January is ending; and to all the petro-heads, it is a welcomed end. Yes, it means that we are closer to the start of key motorsports events: Formula 1, MotoGP, WSBK. 2016 was good and exciting; but 2017 should be even greater and more exhilarating. MotoGP did not provide us the end that we wished for with the world title all sewn up and secured many weeks before. WSBK went to the wire; while the excitement of Formula 1 misses the charisma of Michael Schumacher.
As we warm up to the new season, here’s the Top 10 Moments in Motorsports for 2016.
10. Expect no favours from your team-mate in motor racing. Mercedes F1 Petronas team-mates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg crashed into each other in Catalunya. Your race is your race; my race is my race. The two Mercedes drivers had collided on the run to Turn Four leaving both cars in the gravel and out of the race; and facing the stewards as well.
9. It’s the same in MotoGP. At the Grand Prix of Argentina, Ducati’s team-mates Andrea Iannone and Andrea Davizioso crashed into each other as they battled for second place with Valentino Rossi on the last lap. Iannone attempted to pass Dovizioso on the inside at turn 12, but made contact with his team-mate and both men were sent spinning off - enabling Dani Pedrosa to take the final spot on the podium.
8. This will rocket straight up to No. 1 if this was a MotoGP race. At the same race at Termas de Rio Hondo, little-known Malaysian teenager and Moto3 rookie, Khairul Idham Pawi showed why Malaysians love the rain. The Honda Team Malaysia rider won the race with staggering distance in soaking wet circumstances to become the first ever Malaysian rider to take a win at Grand Prix level.
7. Again at the same Grand Prix of Argentina, another Malaysian teenager, Adam Norrodin of SIC Racing Team also caught the attention of many despite not being among the podium winners. Battling with Jorge Navarro for second place at the the penultimate corner, Norrodin high siding as he tried to do everything he could to end second. Spurred by his 'never say die' attitude, Norrodin stood up and pushed his bike across the line for 11th, drawing applause from all those in the crowd and pit lane.
6. WSBK crowned Jonathan Rea as not only as the 2016 champion; but more importantly becoming the first rider this century to successfully retain the World Superbike Championship. The Kawasaki rider followed the footsteps of Fred Merkel, Doug Polen and Carl Fogarty; underlining his status as a true great of World Superbikes.
5. Something that should have never happened in motor racing. Millions of TV viewers watched in shocked scenes of a track marshall running on the track in Singapore F1 GP while the race was ongoing. The marshal was helping remove track debris after the safety car was deployed at the end of the first lap following Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg’s crash into the pitwall at the start.
4. Hail Max Verstappen as the Red Bull Mercedes driver became the youngest ever winner in F1 history after winning the Spanish GP. But, more than his driving skills, the son of Jos has injected new life into Formula 1 with his bold attitude on the track – something which the sport desperately needs to regain fan interest.
3. The date was October 2, 2016 and Sepang was extraordinarily hot that day. It was the day Lewis Hamilton lost his F1 crown. He had a perfect start to the Malaysian GP as the Mercedes driver blasted off the grid to take the lead and his closest rival and team-mate Nico Rosberg was involved in an incident with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel at Turn 1. When all seemed fine and good, Hamilton’s car blew its engine on Lap 41.
2. Fighting a losing battle, Lewis Hamilton defied team orders to derail Rosberg’s title challenge. Ignoring orders on the radio, he took his Mercedes machine to ‘crawling’ to allow his rivals to close the massive gap that he and Rosberg had opened at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. It did not work out as Rosberg took his maiden F1 title before deciding several days later that he did not need to undergo the agony any more.
1. Nothing beats MotoGP, though. In Malaysia, MotoGP will always be No. 1 as the 2016 Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix recorded another fully sold out event. Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez ended the season as the 2016 champion; but the season will be best remembered with the rare feat of having nine winners in MotoGP; making it a new record for a single season.