Jerez GP Zero, Friday

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.

p10002801I 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…


that's a carbon fiber subframe and swingarm...

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.)


Carbon fiber housing. This cam faces backwards on the tail of the bike. Or maybe forward for the famous butt shots?


Same old 1960s design grinder you have in your garage...


Onbike camera schematic


Brake/clutch hand camera

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.

Booby, all growed up

Booby, all growed up

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.

Francesco (on the right) babysitting Luthi

Francesco (on the right) babysitting his rider Luthi


Smiley (with the bald head) and friend, me, Francesco, Niño in front

That’s all from Friday…more to come.

Jerez, the finale

We last left off in this little story at the end of the second test day in Jerez, which incedentally was Thanksgiving Day in America.

I took a half hour walk from my freezing hotel to the swanky hotel that my Dorna friends were staying at. Of course, halfway through I had to stop off and fortify myself with some nutritious wine and olives, both of which are most excellent in the Southern Spain region. Thus, I arrived at the hotel happier and warmer.

We went down the road to an old traditional Andalusian restaurant, complete with awesome antique bar, chummy waiters and a table full of Japanese MotoGP folk. (Evidently they always dine together.) Our table consisted of yours truly and 5 Spanish camera dudes. We ate meat and many, many fried things, including the plate of whole fried fishes that was my main T-day dinner course. They were surprisingly tasty and I would eat them again. Nothing says Thanksgiving like battered fried fish with skeletons intact. Supplemented with a couple gin and tonics, of course.

The bar/wait staff recognized one of the Japanese at the other table as Yuki Takahash, a former 250 rider now signed to the Scot Honda team. I believe they got his autograph.


From there, we moved across the street to a bar. Being Thursday in a relatively small town, I expected a mellow-ish evening. That´s where I was wrong. The place was large, packed to the gills with dolled up locals (normal for the area I hear) and featured a local band playing Spanish music, including traditional Xmas songs that the entire place sang along to.

Drinks were cheap and we ran into an Austrian based GP journalist (oooh sorry, cant remember his name!!) who insisted on supplying everyone with some version of a vodka margarita, many, many times over.

nameless journo and me

nameless journo and me

Around 2:30am we lost a soldier or two, but friends, the night did not end there.

the drinking, it continuecd


I am glad I had my camera, I might have forgotten such moments as these.


When this place shut down after 3 something AM, we headed over to a nightclub. Again, packed. Everyone quite well dressed and the men all sported stylish hair-do´s. Don’t know why, but this is what I remember. That, and we invented some incredibly hip dances, such as “pitching hay”, “squint your face up with feeling”, and my personal favorite, “robot goes crazy”. We left at 5am, and the place was still packed.

The next I flew back to Barcelona. Jorge Lorenzo was in line behind me for my flight along with his…manservant or whatever, who is now his press officer employed by Yamaha. A new post for him, as last year I think he was just plain manservant. (Manservant helped me into the Redbull party at Laguna, since I had worked in Jorges garage scanning tires there.  We have spoken a few times, and did so at the test as well. )

That was the test for me. Not sure if I will attend the 125/250 test in January in Valencia unless I have a real meeting set up.  I did send out my CV (or had it sent by others) to several teams and companies.  So for now, I wait. And continue to enjoy my crazy weekends here in Spain. I´m responsible like that.