Valencia Moto2 test

I went to the Moto2 test in Valencia the end of January. It was cold, the first day so cold that no bikes went out. But I had a warm place to sit and work. And that’s what I did the entire first day. Which was fine with me because I was freezing.

My work computer, in the truck in front of the heater.

A few World Superbike teams including BMW and Aprilia, joined the test. Since the Moto2 bikes are all new everyone is curious about them. Xaus and Corser and a couple of BMW engineers stopped by the Kalex/Pons Moto2 garage to check out the bikes.

Corser couldn’t help himself, he had to climb aboard.

And then pretend to ride it. The only thing he didn’t do was make vroom vroom noises, (though I bet he did in his head).

That's Alex, the German engineer and co-designer of the Kalex bike observing Corser on his creation.

Speaking of the BMW Superbike. The swingarm is glued together. I don’t know about you but this wouldn’t inspire riding confidence in me. Evidently this is now common, shows you how much I know.

Second day bikes went out on the track. I took a scooter and observed from inside the track.

And from the hillside opposite the garages.

And then from pit lane.

Checa down the front straight.

The Moto2 bikes are … different. They sound great. Some are squirrely exiting the corners. The 250 riders are still learning how to ride them. But their times are all pretty close. By the way, the published times you may have seen for the Valencia test? 80% of them are false.  This is because they were recorded by someone walking into the boxes and asking for the best time of each rider. How hard is it for a mechanic be not to shave off a second or two? Very.

We went to one of the worst restaurants I have ever been to in my life. But it was convenient, being attached to the hotel. I ordered chicken and received a reconstituted, breaded, frozen and refried, patty of some sort. Now, I’ve been known to eat and even enjoy things that taste similar to cardboard. I’m not too terribly picky as long as whatever I’m eating isn’t greasy. But this place, I seriously would have been better off slathering a piece of cardboard with ketchup and digging in. And we went not just 0nce, but twice. Because you can never have enough chilled red wine.

This was the first test I have been to as a guest of a team- no messages to deliver, no people to meet, no agenda for me, and frankly, I felt a little awkward being there without anything to do. In fact, you could say I pretty much suck as a spectator.  I’m sure some people would be more than content to ride around on a scooter, drink espresso and wander around looking at bikes. While I am generally lazy, when it comes to motorcycles, and especially racing, I want to be involved.

Unless I have something to do, I’m skipping the rest of the tests before the season begins.

More photos from the GP

Some more images from the races.

I like this shot

Simoncelli gets a drink on the track after his win

The traveling circus

Lorenzo's Land Livery

Hayes holding court with the rookies

Hayes holding court with the rookies

This is where I watched the race from. Notice the tire wall I'm leaning on.

Valencia GP

I took the train out to Cheste, on Thursday from downtown Valencia. It was maybe 30 minutes and there is a stop directly at the racetrack. Problem is…the racetrack grounds are HUUGE. I exited the train and saw only miles and miles of rental cars and basically no one on the roads! After walking in the general direction of the track, a girl on a scooter took me right to the front of the entrance.

It took a while but I figured out where to pick up my pass for the weekend. I hitched a ride with some Italians to the administration building and eventually made my way in…

The first pass, later upgraded for an even better pass. Notes for the italians - that's a drawing of a tire, part of italy and all our names

Once there I met up with my friend Francesco who runs the KTM 250 team and he gave me a Redbull hospitality sticker for my pass. I spent a lot of time there and it also got me into the Redbull rookies cup area.

Redbull station was spacious and served free booze

Since there are no bikes on the track on Thursday, it was a day spent meeting with people and collecting phone numbers of people who could potentially help me with a job. Buying that phone was the best decision ever because I filled it with numbers!

Thursday evening I met Olaf, the European Arai rep in my hotel. He ended up driving me to and from the track for the next couple of days. He snuck me into the press conference for Sete Gibernau’s return to GP racing with the Onda 2000 team Friday night. I also attended the 10 year track anniversary party, which was really nothing more than opportunities for the press to take photos of the riders and some important people together, along with some kind of stupid statues that were supposed to be the riders but looked nothing like them.

Olaf and some other Dutch journalist at the press release

Olaf and some other Dutch journalist at the press release

there are important people in this photo

there are important people in this photo

Marc showed up late Friday night from France, and Melissa and Josh Hayes drove all the way out from Portugal Friday night/ Saturday morning and stayed in my hotel. Marc, Olaf and I met up with them at the track on Saturday.

Marc and I were able to watch Saturday morning practice from the Tech 3 Yamaha garages, and qualifying from KTM red bull 250 garage. Later that evening we visited in the Tech 3 garages and saw some interesting things on the bikes.

Filling pneumatic valves Saturday night

Lead weights for balance

Saturday qualifying from inside the circuit:

Saturday after qualifying, the technical director Mike Webb escorted me into the Fiat garages so I could say hello to Jorge Lorenzo’s team that I worked for at Laguna Seca and Indianapolis. I needed an escort as the crowd outside the Fiat garages waiting for a glimpse of Rossi was so huge it was literally inaccessible at all times. The team was surprised and happy to see me, and amazed that I was speaking Spanish (albeit fairly basic and broken). I didn’t stay too long but it was a highlight of the weekend just being able to chat with those guys again.

The rest of the weekend I circulated and met with people, as this was my main reason for being there. I also ran into plenty of people I knew and caught up with them.

Scott from Honda, Britt and Josh Hayes

The races I got to watch from inside the track which was a treat for sure, though the premeir class race was fairly uneventful. Mike Webb gave me two tickets to the staff end of the year party, where I met Charley Boorman and (from Long Way Around/Long WAy Down movies with Ewan MacGregor), all of the Dorna guys I met at Laguna Seca, etc, etc. I stayed at until 5am, and when I left it was still in full swing…