Monday, December 04, 2006

MotoGP Armchair Awards

Well, that's it for 2006. The winter testing ban has started, so there will be nothing happening in MotoGP until 2007. It's time to look back at the season and honour the great performers with the MotoGP Armchair Awards.

Leonardo da Vinci Award

for being history's greatest genius
Winner: Valentino Rossi
OK, he panicked at Valencia, wheelying off the grid then chucking his bike down the road. However, he shouldn't have been anywhere near the title after being 51 points down. Engine failures, tyre failures, Elias-shaped dents in bodywork, new 2006 chassis so dog-slow they went back to the 2005 model, it all went wrong for The Doctor this year. Still he led the title chase into the last round, and only lost by a handful of points. The fact that he didn't win the championship just shows that Lady Luck doesn't care whether you're history's greatest genius or not.

What's Your Name, Sonny? Award

for the top Rookie in the big boys' class
Winner: Dani Pedrosa
Little teeny-tiny Dani. Too small to ride a 990cc MotoGP Missile. Won't last a race distance. Honda are just letting him trundle around on a 990cc bike until the new 800cc Pedrosa Rules come in. Well, that's what most people were thinking about the half-pint world champion (250cc isn't exactly half a pint, but close enough). Wrong, wrong, wrong. Two dominant victories and a bunch of podiums, including one at Sepang when he couldn't even walk after a massive highside. An incredible debut year.

Dr Frankenstein Award

for defying the laws of nature
Winner: Marco Melandri
After being battered, bruised and knocked out cold at Catalunya, Marco showed his utter contempt for medical science by racing again at the very next GP. Truly a man of steel.
Special Mention: Loris Capirossi
Suffering rib injuries in the same accident, little Capirex also refused to take any sick days, despite being barely able to breathe. Great stuff.

Emotional Homecoming Award
for the best performance in a home race
Winner: Chris Vermeulen
Chris had already shown his speed in the wet on the Suzuki, taking a pole position in Turkey. In the crazy dry-wet-drying race at Philip Island, Australia, Vermeulen fought through the field to take a memorable 2nd place and reward his Suzuki mechanics for their hard work.

Twist Grip Award

for giving it a handful
Winner: Marco Melandri
For the victory celebration at Philip Island, where he screeched round the final turn sideways with smoke pouring from the rear tyre, and his free hand in the air. Enough said.

Oh My God!!! Award
for making 300 million people gasp simultaneously
Winner: Dani Pedrosa
Never in a million years did anybody expect the teeny Spaniard to chuck his bike at Nicky Hayden in the Estoril GP. One of those moments that you still can't believe after seeing it 25 times.

Can I Borrow Your Pen? Award
for inking a new contract with a top team when everybody had written you off
Winner: Toni Elias
After 15/17ths of a terrible season, Toni's win at Estoril guaranteed him a top Honda seat in 2007. Not only did he beat Rossi, but his outrageous sideways braking over wet kerbs amazed even The Doctor himself.
Special Mention: Colin Edwards
His stint as Rossi's tailgunner kept the Texan Tornado in MotoGP (and out of WSBK) for another year. Well done.

Steel Toecap Award
for the team that repeatedly shoots itself in the foot without causing serious injury
Winner: HRC Repsol Honda
How on earth HRC managed to grab the title with Hayden is one of life's great mysteries. They made Nicky race Pedrosa's experimental 2007 bike, with a clutch made of marzipan, and they forgot to tell Dani that you don't hit your team-mate even if you're Honda's golden boy. Bullets were ricocheting off HRC's foot in all directions.

Dropping Mirror On Black Cat While Walking Under Ladder Award
for having the worst luck of any human being in recorded history
Winner: Sete Gibernau
Sete was a late developer, but his battles with Rossi in 2003 and 2004 ranked him alongside Randy Mamola and Max Biaggi in the list of fastest riders never to win a championship. However, his 2006 season brings to mind the old cliche, "If he didn't have bad luck, he'd have no luck at all." Mechanical failure in the 1st race of the season while battling for the win. Serious collar bone damage in the Catalunya crash. Ambulance crashing on the way out of the circuit. Taken out (and landing on his collar bone) by his replacement Casey Stoner, ending his career. Life just isn't fair sometimes. Hopefully Sete has used up all his bad luck and has a happy retirement, because he's one of the good guys.

Propane and Propane Accessories Award
for services to the American South
Winner: Nicky Hayden
We heard a lot of Nicky's Kentucky drawl this year, especially in his emotional post-Estoril interview. The Kentucky Kid shows the kind of hard work and honesty that other nationalities just can't do without irony. As Nicky said, "I believe that good things happen to good people." Amen to that, brother.


Alessandro Matteucci said...

Jimmy great post are a genius. I have posted a link about it into Pure Motorbike Passion.

Jimmy said...

Well, I'm not sure about the genius part, but thanks for the link!

Alessandro Matteucci said...

Come on,I am sure that you would feel confortable with one of the following definitions from This morning I was really bored surfing the net news until I read your post ....I started smiling and thinking at the same time: what a smart way to recap a season with so many coup of teatre compliments Jimmy!

gen·ius (jēn'yəs) pronunciation
n., pl. -ius·es.

1. Extraordinary intellectual and creative power.
2. A person of extraordinary intellect and talent: “One is not born a genius, one becomes a genius” (Simone de Beauvoir).
3. A person who has an exceptionally high intelligence quotient, typically above 140.
1. A strong natural talent, aptitude, or inclination: has a genius for choosing the right words.
2. One who has such a talent or inclination: a genius at diplomacy.
3. The prevailing spirit or distinctive character, as of a place, a person, or an era: the genius of Elizabethan England.
4. pl. ge·ni·i (jē'nē-ī'). Roman Mythology. A tutelary deity or guardian spirit of a person or place.
5. A person who has great influence over another.
6. A jinni in Muslim mythology.

[Middle English, guardian spirit, from Latin.]