Day 160 – Australian MotoGP at Phillip Island

Apologies to non-motorsports fans for today’s post…

I don’t know how, but the reclining chair I was seated in last night was even more uncomfortable than the first time. I was sincerely regretting not secretly stowing away inside our van for the journey – I’d be totally fine with pissing into a bottle if it meant that I could have had more than a few hours of broken, uncomfortable sleep. I had a picture in my mind that these reclining seats would be like a la-z-boy, and that I would melt into the chair and disappear into heavenly sleep. I hope that business class is better than this! But, I’d rather suffer through the discomfort than pay extra money for a bed (just as I’d rather suffer in Jetstar economy rather than pay a little extra for extra legroom, which I think they should offer to me anyway on the account of me being taller than average – but I won’t start complaining about that now).

20131020_20131020_062544We’d arrived in Melbourne a little before 6AM, just in time to see the sun rise and illuminate the city. It was time to return to our cars, so I quickly raced down to the car to get my camera and raced back to the top deck to take a few quick photos of the sun rise… only I’d forgotten my memory card… gah. So, this is from my phone. It was really pretty seeing the glass of the buildings reflecting the light before the sun had even peeked over the horizon.

We’d returned to Melbourne from Tasmania a few days early on account of us visiting all the places that I wanted to visit, and the MotoGP (think Formula 1 racing, but motorbikes) happened to be on this weekend near Melbourne. We travelled down last year, so I wasn’t originally all that interested in going again this year. But, something changed and we decided we really wanted to go again, so, here we are.

20131020_RCH_4568It was a 150km drive from Melbourne to Phillip Island, and we were quite surprised at how light the traffic was. It wasn’t really until the last few kilometres before the GP circuit on Phillip Island. There were signs advertising the ‘free’ park and ride bus service. Always keen to save a dollar or two where possible, we tracked it down, only to find out that the ‘free’ referred to the car parking – the bus ticket was $15 each! Which was ridiculous when the actual trackside parking was only $10… Frustrating waste of precious time. The number of bikes here was just amazing. I’ve never seen more bikes in a single location than at Phillip Island GP

20131020_RCH_4569 20131020_RCH_4623We were lucky enough to join some friends were also down for the GP. They arrived early and secured an amazing location just after Siberia (the name of corner 6). We could see the Jumbotron, and we could see the second half of the main straight, and corners 1 through 7 (see map – http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ee/Phillip_Island_Grand_Prix_Circuit.svg). Last year we paid big dollars for a grandstand seat at Stoner Pavilion (corner 12), but we could see so much less.

We also couldn’t believe the weather, last year we were wearing multiple layers of thermals, and still shivering (and then there was the rain), but today was near perfect. It was hot when the sun was out, and still quite warm when the clouds covered the sky. There were a few patches of drizzle, but after all, we’re only 150km from Melbourne so drizzle is to be expected. However, a combination of the unexpected heat, and a recent track resurfacing had caused the Bridgestone tyres to suffer sever and rapid deterioration – so much so that they had to halve the length of the Moto2 race (the 600cc class) and make the MotoGP class swap bikes part way through the race (which is the first time such a concept has occurred, and it was causing chaos with the riders and mechanics.

20131020_RCH_4593 20131020_RCH_4631Just after we arrived it was time for the Moto3 morning practise session. I’d forgotten just how loud these bikes are, especially the tiny 250cc single cylinder Moto3 bikes. I wish I’d left my earplugs from last night in my pocket. I’d also forgot just how fast these tiny bikes are. There were quite a few tumbles right in front of us, one rider was taken off clutching his wrist (didn’t look good), but the others only suffered damage to their confidence (and the team’s bank balance).

20131020_RCH_4607 20131020_RCH_4617This was followed by the Moto2 and MotoGP warm up sessions. Sadly, I haven’t really watched much of the Moto2 races this season while we’ve been travelling. I personally think that it’s better racing than the premier category – the bikes/riders seem to be more evenly matched, and they make more mistakes and take more risks, all of which adds up to great and unpredictable racing.

