– Moto3, Silverstone: One third of the best weekend of the season in terms of action. Only reason I didn’t include this, was because it was very similar to another race on this list and I didn’t want two very similar races in the same place. But Rins narrowly pipping Marquez and Bastianini was superb. Even if Enea was too young for the Champers.
– MotoGP, Germany: Despite the crazy opening 5 laps of Stefan Bradl’s hybrid setup, and 75% of the field starting from the pitlane, after the field shook itself out, it was a pretty unspectacular race. Poor Bradl.
– MotoGP, Assen: Valentino Rossi’s charge through the field in changeable conditions was good, but not great. Andrea Dovizioso falling in terms of pace ended Marquez’s only real danger and Jorge Lorenzo getting the yips, makes this race a little overrated methinks.
– Moto3, Motegi: The ending stopped this one from a Top 10 spot. A great front pack of 7, but two of the leading three gift-wrapping the other guy the win, just isn’t sexy.
– Moto3. Argentina: Remember when Livio Loi had a job? Romano Fenati that race proved it’s okay to bump a guy off the apex, as long as you’re not Australian.
Number 10 – Silverstone, Moto2
One of only two entries from Moto2 this season, a shame, as the action was pretty spread out most of the time, and Marc VDS was dominant for more than half the season.
Any who, this wasn’t your standard Moto2 race, thankfully. It was a really tight leading group of 9. Mika Kallio had tried his customary tactic of leading from the front and trying to break the field, and it didn’t really work in the end, with Tito Rabat and Maverick Vinales leading the chase, and a really loaded second pack consisting of Johann Zarco, Thomas Luthi, Franco Morbidelli, Britain’s own Sam Lowes, Simone Corsi, and Jonas Folger, who after lowsiding the bike through Village, broke Corsi’s arm on the way down. Sad face.
But the final two laps with the front three were superb, and Rabat’s race winning pass, wafer-thin on the apex, practically rubbing shoulders with Kallio, took this one over the top for me, with Maverick Vinales just poaching behind in 3rd. This was the race that proved that Rabat COULD fight through the field, and not just be a front-runner, an element that would change the complexion of the Championship through the stretch, to Kallio’s disdain.
Number 9 – Mugello, Moto3
Remember when The Italian Stallion, Romano Fenati was the best guy in the class? Seems like such a long time ago. Seven riders finished within six tenths of a second, and it was also the day where Miller and Marquez had that tangle which no-one seems to remember.
Rule of thumb, if a back wheel hits a front wheel, the guy on the front ALWAYS loses. But in a scrap that went to a photo finish, Romano Fenati won his home GP, with Issac Vinales beating Alex Rins on a photo finish. Not the last time you’ll see mass multi-bike mayhem on this list, TRUST me.
Number 8 – Mugello, MotoGP
The return of Jorge Lorenzo. Y’know, the good Lorenzo. After five rounds of struggling to find to form, the Spainard came alive in Mugello again, like he did last year, and took Marc Marquez to war. The last seven laps were particularly crazy, with Marquez pulling the pin like he normally does, but Lorenzo came back hard, with some dazzling moves in the first sectors twisty chicanes. A symbolic race, that showed why Lorenzo is the 4x World Champion he is, and why Marquez in an individual duel is nearly impossible to beat. Also, keep an eye out for the great Dovi/Pedrosa/Iannone battles in the midfield, and Bradl’s ridiculous crash that collected Cal Crutchlow.
Number 7 – Valencia, Moto3
The Moto3 title deciding fight in Valencia. This race automatically gets extra points for drama and tension going in, but this gets the 7 slot for me, due to the narrative and the story. Jack Miller knew he HAD to win, and was willing to do just about anything besides standing up and throwing his KTM at anyone who got in his way. Him chasing down Issac Vinales during the final laps was insane, not to mention the curiosity and intrigue of what was going on behind.
Alex Marquez was never looking like a front runner, and he got bumped and barged by Niccolo Antonelli, and there was also the factors of who was playing team orders, and who wasn’t. Alex Rins and Efren Vazquez being surprisingly helpful, not to mention Danny Kent’s last lap charge nearly changing everything until the final corner. Sometimes, races tell a great story, more than the action, and this is why Valencia gets my 7 spot.
Number 6 – Brno, Moto3
And then you have the other side of the crazy scale. How does 16 bikes fighting for the win sound? My heart still bleeds for Juanfran Guevara. If you had told him he was 1.6 seconds off the win beforehand. he’d probably be delighted. Just one problem, HE WAS OUT OF THE POINTS.
This race was pandemonium and tactical warfare, at its most crazy. And because of the nature of Brno (Essentially, it’s freaking massive), there was passing at nearly every corner and you literally had NO idea who was going to win going into the final few laps. Even more so when Alex Rins got it wrong and realized he’d celebrated a lap too early. How very World Superbikes.
But in the end, in a lovely touch, it was 27-year old Alexis Masbou who pulled off a ballsy and brilliant pass into the final corner to take his very first win, knocking Jack Miller wide, with Danny Kent coming from 9th to 3rd on the final lap. A shocking end to the most unpredictable race of 2014. If you wanted a beginners guide to Moto3, this race would probably be a good place to start.
Number 5 – MotoGP, Catalunya
One of the very rare times this season, where more than 2 of the Elite Four in MotoGP did battle this season. Even Jorge Lorenzo dipped his toes in the water now and again, but for the most part, it was Dani Pedrosa, Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez who went to war, back and forth for 45 straight minutes. Rossi had the early advantage, but Marquez was looking very punchy as well, doing well to come back from a near crash on Turn 1 when he overshot his braking mark and ran wide, coming back on the track, getting passed by Pedrosa, only for Marquez to get him back through Turn 4 in one of the craziest passes of the season.
