On the grid at Mugello I watched as seven or eight visiting Japanese gentlemen in matching white Honda shirts smiled, bowed, and shook hands with Simoncelli, and I couldn’t help wondering if they were congratulating him in advance for having knocked out his latest fellow Honda rider. Rumors had been flying around the paddock about the discussions HRC had held with Sic concerning his inability to tame his raw speed, and add the crucial element of sound judgment while in the heat of battle.
While his pace this season was plain to see, the question continued to fascinate us: would Marco ever find a way to be fast and smart? He came in sixth that day, and looked nothing like the Super Sic we’d come to know and fear, in spite of having qualified third. In Germany he was sixth again, and at Laguna Seca he crashed out for the fifth time this season.
At Brno he seemed to have completed a metamorphosis from wild and dangerous to calm and calculating (possible spoiler alert ahead). After a poor start he worked his way through the field until finding himself behind two riders with whom he has a complex past: Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso. Watching the laps tick off with Sic in fourth place, hungry for that first podium but dangerously close to Lorenzo, one couldn’t help but have the feeling of watching a train wreck about to happen. Given all that has occurred with Lorenzo, the sparring in press conferences, the latest rider elimination of JL at Assen, would Sic rush in again and further complicate his history with the reigning world champ?
When Sic got safely by Lorenzo, there he was behind his long time rival Dovi, yet another opportunity for post race fireworks should Sic be involved yet again in an on-track incident that knocked out a fellow Honda rider. Would Simoncelli finally, finally tame his inner demons’ lust for a podium in the top class and stay on two wheels until the end? The suspense was much more exciting than the way Casey Stoner dismissed the rest of the field and rode to his latest victory.
Clowning around post race with his Bridgestone cap on backwards, jumping in glee when presented with his 3rd place trophy, and dislodging the unfortunate head wear, Simoncelli looked very pleased finally to have knocked this particular monkey off his back. Sic may have turned a corner at Brno, but he still has his first top class victory to achieve. The suspense about what Sic will do on track next is not yet over.
Scott Jones is a professional photographer known for his great action shots and poignant candids when covering MotoGP and WSBK racing events. You may have already seen his work on MotoMatters (they still have more calendars available that feature Scott’s work by the way). Not only do we like Scott’s shots, but he fits right in with our all Nikon-totting office.
You can find him on his blog, Twitter, & Facebook. Scott is such a nice guy, he’ll even let you stay in his Lake Tahoe cabin. All images posted, shared, or sent for editorial use or review are registered for full copyright protection at the Library of Congress.
Photo: © 2011 Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved