Archive - Jun 16, 2009 - Race Story
A motorcycle racer must possess many qualities, both physical and mental, to be successful. They must have instantaneous reflexes; a gyroscope-like sense of balance; and a tough, wiry physique combining strength with low body weight. They must have the endurance of a triathlete combined with the fast-twitch muscle speed of an Olympic sprinter.
Racers also need the intelligence to cope with the huge amounts of data thrown at them, by the track, the bikes, the engineers. They need to be able to memorize a circuit down to the location of every bump in every corner, each of which could unsettle the bike and cause a crash. They need the courage to take to the track despite injury and push to the very limit, facing the knowledge that more pain lies lurking at every corner if ambition should tempt them to violate the laws of physics. And above all, they need the dogged determination and single-mindedness to put in the hours and hours of work needed to achieve all of this, day in and day out, rain or shine, come holidays or high water.
But the prime character trait that all motorcycle racers must have, the one thing they all share, is the will to win. The overwhelming desire to beat your rivals, to prove your superiority, is what drives racers to put in the years of hard work needed to acquire those other vital qualities. The will to win - for some a burning lust for victory, for others a mortal fear of defeat - is fundamental, and is the single most important quality which distinguishes champions from also-rans.
That desire for victory was being flaunted like an aging tycoon's trophy wife on the grid at Barcelona. Dani Pedrosa was attempting to ride in front of his home crowd despite the searing pain from the fractured femur he suffered at Mugello, only risky painkilling injections making his participation possible. Jorge Lorenzo made his intentions clear by turning up with his bike, helmet and leathers covered in FC Barcelona regalia. The Spanish soccer club had just pulled off the "triple", winning the European Champions League and Spanish League titles, as well as the Spanish Copa del Rey cup, and Lorenzo's regalia were an explicit reference to his intention to take a "triple" of his own - victory at his home Grand Prix would make it a trio of wins this season.
Then there was Valentino Rossi. The Italian has been incredibly successful at the Montmelo circuit, finishing on the podium in every race here since 1997. But a podium would not be enough: Rossi came to Barcelona trailing both Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner in the points, but more importantly, having only one win to his rivals' two apiece. The Doctor knows what victory tastes like at Barcelona, having won here 8 times previously, including 5 in the premier class, and another win here was surely possible.