1. Finding the location is like a treasure hunt in Mordor
Sure, there’s a map and congrats if you were in the boy scouts, but better bring your snazzy fitness bracelet if you’re not driving cause you’re going to go up and down stairs all day long. And that noisy active volcano you’re hearing? It’s the bikes going off while you’re prowling the building for that magical Gold Pass door, which is much like a unicorn fart: so close you can feel it but just can’t see the darn thing.
2. This race is no holiday (but people are camping in front of the doors)
No racer has ever entered a race with the Olympic creed tattooed on the stem of their bike (i.e. “The most important thing is not winning but taking part”). Sure, Pierre, you chronic loser, it’s more like “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing”. While I hate quoting anything remotely related to American football (or sounding Lorenzo-ish), the competition is quite aggressive all the way through the pack, even if the trophy prospects are realistically reserved for the magic American trio (one honorary).
As for the camping bit, I’ve seen herds of teenagers with parents around, queuing in folding chairs and watching me judgementally for not featuring any rips on my pants. They could have been there for a Marquez, could have been there for Rihanna tickets – I honestly couldn’t tell the difference.
3. The crews are taking it even more seriously
A bit like a testing session, every heat/final meant constant corrections on the bikes, probably because of the changing surface. Marc’s mechanics were in and out of the pits to keep an eye on things, Baker’s crew got a little handsy with security after the final, while Alex’s team might seek treatment after that topsy turvy performance. But the smiles went back up as soon as the podium was wheeled in.
4. Marc Marquez really is fine with 2nd, as long as the guy in 1st is just as badass
Ok, maybe not ‘fine’ fine, more like reasonably fine, but his trademark grin is often deceiving. All in all, he seemed genuinely happy to be there, on whichever step of the podium that was, while admitting that a last lap lunge would have been insanity. Maybe he did learn something from this season. Even so, Baker was masterful all throughout the day and good at the rough and tumble – I’m guessing a Marquez would be the first to appreciate that.
5. Alex Rins is a ninja
Yet to be confirmed, but one second he’s falling to the floor and ‘gas’-ing away from an angry Mir, the next he almost snatches a podium. How is that possible? Although, to be honest, I shouldn’t be this surprised after he’s been hitting the ground (and then) running in his Moto2 season as well. Not just your average run-of-the-mill rookie, eh?
6. Maria Herrera has more fans than anyone not called Marquez
I knew Maria was a popular girl and, well, women are just scientifically better than men anyway, but the enthusiastic clapping when she made her entry took me by surprise. And she didn’t shy away from some brush-ups with the bad boys/kids once the gates went down either.
7. Santi Hernandez used to be a den leader for the Cub Scouts
Probably a scout in a previous life, Marquez’s engineer was constantly surrounded by children, showing them around, putting them on bikes and introducing them to the slightly bigger boys he works for. I can sort of imagine why they seem to gravitate around him, he must look like a really tall teddy bear to them. Some sort of Winnie the Pooh rummaging for tobacco instead of honey.
8. Nakamoto San is on a permanent subscription of Valium
Between the sprint in Austin, the tumble in Argentina, the MX accident, the crash in Italy, Montmeló, Silverstone, Aragon, the cycling accident, the rollercoaster in Australia, the 300km/h soap opera in Sepang and the ultimate pain in the arse in Valencia, can’t blame the guy for needing tranquilizers to get through the Superprestigio. I can only imagine his face when Marc mentioned the race in Vegas too. And I cannot find any other logical explanation to how he keeps so calm when the two orange minions occupy 80% of his time and 96% of his nightmares.
9. Juliá Márquez is the best Márquez
Not just because he’s the original specimen, but he’s also quite a delight as a prototype of a cool sitcom dad. When he’s not stressing out because of his troublesome duo, he was getting in there and actually helping set up Alex’s bike, cleaning up and being extremely kind to nosy strangers asking for baby photos. Or more like willingly showing us baby photos that I then realised were taken barely 10 years ago.
10. The garage used to have a big “Take a Number” sign, until Marc touched it
… and then some teenagers stole it. I’m just guessing here but they must have been more organised than this at some point, so that the guys could actually do their job without being constantly probed and prodded. As a fan, I shouldn’t be complaining (I will be doing that later on) but this welcomed openness could be better regulated. Maybe allow fewer people in at a time, organise a separate “autographs & selfies event” in the morning rather than constantly bothering them with it.
11. The pits are louder than a nursery, but the noises are pretty much the same
Fans are enthusiastic, some more than others. Fans understand and appreciate work, some more than others. Fans are familiar with the concept of personal space, some much less than others (here’s the complaining bit I previously mentioned). I won’t be overly dramatic, because most of the people I’ve seen were more than decent, with the exceptions of several desperate teenagers and the, umm, sandy shore who got ink marks on my jacket. And I have seen grown women cry. I don’t think I can recover from that.
12. It’s a missed opportunity for Dorna’s sales people
Maybe I wasn’t paying careful enough attention but for all the goddamn emails I get from the MotoGP store, you’d think they’d at least bother to send over a few card games and ‘Monopolies’, to test during track maintenance breaks. Or maybe some branded jackets for foreigners who realise how stupidly cold Barcelona is in the evening. I’d go one step further and try one of those simulator games on my frequent travels to boxes/bathrooms (all the bored dads will agree). But what they could have made the most money of? Fangirl Paintball © (patent pending). Rather than drown in a sea of selfie hunters going “Marc, Marc, Marc” at five second intervals like a broken car alarm, just lend me a paint gun and let me roam free.
13. You are not half as kind as the least friendly guy in the garage
If you’ve ever been to the zoo, you’ll know what this is like. No, actually, you need to have been a koala to know what this is like: people across a fence, gawking at you for hours at a time, trying to get your attention. All these guys are ridiculously patient (which I am not), extremely compliant (need I remind you of my paintball idea?) and forever with a smile on their faces (I frown at children). Fair enough, neither of that makes me a good reference point for friendliness but is does mean that I’m all the more impressed with their focus and resilience.
And I’m personally looking forward to testing their patience again next December, when I admit I’ll be cheering for a Marquez vendetta. Honestly, same goes for Qatar 😉