That Bahrain Grand Prix
It might sound a bit generic but the race in Bahrain was a thrilling one, with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg going wheel-to-wheel on countless occasions in the fight for victory. The media centre was captivated – it's not always the case during a grand prix when professional caps are on – and reports weren't able to be written until the chequered flag fell. The rapturous applause as Hamilton crossed the line told you it had been a belter.
Marussia's first points
Monaco may be about the glitz and the glamour, but the best party of the weekend was to be found at the far end of the pit lane after the race. With Jules Bianchi having finished ninth to score two points for Marussia, the celebrations were taking place outside the team's garage and I was more than happy to wait to speak to John Booth and Graeme Lowdon and just watch them enjoy the moment.
Daniel Ricciardo's first win
Ricciardo is a very likeable guy, which made his first win in Canada even more popular. The nature of it was impressive – the robust move on Sergio Perez at Turn 1 really setting it up – but for me the most memorable part of the day came after the podium when Ricciardo returned to the paddock. Seeing first-hand a young driver soak up his first grand prix victory – realising a childhood dream – was special.
Hamilton's revelation at Spa
Media briefings can get a little repetitive during a long season, but Sunday afternoon in Spa was not such an occasion. Speaking to Hamilton about the collision with Rosberg on lap two, Hamilton said his team-mate admitted he did it on purpose. I was suddenly like a little kid again, wanting to shout to everyone in the paddock what had just been said as soon as we left Hamilton's media session. There was immediately a buzz in the paddock and the title battle stepped up a level.
Thursday in Sochi
The day of the Japanese Grand Prix was a tough one, but you just try and focus on doing your job properly and keep emotion at bay. For me, four days later in Russia was much harder as you could see how difficult a time it was for so many drivers and team members who you've followed around the world for the last nine months. The way many of them spoke of Jules Bianchi and their unity during such a tough period – while all clearly struggling – was of real significance to me.
The Catalunya MotoGP battle
Marc Marquez may have won the opening ten MotoGP races, but the bare results don't do justice to the quality of racing in many of those events - especially Catalunya. Voted the race of the year by Crash.net viewers, Catalunya saw Marquez, Dani Pedrosa, Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo slug it out for most of the 25 laps and from the media centre, it was only more thrilling to watch. Only Lorenzo had dropped out of the victory battle as the last lap began, with Pedrosa then touching team-mate Marquez with just a few corners to go. Both Repsol Honda riders stayed on, but Rossi was close enough to snatch second from Pedrosa and cross the line just 0.5s from Marquez.
West wins again - after 11 years!
Motorcycle grand prix can be a harsh and unforgiving sport, but every now and then it throws up a fairytale result. One such occasion was the Assen Moto2 race, which saw Anthony West win from 23rd on the grid, 11 years after his only previous grand prix victory at the very same circuit. The start had been delayed by a massive storm, with the grand prix eventually getting underway on a wet but quickly drying track. West, who saw 18 months of results erased after unwittingly consuming a prohibited stimulant in 2012, held off Maverick Vinales and Mika Kallio by less than 0.75s at the chequered flag.
The Sachsenring pit lane start
It was surely the strangest ever start to a motorcycle grand prix. Rain shortly before the German MotoGP saw most riders fit wet weather tyres, only to find that the drying surface was more suitable for slicks during the formation lap. As a result, 14 of the 23 riders then dived into the pits instead of lining up on the grid for the start. Those 14 jumped from their wet bikes to their waiting dry bikes before rushing to form a free-for-all queue at the end of pit lane. With five riders packed side-by-side on each unofficial row, they were all released as those starting on the grid reached turn one. Race winner Marc Marquez later called it a “Motocross style start”.
Rossi ends home drought
For many years a home Valentino Rossi victory was almost guaranteed. The Doctor was unbeaten in the official Italian round at Mugello from 2002-2008 and, even when Casey Stoner ended that remarkable run, Rossi responded by winning his local event at Misano (titled as the San Marino Grand Prix) for the second year in succession. But a broken leg during practice for Mugello 2010, followed by a switch to Ducati, marked the start of a nine-race home losing streak for Rossi and Italy. The pain finally ended on the 14th of September 2014, when Rossi dominated at Misano to claim his and Yamaha's first victory of the season and Rossi's first Italian win since 2009.
Tensions flare at the WSBK finale…
Sylvain Guintoli may have been the winner of the 2014 World Superbike, but it was Tom Sykes and Loris' Baz rather public fallout that grabbed plenty of the headlines post-Qatar… A simmering feud after their clash earlier in the season, the end-of-season team order debacle was played out on live television initially and then somewhat uncomfortably over social media. Who said WSBK lacked controversy…?
Distracted by the Dutch
It's not often you struggle to write a race report when you're being distracted by chants and cheers of the crowds outside the media centre, but when Michael van der Mark notched up his first world championship win on home soil at Assen, the crowd went wild. We didn't realise then, but that win would go on to spur van der Mark all the way to a dominant title, but what a place to start it…
Audi's joy, Toyota and Porsche's heartbreak
There was a point during the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours where it looked like it would take the car suffering the least problems to clinch victory, such was the drama that unfolded amongst all seven leading cars. Indeed, Toyota may have won the war with its WEC title win, but it was the battle of Le Mans it wanted most dearly, so when its hopes went up in smoke having led for so long, many – even its rivals – were couldn't but tweet commiserations. As a first time covering the 24 hour race, I can't recommend the couple of hours 'sleep' I enjoyed in my car somewhere between 3 and 5am, but the thrilling end to the race between Audi and Porsche supplied enough adrenaline to see me through to the finish… and I just made it through the press conferences without dozing off.
When it was confirmed Ryuichi Kiyonari wouldn't be staying with the Honda manufacturer that had formed much of his career, most assumed retirement – rather than a defection – was on the cards for the former champion. However, the Japanese rider did the 'unthinkable', switched to BMW and proved mighty fast on it. An enigma at the best of times, a happy Kiyo is a fast Kiyo, and in 2014 his winning smile was back. An emotional first win for BMW at Knockhill was repeated on six further occasions, proving the best may still be to come from one of the sport's most successful riders.
An emotional day at Cadwell Park
The danger of motorsport never lessens, as 2014 has shown more than once… Motorcycle racing lost Simon Andrews and Karl Harris this year and the BSB paddock led the way with its moving tributes. However, it was on a damp day at Cadwell Park that really stood out for me as Tommy Bridewell secured an emotional win in race one, meaning he can now 'take a trophy up to brother Ollie', before Peter Hickman claimed an unexpected victory in race two with the RAF Reserves Honda team Andrews competed with before his untimely death and on the circuit where he claimed his single BSB podium. May they rest in peace.
Dean Stoneman's winning return
Dean Stoneman's return to international competition just three years after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer was one of the year's most heart-warming stories, even before he turned in a mighty race-winning season. Refusing to let such a set-back hamper his career, Stoneman jumped straight into GP3 and didn't even let a late change of team stall his momentum as he notched up five wins (more than any other driver) to finish runner-up behind Alex Lynn…
The year of the Brits…
Lewis Hamilton, Jolyon Palmer, Alex Lynn and Anthony Davidson… all winners on the international stage this year, ensuring it was 'God Save The Queen' being played most frequently during podium celebrations in 2014!
By Ollie Barstow, Chris Medland and Peter McLaren