Back in Bend and time to write. What a long, strange trip it’s been for Life of Moto. We've been to Austin, Texas and back to Bend, Oregon again.
Normally I would spend my time watching and absorbing every jot and tittle over the course of race weekend, but it’s all a little different when you are at the race yourself.It’s a little more tricky to catch every nuance of the racing experience when you are spending your time at one corner of the track or back in the paddock stalking your favorite riders.Given that, and the fact that the Texas MotoGP race was a little, how shall I say this, less than exciting, I think I will give a little overview of my experience at COTA and a little overview of the race itself. A little yin and yang piece, some “life according to Emily” and some “here’s what actually happened at COTA."
Friday, as we all know, is free practice day. For me Friday was, "get my bearings and miss most of free practice because I was a bit shell-shocked and disoriented day."It was no dawn patrol Friday but I made it to the track after my favorite thing in the entire world, coffee.If you go to Austin, check out Flat Track Coffee – it is oh so good and I am a sucker for a coffee place that roasts its' beans on-site, which they do.They also offer a bike shop and repair area plus plenty of motorcycles to gawk at while you sip. Win, win, win.
Friday was the one day at COTA that my traveling companions and I walked the periphery of the track, which is quite a wonder in and of itself. It’s a spread out and sprawling track with tons of American flair at every corner. It was well worth the time we spent wandering around, but I felt anxious to get to the start/finish line and see the action, so the wandering was brief and focused. We arrived in time for the Moto2 free practice but I spent most of the day rambling about in the paddock trying to catch a peek of my favorite riders. Yes, I was a creepy stalker but I did it with class. We are super-fortunate as fans of this great sport to have the opportunity to share a moment or two with our sport's royalty and I am very grateful that every once in a while, after a lot of saving and planning, I am able to do this. I have a lot of respect for these riders and it is a really cool treat to be in the paddock and see them in their element. As for the actual facts and figures of free practice, I have to be honest and tell you I can't actually remember much. I do remember our excellent dinner at Swift's Attic with good friends after a long day at the track. If you end up in Austin eat there because it is mmm-mmm delicious!
Saturday aka Qualifying day.
I started out a Flat Track again. Seriously guys, this place is good. In Moto2 Alex Marquez had a great qualifying in Austin which is important for him and his future. This should most definitely be his year to shine since his closest competition moved up in 2018 and he did show his stuff in qualifying. For MotoGP, can we all agree the Yamaha's are finally back to business and looking good? Maverick Viñales got pole position (after a penalty bumped Marc Marquez back to 4th) and Valentino Rossi started in the 5th spot.Speaking of the Marc Marquez penalty, was this a reaction for his performance in Argentina? His belated slap on the hand for his bad behavior the last race? Dani Pedrosa really pushed through the pain of his two week old injured wrist and rode like a super-star in Austin.That guy has some serious grit and determination to ride through a broken wrist. This is precisely why I have such respect for this group of riders, they put it all out there for the sport and it's never a dull moment. Andrea Iannone also seemed to find a good place with his Suzuki and did some great riding in qualifying. I'm sure this is a big weight off his shoulders and a long time coming.
Saturday evening our posse checked out the Hand Built Motorcycle Show which is probably the coolest thing I have seen in years. This is a absolute MUST if you happen to make it to Austin for the next MotoGP race.You do not want to miss this show. First off, the Wall of Death was there and if you like daring motorcycle theatrics (and I know you do because you're MotoGP fans), you have to see the Wall of Death. Second, people ride the most awesome two-wheeled machines to the show so even the parking area is kind of an amazing moto spectacle. Third, you would not believe the custom built creations on display at the Hand Built Motorcycle show. There was even a custom creation from my hometown, Bend, Oregon brought by our local custom shop Spoken Moto. Way to represent for the great state of Oregon!
Sunday - Race Day. I love race day even if the race itself was a bit of a snoozer.
We saw Francesco Bagnaia dominate in Moto2 while Alex Marquez came in second place. This is a curious turn of events for Moto2 and not quite what I was expecting. This win places Francesco Bagnaia firmly in the number one spot for the championship and Alex Marquez is back in 3rd overall. Mattia Pasini has been keeping it cool this season and didn't do especially well in the Austin race. However, he is doing well overall as he claims the 2nd place spot in the championship. Can you say long game? We are watching you, Mattia Pasini.
We all know what happening in MotoGP, Marc Marquez dominated the track.... AGAIN. The penalty that started him in fourth place did nothing to slow his pace and he crushed the competition.... AGAIN. Maverick Viñales and Yamaha did have a remarkable race and I am sure this is a relief for them considering it has been a while since he has seen the podium steps. Poor old Cal Crutchlow had a heck of a time in Austin.I'm sure this was a huge let down considering the hype surrounding him going into the weekend. Another disappointment in Austin was the crash at turn one (where I was sitting by the way) by Hafizh Syahrin. He was looking solid up until then and that crash looked like a real head scrambler. There was also a scary though not dramatic crash for Alex Rins. Scary because he almost got hit by two of his fellow riders due to his location, and not dramatic because it wasn't fiery or especially eventful. He just sort of ended up right in the middle of the business. Here's to hoping that the race at Circuito de Jerez is a good old-fashioned MotoGP race and slightly more nail-biting.
Signing off for now and looking forward to Jerez fellow MotoGP fans.