The Rid­ers

Thailand Tatler - - FEATURES -

As with any sport, the char­ac­ters of the com­peti­tors is a big part of the at­trac­tion. And un­like team sports, it is mano a mano out there on the track, with a com­plex mix of mu­tual ad­mi­ra­tion, petty and deep-seated re­sent­ments, prima don­nas and class sports­men—and al­ways bloody-eyed com­pet­i­tive­ness. Here is a brief run­down of the cur­rent top five ranked rid­ers, all of whom hail from Italy or Spain:

Marc Mar­quez (Spain)

A young up­start when he en­tered the GP class in 2013 at the age of 20, Mar­quez’ loose yet pre­cise, fear­less—and very fast—rid­ing style shook up the old guard. He took the world cham­pion ti­tle that first year, the year af­ter that, lost one, then won the next two and is al­most cer­tain to take the ti­tle in 2018 for the fifth time in six years. He (per­haps un­sur­pris­ingly) has a bit of a swag­ger, tem­pered by an imp­ish charm and is fre­quently ac­cused by other rid­ers of be­ing dan­ger­ously ag­gres­sive on the track.

Em­ployer: Rep­sol Honda. Salary: $11.5 mil­lion An­drea Dovizioso (Italy) Quick and a de­mon on the brakes, Dovi, as he is some­what af­fec­tion­ately known, has never won a world cham­pi­onship in his 10 years at the top level but has fre­quently fin­ished in the top five and as high as sec­ond place. A seem­ingly hum­ble man who doesn’t rel­ish the lime­light, he is an ag­gres­sive pres­ence on the track, more of­ten than not giv­ing the top three rid­ers runs for their money.

Em­ployer: Du­cati. Salary: $7 mil­lion Valentino Rossi (Italy) With nine world ti­tles, seven of them in the premier class, Rossi, the grand old man of rac­ing at 39, is one of the most suc­cess­ful rid­ers ever. He has raced pro­fes­sion­ally for 22 years and af­ter 18 years in the GP class he is still a com­pet­i­tive force. Though not as fast and awe in­spir­ing as he once was, he still com­petes ef­fec­tively against rid­ers who once es­teemed him as their boy­hood idol. Eas­ily the most beloved rider in Mo­toGP, Rossi is highly like­able with an af­fa­ble high-en­ergy charm, crack­ing jokes in his bro­ken English, and plays the class sports­man role flaw­lessly—to the cha­grin of some of his ri­vals.

Em­ployer: Movi­es­tar Yamaha. Salary: $10 mil­lion Jorge Lorenzo (Spain) A very pre­cise, al­most sci­en­tif­i­cally cold rider, un­der per­fect track and weather con­di­tions the 31-year-old three-time GP cham­pion has been at times al­most un­beat­able in his 10 years in the top class. Once Lorenzo gets to the front of the pack he is very tough to catch, hand­ily win­ning what then turn out to be some of the most bor­ing Mo­toGP races in his­tory. Ev­i­dently plagued by per­sonal demons that tend to shoot him in the foot, he is of­ten petu­lant when he loses and dis­plays an an­noy­ingly forced joy when he wins. Prob­a­bly the most dis­liked rider in Mo­toGP, though he doesn’t seem to know why. Em­ployer: Du­cati. Salary: $8 mil­lion Mav­er­ick Vi­nales (Spain) This 23-year-old rider in his fourth year in the GP class is a se­ri­ous con­tender. Highly com­pet­i­tive and his own man, he is keen to take the ti­tle from Mar­quez but comes across as rea­son­ably gen­tle­manly off-track. He has the usu­ally daunt­ing task of shar­ing the Yamaha team space with his friend Rossi—which other rid­ers, no­tably Lorenzo, have found chal­leng­ing. But Vi­nales is well aware that he is of the new guard and can move up the pack as Rossi and Lorenzo slowly fade. As­sum­ing some other young mir­a­cle doesn’t move up into Mo­toGP to usurp his birthright vic­tory.

Em­ployer: Yamaha. Salary: $5 mil­lion

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