2009 125/250/Moto GP tests, Jerez, otherwise know as GP Zero (term coined by Toby Moody)
So I went to Jerez again, for the IRTA tests this time. Unlike the test in November, all the classes were present.
I nearly did not make this trip because of the expense and the likelihood that the trip as a networking opportunity being successful was low. Last time was a bit disappointing in terms of being introduced to people and how busy everyone was, and of course this time, everyone would be busier still because of the new rules, new teams, new year… but I had a few new contacts expecting me, plus I would know more people there this time. So I flew in on Friday and took a taxi straight to the track. (SIDE NOTE for my friends who must know Valentino’s every move: I was considering renting a car in Jerez so I loitered around the small airport a while after landing. Most of the flight passengers had gone, and I was alone when Valentino came strolling through the airport by himself, looking every bit like a skinny 18 year old and less like the 30 year old world champion he is.)
Thanks to a friend from the US, two guys from Simoncelli’s Gilera team were expecting me. I was supposed to call when I arrived at the gate and one of them would come get me with a pass, but I had been calling and text messaging since I was still at the airport in BCN, and had not heard back. So standing at the gate, still with my luggage and no contact, I sent texts to a couple of my friends who might possibly be able to help me, but being incredibly busy, they couldn’t even answer my messages. I finally called the technical director of MotoGP himself, who, being the nicest, most gracious guy in the entire paddock if not the world, came and picked me up himself, pass in hand. THANK YOU (again) MIKE.
I spent the first part of my Friday afternoon in the Metis Gilera box. Now ya’ll may or may not know that this is the reigning 250 world champion team, and in Spain, riders of this caliber are very popular. Very. (second photo down in this earlier post is one I took on the track after he won the last race of the year). When I first arrived, the team were rushing to introduce me to Marco Simoncelli, assuming I was one more raving fan. I kept saying, no it’s OK, I just want to check out the bikes and hang with you guys…they finally dragged the poor guy over and told him I was a racer from the US. He graciously asked which cc bikes I liked racing better, 125 or 600, of course I said 125 (he was probably thinking: what a girl). With that out of the way everyone went back to their work. I tried to stay out of the way, opting to sit in a chair next to the telemetry guy Elvio (or Elvis as he likes to be called) and chat, but I did get a photo of one of the new for 2009 bikes being mantled for shipping. Sooooooo pretty…
Remember my awesome friend who took me supermoto riding? Well he gave me a little tour of the Dorna camera truck/workshop for all the onbike images. I saw some progressive designs for minimally intrusive onboard photography with tiny cassette motors to clean the lenses and other neat stuff. (I took these images with my phone so they kind of suck.)
Of course I didn’t take pictures of the coolest stuff, like the two sets of used 250 slicks stashed in the cabinet for personal supermoto use by a certain unnamed staff member. I offered to take these as my carry on for the plane ride home, which I did. Just taped them together and rolled ’em into the airport…
I also hunted down Cam, who is debuting in the 125 class this year with Redbull KTM team! He is having a good time and has befriended Casey Stoner. In fact while talking with Cam, Casey came looking for him. Good to see he has a lot of support and is doing well.
That night I met with my friend Francesco, an Italian who works this year doing telemetry for the Caffe Latte 250 team. Their weekend was finished, so it was their responsibility to consume many adult beverages and stay out until 5am.
That’s all from Friday…more to come.