September 09, 2007

GP07 Misano GP, Race 13 "Misery in Misano" Part 2

Looking for results.

Before we set up the pit-box panels, I snapped this horribly low reading tachometre on the garage wall. Just think, the 3T test bike goes even higher . . . much higher.

The big story of the weekend was the torrential downpour we suffered on Friday at lunchtime. I didn't see a ton of material on this when I checked the internet sites later, but let me tell you, it came down on Friday like I never would have expected. The weather when we got to Italy was great, too hot, even. Bright sunshine, clear skies, not a worry in the world. And then on Friday: Ka-Boom! Thunder and lightning during the morning free practice session? This was as ominous as it gets . . . and it only got worse. Unfortunately for me, I missed seeing most of the clouds coming in because I was spending my time in the racetruck working on some files. I skipped going to lunch because I wanted to get some things done without Team members barging in and interrupting me, and the quiet was good. I got a lot accomplished, but every hour or so the power would cut out at the circuit and everything in the truck would die - like the lights. Eventually, the power outages got to be too much, so I decided to go get some food. Thankfully, Alpinestars had given me one of their huge track umbrellas (just like a grid girl, har har!) so I figured I was going to stay pretty dry with all the rain coming down . . .

I was wrong! I was wrong! I jumped out of my truck (locking the door behind me - we are in Italy, you know), flipped open my giant umbrella, and tried running down the side of my truck to get to the hospitality unit. DOH! There was a RIVER running under all the trucks, especially on our side of the paddock garages. We were lucky enough to be on the downslope so all the water was coming our way. I ducked back, headed upstream, and tried crossing between the Suzuki trucks next to us, and then the Kawi and Yamaha trucks further on. No luck. I was going to have to cross the fjord one way or the other, and by this point, my shoes were already completely soaked through and my socks were totally wet. What the heck, I thought, just go for it. I plowed through as fast as I could, useless, I know, and when I got across, I quickly ran to get something to eat. Well, I wouldn't call it running, because I was drenched and there wasn't much point in hurrying. I squished my way into our hospitality unit, grabbed some pasta, and hung out with the rest of the team who were watching the camera feeds from around the circuit. We saw the flood coming in, but we weren't ready for what came next.

It wasn't until the video feed showed the Marlboro Ducati garage filled with water that we realized our box was flooding. And I mean full of water, several inches deep. That kind of kicked us back into action and we rushed back to the garage to find that everything on the ground was submerged. Things like all the power strips running the tire warmers, all the personal effects (Paolo had a 500GB hard drive in his hardpack - and it was full of 500GB's of water), everything was drenched. And the water was slightly muddy, meaning that we would have to clean everything if we were going to salvage anything.

This is about an hour after the rains had stopped. We weren't able to get rid of the water for a long time, because just outside our garage bay doors, there was even more water running past. It wasn't until that had mostly cleared that we were able to open the doors and start pushing the water outside with whatever we could, like brooms, large pieces of plastic board (with rider's names on it, from the pit board), and anything else we could get our hands on. It was the same for almost all the teams, and we were (kind of) lucky that it happened at a European round, because most of us had replacement carpet in the trucks. Replacement carpet?? Thaaatt's right. Eventually we pulled all our equipment out of the garage, ripped the soaking carpet off the floor, and laid down new stuff when everything was dry enough to let the double stick tape do it's thing.

Because the track was so wet, we knew the settings were going to have to be adjusted accordingly. Lele backed off the compression two clicks. We would be ready, no matter what.

Meanwhile, the mechanics had fun calling their wives and girlfriends, "Check it out, we are flooded." I know Barros is an amazing rain rider, but even this was a little much for his #1, Marco, to deal with.

Anyway, the rain, and the subsequent garage rebuilding, meant that Friday was a very long day, and after the heat from Wednesday and Thursday, we were all pretty beat. Saturday was a longer than usual day (and earlier morning, too) because the two Friday sessions that had been cancelled we slightly rescheduled. Slightly in that the morning free practice on Saturday would be two hours long, and would start one hour earlier than normal. We jumped back and forth with the set-up, always looking for an incremental jump up the timesheets, but it just wasn't clicking. We struggled with Qualifying in the afternoon, ended up 17th and 19th on the grid, and things were looking grim. The only ray of light was that our race pace was better than the qualifying showed, so I was confident we would make up some ground.

I was right, and both riders started cutting through the field during the race. Barros charged up into 7th, but then he broke down as he was still advancing. My heart just sank when I saw the bike in the gravel on the side of the track. What happened? We had no idea, only that one side of the garage was done. Many of Ducati Corse's engineers were at the race, not to mention many of our sponsors and the people from Pramac, so it was even more stressful. All eyes focused on the comeback ride of the Hoff, and he was pushing past people despite his hand injury. Sure, the wounds had closed, but the damage was internal and we didn't know if it would last throughout the race. The thumb brake and clutch had been modified slightly to allow Alex to fight with all he had, and as he passed Guintoli he gave a little wave to show that his hand was on the mend - and on the gas!

The race was another blow-out for Casey Stoner, and he was followed home by both Rizla Suzuki's. It was an amazing sight, those beautiful blue bikes crossing the line. When I was waiting outside our garage for the Barros bike to be returned, I caught a couple guys from the Suzi team standing around. The two crews were nervous, because at that point no one knew which Suzuki would finish in front of the other - and which crew would have bragging rights that night! With both Hopkins and Vermeulen tied in points going into the race, this was a battle to determine who would be tops. John has been with the team for a couple years, while Chris is only in his second with the British squad. John's leaving for Kawasaki next season - but I'm sure he wants to finish this season as best he can, and with the run he's been having lately, I'm sure his results are only going to get better. Later in the afternoon, the whole crew came out for a photo in pitlane, and I could see that everyone was tired but really, really satisfied. I want that. I want to know that I worked to get on that box again. I want to know that everything I'm going through will have a purpose, a meaning. That purpose is to win races.

Why were the Suzuki's so fast in Misano? Only they know . . .


>Why were the Suzuki's so fast in Misano? Only they know . . .

well, seems like they all are more of less in the same area of speed now, not like in Quatar where the Ducatis were 15 kmh faster than the M1...

BTW, what do you make of all the fuss about tyres being the Great Divider ? When you read the forums not particulary biased to Ducatis, most of them put down Casey's domination to better tyres and not to his stamina nor his talent...

Another great report, I look forward to each one, they are so so interesting. Be great to say hi to you at Philip Island. I'm racing in the support 125 class. Will keep an eye out for you :-)

How will the future for MotoGP look like when Rossi decides to quit? In Brno I saw most people leave after lap 5 or 6 when it became clear that Rossi couldn't follow the leaders. From friends who went to Misano I received similar feedback. It will be hard to find a replacement for Vale once he decides to retire from MotoGP. He is a great personality!

Ciao Lex

Well, may the saints put a good eletric work on Barros bike, Estoril was the place of his last win in MotoGP.
Go Alexes, both of you!

In that last picture it looks like an entire Kawsaki bike coming out the back. What gives?

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