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Blog: Sepang race day

Published: 09 September 2006

MCN MotoGP reporter Matt Birt spends his days, nights and weekends getting to know the GP world better than anyone. Now he's sharing the experiences of being a top GP reporter with a new blog.

Finally made it back to the hotel to try and catch my breath after what turned out to be an incredible day at Sepang.

Race days are always the longest and toughest of the weekend. Its the day you have to churn out the most copy and all to deadline, with the production boys at MCN piling into the office at 7am tomorrow morning to design and sub everything for Wednesdays issue. With the time difference here in Malaysia though theres a bit more leeway than normal, though I still like to get everything done and dusted to just be able to relax a bit before I fly down to Australia tomorrow night.

Race day in the press room can be a stressful environment but once youve worked out in your head who are the key people to speak to, what the angles are and what you think the MCN reader must know about, you just get into a routine of bashing out copy for as long at least seven hours after the race.

As ever there was plenty to write about, particularly on what was an incredible MotoGP scrap between Valentino Rossi and Loris Capirossi. It was real edge of the seat stuff and races like that create a real buzz in the media centre.

You really do feel privileged to watch somebody like Rossi, who I think has every right to be regarded as the best motorcycle racer weve ever seen. My MotoGP career started the same year as Valentinos back in 1996, though its safe to say hes accumulated a slightly bigger bank balance than me.

Rossi has proved time and time again that he is the master of the last lap, whether it being attacking or defending a lead. He started that last lap 0.6s down and a lot of hacks in the pressroom were already writing the headlines for a Capirossi win.

Yet he pulled another rabbit out of the hat, and the odds on him winning another title are shortening by the day.

What happened after the race though? I was out in the paddock chasing quotes and hadnt noticed Rossi carry a chair onto the podium. Was it mocking an injured Dani Pedrosa? He said not, but a Spanish colleague of mine who edits one of the biggest motorcycle magazines in Europe said his e-mail was jammed with irate Spanish fans incensed by what they saw as their hero being mocked by Rossi.

And that was only ten minutes after the chequered flag! It is clear the Rossi/Pedrosa rivalry is gathering momentum. Rossi is the master of the mind games and weve all seen in the past how hes dismantled rivals like Sete Gibernau and Max Biaggi on and off the track. Pedrosa though doesnt strike me as somebody to get sucked in by Rossi. Hes like a baby-faced assassin who doesnt seem flustered by anything. He proved that in the race today. He was obviously struggling severely with that bad cut on his right knee. Yet he gritted his teeth and produced a heroic display and is still right in contention for the title. Most people think had he been fully fit hed have cleared off like he did at Donington earlier in the season such was his pace before his Friday afternoon crash.

With four races to go it is going to be fascinating to see the title battle unfold. Nicky Hayden is still in the box seat but it will be interesting to see how he copes as the pressure mounts from the chasing pack.

Its going to be emotional.

Later. M.

To see more from Matt's personal blog, and to ask him a question, click here (external site)

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