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GP Week : Issue 182
The most memorable was in 1996, the day Honda team underdog Alex Criville turned the tables on his hugely dominant team-mate Doohan for the second race in succession. It was the enormity of this very rare event as much as the two-thousandths gap that underlined the drama of his last-chicane barging match, It was revenge for the incident at Jerez earlier that same year – see below. ASSEN CHICANE Most of the classic circuit of the 1990s has been lost, but the chicane remains unchanged. Fans overlook a right-left zigzag, heaving across to miss a quaint little flower-patch by the pit wall to swing right onto pit straight and the finish line. So many races have been decided there. There’s always a way for a crazy braker; and often a way to avoid being passed by him. One or both frequently ends up in the sand. The smaller classes are especially prone to this, but the finest example is from MotoGP. The year was 2006, and former double Superbike champion Colin Edwards on the factory Yamaha was on the brink of his first (and still sole) grand prix win, after regaining the lead from Nicky Hayden’s Honda with a brilliant move through the last very fast chicane. At the chicane, Hayden tried a lunge round the outside, hit neutral by mistake, and ran into the gravel, narrowly keeping control. Edwards saw none of this. He was guarding the other side, but as he cut the second apex, on the Astroturf, the back wheel spun up and he crashed. More classic were a series of close finishes between (again) Schwantz and Rainey, most crucially in 1991 when Rainey ran on just as Hayden would do, to give Schwantz the second of three Assen wins. His lap record from that race stood until the circuit was modified in 2002. JEREZ ‘LORENZO CORNER’ Finally, the corner that works almost every time. As last weekend with Marquez and Lorenzo, as so many weekends before, in classes great and small. The irony of it being given Jorge’s name two days before his humiliation is an extra. By the way, it is Turn 13. Crucially placed and difficult to defend, it offers many opportunities for attack, and not necessarily as violent as Marquez’s full-contact charge, using Lorenzo’s bike to finish his braking so he could make the corner. It’s possible to make the same move with more precision and without collision, as Pedrosa showed when he got inside Lorenzo there in 2010 (Lorenzo went on to win anyway; it was not the last lap). But the rough ones are more memorable ... moves on the very borderline of disqualification. There’s only space for a couple of resounding examples. Back to 1996, the year Criville was finally as fast as Doohan. He had the Jerez race sewn up, it seemed, able to narrowly outpace Mick everywhere. Or had he? A very Spanish occurrence intervened. Driven to screaming madness by the sight of the home boy leading Doohan lap after lap, the crowds leapt the fences and ran right to the trackside with their fireworks to cheer Alex home. It had the opposite effect. He slowed, Doohan was on his tail, and barged underneath him into the last corner. Criville tried to stay ahead on the wide line, spun the rear wheel, and went flying off in a looping high-side. Fast for ward, ignoring several other crunching impacts and last-corner heartbreak, to 2005. Rossi was in his pomp, had just won his first title with Yamaha, his third in succession. His rival was Sete Gibernau, whose Honda had claimed four wins in 2004. It went sour at Qatar, where Rossi accused him of treachery when he was penalised after his crew had tried to lay rubber down on his starting position. Gibernau won, Valentino crashed out, and then publicly vowed that Sete would never win another grand prix. The Spaniard was whisker-close to proving him wrong at Jerez. Until they arrived at the last corner. Rossi’s move was very much like that of Marquez, including a shoulder-bashing collision. Gibernau managed not to fall off, Rossi won the race. And cackled with laughter at his rival’s all-too-evident discomfort. Marquez stopped short of laughing at Lorenzo. In every other respect, it was a carbon copy. In this way heroes are made. Hayden chases Edwards – Assen, 2006 Rossi – Jerez 2006 was a pattern for Marquez 2013 16 GPWEEK.com // 16 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: MOTOGP >>> FEATURE