done it again! This time our intrepid roving reporters,
Dave and Wes Booth, rub shoulders in the MotoGP paddock
with some of the world's top stars, test the Carrera hospitality
suite, and Wes even scores a pillion ride on the back of
Lucio Checanello's pit scooter!
inroduces himself to the legendry Randy Mamola.
journey to LeMans began on Thursday morning when we caught
an early flight to Charles De Gaul airport in Paris. I have
made this trip several times before so I knew “the
ropes” . We land at terminal 3 and have to make our
way over to terminal 2 to pick up our hire car. It's then
straight out into the cut and thrust of the Paris Periferique.
God I’m good! Three hours later we were at our home
for the weekend.
were staying at a very traditional French home of Madeline
and Jacques Leret in Arnarge. We had stayed here before
and were thrilled to see our hosts again. Our luggage was
deposited in our room and we went “post haste”
to the circuit. This being Thursday, not much was happening
and teams were still in the process of setting up their
respective workshops and hospitality units. Luckily for
us though, several food hostelries were trading, and Wes
and I tucked into large croque monsieurs and beers. We stayed
looking around and checking out the goings on for a couple
of hours, then decided it was time for a wash and brush
up back at our digs.
and I had brought along with us our Roby shirts,
our Chaz shirts and our ubiquitous NSR-WORLD
shirts. We had worn the latter on the outward
journey and also kept them on at the track.
I must say that they lend a very professional
air to proceedings!
Although it was fine
and sunny in the UK it was cold and damp here
in France. Little did I realise then that LeMans
was to suffer its worse rainfall for decades.
On Friday it rained on and off all day, on Saturday
it absolutely lashed it down with a generous
helping of Thunder and Lightning thrown in for
good measure. Sunday’s race warm up was
delayed by over an hour due to fog around the
circuit. Who says that global warming is not
having an effect? Weather like this!!!!! Hell
it’s May! It should be warm and sunny.
Needless to say that my shorts stayed tucked
up neatly in my suitcase all weekend.
was spent entirely walking in the paddock, and for this
report I had decided to photograph as many faces as was
permissible. I had taken snaps of the various teams and
machines in the past. Wes and I had our Chaz Davies team
shirts on and went in search of our lone British contingent
in the 250 class.
Davies and Wes.
We had a good chat
with Chaz’s dad Peter and he told us that Chaz’s
regular team mate was injured and that the KTM rider Anthony
West would be substituting for Martin Cardenas. Chaz let
it been known that he was quietly confident of a good performance
at this track due to its stop start nature and that sheer
horse power is not a critical factor. This is important
for riders on kit machines which are always outclassed by
the factory bikes on longer circuits.
Wes and I made our way around the pit lane area,
Wes nudged me and said that amongst a group of
Bridgestone Jap technicians was the ex 125 rider
Masao Azuma. Yes! It was, I pointed my camera
in his direction and he was surprised to be recognised.
He very willingly posed for my snap. Azuma was
a brilliant wet weather rider and I for one was
sorry when he retired from competitive racing.
spotted “the Doctor” loitering around
his motor home and I threw myself in his direction
before he had chance to evade us. With fumbling
hands I got out the picture of Wes and him that
I had taken previously and thrust a marker pen
into his hand and asked him to sign the picture
did this for us and I also managed to photograph
him just as he disappeared into his motor home.
I am having this photo mounted into a classy
frame and it is going onto Wes’s bedroom
wall. How many other people have a genuine
signed picture of
and their son complete with autograph? Yeah! I am gloating,
no! That’s the wrong word, it should read PROUD!
One of the pit garages that I was intrigued with was the
Zonchen team. These are a team of Chinese riders that have
been given wild card rides. Wes and I asked to look around
and were pleasantly surprised by a bow and a warm welcome.
Inside this tented area were the two bikes which were being
worked upon, and also their hospitality zone. People were
being entertained with food and drinks right alongside the
working mechanics, how bizarre!
was looking forward to visiting the WCM area to meet
up with Jake again. I last saw him washing down exhaust
pipes at the Czech round in Brno. I caught up with
him still washing, but this time he was cleaning an
air box (the photo looks like he is cooking in a kitchen).
had a lengthy chat and whilst we were gossiping, in
walked James Ellison one of the team riders. I asked
James about the strange patch that is always on his
temple. He told me that it is a Titanium patch to
aid healing. He first used one on an old injury and
it cleared up quicker than was expected, and so he
wears a patch on his temple now for good fortune rather
than any healing remedy.
you are probably aware all three races were exciting,
with Tom Luthi running away with the lead in the 125
fancied rider Matia Passini was out of action with
a broken wrist sustained during the wet weather qualifying
action the previous day. I asked him why he was not
using his old racing number 54, this year. In previous
years I have seen him with this number printed onto
his clothing and caps.
