After yesterday’s early start and busy morning, it was with some relief I sat down to watch the Moto GP season opener from Qatar. I hadn’t had either the time, or frankly the inclination, to watch the practice sessions, so had no idea who was where on the grids.
For me, one of the many charms of MotoGP is Eurosport’s commentary team of Toby Moody and Julian English. Catherine Riley of The Times said ” …they could make a lap of a supermarket exciting and if there’s a better motorsport commentary team anywhere, I’ll eat my armchair”. No need to go that far Catherine. I would echo her opinion and say that there isn’t a better English language sports commentary team. If only the commentators who covered cycling were as knowledgable, witty and amusing.
As the picture shows, neither are spring chickens but, first and foremost, as long time journalists, they bring to their commentary a rare depth of knowledge and a real love of the sport combined with a rare ability to pronounce correctly riders’ names.
Given I know so little about this sport, I decided to acquire a veneer of knowledge. I am indebted to www.motogp.com for their articulate explanations.
MotoGP is the motorcycling equivalent of F1. An 18-race series visiting fourteen countries, four continents, with global television viewing figures totalling 337 million in over 200 countries. In 2010, over 2.2 million made the pilgrimage to watch the world’s best and most skilled riders line a grid astride cutting-edge motorcycle technology with prototype machinery from just four manufacturers: Ducati, Yamaha, Honda and Suzuki.
Established as a World Championship by the FIM (Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme) in 1949. MotoGP is the oldest motorsport championship and the blue riband of three racing classes that take place on a Grand Prix weekend.
Each GP event takes place over three consecutive days. The first two comprise practice and qualification for each class; the third is race-day. There are free practice sessions on Friday and Saturday, and a single qualification practice on Saturday afternoon which determines grid order for Sunday’s race. In each category, the three fastest riders take positions on the first row of the grid, with the rest lining up in threes behind.
After warm-up sessions for each category on race-day, the 125cc race kicks off the programme, followed by the Moto2 class and then, last but not least, the jewel in the crown, MotoGP. Races vary in length between 95-130km and normally last between 40-45 minutes.
So what’s the difference between the various categories?
So, on to Moto2 where German, Stefan Bradl (1989) surged away from his first pole position to record his 2nd ever win. Andrea Iannone leapfrogged from 16th on the grid into 2nd place after battling with Yuki Takahashi. Tom Luthi came through in the final laps to take 3rd. Last year’s 125cc champion and Moto2 rookie, Marc Marquez, crashed out on lap 4: a touch too much of youthful exuberance.
Riding his first season for Honda, whose bikes were quickest in pre-season testing and practice, former MotoGP champion, Aussi Casey Stoner (1985) won at Qatar for the 4th time in 5 years. His team mate Dani Pedrosa surged past him on pole and led for half a lap before being overtaken by last season’s champion, Jorge Lorenzo. But by the end of lap 2, Stoner was back in the lead with Lorenzo in 2nd place.