Pedrosa threw the house at Marquez, but it didn’t quite work out in the end, Marquez winning again in probably his most hard fought win of the season, in incredible fashion. Catalunya rarely puts out a boring race, and this one was simply brilliant. Almost as good as 2009 and “The Pass”.
Number 4 – Moto3, Phillip Island (Moto3 Race of the Year)
Or as I like to call it; “The race that Jack Miller wasn’t supposed to win”. The race already had a pretty crazy narrative going in – Jack Miller was now 25 points off of Marquez, the Championship leader after his mistake at Motegi. In qualifying, he had a mental meltdown and had to start from 8th on the grid. In an 11-bike field taking every line under the sun, surrounding by Hondas that were gonna bury him with their faster engines and their drafting.
But throughout the chaos, Jack Miller put in the best individual lap of the season, not putting a wheel out of place, nailing the final corner and winning with 5 Honda riders right behind him, over the line. This race was fantastic, full of action, and crazy passes up and down the field, had the drama of Guevara going down, Fenati, Binder and Kent going down on the final lap, and it proved that on his day, Miller was still just as good as any rider in the world on a 250cc bike, keeping the Championship alive in a race, he really wasn’t supposed to win, at home, with everything on the line. Australia, my Moto3 race of the year.
Number 3 – Moto2, Assen (Moto2 Race of the Year)
Into my Top 3, and my Moto2 race of the year, Anthony West’s finest hour. Going into this race, Anthony West’s last, and previously ONLY race victory was at Assen. Only it was back in 2003. This was a wet race, and you knew we were in for a fun one when Dominque Aegerter thought putting two different compounds of tyre on his bike, was a good idea!
In the early going, it was Simone Corsi and Sam Lowes who were leading the charge, but with Assen being so slippery in the drying conditions, they both hit the deck, Lowes first, then Corsi, who had a 15 second lead in his back pocket.
Tito Rabat played it conservative in 8th place, but Anthony West had gone from starting on the EIGHTH row of the grid, picking off all the fallers, and having that confidence to go for it, and had lead the majority of the grand prix, even holding off the superior Kalex’ bikes and talent of a super-confident Maverick Vinales and Mika Kallio at the end, to take just his 2nd career win, and his first in 131 races, 11 years in wait.
It was a truly wonderful moment and probably by vote for the best individual ride of the season, by any rider, in any class. A complete surprise and testament that in a wet bike race, ANYTHING is truly possible.
Number 2 – MotoGP, Philip Island
Oh dear lord, what the heck happened here? This was F1’s Canada 2014, only in bike form. This races takes the Number 2 spot due to EXTREME levels of Michael Bay style booking. Like Canada in F1, the first half was relatively to the script, Marquez was leading, the Yamaha’s 2nd and 3rd, but even previously we had Iannone torpedo Pedrosa into ending his chances at 2nd in the Championship, and Aleix Espargaro getting drilled from behind by Stefan Bradl, for the 2nd time that season…
…But with 8 laps or so to go, ALL HELL broke loose. The temperatures in Australia dropped, the Asymmetric Soft tyres failed, and Marquez’s historic 12th win of the season, was snatched away through no fault of their own. Jorge Lorenzo had overcooked his Extra Soft front, and was fading rapidly, passed by Cal Crutchlow, and with Pol Espargaro gunning him down for his 1st podium in the top class… Until he hit the deck with 3 laps left.
Cal was set to match his career high finish in 2nd, only to fall on the final lap. Meaning, Bradley Smith had scored his first ever podium, and through the carnage, on his 250th top class race, Valentino Rossi had won. The only thing to make it a true Michael Bay film would be some weed jokes and for his Yamaha to explode. Bradley burst into tears. Jorge couldn’t believe his luck. Vale was Vale. Crutchlow was seething with rage. And so on and so forth.
But it was a truly incredible race, only beaten for drama and climatic finishes by one other on this list. Worked out what it is?
Dre’s 2014 MotoGP Race of the Year – MotoGP, Aragon
Did you really think it was gonna be something else? This race was BONKERS, from start to finish. It was slippery, the rain was slowly adding up, and we all manners of ridiculous. Iannone had slipped on some astroturf, flipped his bike over and completely wrecked his new GP 14.2. Valentino Rossi made an incredibly rare mistake, put a wheel on the white line, then catapulted himself into a wall, giving himself an almighty concussion.
Then the rain got heavier, and with 6 laps to go, Aleix Espargaro gambled, and pitted first for a wet bike, as the white flags came down. The whole field had piled in…Except for the Repsol Honda’s. With 3 laps left, Pedrosa hit the deck on Turn 1. As much as a phenom Marc Marquez was, his decision to try and ride to the flag was a doomed one, as on the penultimate lap, he too went down and had to settle for 13th.
And on all days, the one who got it right, was the wise head of Jorge Lorenzo, who conquered his fear of water to break his 15 race streak of not winning, and finally took his 1st win of 2014, and made the fight for 2nd in the title, far more interesting. Further behind, Aleix made history to beat Crutchlow over the line, and take the first Open Class podium in MotoGP history, a well-deserved reward for a brilliant strategic decision, and a guy who had made an entire career out of dragging the best out of sub-standard machinery. And how about Crutchlow, who after an entire season of struggles, finished 3rd, his first podium with Ducati after a painful, painful season littered with falls and mechanical retirements.
And how many times can Danilo Petrucci say he beat Marc Marquez? The stories up and down the grid, the drama, the rain, the passing and the tactical scrap between Marquez and Lorenzo… Just everything you could ever want to see in a race. And that, is why Aragon is my MotoGP, race of the year.