It was late. The flickers from the last campfires lit hillsides strewn with rubbish. A lone biker chugged his path along the ridge. The thick, black lines on the Mugello track and the churned earth where the fans had danced were the only betrayals of the afternoon’s drama. This was the calm after the storm, the post-coital slump of satisfaction that follows any grand prix.
John Hopkins and Shakey Byrne were there. So were Colin Edwards and Kurtis Roberts, the grizzled son of King Kenny. ‘Come on,’ Hopper shouted. ‘It’ll be around here somewhere.’ It was not hard to find. Biaggi’s Smart car was emblazoned with his yellow and blue colour scheme, the Roman Emperor logo and a giant No. 3. The quartet laughed as they found it. Shakey had reason to be pleased after finishing tenth. He did not know it but, four races into his MotoGP career, he had peaked. The following year would be his last in MotoGP. That was the frustrating future, though, and for now Shakey was living the bloody, brilliant, moment of being a top-flight racer. ‘There it is!’ he shouted.
The little car stood out in the paddock. Everyone else drove bland hire cars. For the trio of blunt Americans and Shakey, who was so down to earth that he had once laid sleepers on the London Underground, it smacked of vanity. It screamed ‘Look at me!’. They all felt Biaggi was precious and needed teaching a lesson and so here they were. Under the cloak of darkness they giggled and set about their clandestine mission.
Kurtis started it. He pushed the Smart car with his hands and got it to rock. The others joined in. The momnentun grew until it reached the tipping point and crashed on to its side with a groan. The windows shattered. ‘Fucking hell!’ someone laughed. Shakey doubled up. The four friends had not finished and Kurtis picked up some rubbish lying on the floor and shoved it inside the car. The others followed. Before long Biaggi’s mini-masterpiece was battered, broken and stuffed with the leftovers of race day.
That was when the door to the nearest motorhome swung open. A figure came out. It lumbered towards them through the half shadows. The guilty were now trying to fix Biaggi’s car, but the wheels had come off, literally, and otherwise. The new figure surveyed the scene and burst out laughing. ‘No, no,’ he said with one of his infectious grins. ‘It’s better on its roof.’ The others looked at Valentino Rossi, the winner of the race that afternoon, and quickly agreed. And so Kurtis led them to barging the vehicle on to its roof so that it was upside down. Rossi was now crippled with laughter, himself, and the noise grew and other doors opened, while the racers spun the car like a top.
-The greatest story ever, from ‘Ring of Fire: The Inside Story of Valentino Rossi and MotoGP’ by Rick Broadbent.
Amazing race. I really wish I’d been there. Maybe one day, eh?
Still, another win for Lorenzo! It amazes me how much he’s improved upon his performance last year. No crashes so far, and his worst race finish is 2nd. What a man. He’s now 72 points ahead of Pedrosa in the championship. If anyone can catch him, I’ll eat my hat. And then my head.
Nicky Hayden came out as top American at their home race after a little scrap with Ben Spies. Though, he only managed to pass him after Ben ran wide and left him a nice big gap.
In other great news (and this is hard for me to say…), Valentino Rossi is back on the podium after a brilliant pass on Andrea Dovizioso five laps from the end. I honestly didn’t think he could hold him off, but he did and got a very well deserved third place.
And Stoner came second. Boo hiss.