Wednesday, October 27, 2010

(Off) Road Rage

Today I felt a bit jaded by the world, possibly because I'd read one of the unpleasant sections of TGWADT, and I don't mean the part where the author described the specification of a laptop in mindbending detail, almost as if he was trying to reach a particular wordcount and figured he'd be best off just copying verbiage from Apple's website.

I'm not going to go into what that was, because I had the much more enjoyable spectacle this afternoon of watching a very angry motorcycle racer on Youtube.

Wayne Maxwell, who was doing very well in the Australian racing series, landed a wildcard ride in the Moto2 race at Phillip Island this year. Moto2 is a stepping stone to the prestigious MotoGP class (think Formula 1, but for bikes) so this was a good opportunity for him to show his stuff, particularly as he was already one of the fastest riders at Phillip Island, even on less exotic machinery.

However, part way through the race, Wayne was bumped into by another rider and they both slid off into the gravel. Wayne's chance at showing his skills in the best-but-one class vanished in a spray of dirt and swiftly dying engine noises.

So like any red blooded Aussie, he picked himself back up ... And ran over to the other rider to punch him in the face. (You can watch this combination of motorcycling, sprinting and boxing on Youtube, just here.)

Given they both still had their helmets on, this wasn't the brightest thing to do. That's before you consider the crowd of spectators with video cameras, or the fact that the sport's ruling body takes a dim view of people fighting on or near the track.

Wayne subsequently made an apology, although the way he talked about his victim ("I didn't even know it was him") suggests not so much contrition as a desire to punch someone, anyone, that he could get his hands near.

Opinion has been divided on this. Given Australian motorcycle racers have self-destructed before - the most recent example being a combination of drug abuse and allegedly stealing money from a pensioner in the Gold Coast ("Surfer's Paradise" or "The Hell of the Queensland Retirement Community" depending on your perspective). So Wayne sort of fits into a tradition. And he was showing some emotion, rather than being some sort of robotic lap-making machine. But stiff upper lip, what what? As opposed to a fat lip. It's best not to go around punching people in the head, particularly not in a sport that has suffered several big injuries and one fatality this year.

And it's not like this will do Wayne's career much good. If he wants to race in Moto2, that is. I wonder if he could ride an upswell of Aussie xenophobia at sticking it to a foreigner, but while such acts of pugilism might make him the People's Champion in Oz, it would be hard to parlay that into worldwide support.

Then again, he could just race the Moto2 at Phillip Island again next year, and probably nobody would go near him for fear of getting belted one.

(Should I have filed this under my occasional'So You Want To Be A Killing Machine?' series?)


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