Today sees us reach the midfield stage of the top ten sporting moments of 2016.
7. 2016 Dutch MotoGP
This year’s Dutch MotoGP was held in torrential conditions yet produced an epic thriller and a first-time winner.
The race seemed to be Ducati’s for the taking given their superior pace in the wet. Yonny Hernandez led the way initially before the conditions caught him out. This paved the way for mayhem for others who inherited the race lead.
The weather was so bad by lap 14 that the red flag came out to bring an end to proceedings for a while. When the field got going again for a new 12 lap sprint, Aussie Jack Miller stormed through the field and took full advantage of Valentino Rossi’s retirement to catch Marc Marquez. He then threw his bike down the inside of the Spaniard at the final corner to claim the lead and built on his position to get his first MotoGP victory.
Behind them, a battle for third ensured with Scott Redding emerging victorious over Pol Esparago after a dive down the inside at turn one on the penultimate lap.
There is no doubt that this race will be remembered for a long time to come but the Czech Republic race is also up there. The race at Assen edges it because there were more crashes and the conditions were a lot more challenging than at Brno.
6. Max Verstappen winning the Spanish Grand Prix
Sunday 15th May 2016 saw a young Dutchman by the name of Max Verstappen write his name into F1 history as the youngest ever race winner.
The race seemed set to be another Mercedes domination but a first lap incident involving their drivers saw the door open for a battle between the Red Bull and Ferrari drivers. Daniel Riccardo and Sebastian Vettel opted for a three-stop strategy to cover each other off but it cost them the win and left Kimi Raikkonen to try and find a way past Verstappen, who was making his Red Bull debut after a mid season promotion.
The Finn tried with all his might to get past but a calm Verstappen used all of the racetrack to defend his lead. Eventually the 2007 world champion’s tyres gave way forcing him to back off and allowed the Dutchman to cruise home to the chequered flag and his first F1 victory at the tender age of 18yrs 228 days. .
A sure sign of a man who will be a F1 World Champion by 2020. Verstappen went on to produce more classic race performances en route to fifth place in the drivers championship, but which other performance features in my top 10?
5. Middlesbrough returns to the Premier League
May saw the Sky Bet Championship last automatic promotion place go down to the wire. In a twist of fate, Middlesbrough hosted Brighton on the final day for the second consecutive season but this time saw a happy ending and a return to the Premier League.
Both sets of fans were pumped up heading to the Riverside Stadium for what proved to be an almighty showdown. The match itself was heated with Boro taking an early lead into half time before the Seagulls hit back through a Dale Stephens equaliser. Stephens then saw red minutes later to leave Brighton with it all to do.
Only a win would send Brighton above the Teessiders and into the promised land. The Boro back line of Daniel Ayala, Ben Gibson and George Friend successfully saw off pressure after the red card, before seizing control and keeping the match at 1-1 till full time to confirm their return to England’s top flight for the first time since relegation in 2009.
This is only narrowly in fifth because there are some more memorable sporting moments that just deserve to be in the top four, due to the quality of those achievements in comparison to Boro. The no.1 sporting moment of 2016 for me might come as a surprise to anyone who checks it out on Sunday.
That isn’t to say that the club’s achievement is any less worthy of a top five finish because they’ve built on promotion to consolidate themselves well in the lower half of the Premier League.
If you have read this and want to know which moments are ranked in 8-10th places, visit https://jamestgregoryblog.wordpress.com/2016/12/22/top-10-sporting-moments-of-2016-10-8/
Check back tomorrow as we reach the business end and unveil those sporting moments that just missed out on no.1 spot.