November 11, 2005

Pre-Season Practice shots, Post Valencia GP '05

Here are some shots from the practice on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday and Thursday tests went horribly because the temperature was too cold to get the tires really sticky. Also it was either drizzling or raining so the riders were super cautious. Still, they were hauling. On Monday Nicky was just hammering the bike. Melandri was the second fastest and both of them are sure to go head to head next year. Here's a shot for you Hopper fans.

More Practice shots in the Extended Entry - Click Below!

It took me a second to get the big camera up and running since this was the first time I was using it for action shots. Here's Nicky on his slowest lap. The first one.

Here's Nicky cooking down the entrance to turn eleven. Love the rake on that front end!

Vermeulen got up to speed very quickly, but he paused here to get a tow from Roberto Rolfo.

I think since I was the only guy in the grass at turn two, all the riders noticed me clicking away. I have photos of almost all of them looking right at me. This is Nobuatsu Aoki showing off (the only guy with the balls to stunt for the camera, also the only guy without a race contract next year). But. . . my ego is not that big. Actually right before this shot Nobu's wife rolled up on her suzuki scooter and he was showing off for her. Naturally she missed the shot with her monster camera so she asked me to email it to her. I lost her contact info in the shuffle of getting kicked out of my room later (a whole other fiasco, I'll tell you about later.)

Here's a shot for you two stroke lovers.

These Chupa-Chups helmets are everywhere! Jorge Lorenzo shows up how he does it.

Dani Pedrosa hanging off while getting used to the big bike. This kid's got a great touch.

Here's some more practice shots. Can you tell me what's wrong with this picture? It's Andrea Dovisioso, 250cc rookie of the year.

This is Luca, the rep for Spidi leathers in the GP paddock. He's got great style on the bike but if I put the whole picture up you'd see his line through 2 is all wrong.

During the week I was there the team loaned me a scooter and a helmet so I could get around after the race. On race days I simply stuck out my thumb and because of my fancy team gear someone always picked me up and gave me a ride to the track in the morning. This scooter was 50cc and went about 35 MPH. It was fun riding it around but when I first got it I drove home and promptly ran out of gas. I had thought maybe the gauge was busted but I was wrong. Whoops! Oh well, pushing it was easy and in about ten minutes I was at the gas station next to the freeway.

This is Kent Kunitsugu from Sport Rider Magazine testing the Duc. I gave him a bunch of pictures I took so cross your fingers and hope he uses one. I could use some magazine exposure to help me in case I need to talk to Dorna and get a press credential to take photos in the future. Can anybody help me?

The HRC tests we set up rather quickly and it was run what you brung so to speak. The originals of all these track photos are really crackin' but because BARF won't let me load the big files the res. is pretty low. A common sight in the evenings at the hotel bar was me having an Amstel and chopping photos.

Can anyone tell me who this is?!? It's Melandri's bike with a special guest rider. . . . .
Who would have the juice to get a ride on the #2 bike in the world? Arguably the best bike in the world!

I grabbed this shot really quickly so the quality is pretty poor. Still, you can see how out of shape these two guys are exiting corner 1 and into the little straight before turn 2.

Here's another example of mismatched bikes. This is Thomas Luthi, current 125 world champ testing out the bike. I was watching for wheelies coming out of the slower corners but the traction control has pretty much eliminated them. I really hate how much computers are taking away from pure riding skill. The highest wheelies I saw from the hondas were about two to three inches off the ground.

The 250's can still bring it, though! I was thinking that was a pretty "sell-out" helmet, because of the obvious advertisement on it. Walking down the street yesterday I actually saw a girl carrying one, so I guess they do sell it!

A mini-wheelie. Speaking about traction control and computers, anyone see the last corner of the Valencia race? Watching Marco come in tight to protect the line, and seeing his tiny mistake. . . . I think his mistake inadvertently helped him beat Nicky to the line. Marco went a little more sideways than he wanted too, and thus Nicky had to correct a little more. When two equal bikes are coming out of the same corner, with the same traction control, how does one beat the other? It's not like two years ago when the riders were flat-tracking them in and out. All things being equal, Nicky came damn close.

I sent a copy of this shot to Hopper. He was very laid back after the race and during the testing week. I can't believe he's so young because in person he really comes off a lot older and more mature. I hope he does really well next year because the word is that Suzuki has something up their sleeve. . .

Since Dani is so small in stature, he really has to get everything he's got off the bike in order to get it cranked over at speed. Here's a comparison shot of Dani and we'll look at some other riders in the exact same spot later.

Here's Darth Gibernau in the same spot with the Ducati. I wish he was running black next season instead of the obligatory red. It seems to suit his personality and his luck a little better. Seeing Juan Martinez in Red (Ducati gear) during testing was also shocking. Juan has a team he runs in the Spanish National Championship so he's always multi-tasking. Really nice guy and I hope one day to be working with him. . . or against him!

I really like this shot because it's rare for riders to be this close in a race. Nicky was hunting Loris for two laps before he made a pass. Sad thing for Loris. One the way to the race his mobile home caught on fire and burned to the ground! How's that for bad luck before the race!

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