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We Need Gods To Slay

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For the past couple of years, MotoGP fans have seemingly been utterly spoiled. On the starting grid today we find the prototype racers of 6 major manufacturers. All of these bikes have proven beyond doubt to be podium-worthy and even race-winning machines. The gaps between the factory teams and independent squads have diminished so that we frequently see independent riders on pole, on the podium and even on the top step. For the riders themselves, a similar story applies. Take a look at the results for the 2021 season and you will find that of the 22 riders on the grid, only six have not been on the podium during that season. Three of those six riders have finished in the top five, and one is Valentino Rossi closing in on well-deserved retirement.

The Perfect Show

The modern-day fan of the premiere class in motorcycle racing then, is given exactly what a his or her heart desires; An utterly competitive show, where all athletes and equipment are more or less on par with one another. We have cheered at the brazen, race-winning, rides of rookies. We have witnessed the rise of reigning champion Fabio Quartararo and the many impeccable (excuse the pun) rides of Pecco Bagnaia. Joan Mir and his Suzuki claimed the crown in 2020 and Aprilia seems to have finally found its feet in the current season. Certainly then, there is no shortage of qualified candidates. The analysts, critics and pundits predicting the outcome of a race weekend are left to guesswork, at best.

The Problem

Oddly, while my favourite sport has been ticking the boxes like never before, I find myself becoming less and less interested. While in previous years I would have called in sick for dinner with Margot Robbie to watch a MotoGP race on the couch, I now regularly miss a race or catch it later on rewatch. Meanwhile, WSBK (the World Superbike Championship) claims to be more exciting than ever and given that I too watch almost every race, they might be right. In truth, WSBK at this point is a three-horse-race. But what is happening over there does adhere to more classical storytelling devices. For all intents and purposes, Jonathan Rea represents its old king, Toprak Razgatlıoğlu is its young knight and logical heir to the throne, while Alvaro Bautista acts as the menacing usurper from a neighbouring realm. It truly translates to a showdown of epic proportions.

All Davids, No Goliath

In MotoGP however, there seems to be a bit of a power vacuum. The era of Valentino Rossi has firmly come to an end and his rightful successor, Marc Marquez, has been out of office for a considerable stretch. Thus, while all the ingredients for a historical saga are there, a storyline, unfortunately, is not. The battlefield now features an awful lot of Davids, but no real Goliath to defeat. All are noble and fierce warriors, yes. But when no true king inhabits the throne, there is no real kingdom there to conquer.

So, while MotoGP appears to offer every single thing we, the fans, have ever dreamt of, I fear the recovery of Marc Marquez is the only key to making something realy great transform into something truly epic. If only to provide the next in line God-King with a head to take…

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