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In Pit Lane – Tweets and twits | Columns | Gassit Garage

The 2017 season has brought a massive collision between reality and the ownership of the world by social media

As one who likes to keep photographs of his food to himself, I believe that Faceplant is an invasion of privacy, Instaflap harmless but essentially very, very dull, and Twitter a bleat-feast of garrulous trivia for people who can’t shut up, even when they are alone. Perhaps especially when they are alone.

If this puts me on the wrong side of miserable old curmudgeon, so be it.

At the same time, I confess a lifetime of admiration for those who race motorcycles at world championship level. People I can truly respect.

For their ability to race motorcycles.

Some are entertaining individuals. One or two have even become valued friends. Many others are miserable vanity sticks held hostage by their own fragile egos. But that’s all beside the point.

They are at their best competing out on the race track and, normal human interest aside, that’s more or less enough.

The 2017 season has brought a massive collision between that reality and the ownership of the world by social media. Ownership that includes MotoGP and all its riders, giving for millions of complete strangers the chance to interact with them. Whether they like it or not, because Dorna, ever eager to massage the market, is not about to let that chance go easily.

Thus motorcycle racers are treated as performing seals. And since most denizens of the social media seem to have the same level of wit as that most sociable of all creatures, the ant, this always had the potential to descend into a parade of juvenile idiocy.

Press conferences until now had been a chance for journalists to gather those commodities nowadays considered more valuable than gold – ‘quotes’. In this way, you will have heard many a rider’s race plans (“I’m going to give my 100 per cent, to get the best result possible.”) and how a race winner feels (“I’m really happy. It’s unbelievable.”).

This year, however, something new. The televised conferences are finished off with questions culled from the twitterati and their allies.

The questions tend to be chosen for their humorous value. Clearly by somebody with a very undeveloped sense of humour.

Recent samples include Rossi being asked what flavours his rivals would be if they were pizza toppings. Being media savvy and alert to the earning potential (seeing as he owns a pizza shop), he managed a slightly witty answer, though not actually worth remembering.

It all started innocently enough, with such fare as Lorenzo being asked what sort of an animal he would describe the Ducati as (“Wild, tiger, lion, something like that”); and Márquez whether he would need a higher points score than 2016 to retain the title (“Of course it is never enough”).

By the time we reached Mugello, one-third of the way through the year, it was completely out of control. Dovizioso, having just climbed off a 260 horsepower Ducati tying itself in knots at more than 320km/h, was confronted with a frankly incomprehensible question as to whether he would prefer to fight Valentino Rossi as a goat or Maverick Viñales as (I think) an eagle. After several attempts by the hapless and understandably embarrassed interviewer to make some sense of this drivel, he was obliged to give up.

Still, for all you buzzbrain93s and @46-4evers out there, now’s your chance to join in the fun. Here are some sample questions to help.

* If you had to eat your own toes, which toe would you eat first?

* If you were a tree and the other riders were male dogs, who would you least like to lift his leg against you?

* Or: If you were a male dog and the other riders were trees, who would you… etc.

* What colour is your favourite frog?

* My favourite long word is ‘sesquipedalian’. Yours?

* Which is your favourite leg?

Off you go then. 

By Michael Scott

Marquez, Dovizioso, Pedrosa, Catalunya MotoGP 2017