Thanks to the MotoGP technical director, Mike Webb I was able to attend the last Moto GP test of 2008, held in Jerez de la Frontera, in Southern Spain. The track is just outside the town, close enough I could take a taxi from my hotel and it cost around 12-13 Euro. There is also a big roadracing statue of point out of town straight toward the race track, which I cannot find a photo of anywhere. (Can someone help me out?)
The weather was unseasonably freezing for the time of year, and accordingly I was entirely unprepared. Day one was so cold I went a bought a jacket the next morning. My contact was Ricky, the tech directors assistant. He was incredibly sick and outside of picking me up at the gate, he couldn’t do much of anything other than writhe in pain in his chair. I did see a few people I knew but the atmosphere was pretty somber, as mechanics and other staff alike were unsure of their jobs for next year. Only Yamaha, Ducati and Honda were at this test while the other manufacturers were at Phillip Island, so not only did everyone have mopey faces, the paddock was kind of sparse. So yeah, day one at the track was a downer.
Fortunately my friend Gerard from Dorna was there and we planned to meet up after he was finished at the track for drinks and some food. I got started early and walked into a tiny bar for some wine – wine from Andalucia is amazing. The second I ordered I was introduced to the other few people in the bar and had a lively conversation with in my limited Spanish. Very friendly locals though the dialect (accent? manner of speaking?) is akin to listening to someone with a mouth full of cotton leaving off the second half of every third word, along with using an incredible number of words to say essentially nothing. But it’s charming, don’t get me wrong.
I waited outside in the rain for Gerard in his rental car trying to maneuver the ancient streets of downtown. He ended up working on a helmet device at the track until 9pm. By the time he found me we were pretty hungry, though I had had a few tiny plates of tapas that are thrown at you free in this region whenever you buy a drink. We found a cool little restaurant with traditional food (served with a nice helping of cigarette smoke as is the case round these parts) I had some more tapas type plates, and Gerard had what he called “blood”. Which was…blood. Congealed into a sausage type thing. MMMM–MMMM!
Next day was sunny and while it was still cold, the riders were happier and everyone seemed to be in a better mood. Ricky was better and was up and about.
Nicky Hayden was loving the Ducati on the second day. It was exciting to watch him at the top of the times all day. It was also Thanksgiving day in the US. Altogether now- Team Amercia, f*** yeah!
He had a American flag livery, which was awesome. I tried to take some video from the roof of the garages but while it was impressive in person, my camera didn’t do any justice to Nick. So here is a photo that I did not take of his livery:
Made me all gushy proud to be ‘Merican. Nicks teammate Stoner was there, keeping a low profile after surgery on with hand, helping Nick with setup and the bike. I was in the Ducati garage at one point, but I’m not about to go taking photos of the riders or anyone at a test like this where there aren’t any fans per se. And yet…everyone there is kind of a fan. Pedrosa was posing in the sunset for some PR photos, and the VIPs walking by all stopped to take his photo with their phones or cameras as well.
I got my photo taken as well, because me? I are famous. The rest of the day I met a few new people and chatted with some of the mechanics I am getting to know, but otherwise it wasn’t too productive for me to be there. The whole trip overall didn’t open any doors for me, but it WAS fun. The fun started that evening of the second day, after everyone was done with work. Let me tell you now, the next day was full of ouch. So much ouch.
To be continued…