Sunday, 19 October 2014

2014 Australian MotoGP - Race Day

The Royal Box, viewed from Pit Lane.

On Gardner Strait, directly opposite the start finish line, is the Royal Box. Don't be fooled by the tacky livery on this room built for four. Inside you will find large, comfortable chairs, air conditioning, two TV screens, a bar fridge filled to the brim and your own personal host who will allegedly get you "anything you want." I won the exclusive use of this fully catered facility on race day; it doesn't get better than that.

Royal Box luxury.
We were making ourselves feel right at home by 10am and Jordan, our host for the day, wasted no time in serving bacon and egg muffins, two each if you could fit them in. When the MotoGP bikes rode onto the track for their twenty minute warm-up we swapped coffee for champagne and beer and kicked back in our leisure chairs smiling all the while.

We went hands-on for the start of each race and ventured outside to our own private viewing area. General admission punters tried to sneak into our space but they were quickly removed by security. Australian Moto3 rider, Jack Miller, had us all on the edge of our seats as he took the lead and then lost it again from one lap to another. "Come on Jack" was the cry coming from inside the Royal Box every time the Moto3 dudes flashed passed our picture window. Jordan served more man food half way through the Moto3 race but we soon wolfed it down and were standing again ready to cheer Jack across the finish line - Jack won the race.

I have been a Rossi fan for years.
The MotoGP race didn't disappoint with team mates Lorenzo and Rossi having a good clean fight until Lorenzo's tyre choice haunted him and Rossi pulled out a convincing lead. Marquez looked like he was going to run away with it until he binned it ten laps before the end, leaving crowd favourite, Valentino Rossi, to pick up the spoils and bring home the race win. Ducati maestro, Cal Crutchlow, should have finished second but he lost the front end on the last lap and failed to finish. Lorenzo was second and Bradley Smith third.

250 starts, 7 championships, 108 wins & 194 podiums in MotoGP/500cc 

Rossi's pit board.
The crowd poured onto the track as soon as the safety car declared it "safe for human consumption" and we left the sanctuary of the Royal Box and joined the scrum beneath the podium. It seemed unbelievable that Rossi was celebrating a race win on his 250th MotoGP start. "250 Not Out" banners were waved by thousands of fans as the winners sprayed champagne into the wind. It was great to see Bradley Smith on the podium for the first time in 2014. I remember Bradley from the 2006 Sepang MotoGP, they called him the Smith Kid back then, he was only 16 years old.

That night we walked into Cowes for the last time, savouring the last moment of the MotoGP weekend. After all, attending the Australian MotoGP was on our bucket list and we sure did it in style.

The Royal Box was part of an Australian Motorcycle News competition where we were asked to define, in twenty five words or less "How MotoGP riders defy the rules of nature." I wrote:

Lightening Speed, Quick Wit,
Sixth Sense, Ultra Fit.
No Fear, Electronic Control,
Tyre Grip, Insatiable Soul.

Australian Motorcycle News stand at the GPexpo. Thanks AMCN!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

2014 Australian MotoGP - Pit Wall

Pit Lane Access
No one was more surprised than me when I received a phone call from Australian Motorcycle News (AMCN) to say I was the winner of the $12,000 MotoGP prize. The prize was a no expense spared trip for four to the 2014 Australian MotoGP and it didn't take long to find a couple of mates to join us for the trip of a lifetime to Phillip Island.

The Australian Grand Prix Corporation cleverly provide some prizes that money can't buy and part of our prize package was a session on the pit wall for the MotoGP practice on Saturday morning.

The Ducati girls were like statues.
It seemed too good to be true when we were escorted to our canopy on the pit wall, next to Ducati, just as Lorenzo and Marquez were leaving their garages.

Pretty girls adorned each side of the pit garages, all dressed differently, all with the same effect. 

The riders returned to the pits several times during the 45 minute session and we enjoyed every moment as they coasted past us on their way to another lap of the track. 

Valentino Rossi, a winner on his 250th MotoGP Start.
Rossi didn't disappoint with the ritual adjustment of his leathers and we scored Valentino's tear off shortly after it was discarded onto pit lane. Pedrosa, who was having a bad session, allowed us to see the frustration in his eyes before slamming his visor tight shut.

To get so close and personal with these riders and their bikes was without doubt a once in a life time magic motor racing moment; even the dudes looking down from the corporate facility checked us out with envy.

When our time was up we walked away, fully aware of what had been and what would never be again; sometimes you just gotta pinch yourself.

2014 MotoGP Champion, Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team.