20131020_RCH_4636There was a quick parade of the MotoGP riders around the circuit, which we couldn’t see last year due to the location of the pit lane entry. I was expecting Risa to scream out to Nicky Hayden (her favourite), but I think the excitement stole her voice…

[Spoiler Alert – Race results below]

20131020_RCH_4670 20131020_RCH_4660 20131020_RCH_4679Moto3 was unaffected by the tyre problems facing the Moto2 and MotoGP classes, so it was a full length race, and the battle for first continued right until the end. The positions of the first six riders alternated almost every lap, and for a while with only a few laps remaining, it looked like Aussie Jack Miller was going to finish on the podium (actually, for a tiny bit it looked like he could actually win the race!). The crowd was really getting behind Jack, cheering every time he came past, and cheering even harder any time he gained a position. But, the merry go round kept spinning, and he ended up in (a totally respectable) 5th, and it was a (yet another) Spanish 1-2-3. There was even an Australian wild-card entry who just managed to qualify for the race (Lachlan Kavney #75), but tragically he was involved in someone else’s accident and it took him off the track, too. He recovered, but was half a lap behind by the time he re-joined, and was lapped before the race was over. Again, the crowd really got behind this young Aussie battler.

20131020_RCH_4687 20131020_RCH_4717Moto2 had the race length dropped to only 13 laps (down from 25), due to concerns with the tyres. Moto2 is my favourite, and it didn’t disappoint – lots of action from a very close group of lead riders. The championship leader was not racing due to a broken wrist, so it meant that there was lots of potential for other championship hopefuls. There weren’t many accidents either, which was unusual for a Moto2 race. Aussie, Ant West (#95), started from a long way back, but ended up finishing in 10th place, which the crowd was really getting in to. Sadly, it was over all too quickly, but by the end, Espargaro (#40) had eked out a consistent lead, and so we heard the Spanish anthem for the second time today.

20131020_RCH_4740 20131020_RCH_4750 20131020_RCH_4751Three Australian ex-world champions (Wayne Gardner, Mick Doohan and Casey Stoner) took part in a spectator display, doing a few laps on replica bikes. Sadly they were only on road bikes (and poor Gardner on that old VFR?), not the bikes that took them to world championships…

20131020_RCH_4762 20131020_RCH_4768RAAF Roulettes were as awesome as ever, and I’m sure it’s a very successful recruitment tool, because it sure had me thinking about joining the RAAF, then I remembered what it was like working for them and reality returned.

After the Australian anthem (sung by a lady with bright red hair…) it was time for the main event, the 1000cc MotoGP bikes. I mentioned earlier about the controversy with the Bridgestone tyres, well, since the morning, things had changed again. They were originally going to require the riders to swap before 14 laps onto their second bike and complete a total of 23 laps (instead of 27). Bridgestone weren’t confident that the tyres were safe for 14 laps, only 10, so the race length was dropped to 19 laps, and the riders had to change bikes before 10 laps. It sucked to have the race shortened again, but better than a tyre failure injuring (or worse) a rider…

The weather at Phillip Island is usually reliably bad, but it had been fine all weekend long. There had been a few spots of rain earlier, and some very menacing storm clouds that somehow passed either side of the island, too. The skies were still quite stormy, and there was rain on the radar headed this way. If it rained, it would really be an interesting race.

20131020_RCH_4783 20131020_RCH_4787 20131020_RCH_4812The big event! As usual, Lorenzo (#99) shot ahead right from the start, and as usual, the two Repsol Hondas were right behind him, and then everyone else behind them. It’s always great for the first lap (or two if we’re really lucky) when all the riders are still quite close. After a few laps, those three Spanish aliens had gapped the rest of the field and were competing in their own race.

20131020_RCH_4877 20131020_RCH_4881For the first time ever, tyre change tactics came into play (which is usual for F1). And was there ever confusion and controversy! Current championship leader, Marc Marquez (#93), came in to change his bike late and was ultimately given a black flag. The commentators didn’t know what was going on, the pit crew didn’t know what was going on, so we really didn’t know what was going on. But, sure enough, he rode in to the garage and wasn’t to be seen again. Now I’d really like to know what he was thinking. MotoGP, unlike F1, relies on a single board to communicate information to the rider – there is no telemetry and no radio communication. His board told him to come in, twice, but he kept riding…

20131020_RCH_4896 20131020_RCH_4863But, the race kept going. Lorenzo eventually pulled quite a comfortable lead. Pedrosa (#26) was by himself in second, and a fantastic battle was taking place for third, forth and fifth (which Valentino Rossi (#46) eventually won, followed by Cal Crutchlow (#35) and Alvaro Bautista (#19) in fifth). Risa’s favourite, Nicky Hayden (#69) had a good weekend, finishing in seventh.

