Watching Andrea Dovizioso lead the race on that red Ducati at Aragon on Sunday triggered a moment of real sadness. It was nothing to do with the Italian in with a chance of bringing Ducati their first win at the magnificent circuit since Casey Stoner in 2010, or even that he had the chance to break that Spanish Iron grip at the race. It was a flashback to an overtaking manoeuvre on the last lap of 28 lap MotoGP™ race that first year at Aragon in 2010.
Nicky Hayden was fighting for a rare podium finish on the Ducati with the Yamaha of the World Champion elect Jorge Lorenzo. Afterwards, at the press conference, Nicky described his overtaking move as they raced side by side under the shadow the big wall through turns 13 and 14 as something his Dad Earl had taught him in their backyard back home at Owensboro, Kentucky many years ago. Earl as with most things in life turned into the perfect tutor and Nicky took just his second podium in third place on that tough period with the Ducati. It was just so Nicky and Earl – a combination that brought them that world title in 2006 but so much more. Humility, respect and humour in surely the toughest and certainly most dangerous of World sporting arenas. They were like a breath of fresh air in a paddock of intrigue and rumour but they took no gip or nonsense.
Perhaps it was the fact the previous MotoGP™ race a couple of weeks ago was at Misano so close to where Nicky tragically lost his life in that cycling accident over a year ago that triggered all those memories. The pillion ride for Earl after Nicky had won at Laguna Seca. The World title at Valencia in 2006 with Earl knocking on the door of Valentino Rossi’s motorhome to shake his hand and offer his condolences. Earl’s stories on how he would knock on the front door and Nicky would go round the back and jump in the car that needed to be returned to their second car dealer business because the payments had stopped. The dignity that Nicky showed as his MotoGP™ career began to fade and the enthusiasm he put into his new horizon in the World Superbike Championship. Nicky’s brother Roger retired this weekend after such a successful career.
How Nicky would have admired the performance of both Dovizioso and especially Marc Marquez on Sunday riding for teams he knew so well. Casey Stoner is still the only non-Spanish rider to win the MotoGP™ race at Aragon, ironically on Ducati and Honda machinery. Thank goodness Brad Binder with that superb Moto2™ win prevented another Spanish whitewash in all three classes.
PS. Remember I told you about my favourite national newspaper showing the Fenati pictures a couple of weeks ago? Surprise Surprise three more pictures this week of Lorenzo’s spectacular crash at turn one but typically they did not mention that Marquez won the race. I should not moan because progress is being made.