5. Marquez vs Lorenzo: Grand Prix Phillip Island 2013
In the same season that Valentino Rossi stated he had "all the potential to become the greatest of all time", rookie rider Marc Marquez found himself well on the way to becoming the youngest premier class winner in MotoGP history, but a bizarre mix up in the pit stop nearly cost him the title.
Round 16 of the 2013 MotoGP was held at Phillip Island, Australia and the race had been reduced from 27 to 19 laps due to safety concerns around the recent resurfacing of the track. In a bizarre, calamitous mix up, everyone apart from team Honda seemed to understand that the pit stop had to be made on laps 9 or 10. The moment of high drama came when Marquez missed the pit stop window and swapped his bike on lap 11. To the commentators disbelief he then collided with title rival Jorge Lorenzo as if he left the pits as if he knew that he wouldn't be in the race much longer. Marquez was shown the black flag and disqualified but still went on to win the title in a thrilling season.
4. Rossi vs Gibernau: Circuit de Jerez 2005
The Rossi/Gibernau rivalry hit boiling point in 2005 after Gibernau, having led for most of the race, somehow lost the race on the last corner. Rossi had caught and passed Gibernau only to be passed again by the Spaniard with only a couple of corners left to regain 1st position. They were neck and neck around the last few corners with neither willing to give an inch. Tyres are worn down, both drivers were worn out and the Spanish fans hit fever-pitch on the last corner as Gibernau is in the lead. Then Rossi attempts one final pass and BLAM! the bikes come together and Gibernau is sent off into the gravel to watch Rossi wheelie over the finish line. The home fans booed and hissed, the Gibernau and Gresini team were outraged but Rossi had once again won the race.
3. Hayden vs Rossi: Valencia 2006
2006 and the championship is down to the wire. After an amazing run of victories Nicky Hayden and teammate Dani Pedrosa collide in Portugal leaving Hayden 8 points behind world champion Valentino Rossi going into the last race. The title seems to be Rossi's for the taking but in a volatile season full of mechanical failures and crashes anything was possible. The final race in Valencia doesn't start well for Rossi and desperately trying to make up ground he crashes out on the only the 5th lap. A composed Hayden delivers the steady ride he needs to clinch the title but the real highlight was once the race was over.
The memorable moment came when Hayden, on his victory lap in front of 129,000 MotoGP fans, with his USA flag by his side, climbs off his bike, falls to his knees and bursts into tears having finally beaten his great rival. If the audience weren't moved by this point, they were seconds later when Hayden's father Earl runs on the tracks to embrace his victorious son. A great MotoGP moment.
2. Rossi vs Lorenzo: Circuit de Catalunya 2009
The 2009 Motorcycle Grand Prix was one of the closest and most exhilarating in history but the tensions and dramas of the whole season were encapsulated perfectly in the final lap of Catalan Grand Prix that year. The final lap of this race gave us something that we've never seen before and probably never will again. This extraordinary final lap saw Yamaha teammates Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi wheel to wheel for almost its entirety.
Lorezno had led for most of the race but by the last few laps Rossi wasn't going to allow his team mate to take pole position. With two laps to go Rossi squeezes past Lorenzo but as they enter the final lap Lorenzo remarkably takes the lead back, flying past Rossi at daredevil speeds. The Majorcan then holds Rossi off corner after corner, closing every door that the Italian tries to squeeze through. With only 3 tight corners to go, Lorenzo thinks there are surely no more opportunities for Rossi to pass him, the commentators think the same; 80,000 fans in the stadium and millions watching on at home all agree. No one had ever passed anyone on the final corner at the Circuit de Catalunya but Rossi can see the spaces that no one else can see. He pushes past Lorenzo with millimetres to spare and bombs past the finish line! Wow! I'm exhausted just thinking about it.
1. Sheene vs Roberts: Silverstone 1979
One of the tightest and most talked about races in MotoGP history, the 1979 Silverstone MotoGP saw Barry Sheene and Kenny Roberts go head to head in an amazing battle of wills and hand gestures.
Sheene was at the height of his fame when he arrived to a hero's welcome at Silverstone in 1979. He'd won the title in 1976 and 1977 and the home fans loved him. Sheene started the race with an outrageous wheelie to acknowledge the adoring fans; Roberts, in contrast, was struggling having started the race with oil all over his gloves after a broken seal had sprayed oil over his bike. The two however proceeded to dominate the race, exchanging the lead time and time again after breaking away from the pack. In a moment of high drama Sheene, having taking the lead again, puts his arm behind his back and sticks two fingers up at Roberts, antagonising the American and making for an intense finish. Murray Walker played down the incident at the time thinking that Sheene had waved at Roberts but the crowd and the fans at home knew exactly what the gesture meant.
By the last lap it still isn't any clearer who is going to win but as they cross the line Roberts finds a last burst of speed that enables him to just pip the race by three-hundreds of a second leaving Sheene and millions of Britons devastated but hugely entertained.
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