Poggialli has taken this number from him he replied,
because he is a more prominent rider he has first
choice and has used this number in the past, and so
he reclaimed it. Shit happens hey!
is a very good looking lad and adorned in his designer
style gear looked” very cool” indeed!
250 race was totally mesmerising with the lead group swapping
places every few corners. Chaz got a crap start and lost
quite a few places before the first corner, but I am sure
that Wes’s and my shouts of encouragement on each
lap helped him pull back his deficit!
back at the sharp end De Puniet and Pedrosa made it a thrilling
last lap scrap, with the Spaniard winning by a “hairs
breadth” much to the disappointment of the home crowd.
Chaz came in a creditable 11th but his body language after
the finish line showed that he was disappointed with this
result. Corsi (on a works bike) had out-gunned him down
the home straight and he was frustrated by his lack of power.
Still, he beat Locatelli (on another works bike) and several
other good riders. WELL DONE CHAZ!!!!!!!
is now in the Moto GP class and although he has an
old spec machine and is using the ill favoured Dunlop
tyres, he gave it his all during qualifying.
he qualified on the last row. Never the less he got
of to a blinding start and was mid pack as the group
hit the chicane. Checca went down and took Roby with
him, (this happened to Roby same corner, same lap
last year) however, Roby kept the motor running and
was able to restart, but was more than ½ a
shouted words of encouragement as he roared past our
grandstand - the locals must have thought we were
“loco” as they were all for Rossi or Sete.
did what amounted to a time trial, and raced himself
for 28 laps; he did however make it to the finish
and scored a much deserved point. WELL DONE ROBY!!!!!
the mundane part of the report out of the way, now it’s
down to the serious stuff!
had met up with Roby earlier in the day, and had
discussed with him the meal that was planned for
later on in the year. He has arranged for myself
and family, along with six of his close friends,
to be present at the gathering.
my missus is not keen on us driving down to Italy
to have a meal with a motor bike racer. Jeeezus!
Roby is God-like to me!! Who would not relish the
opportunity to share an evening with their idol?
She thinks that stopping off for this meal will
spoil our holiday; little does she realise that
this is the reason that we are visiting Italy in
the first place - the sight seeing and sunbathing
come a very poor second!
Roby is just a normal bloke. He is not big headed,
and he doesn't act like a Prima Donna either. He
is just a guy who is good at racing motor bikes.
Three of his friends along with his dad were travelling
up on the Saturday to stay overnight and watch the
race on Sunday and I was to meet up with them later.
back in the paddock, Luchio Ceccenello came by on
his scooter, he saw Wes and I and stopped to say
hello, I was very surprised that he remembered us,
for we had not spoken since the Brno round last
August. During our conversation I asked him if it
was possible for me to purchase a Carrera team shirt
from him for Wes. He looked me in the eye and said
"You can have one for free!" was his reply.
“Get on the back of my scooter” he told
Wes, “we can drive over to the Carrera hospitality
unit and sort you one out” .
(as quick as a pickpocket in Prague) leapt
aboard Luchio’s Motorino. They drove
over to the far side of the paddock and left
me puffing and panting as I gamely followed.
By the time I arrived at the hospitality area
Wes was ensconced inside with Luchio’s
sister Elaina. She offered us Cokes and nibbles
and made us both feel very welcome.
appeared with the WONDERFUL team shirt - brand
new, still in the bag, WOW! Was I jealous?
Elaina gave Wes a “goodie bag”
also, and inside we found a team cap, a Carrera
pen, a Carrera pencil, a team lanyard and
a tin of strong mints with the Carrera logo
on. I had to check the date…….was
it 25th December?
had to leave to attend a business meeting
and he told us that we could stay as long
as we wanted. It was mentioned that Casey
Stoner would be along later and we could meet
him. The crew members started to lay all
tables ready for the evening dinners and we
felt a little uncomfortable just sitting there,
so we said our farewells and left.
on the Sunday we had "hooked up” with
Roby’s friends and father. it gave me a chance
to practice my Italian. The Italian lads were sooooo
laid back; they were not interested in the other
racers or races, but had just come to see and support
Roby. Valentino held no interest to them, he was
just an other Italian. Same for Max! Max’s
motor home was parked up next to Robys’ and
each time he came and went I wanted to stop him
and take his picture but these lads didn't even
blink an eye!
was it! The weekend had flown by, the races were
over and it was time to hit the road for us, and
head back to “Blighty” . I made sure
that the engine was running selected first gear,
said our Adieu’s, and put the pedal to the
metal. Another spectacular adventure was over, but
never to be forgotten.
must stress if you only ever go to one GP, then
make sure that it is LeMans. The food is excellent,
the locals are friendly, and if you get the chance
to visit LeMans, the old section of the town is