What do we do when racing is not on? “We ride” says a man in the crowd, and he’s right. But what do we do when racing is not on and we cannot ride? We sit on the couch and watch other people (much faster people) riding.
While MotoGP films -and motorcycle racing documentaries in general (“TT. Closer to the edge”, you cant miss it)- are nothing new, there’s a newfound passion for long video features about the greatest sport on earth. This is also thanks to some sponsors’, namely energy drinks, content marketing strategy: docu-films extend the display of the brand, create far-from-the-race experiences amplifying the brand’s message and – ultimately- generate PR ops and social media buzz.
As a motorsport sponsorship agency we can’t unsee the reason behind productions such as “Undaunted” or “VR46 – The Doctor” and we must tip our hats to these exciting marketing stunts. Also, we cannot stress enough how important these products have been during the long months of the COVID-19 pandemic, when racing was on halt and bikes were in the garage.
However, you do not need to work in a sports marketing company to appreciate the beauty of these movies. If you’re passionate of two-wheel racing, grab a soda and some pop-corn: it’s time for the top 5 MotoGP documentaries.
Where to watch: Rent on YouTube
Fueled by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s massive “Whatever happened to my rock and roll”, “Faster” is a masterpiece right off the trailer. The fact that Ewan McGregor is narrating it makes the whole thing even more epic, partially because the man could read the phone book and sound amazing and partially because you can hear all the passion of true, authentic petrolhead.
This docufilm is far from new, being released in 2003, but stil holds the top spot of this list today for its power and shot of adrenaline. Directed by Mark Neale, Faster is a mind-numbing mix of smoking bikes, huge crashes, punk rock music, fast-cutting editing, masterfully-delivered commentary and not-so-polished riders that’s closer to Trainspotting than to a sports feature.
Hitting the Apex
Where to watch: Rent on Youtube
“Stay on the motorcycle” says Brad Pitt’s voice, while images of the terrible crashes suffered by Marquez at Mugello and Lorenzo at Assen fill the screen. It’s powerful, and for bike lovers this is nothing short than another great line delivered by Pitt trying to explain the rules to a very particular club.
Hitting the Apex, another episode of Mark Neale’s MotoGP series, premiered in 2015 and features 6 of the fastest riders from the last decade of motorcycle racing: Valentino Rossi, Marc Marquez, Marco Simoncelli, Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner. Neale’s work this time indulges quite a lot on the feuds, both on track and off track, between the riders, putting the infamous Simoncelli VS Lorenzo and Pedrosa under the limelight.
There’s a lot of exclusive interviews and behind-the scenes material here, but once again it’s the editing and the overall feeling of adrenaline and thrill that make this documentary jolly good.
Andrea Dovizioso – Undaunted
Where to watch: Red Bull TV
“You see, that’s the problem with today’s MotoGP” -says Andrea Dovizioso, tapping the palm of the other hand with a finger, the Italian way of saying they have eventually reached the main moment of their discussion- “the problem is you have a lot of material, a lot of media content, but nothing is genuine, nothing is true. This is true”.
Coming hot off Red Bull’s media house, Undaunted (which is also the nickname Dovizioso had printed on the back of his leathers) covers Dovi’s 2019 season in absolutely grand fashion. The quality of the footage is stellar, which is no surprise if we consider how high the energy drink has set the bar in the past years, but is the whole perspective on the sport that is somehow a revolution for MotoGP.
Far from the frenzy and the glamour of the paddock, away from Ducati’s bling and PR powerhouse, Dovizioso is often portrayed drenched in muddy motocross gear, eating carbonara pasta from a plastic dish in front of an RV or changing a band-aid in the parking lot of some Ducth EuropeCar agency.
It’s an interesting take on a little-known world, because, after all, what happens to racers when they are not racing? What’s behind the scenes? Undaunted takes you there and lets you explore the thoughts and the routine behind one of MotoGP’s most loved men. There’s not much else, really, so if it’s not Andrea you’re interested in, this may not be your cup of tea. If you’re a fan, on the other hand, this is a must watch.
Marc Marquez – Unlimited
Where to watch: Red Bull TV
I wonder whether the guys at Honda were entirely happy when they saw that a good 10 minutes of Red Bull’s feature revolved around the RC213V’s engine brake problem. “The thing with Marc is that when the bike, or the engine in this case, is not at 100%, he comes in and puts in the extra work” says Santi Hernandez to stress the concept, just in case you have missed it.
Starting from the horrendous crash suffered in Thailand in 2019 and ending in yet another World Championship, Unlimited is the story of Marc Marquez’s eight title. There’s a lot of physical conditioning, a lot of training, a lot of studying and a lot of talking: from Quartararo to Dovizioso, form Lorenzo to Alberto Puig. And there’s a lot of behind the scenes, too, as you would expect in a documentary that’s put together and produced by one of his long-time partners.
The long and the short of it is that Unlimited is a very good documentary, with exceptional footage and plenty of great interviews and guests. It’s just not great, but because it can’t be. There’s no underdog here, no grand story of revenge and fighting against all odds. It’s the story of the best man on the grid, who is supposed to win and -well- wins.
VR46 – The Doctor
Where to watch: Free on YouTube
Divided into five 10-minute episodes, “The Doctor” is Monster Energy’s answer to the glorious amount of motorsport-themed documentary produced by arch-rival Red Bull. Of course, it features their hottest property: the one and only Valentino Rossi.
If pretty much on the planet knows a thing or two about the man -he’s from Tavullia, he owns a ranch, he has a yellow 46 painted on the front of his motorcycle- “The Doctor” actually takes some time to indulge on the little details. Valentino, as one could expect, does much of the talking, but there’s also a jolly mix of characters and appearances, deliberately thrown in the mix in random order. And we must admit it’s pretty fun to hear Yamaha Racing Managing Director Lin Jarvis and the pizza chef from Tavullia’s Pizzeria Da Rossi.
Don’t expect elaborate storytelling or philosophical insight. “The Doctor”, as the man himself, is pretty self-explanatory, straightforward and honest. If you’re a Rossi fan, you’ll binge-watch this in a late afternoon and end up happy and even fonder of the GOAT.