Qatar: the Good, the Bad & the Ugly
We are in the middle of a desert, but it's nothing like the soft dunes of the old Dakar rally; here there is only rocks, sand and huge lighting towers to illuminate a track in the middle of nowhere. On the first day of school, Fenati and Iannone were the teachers pets, each just barely missing out on an A+, but they will have 17 more chances to hit the mark. The MotoGP race was all about Stoner and Lorenzo, but the Australian failed physical eduction. The CRT riders gave their best, but they might need to be held back for a year. Valentino Rossi played the class clown, and as the lights were being switched off at Qatar, the spotlight was left shining on his relationship with Ducati. But at least it wasn't boring.
The Good – The MotoGP race didn't make us the slightest bit drowsy, which is a refreshing change that we hope will last. However, the excitement didn't come from the CRT's, which were essentially ignored by the TV cameras, but instead from the MotoGP prototypes, even if Stoner's forearm might have falsified the result somewhat. Elsewhere they weren't holding back, with Dovi and Crutchlow battling all race long, and Hayden constantly pushing the limit.
The Bad – Rossi exploded and went on the attack against Ducati. He doesn't like anything about the GP12, and he is unsatisfied with their work. He shot from the hip like Lee Van Cleef, and even took aim at Barbera, who "races only to finish ahead of me." Everyone was trying to accomplish that feat a few years ago, but now it's only him.
The Ugly – The scheduling of the GP over four days is something we can easily do without. It waters down the show, creates confusion for the fans, and forces the Moto2 and Moto3 riders to run their 'warm up' sessions the night before the race.
The Disappointment – Nobody was expecting a performance like that from Ben Spies. He may have had some chattering problems, but that isn't enough to justify taking nearly a minute from your teammate. Two crashes during the weekend certainly didn't help, and now he has three weeks to heal up and get his head back on straight.
The Surprise – The podium smile of 16 year old Romano Fenati is proof that you don't need experience in the CEV or a Spanish passport to find success in the entry level category. This was his first time at Losail, and the first GP he witnessed from a vantage point other than the TV, but he did just fine.
The Overtake – The hardest to watch was Marquez's pass on Iannone, because there's nothing worse than getting beat after exiting the final corner first. The nicest was Fenati's move at the race start: the "holeshot" and first place.
The Mistake – This time we need to use the plural: the lack of experience was evident amongst the CRT riders, and in qualifying they racked up the crashes. Nobody was seriously injured, so perhaps this turned out to be a good thing, since none of them crashed in the race.
The Confirmation – We all knew that the CRT's were going to struggle, and the humiliation of being lapped was saved only by some technical issues. But you simply can't buy experience at the corner store, and Colin Edwards still knows how to put on his race face. He was the best of the worst, but still the best.
The Curiosity – A Qatari national Superbike race was run in support of the GP event, and female Italian rider Paola Cazzola was among the participants. She finished the race in fourth place.
He Said So – Valentino Rossi, Friday night, before qualifying: "I'm aiming for the second row. It's within our reach."