The game of waiting on MotoGP Championships!
A tense weekend awaits in Valencia on MotoGP Championships, and many riders have suffered the dreaded wait over the previous 74 years.
On the slowing lap, they shook hands like genuine fighters at the MotoGP Championships. Respectful and grateful for their rival’s amazing performance in Sepang. Pecco Bagnaia and Fabio Quartararo must now wait. Fourteen hard days till the ultimate decision in Valencia. Return from Malaysia and prepare for the decisive duel to determine the 2022 MotoGPTM World Champion.
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Many cyclists have endured the terrible wait over the previous 74 years. At the final race, 18 world championships in the premier class were decided. Only three times has the rider who did not lead in points heading into the final round won the MotoGP Championships. The largest comeback came in 2006, when Nicky Hayden overcame Valentino Rossi’s eight-point lead to win the championship. The first final race decider occurred in 1950, when Umberto Masetti finished second at Monza to win the championship by a single point against Geoff Duke, who won the race. Last year, Marc Marquez came in Valencia with a 21-point advantage over Andrea Dovizioso.
So, what do riders do as they wait for the big showdown? How long have some had to wait, and how many great champions prepared for that last round before it arrived? After a heated final lap clash in the last race at Anderstorp in Sweden in 1983, Freddie Spencer and Kenny Roberts had to wait a month at the MotoGP Championships. Freddie exited the track, which also served as the local airfield, with a five-point lead after an overtaking maneuver a few turns from the finish that did not please the three-time World Champion. They both traveled back to the United States to await the final round in Imola. Freddie spent time with his family in Shreveport, while Kenny played golf at his California property. They returned to Italy, where Freddie won his first 500cc championship with a brilliant ride to second place behind Kenny, who attempted every trick in the book to upset him.
Mick Doohan might have used those four weeks nine years later. Instead, the Australian had just two to attempt to give his shattered body some more strength and flexibility. After missing four Grands Prix due to serious problems from the leg he fractured in an Assen collision, he returned to the action in 1992 at the Interlagos track in Brazil for the last race. The Honda rider maintained a 22-point lead over Wayne Rainey in the MotoGP Championships. He was hardly able to walk, much alone ride a 500cc motorbike. Mick completed 12th after 121 kilometers of suffering but received no World Championship points. Rainey’s victory and 20 World Championship points put him only two points behind the leader heading into the final race at Kyalami in South Africa. Mick’s body had hours of medical therapy throughout those 14 days, but his sixth place was insufficient. Rainey won the championship by two points after finishing third.
Outstanding World Champions Plan ahead of time. It’s not surprising that Roberts and Barry Sheene realized before the last race that the 1978 World 500cc Championship would be won on the old 22.835 km Nürburgring road track. On public track days, Kenny rode a Yamaha Road bike around the ‘Ring.’ Barry, of course, had to be unique at the MotoGP Championships. Between the Dutch and Belgian Grands Prix, the twice World Champion convinced Rolls Royce to lend him one of their top-of-the-line opulent saloon vehicles for what he characterized as a vacation in Europe. Instead, with his good friend Steve Parrish in the passenger seat, they blasted the Rolls-Royce to a halt around the Nürburgring for two days, much to the surprise of the other sports car drivers. I doubt Barry got Rolls Royce to lend him another vehicle. Despite the two days of ‘practice,’ Barry was defeated by Kenny, finishing fourth, two seconds behind the first American World Champion in third place.
I can’t image Pecco or Fabio going for a test drive on a Rolls Royce or playing golf before the ultimate showdown in Valencia. Those 14 days might be beneficial to the Frenchman while he works on a fractured finger. I’m sure they’ll both be glad when the waiting game is finished.