Valentino Rossi’s fight with Marc Marquez in Qatar was a great example of top class MotoGP racing, but there was far more significance to it than just a battle for victory.
Valentino Rossi has defined motorcycling greatness for the last 15 years, whilst Marc Marquez has every chance of defining it over the next 15. It’s very rare to see greats from two different eras fighting against each other for race wins, but that’s probably what we witnessed in Qatar.
Importantly, this was no Pete Sampras v Roger Federer exhibition match for charity, but was an all-out fight for Grand Prix victory (and the World Championship lead). We got to see both riders pushing each other to the limit. Rossi used to be famous for stalking his rivals until the very end of a race and using the element of surprise to overtake when it wasn’t expected. That was the old trick he played on Marquez. Similarly, Marquez is famous for risking it all with aggressive overtaking manoeuvres, and that’s exactly what he did to retake the lead from Valentino.
In years to come we might look back on that battle and will fondly remember the time we saw two greats of motorcycling, from different eras of the sport, trying their hardest to beat each other. It was a rare racing treasure.