Valentino Rossi's return to form brings sparkle back to MotoGP
Last updated on .From the section MotoGP
We have the sparkle back in MotoGP.
On the one hand we have debutant Marc Marquez and, on the other, old dog Valentino Rossi. Both of them surprised me in a cracking race in Qatar as the season got under way.
Jorge Lorenzo won the race but it was Rossi, who took second from Marquez in a great duel, who caught the eye again.
Rossi did a far better job than I expected and I am so pleased for the sport. He can reinvigorate it; he is everyone's hero and you saw why with some real close racing, daring moves and all in his own style.
There are hardly any fans in Qatar but at the end of the race all you could hear were screams of "Rossi, Rossi". Just wait until we get to Europe - it will be deafening.
If Rossi can keep that up week in, week out, he can be a championship contender again.
After an early mistake saw him run off the track, he was nowhere near contention with 10 laps remaining, but the ground he made up was incredible.
He got stuck in and was reeling off laps half a second faster than anybody else - when the tyres were on their way out - which was phenomenal. I was hugely impressed.
Many people, particularly at 34 years of age and with nine world championships in the trophy cabinet, would have thought, 'I messed up - let's wait until next weekend', but he produced a stunning performance.
It was a Rossi masterclass full of the trademarks of the early stages of his career, starting slowly and working his way through, finding ways of passing where nobody else could.
We also had the pleasure of seeing Marquez's amazing debut.
The 20-year-old pulled off a pass which was outrageous, when Rossi left about a metre of space and the youngster jammed his Honda down the side and barged his way past. For a rider in his first MotoGP race, it was a sensational display.
Lots of people will be shocked by the result. Lorenzo would not have expected Rossi to end up second after he slid down the order at the start, while Dani Pedrosa will not have thought team-mate Marquez would outdo him.
I wrote recently that there are four potential champions this year, and the performances of Rossi and Marquez have strengthened that view.
Briton Cal Crutchlow was right in the hunt for a podium finish until he got pushed into a mistake by Rossi, but he was riding really hard to stay with the factory Hondas and Rossi and he did all he could on an inferior bike. He was right there all race and he has proven he belongs there.
Compatriot Bradley Smith will be disappointed to start his MotoGP career with a crash but it is going to be a learning curve all season and he qualified well.
In the Moto2 race, Britain's Scott Redding was really spirited; he could not have done any more as he came second to Spaniard Pol Espargaro. He was always losing out on top speed down the straight but he was so close to a win. He can definitely challenge for the title.
It was a brilliant opening round of the championship and I cannot wait for the next race in Austin, Texas in a fortnight's time.
Its just a beginning of an exciting season and good days in MotoGP! Go VALE 46!
here's a thought, stop coming on here on a site who's coverage you supposedly don't watch and instead go to sky/eurosport and tell them how wonderful they apparently are.
I hope Pedrosa comes back and shows the strength he had at the end of 2012.
Felt so sorry for Cal, you could see the Hondas pulling away on the straight, but he got back to them every lap.
"most of the race showed Rossi getting up to second"
And with good reason, don't you think? It was a hell of a ride. Hope he can keep it up.
At age 34 you got to respect what he is still able to achieve , people seem to forget that!
If he can qualify well he will beat Lorenzo this year - I also respect Lorenzo but once he gets his feathers ruffled we will see him make mistakes.
Hope this race lays down a marker for the rest of the season.
F1 take notice - this is real racing!