-- Marinating In Jerez
-- Intro - This is another regular column from a former mechanic that many people in the Australian Superbike paddock would have come across before. Indy Sam worked for Paul Free and Honda Racing Australia for a number of years before taking the plunge and heading overseas to gain more experience in the big pond of World Championship motorcycle racing. This year Indy is providing a special tour for a maximum of two people per MotoGP race event.
-- Marinating in Jerez
On the plane to Spain was when I actually started getting excited to attend the MotoGP race in Jerez. Instead of going to a MotoGP race to work as a mechanic for the season, this was the first time I was going there as a personal guide for a guest. I arrived in Barcelona to stay with my mate Marc who is a mechanic for Tito Rabat in the Pon’s Moto2 Team. With my event all organised I then flew a few days later to Jerez and stayed with Ant West to discuss all opportunities we could offer our guest. I bumped into old mate Bryan Staring who riders for Gresini and he explained to me his bike problems of no feeling in the front with Bautista having the same issues. Fortunately on the Monday test Showa provided the team with new front forks which gave Bryan the feeling he’s been searching for on the FTR Honda this season and can now push confidently into corners.
The following day I walked the track with Ant showing me his lines and gearing of all the different bikes he’s ridden there while Jack Miller would hoon past on his team scooter pulling wheelies. That night I went to pick up our guest Grahame Cavanagh and took him to the circuit for a midnight stroll around the track so he could see the freshly painted ripple strips on the cambered corners. Being put up at a Vineyard House which holds 5 guests, we woke up that morning to see a collection of horse carriages under the mansion as well as a stable of beasts not forgetting a few donkeys.
Taking Graeme around to meet with Aussies Jack Miller and Olly Simpson, he was taken back their enthusiastic and upbeat personalities, especially with their results over the weekend. Jack just shrugged his shoulders after being taken out of the Moto3 race in 6th position, “What do you do, I know I had to pace to move forwards at the end of race..”. I later learned he waved his hands and threw his gloves to adoring fans after marshals dragged his bike away not allowing him to restart. With an attitude like that, you might see some results soon, especially as HRC are developing a bike to challenge the competitive KTM. Speaking with HRC marketing director at the MotoGP test Norihiko Kato, Honda are working on different ways forward and the right rider to take them there in Moto3.
Taking our guest through the Jerez circuit service roads, even I was amazed at how close you can get to these MotoGP animals flying past you in 6th gear towards the 300m braking marker. Watching Marquez sliding the front and rear wheel at the end of the back straight certainly won’t be forgotten and you manage to grasp just how brave these riders are, and also the risks they take. That night we took a stroll down to the city to absorb the passionate atmosphere the locals have, even the police are fans and let riders do burn outs and blast their engines. Young couples bring their children and surround the streets till the early hours of the morning, yes the Jerez race was a big event for them.
Race day and my friend Marc was pumped because his rider Tito got pole position, and went on to win the Moto2 race. Our guest Graeme managed to get a seat on his bike after the win while Tito stayed in his leathers for 3 hours afterwards sending texts to all his friends and family. It was Mother’s day in Spain and Tito had dedicated this race win to his mother who died fighting cancer last year. He had planned this weekend months ago in memory of his mama and it turned out to be an emotional ending. Walking through the boxes chatting with team mechanics, Graeme got a fair idea of the colourful characters in this industry, namely Gilles Bigot who was Tomizawa’s chief mechanic and also Alex Criville’s when he won the 500GP world championship 1999. Gilles explained how angry Alex was after the race where he took Mick Doohan out in Eastern Creek “Normally Alex is quite calm but in this race he felt a little pissed..”.
Graeme bought some gloves off Jack and a racing suit off Ant to support the Aussies while also having a souvenir to remember the adventure. We witnessed the crash of young Aussie Olly Simpson who rebounded 5m off the steel Armco after colliding with another Red Bull Rookies rider, he still managed to smile laying in hospital with a broken arm as they discovered he had tuberculosis. Jack Miller would go and watch him during the practice sessions to give him tips on what he can do better. It is a tight nit family with the Aussies over here. Mondays MotoGP test was going to be another hot day of many walking miles to view the bikes screaming past close up, luckily with there were no spectators attending the test and we could sneak in some team hospitalities to grab a monster and cool down. Running into Lorenzo before lunch I told him I wasn’t a mechanic anymore when asked which team I work for now, and how these tours with Ant are generating interest. Later that night after dinner Graeme told him rubbing’s racing after Marquez squeezed past on the last corner lap to which he replied “It won’t happen again..”.
Arriving back in Barcelona we took Graeme out for a few days to walk the mountains which scrape the sky, travel the city and its highest viewpoints, eat sushi followed by lamb for dinner on the city beach while not forgoing Indoor Karting at 11pm on the last night out.
Below is a testimonial from 52 year old Grahame Cavanagh - "The experience was so much more than I had even hoped for. Indy´s knowledge and personal contacts within the MotoGP paddock and IRTA opened doors undreamed of. Met all the Aussie riders and their families, many of the European riders and mechanics, hung out in different pit boxes, walked the inner service road during practice and the Monday MotoGP test day, an entire day a few meters away from the best riders in the world! Indy is making a big personal effort this year to support our Aussie riders in Europe, something I hope many more Aussies can pick up also. Listening to some of the long term paddock ´residents´, we have a future world champ charging around over there. Accommodation was superb, a vineyard on the outskirts of Jerez in the rolling countryside. We checked out mad Saturday night in Jerez, just like Bathurst was many years ago. A few days climbing mountains and walking in the bush around Barcelona, plus a night in the famous Barcelona indoor kart track rounded off this insane chapter in my life. Thanks Indy."
To book/enquire about the MechMoto GP Tour, please contact email@example.com
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