…in the world.
Yes, it’s that time of year again, the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix is here!
What, no philosophical discussion? No psychological dissertation?
Not this week! For I feel compelled to profess my love for all things two wheels and my beloved home round of the MotoGP calendar (and a favourite among the riders themselves).
For probably longer than I should have, I have neglected writing about my passions in favour of trying to help people understand themselves and the world around them. So, whilst that in itself is a noble cause, I believe it’s also important to not forget who you are as an individual and what drives you (or rides, as we’re talking about motorcycles).
So, why is it that riders love this circuit so much? It’s fast and flowing with a layout that creates great racing and overtaking – with the final turn being one of the most ballsy corners in existence. It’s a track where you’re constantly on it and perfect for rhythm riding. Did I mention it’s beautifully located on an idyllic island with views of Bass Strait? Why not see for yourself with this quick onboard lap GoPro video with former rider Simon Crafar - click below to view on YouTube.
The whole island comes alive during race week with a favourite place amongst the teams being “Pino’s Trattoria”, and I can confirm this placing is amazing – not just for the food, but the motorcycle memorabilia as well.
Having been to the island three times in my life – twice for MotoGP, once for WSBK with one very fortunate and unforgettable track day included – this place is very special and dear to me, along with my mum and dad, who are equally nuts about motorcycle racing as I am. The way it all comes alive at race weekend is a tremendous feeling with an amazing buzz, something that live sport produces and that which cannot be replicated on TV no matter how good the broadcasts get.
You quite literally ride a high all weekend and even after the race finishes late on the Sunday, you still find yourself in a festival-like spirit, like I did with some newly found Italian friends as we proclaimed our worship of a certain Valentino Rossi.
Wildlife is very much a part of Phillip Island – Penguins are a huge tourist drawcard, but thankfully they don’t venture near the track unlike others. There have been many a close call, but I should reassure the animal lovers amongst you that the circuit organisers work together in hand with local wildlife organisations to minimise impact on them. However, one of the most iconic moments was when Ducati rider, Andrea Iannone, headbutted a seagull.
If I may return to my track day experience, it’s the equivalent of playing on hallowed ground. I recall trundling out of pit lane (looking out to the Bass Strait) for my first lap thinking “who are you to be doing this? You aren’t Valentino Rossi!”, and I know people overuse the word “surreal”, but it genuinely was at that moment. You see it on TV, you do laps on a simulator of sorts, but nothing prepares you for visceral experience of actually doing laps around the Phillip Island Grand Prix, at speed, exposed to the elements and other riders of varying abilities.
All your senses heighten, your focus narrows, time slows yet you go faster. I replay my laps in my head because that bodily-encoded memory is all I have now…until a next time, and the song has already been sung…hoist the leathers…never shall we die!