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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Racing On Two Hemispheres - Phillip Island to Daytona

I did wonder how I would fare. I was fine until 11.15 pm Friday night after the Daytona finally finished. My body decided that it was still somewhere over the Pacific and wasn't going to take no for an answer. I had to leave the media centre at the Daytona Speedway and get back to the house so I'd at least stand a chance of waking in the morning and catching my flight to come home...I did manage to wake up!

Within 6 days I travelled to Phillip Island to witness Ben Spies first victory in World Superbike and then hopped on a plane, had a surprise upgrade to Business (THANKS QANTAS) and was home for less than 10 hours before jetting off to Orlando for a quick drive to Daytona for the"new" incarnation of the AMA. I'd be lying if I didn't mention that witnessing Ben win wasn't a thrill for me on a personal level. In his first weekend in a new series, on an untested bike, the new Yamaha "Big Bang" R1, on new tyres (Pirelli's instead of Dunlops) and with a new team, but with his old AMA crew cheif Tom Houseworth by his side Ben did really well in race two. Race 1 didn't go to plan, but then again I think everyone was raring to go. And so it was all hands on deck and something had to give. Sadly it was Ben that got pushed out into the kitty litter, but he kept it up and kept on pushing to get back to front. Race two, however, was simply magical. I had gone to Phillip Island to write a "fly on the wall" story for RoadracerX about Spies' first foray into the world of World Superbikes. How he thought, how he felt and so on. I was amazed to see such a transformation in Ben. Relaxed, confident and unhurried, we chatted on the Wednesday before the race and I asked him questions that were more about him, his thoughts on how he would do and things a little more personal. I found, contrary to my initial an entirely different person than the Ben I had known in the AMA for the last how many years. I have to admit I had a really nice time chatting with with Ben, and you'll get to see the article, entitled "Spies Around The World" in the upcoming edition of RoadracerX. I hope you like it and I'd appreciate any feedback.So then onto Daytona. Sublime to the ridiculous? Daytona isn't my most favourite place in the world. In fact, none of the teams like Daytona. The saying goes, that the best thing about Daytona is watching it disappear in the distance as the planes wheels leave the runway. Arriving Tuesday I drove to my house in New Smyrna Beach. Daytona is more about folks having a good time on Main Street. The racing is really secondary to everyone who is there and the crowds in the stands and at the track reflected that. Even British rider Neil Hodgson commented that there were more riders on track in the Superbike race than fans in the stands. Still, it was good to see bikes racing back in the USA and also good to see Mladin win, and Hodgson coming in third. That said, it does look like the Suzuki's are dominating again. So no change there. That was Thursday. Next up the Daytona 200, under the lights (see first image above for the race start).For the life of me I just can't see the point of this. I'll agree that from a working point of view it's actually rather comfortable, no need for sunscreen, it's cool and comfortable but it's a novelty that on a personal level doesn't add anything and I'll admit to not being too keen on the "Pacety Car" and the rolling starts. I suppose things change, but bike racing, any form of racing, the start, knowing how to feather the clutch and let it go is a skill and one of those things that makes a racer, a racer, having the skill to anticipate the lights going from red to green (or out) and then letting it go.Well, that's all from me for now. I'll add my Fontana update Tuesday along with images to my site when I'm in Valencia prior to covering the World Superbike races from the Circuito Ricardo Tormo. My website has been updated and there are images in the archive. Bye for now!

1 comment:

NomadRip said...

Great shots, as usual. Amazes me about Daytona being more of a bike week than the racing. Half the people even outside the track in the vendor areas don't even know that racing is going on. It's just a big bunch of cruiser madness.

I tried finding you to say hello, since I see you everywhere bike-related and on dgrin. Melissa said you were easy to spot, but never did see you.

Enjoy your work, as always!