It was possible (though unlikely) for Marquez to have won the championship this weekend, the third last race of the season. With this disqualification it has made the championship a little more exciting, at least for another round.

20131020_RCH_4902 20131020_RCH_4905 20131020_RCH_4948 20131020_RCH_4929 20131020_RCH_4934 20131020_RCH_4939Not long after the last rider had passed by the safety car came past with it’s green lights flashing, which means it’s now OK to storm the track in a made rush to get to the finish podium. Of course we followed the crowds and did our best to get there in time to see the presentation. Oh, and the Spanish anthem for the third time today…

20131020_RCH_4954 20131020_RCH_4957 20131020_RCH_4965 20131020_RCH_4952 20131020_RCH_4963The mechanics were hard at work getting the bikes ready to ship to Japan for the next round, which is next weekend. No rest for these guys…

20131020_RCH_4959 20131020_RCH_4956 20131020_RCH_4968All that was left was to take a few photos posing on the track (literally in Risa’s case) and return to the car. Rather than sit in the crazy traffic that all tries to get off the island after the race, we stuck around in the car park and cooked dinner. By the time we’d finished the roads were nearly clear. Win!

Such a fun day, and even though I’d barely slept the night before, it was totally worth it. It’ll certainly be a race that goes down in history.

160日目  10月 20日(日 ) MOTO GP!!!!

本日は、朝5:50にフェリーの放送のお姉さんによる強制起床。

どうも昨晩はイマイチつろげずかなり浅い眠りの繰り返しだったので、1日を元気に過ごせるかちょっと不安。  でもラストミニットで決めたMoto GP観戦、とっても楽しみでワクワク〜

朝6:30 フェリーからはとってもキレイな朝焼けを見る事ができました。 メルボルンの高層ビルにも朝日が写り、朝もやも若干かかりとても幻想的。。。

朝からこんなにキレイな景色に出会えたし、レースは楽しみだし、わっくわっく!

街では、こんな時間から自転車のレースが行われいましたが、混雑もなくスムーズに街を抜け、ハイウェイへ。

風は強いけど、青空のとってもキレイな日。  もしかしたら今年は濡れないですむかなー??

2時間ほどでフィリップ島に到着。 昨日から来ていたブリスベンの友達が観戦場所を確保してくれていたので、サイベリアと呼ばれるとても人気のあるよいポイントで観戦することができました。

今年は、1日のみなので、1番安い入場料のみ一人$95のチケット。

去年は、Cacey Stoner Pabirion という3日間通しの特別チケットを買いましたが、3日間の朝のホットトーストとコーヒー、専用のカフェ、トイレ、屋根付きの休憩所そして指定席で、去年は特にお天気がかなり悪くそれらの特典は最高でしたが、コース位置的には、大きなカーブの近くなので、コースからちょっと距離があるし、そのコーナー以外はよく見えなかったので、席的には微妙でしたか、この今回観戦したサイベリアと呼ばれるカーブの側は、
このカーブ以外にも直線も見えるし、他にも2つのコーナーが見えるので、より目で生のレースを楽しめる場所でした。

グランドスタンドと呼ばれる指定席ではなく芝に座るのでキャンプチェアは必須です。

このカーブは結構キツめのカーブなので、もし走行中に間違いを犯せば、サイベリアの果てまでバイクとともに飛ばされるというジョークかららしいです。

実際に、Moto GPの下のクラス(小さなバイクのMoto3)の選手は、数人ここで練習中にクラッシュし、その内の1人は、手を痛めたようで顔を痛みでゆがめながら目の前をメディカルチームの人と歩いて退場していました。

レースは、バイクの大きさによってしたからMoto3,Moto2,そしてメインのMotoGPです。
このレースの他にもスーパーバイクと呼ばれる別のレースや、敷地内の他の会場では、モトクロスの大会も行われていますが、今年は、この3つのメインレースのみを観戦。

