It was a great co-incidence that the Catalunya Moto GP was going to be in town around the same time we were planning on being in town, so since fate threw this into our lap, we were crazy not to make the most of it. As we were travelling light, I had to leave my telephoto lens back in Australia, so I didn’t bother too hard taking photos today, instead hoping to just be a spectator and enjoy the race and atmosphere.
I was interested in going on Friday to try and get pit-walk tickets to get an up close look at the machines, however with our journey north into the Pyrenees, we had ran out of time. The actual race is almost better watched on TV, but we wanted to see what it was like watching in the middle of an enthusiastic Spanish crowd.
Getting to the circuit was simple enough, with giant button on the ticket machine telling us what we needed to purchase. It was about 30 minutes on the train, and we could see all the GP fans with the hats and shirts of their favourite rider/team, so we knew we were going the right direction. From the station, there were shuttle busses (for a small fee), or it was possible to walk. We waited a rather long time for the bus, and then it didn’t drop us all that close to the circuit, so for the return leg we decided to just walk back, as it would take almost as long, plus it would save money.
We were a little limited with tickets, and could only purchase weekend tickets, even though we were only going to be there for the day. Stupidly I turned down the opportunity to buy cheaper grandstand seating as I wanted to be in the general admission area – which of course you can still join if you have a seat in the grandstand!
The sun was as brutal as ever, and being a race track, access to shade was generally limited to areas that were lacking views of the track itself. It was crowded by the time we arrived around 10AM, so we had high hopes for the day.
By some luck, we managed to find a shaded hill that had a pretty clear view of one of the hairpin corners (turn 4), so we dropped a small bag with some pillows to try and reserve some space.
We went for a bit of a walk around the event, trying to see if there were any better vantage points, but they were all crowded, in direct sunlight, and obstructed by the hundreds of large umbrellas. Plus, they didn’t see that much more of the track, so we agreed to settle for the comfortable little space that we’d found.
We were doing our best to try and find the Radio to listen to the event, however we could only occasionally get the Spanish broadcast (and occasionally the Catalan version), but never managed to tune in to the English broadcast. We seemed to be the only people bothered by this, as the rest of the guests were happy just to eat, drink and enjoy the sun with an accompaniment of beautiful sounding bikes (well, not the Moto3 bikes).
We caught glimpses of the Moto3 race as we wondered around, but not having followed the races very closely this season (we’ve been travelling), and not being able to hear the commentary, we had very little about what was going on – and neither did anyone else by their lack of enthusiasm/attention.
We grabbed a quick bite of paella from a food truck, and browsed the souvenir apparel, and made our way back hoping that our location would still be there – and it was.
Moto2 came and went rather quickly, but as the race was nearing an end, there were dark clouds growing on the western horizon, and even though the thought of rain seemed impossible only hours ago, it was now looking like the main race could be severely interrupted!
There was a display from some stunt pilots, then the main event began. As always, it was amazing the difference between these bikes and the lower classes, both the speed, noise and the style! I gave up trying to get my radio to work, and did my best to squint at the giant TV to follow what was happening outside of our vision.
As always, the group quickly spaced out and the leading riders cleared out, leaving Jorge Lorenzo out the front and Valentino in a comfortably second place after local rider Marc Marquez crashed out early on. And, for a dry race, there were a rather large amount of crashes, including Cal Crutchlow crashing out (and returning to the race) just in front of us, as well as Aleix Espargaro on his Suzuki.
Even though a Spaniard (and one who lives locally) one the race, it was the second placed Italian Valentino Rossi that the crowd was cheering for. And it was him that they cheered for every time he rode past.
And then the race finished, and everyone picked up their chairs, towels and umbrellas and made their way for the exit. There was no ‘track invasion’, no rowdy celebrations, no flares or firecrackers. Just a quiet parade of tired and sunburnt people making their way back to the train station. The only other race we’ve experienced (twice) is the Australian GP in Philip Island. Maybe the fact that this race is so close to a major city means people don’t stick around, unlike Philip Island where people are sort of trapped?
To say we were disappointed would be an understatement. It seemed to most of the people this was just a day out in the sun, accompanied by the sound of some loud motorbikes.
Maybe we’ll have to go to see a race in Italy…