Times have changed over the last four years, although not if you're Valentino Rossi or Shane Byrne who, both being much closer to 40 years old than either would like, are still riding at the top of their game. We've had a British Grand Prix World Champion with Danny Kent in Moto3, despite trying his best NOT to win it as the season drew to a breathtaking close at Valencia last year; we've had Sam Lowes win the World Supersport crown and both Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes taking the World Superbike spoils then more recently all topped off with the first British winner of a MotoGP race for 35 years as the inimitable Cal Crutchlow took victory in Brno. Decent success among the British ranks, I'm sure you'll agree.
|British MotoGP Post-race Press Conference|
We've also seen the ugly side of the sport in the clusterfuck that was Sepang 2015 and the ridiculous fallout that still rumbles on almost a full 12 months later between the riders and also sections of fans. We've seen the emergence of the phenomenal talent that is Marc Marquez, who's debut was covered in the very last post before the prolonged hiatus came and is now on the verge of a third MotoGP World title as the circus moves to the flyaway rounds in a couple of weeks time. Speaking of talent, not only have we seen the emergence of Marquez but also on a similar trajectory is Maverick Vinales, a talent worthy of MotoGP and one that may well take the battle to Marquez in 2017. Just Maverick to take the battle on? Well, no. Not quite, obviously.
Rossi will be another year older, Pedrosa I suspect still wont be heavy enough to make the Michelin tyres work consistently for him and Lorenzo is making the hop to Ducati for 2017, that change may well take time to adapt to and I'd suggest possibly more time than Maverick Vinales will require to get comfortable on the Yamaha M1 he'll ride for the first time in the post-season Valencia test as he moves from Suzuki. True, the spec electronics should have also improved for 2017 (it really needs to, especially on anti-wheelie with the outlawing of Winglets!) as, slightly less hopefully, will the Michelin tyres. Those black and round things have been more than a big contribution to the number of different race winners we've had this season and racing is all the better for it because, as good as it is watching the same same rider win week in and weeeeeeee...... sorry, almost nodded off at the very thought..., it really has been a fantastic MotoGP season so far and one that may well still hold the odd twist and turn before we reach Valencia in November.
Closer to home, the British Championship appears to have changed the least in that time. It still provides the thrill and excitement the fans crave and the Showdown still remains, as I suspect it always will, in the name of Sports Entertainment. I did wonder if the Showdown had run it's course as BSB made the playing field somewhat level with stringent Tech Regs introduced but the dominant form of Shane Byrne and his, according to some, 'it isn't in the spirit of the rules' factory-supported Ducati Panigale, this season would have almost made a cakewalk of a championship had it not been for the close attention of the returning Leon Haslam aboard a GBmoto Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R.
|Proud times in 2014 with Jordan Weaving|
As for the best of the rest, Honda have made an incredible effort again this year with Linfoot and O'Halloran while Ellison has been at the sharp end for the majority of the season along with Bridewell and the talented Luke Mossey but none offering the pace and consistency enough to challenge the two title favourites for wins week in, week out. Crucially, Byrne leads Haslam 4 to 1 in the podium head to heads they've had when finishing 1st and 2nd, and that could be a
critical factor as the season heads to it's crescendo at Brands Hatch in mid-October. For the record, Byrne won both races there in early August, with Leon second each time. But before that, however, there's Assen...
On a personal level it's been a quite incredible four years. From here to PaddockChatter to interviewing racing Legends, World Champions and British Champions for MotoPod to witnessing two domestic Championship campaigns first hand to making some of the finest friends, it's been incredible at times. Incredible that nobody actually sussed me out as merely winging it, at least! It all stemmed from this humble blog, the encouragement of Jared Earle and Ian Wheeler and not being a dick on Twitter. Where next? Who knows. Is there a 'next'? Again, who knows. Back to basics for now and then we'll just have to wait and see however it won't be four years until the next post here, that's for sure.
Thanks for reading.