Sunday, July 17, 2011

Pedrosa wins German MotoGP

Dani Pedrosa

I just watched Dani Pedrosa win a very exciting MotoGP Deutschland race in Sachsenring. This was the first time I sat through a MotoGP race as I never really had an interest in the sport before. I have to say though it is very exciting and much more watchable then Formula One. Knowing a few of the big names like Casey Stoner and Valentina Rossi,  meant I paid close attention to their progress. Stoner started at the front of the grid and Rossi started at the rear, due to a fall he had in qualifying.
The race itself got off to a good start and Stoner, on his Honda, swapped places a couple of times, over the first few laps, with Jorge Lorenzo who rode for Yamaha. At the back Rossi was impressively making ground and by the half way mark he had made it up to 9th position. Considering he started from 16th this was an achievement as none of the riders competing at this level are anyway slouches.
As the race continued the primary focus was the duel between Lorenzo and Stoner, with Pedrosa rarely venturing out of third place. Rossi was getting bogged down in a battle with Alvaro Bautista on his Suzuki and Rossi’s Ducati team mate Nicky Hayden, for seventh place. But seemingly Rossi is having trouble with his bike and does not trust it completely. This led to a defining moment towards the end of the race. He had just got into seventh place with a brilliant manoeuvre when he over-braked at a corner which led to his two rivals slipping back in front. Bautista finished 7th and Hayden fractionally behind him, with Rossi then in 9th.
As the war between Stoner and Lorenzo continued upfront Pedrosa was patiently biding his time waiting for an opening. And at the final corner his patience paid off. A big push, on the inside of Stoner, saw Pedrosa fly into the lead and power across the line for the win. This was his fifth win at the eni Motorad Grand Prix Deutschland Sachsenning Circuit - to give the race its full title – and a very deserving win it was too. Pedrosa showed his intelligence and class throughout the race and has ensured that the championship will be a much closer fought affair.
The world standings now has Stoner leading with 168 points; Lorenzo in second on 153 points, as he also managed to pip Stoner to second at the flag today; Andrea Dovizioso is third on 132 points; Rossi fourth with 98pts and Pedrosa fifth on 94pts.
All in all it was extremely enjoyable and well worth watching. As the races are only 30 laps they don’t seem to have the endless banality of Formula One. There is not a lot of over talking from the commentators either. In fact they seem to enjoy just shutting up and listening to riders roar through the corners and straights.
The next race is the Red Bull US Grand Prix in California, next Sunday night at 10pm, our time and to tell you the truth I can’t wait.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Clash of Kings - reviewed

A Clash of Kings Book 2 of A Song of Ice and Fire By George R.R. Martin

Following on from the recent TV series A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin’s A Clash of Kings can be described in one word – bloody. This book starts with magic and murder; continues with murder, sex, torture, more murder, mayhem, sex, political intrigue, incest and oh yes more murder. This is the type of fantasy epic that would have Tolkien turning in his grave. Martin, who has frequently been compared to the creator of Middle Earth, spins a tale that draws you into his nets never to let you go.

His tales are told through the eyes of bastards, princes, queens and dwarves. All these tales combine to create a unique story leaving the reader itching for more. In fact no sooner had I bought the second book than out I went and got the third and fourth. Martin’s attraction is that he draws the reader into the lives of his protagonists. You genuinely begin to feel for his characters and yearn to find out what happens to them. That could be his secret and maybe his downfall.

Martin has created a world so large and intricate that at times it feels that he is struggles to get to the point of his story plot-wise. You cannot deny the quality of his writing ability but he seems unwilling want to leave any part out. “Through the steel and padding of his helm, he heard anguished screams, the hungry crackle of flame, the shuddering of warhorns and the brazen blasts of trumpets” This novel itself was over 700 pages long and is only the second book of seven. Book five is out this July having been delayed for many years. Martin’s soap opera type world is so interlaced with cliff hangers, mysteries and unfinished mini-stories that to finish it in just seven books seems like a mammoth task.

Martin does deserve the comparison to Tolkien even if his work is a bit more Hollywood. His creative ability and imagination are much to be admired. But like Tolkien his greatest pitfall could be that he might leave some of his best work unfinished, because of an unwillingness to complete it.

Queens visit

The Queen of Great Britain’s visit to Ireland last month was a landmark occasion in the history of this young Irish Republic.  For 700 years the people of this land lived, laboured and died in imposed bondage to the representatives of the English monarchy. Many times we rose in rebellion and tried gallantly to cast off the boot of our oppressors, which pressed down so heavily on our necks.
An ability to never know when we were beaten, married with the patriotic vision of those rebels who died almost a hundred years ago, eventually won us our independence.  So when the British monarch came and laid a wreath at the Garden of Remembrance on that historic Tuesday in May, it is hopeful to and necessary to believe that we have finally put the ghosts of our past to rest.
Why is this necessary? Because the future of this worthy land of ours will forever be linked in some way to the country of our nearest neighbours. No more are we the small child in the playground to be bullied and kicked around by the big kid. Small we may be but we turned and fought and more than bloodied the nose of our aggressor. The laying of that wreath signified there is a respect for our prowess and ability to fight when we have to. And what greater cause is there to fight and die for, than the freedom of one’s country? Nationalists up and down the country should rejoiced when that wreath was laid for at last we were being treated, beyond reasonable doubt, as equals by our former oppressors.
The links between our two nations should be nourished and kept strong because of this visit.  No longer do we have the inferiority complex which plagued us; we are a strong but welcoming nation. To see Queen Elizabeth respecting rebels, who fought and died against her predecessors’ throne, should make us all that little bit prouder to be Irish
At this time in our history we should be proud of what we have achieved and the future to which we march towards. We will never forget but we can always forgive.