Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Pilgrimage 09 - Phillip Island MotoGP Part 4

Day 4 – the Big Race

I actually beat Clem et al to the track on Sunday – amazing! My transformation to racing fan is now complete, ha ha!

I fall off my bike a lot – this is a well known fact – so it does my heart good to know I'm not the only one – but seeing racers flying through the air or sliding in the gravel still unsettles me.

There were some fairly scary offs at the track on Sunday morning. Chris Knox cartwheeled along the Gardiner Strait and lay motionless on the track for a moment as other riders whizzed past him, which scared the hell out of me. I nearly cried with relief when he actually moved. When the riders come off at off at such high speeds it always amazes me when they actually move again. Even more so when they get back on their bikes and finish the race! Chris was in no condition to get back on, on this occasion, and was ferried away in the medical car. I bet he's pretty sore right now.

Race Day brings a lot of day-trippers to the Circuit, so the crowds were enormous and the atmosphere was festive. I wandered around, met up with my friend Tempo, checked out Gaye's Earmold stand and the Judd Greedy memorial display, then headed back to the stand to settle down to a serious day's entertainment and race-watching.
(Casey's bikes, with new white livery, during Sunday morning's motoGP practice session)

(Casey Stoner in the drive past)

(Alex de Angelis - I love how his beanie matches his helmet - nice touch, Alex!)

Casey Stoner, you little beauty! The battle between Casey and Valentino was monumental, with the gap as low as .3 of a second at times. Our eyes were glued to the pit-boards each lap – what a nail-biter!

Lorenzo's Luck was all bad, unfortunately, and Nicky Hayden had a gutsy ride, giving it everything he had, despite running off the track when Lorenzo binned his ride at Turn 1 in the first lap.
(The crowd starts to spill over the track to the podium, awaiting the conquering heroes...)

(...and still they spill...)

(...to see this - (1) Stoner, (2) Rossi, (3) Pedrosa...)

My Queensland ride buddies departed straight after the podium presentation – see you for Superbikes, folks - and I found my Housemates for the trip back to the House.

The exodus after the race is pretty spectacular – imagine about twenty thousand motorcycles all trying to get off the Island at once (the other half will leave in the morning). The roar of the engines is a low thundery growl that continues for hours after the race. The police and SES do a terrific job of moving so many people with as little chaos as possible.

(The exodus begins)

The final night at the House was very low key and relaxing – a BBQ, a few quiet drinks, some TV and an earlyish night. Johno was leaving for Adelaide at around 2am and my aim was to head off at 7am, to try and find my way back to Canberra by myself.

Pilgrimage 09 doesn't end till I reach my front door, and there are sure to be more adventures between leaving PI and reaching Canberra (hold that thought – there's one more instalment to come!)

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