Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Le Mans MotoGP

Woke up to a very wet start. Pouring with rain, and lots of motorcyclists, most of them English, milling about the lobby and outside the door wondering what to do. By 8.30 it had subsided a little and we and about 20 other bikes headed off for the Le Mans track about 55km away.  An exhilarating ride in sometimes torrential rain among bikes and cars doing 130 to 140 kph down the peage (toll road) which is free for motorcyclists this weekend. Crazy stuff but if we went any slower we would have been cleaned up by the traffic behind us.

The lane discipline in France, like Germany, is very good. Everyone moves into the slower lane as soon as they have completed an overtaking manoeuvre in case there is a faster vehicle coming up behind, even if they are doing 200 kph themselves.
Finally reached the track and joined the maelstrom of bikes trying to find somewhere to park. Eventually found a spot and then walked about a km to the main gate to buy tickets. Got inside in time to watch the main races from a tiered concrete viewing area just after the starting grid. Grabbed a sandwich for lunch between races (equivalent to $30 for 2 ham and cheese sandwiches and 3 small bottles of water!). Very hot and sweaty in all our motorcycle gear and full waterproofs.

I'm still amazed at how fast the riders go in the rain and on a water soaked track. On TV you just don’t get the same impression as when it is happening just in front of you. In the earlier races many riders came off their bikes but in the MotoGP race a lot fewer; due to the advanced electronics on those bikes perhaps. It was good to see Rossi and the Ducati get their act together at last and get a podium even if it was at Casey’s expense.

The Le Mans 24 Hour Circuit is very different to Phillip Island. The 80,000 spectators who turned out in the rain today were confined to a relatively small area and are separated from the track itself by a high chain-link fence so it doesn’t have the spaciousness of the island or the intimacy with the riders. Having to watch the race through a fence is a bit off putting. Like the island there aren’t enough toilets but rather than queue, at Le Mans they just pee against any wall anywhere.

As soon as the last race finished we headed for the gate and were one of the first few hundred bikes to hit the road as we were parked just outside one of the exits. Found ourselves on the peage south and blasted our way the 75 km or so to Tours, a nice town where we had pre-booked a room an Etap hotel which was nearly double the price of last night’s HotelF1 but has a full ensuite.
Spread our sodden gear round the room, had a shower and then walked the short distance into town to find some dinner. Most of the restaurants were closed, it being Sunday, but we found a nice one near the station.  Talked to some kiwis on the next table who are touring France and Germany by car and were also at the MotoGP today. Gail had a vegetarian pizza and I had a chicken skewer with curry sauce, chips and salad and we had a carafe of Cote de Rhone red wine.

Walked back via Maccas and the train station, the former to check out their modern d├ęcor and self- serve electronic ordering system which is very different to Australia and the latter to look at the impressive Greco-Roman facade and to play with their high tech multilingual ticket machines. They were high tech to us!

No comments:

Post a Comment