Part of being a motorcycle enthusiast in the United States means waking up at odd hours to catch live coverage of your favorite racing series. Whether it be MotoGP, WSBK, or AMA, every racing Sunday is more like Easter Sunday as we hunt through the channel listings looking for our beloved sport on the television, sometimes finding the disappointment that the coverage has been pushed far back into the week as far as Wednesday.
For the motorcycle racing fanatics, this sort of Easter egg hunt is a ritual intrinsically tied to our love of two-wheeled racing. Thankfully, 2009 provided us some worthy racing treasures for all our efforts, and it is in this post we celebrate those moments.
Best Race of 2009: Last Two Laps of MotoGP at Catalunya on Video
As was common with the 2009 MotoGP season, the competition split into two groups, with the same usual suspects leading the charge and breaking-away from the pack. Catalunya proved to be such a race, and under the Spanish sun fans were treated to some of the finest last few laps in motorcycle racing.
With Stoner dropping back, leaving the Fiat-Yamahas to battle for the lead, fans watched as Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi traded corners, and vied for the lead. The result would be a last-corner pass, and a three-way tie in the Championship standings. The race also set the tone for the rest of the season, as Lorenzo established himself as the man that could compete with The Doctor.
First Runner-up: WSBK Championship Goes Down to the Wire at Portimao
It’s hard to pick-out just one race from the World Superbike series as standing out from the rest. The entire WSBK season was filled with close racing, and epic battles, but Portimao stands out simply because it’s where the series ended. The season-long battle between Spies and Haga had to end at some point, and it ended at the last venue. Both riders were equally deserving of the Championship, and Portimao was their last bid to claim their crown.
In the process of winning the WSBK Championship, Spies also took the outright record for the most pole wins in a WSBK season. But coming in to Portimao, the Texan rider was behind the gun, and would likely have to win both races in order to secure the championship. With a crash by Haga in Race 1, Spies just needed a modest finish in Race 2 to secure the Championship, and that’s exactly what happened. If you weren’t yelling at the television during these races, you weren’t paying attention.
Second Runner-up: Casey Stoner Returns to Phillip Island and MotoGP
Casey Stoner’s absence from MotoGP racing caused a storm of controversy and confusion in the MotoGP paddock during the 2009 season, but his return to the racing series at Estoril didn’t compeletely silence his critics. With the Australian coming back to Phillip Island and his home turf, there were still a few doubters in the crowd, Wayne Gardner being one of them.
With a second place finish at Estoril, Stoner had something to prove at Phillip Island, and prove it he did. The Australian racer not only won the Australian GP, but he did it in style, sliding around the corners and putting on a show for the fans. At the end of the day, one thing was certain: Casey was back, and he hadn’t missed a step.