There will be minute of noise before Sunday's race as the Moto GP community remembers the late Marco Simoncelli.
This weekend's Moto GP Championship finale at Valencia doesn't quite have the feeling of a season ending party as in year's past.
The weather's rubbish, Jorge Lorenzo and Colin Edwards are both out with injury and the showdown between Stefan Bradl and Marc Marquez for the Moto2 title is done with Marquez not fit to ride. But all that is dwarfed by the fact that this is the paddock will be without the late Marco Simoncelli following his tragic accident just two weeks ago in Malaysia.
Every bike this weekend is adorned with some tribute to the Italian and it's fair to say it's been difficult for all to focus on the job at hand this weekend. But this is racing and sometimes, unfortunately, horrific things happen. Marco himself said as much just a few days before his own crash. MotoGP will not, cannot, be the same without Marco and speaking as someone who knew him personally a little, it will be a much poorer sport. We hadn't seen the likes of him, in terms of the pairing of talent and charisma, since Valentino Rossi. But this weekend will be about celebrating him and now the best, nay, the only appropriate tribute to the former champion is to be out on track and racing this weekend.
Rain is expected for the whole weekend and the smart money for the win, as it has been all year, would be with new champion Casey Stoner. But given the chaos that often comes with a wet race, and given the title's already in the bag, I don't think he's worth a punt at 1.81.
Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso are battling over third in the championship and that's where the race for the win may actually come from. If it's dry, Pedrosa will be the to watch and at 2.9 represents great value. He simply cannot be the third Repsol Honda in the standings. His pride won't allow it.
Dovi moves to Yamaha next year and desperately wants to fire a parting message to Honda. If it does rain he may just do that. Pedrosa often struggles in the wet and Dovi has been labelled the best wet weather rider in the class by no less than Kevin Schwantz. So keep an eye on the forecast and, if it is does rain come Sunday, 16.9 for a Dovi win won't be as far fetched as it sounds.
This is meant to be an unbiased column but this week I'm breaking with impartiality. I'll be hoping for rain on Sunday for one reason: the Ducatis are competitive in the wet. And I want, Hell, everyone wants Valentino Rossi to, at the very least, be on the podium come Sunday. Marco was 'like his little brother' and the two of them were great friends. Vale will be running a special Marco helmet come Sunday and whilst whoever wins will be dedicating their win to him, it seems right that it should be Valentino.
Never mind the fact that, if he doesn't triumph on Sunday, this will be Rossi's first ever season without a win. If it rains, Rossi will be up the front. He'll be fired up and we may just see the Rossi of old. Odds of 13.5 for a win is very tempting and 5.0 for a podium is a sound investment even when you take the sentiment of it out of it.
So as 2011 draws to a close let me offer a final congratulations to Casey Stoner who has dominated this season and is a thoroughly deserving champion. Also a fond farewell to a true legend in the retiring Loris Capirossi who's been racing in the world championship for an amazing 22 years. There will be a 'Minute of Noise' as opposed to a minute of silence on Sunday at 10:15 and let's hope it's a great race, run flat out with nothing left in the locker. It's what Super Sic would've wanted. See you all in 2012.