

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