4 months ago
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Imagine having a corner named after your good self to celebrate your career. It must be the ultimate accolade but the timing is vital. At Jerez they go to town with the corners around this superb MotoGP™ venue. Why not celebrate the World Championship successes of Sito Pons, Jorge Martinez, Angel Nieto, Alex Criville and Jorge Lorenzo at the home of the Spanish Grand Prix? The only problem is what corner to give your name to, and the timing of the ceremony.
The collective likes of Pons, Martinez, Nieto and Criville collected an impressive 22 world titles between them, and more importantly had hung up their leathers before the naming ceremony. Five years ago Jorge Lorenzo, who at the time had won four world titles and made his Grand prix debut at Jerez 11 years earlier, had the infamous Turn 13 named in his honour.
This was the tight left hander into the finishing straight that had produced more drama and controversy in one lap than some other motorsport championships produce in a complete season. It took just three days for the newly named Jorge Lorenzo corner to reap its revenge and bite its new owner on the bottom. Let’s be honest…he’d had plenty of warning.
They still argue about 1996 in this part of the world. Local hero Alex Criville was declared the winner of an epic battle with World Champion Mick Doohan by the circuit announcer. The problem was, there was still one lap of the 4.423 kms circuit remaining. He’d jumped the gun big style and the ecstatic Spanish fans climbed the fences onto the track to celebrate with their man. As they approached the dreaded Turn 13 both Doohan and Criville had to almost weave their way through flag-waving fans. When they arrived at the final corner of the 27 lap race, circuit announcer please note, it all kicked off. The two riders touched, Criville went down and Doohan won the race. Criville remounted to finish fourth and the crowd was angry, very angry. Not that it fussed Doohan one little bit!
Fast forward 19 years. No wrong lap timing by the circuit announcer this time, but yet again a Spanish rider coming off second best at Turn 13. Valentino Rossi and Sete Gibernau had long ceased their early friendship and this was a classic duel with a real personal feel. Same old story - last lap Turn 13. Rossi up the inside on the brakes, they touched or perhaps clashed, Gibernau ran onto the grass and Rossi won the race. Gibernau stormed up pit line to register his annoyance and Rossi, with 25 precious Championship points, just smiled.
It was about as inevitable as a Doohan Grand Prix win that Lorenzo would not escape the wrath of Turn 13 the weekend he took over its stewardship. Of course it had to be the last lap and this time a fight for second place with the new kid on the block, Marc Marquez. They touched; Marquez grabbed second behind Dani Pedrosa and a steaming Lorenzo was third.
Having a corner named in your honour must be so special. Rossi and Marquez will surely be bestowed such an honour but wisely they will wait until they have turned their last wheel in battle. Also they will make their choice of corner a number one priority.
We could think of a few, but not the same one for sure.
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