会場に到着したのは、11時頃で、Moto3の午前の練習が始まり、その後は、Moto2の練習そしてMotoGPの練習。

合間合間には、そのほか小さなイベントがあったり(選手がオープンカーに乗ってコースをパレードしたり。これは、ヘルメットなしの選手の姿が見れるので最高♡)

MotoGPの練習が終わると、Moto3の本番レースの開始。

Moto3の選手のほとんどは、10代の若者で、(中には10代前半)選手の人数も多く、若々しい荒さのバトルがあるので、選手を知らなくてもとっても楽しめます。  去年は、オーストラリア人の選手が表彰台に立ちましたが、今年はあと1歩の所で残念ながら表彰台にはあがれませんでした。

次は、Moto2  彼らもまだまだ10代の若い選手が大半で、かなり見所のあるバトルでした。
はやり目の前で順位が逆転したりするのを見れるのは、とってもエキサイティング!!

私のお気に入りのエスパーゴ兄弟の弟くんにとって、チャンピオンシップを獲得する為に今日は、とっても大切な一戦だったんだけど、彼やってくれました!  スタートから1、2争いは、かなり激しかったけど、なんとかトップでゴール。

レース史上一番嬉しい勝利だったと後でインタビューでも話していましたが、レース終了後のクールダウンの1周時には、アクセルをうぃーん、うぃーんと鳴らし、ガッツポーズ連発で、喜びを爆発させていました。

こういうTVに写らない所を見れるのもやっぱ生観戦はいいですね!

その後は、去年絶好のキャリア、絶好の人気の中、若く惜しくも突然引退したオーストラリア人の選手 Cacey Stonerもイベントの一環で、他に引退した有名な選手とともに現役時代のバイクでカムバックパレードや、空軍によるジェット機のアクロバット飛行のショーなどが行われいよいよ、メインレースMoto GPがスタート!

Moto2もそうだったのですが、今回のタイヤの状態が新しく塗り替えられたこのコースの状態と合っていないということで、このレースコースの普段の26周から19周へと変更になりました。

しかも10周以前に一度ピットに入りタイヤを交換しなければならないという、かなり普段のレースとは違う条件も重なって追加され、ちょっとカオス状態。  しかもしかも、雨がぽつりと降ってきだして、そうなると雨用のタイヤにも交換しなければならないかも。。

F1レースなどと違って、このバイクレースは、レース中ピットに入り、修理やタイヤ交換などはほぼないに等しいのでこのタイヤの変更(バイクの変更)は、色々と面白い事になりそうです。

案の定、9周目、10周目は、ちょっとカオス状態。 8周目でピットに入った選手もいるので、見ていいると、順序が良くわからなくなる!

そしてこのレースを勝てば、今年のチャンピオンシップの獲得が決定だった、今年からMoTo2

からGPに移行したマークマーケスは、10周目もピットに入らずバイクの乗り換えをしなかったためペナルティー。 2位走行だったけど、結局失格になってしまいました!   まさにルーキーミステイクってやつですな。

私のアイドル、ニッキー ヘイデン様も6、7、8位争いをレース中ずっと繰り返していましたが、結局7位で終了。

結果は、チャンピオンシップ2位のロレンゾがトップ、現在3位のダニーが2位、と大人気のドクターことロッシが3位の結果になりました。

ここのレースは、レース終了後、サーキット内に入る事が許されているので、終了後すぐにみんなサーキット内に流れ込み、思い思いに記念撮影やらを楽しみます。

中には、サーキット1周ジョギングする人や高いフェンスに登って警察に怒られちゃってる人や、自転車でぐるぐるしてる人などなど。 人間観察おもしろいです。

私たちもサーキット内に入り記念撮影をし、表彰式を見た後は、フェンス越しにピットを見たり。

いつもテレビで見るBBCやチャンネル10のレポーターが目の前にいたり、引退したライダーがいたり、現役のランディーやMoto2のウエス選手も見れたし、ちょっと遅くまでブラブラしててよかったー。

この旅のあとは、ヨーロッパに移住するので、ヨーロッパでもいっぱいレースがみれると良いなー♡

名残惜しさ満々でサーキットを後にし、駐車場で夕食を食べて、近くのビーチの側でキャンプです。

ロスよりでかい2mほどの超マッチョなカンガルーが、すぐそばに何匹かいてこっちを見ている、、、

あー今年も最高に楽しかったぜ、Moto GP!!!!

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