I’ve spent a cold, rainy and wonderful weekend in Valencia with my fiancé. I highly appreciate that he is willing to join me for these things, it wouldn’t be the same going alone. The weekend got a strong start with a dinner with yet another bunch of unknown but cheerful Ducatistas. It is difficult for me to converse in Spanish with two or more people at the same time and in an noisy sourunding Im struggeling to get the context, most ot the time I only understood half of it, sometimes nothing at all. But that didnt matter that much. It struck me once again that in the world of Ducati I will have friends wherever I go. The world of Ducati is wonderfully warm and full of posers, racers and a few travellers. Even if I only understood half of the conversation I still enjoyed it, sadly my replies were few.
After the dinner there was a Ducati nightclub. I love to get a glimpse of the festivities, but nightlife is not for me, not even in a club with a red mat and Ducati in the entrance. Time to sleep and go early to the circuit.
Saturday morning was grey at Ricardo Tormo Circuito. Still, a lot of hardcore race fans were gathered to see the qualifying and we enjoyed ourselves as best we could before the rain came. I tried out some bikes and measured the knee angle but there is no other Ducati that can compare with my Monster, for good and bad, but posing was fun.
We strolled around looking at merchandise and did some people watching before it was time for the 125 qualifying. We were happy to see Danny Webb take pole, making history for the Mahindra team. That Stoner got pole was less surprising but the grid after a rainy Moto 2 QP was more surprising, Pirro, Takahashi and Kallio… bearing this in mind we did our podium predictions for our internal in-house championship.
Sunday got an emotional start. We left our messages on the Simoncelli memorial banner and made our way to the grandstand to see the tribute to Simoncelli. All riders did a lap of honour and the audience was asked to roar when the bikes passed. A minute of chaos – instead of a minute of silence. Kevin Schwanz rode Simoncelli’s Honda with the number 58, Rossi held the tribute banner and all bikes had the number 58 somewhere on them. This was followed by fireworks and, needless to say, my eyes were in tears.
The 125 race was awesome fun. Webb on the Mahindra led the group for a lap and a half which was amazing to see. Unfortunately, he didn’t finish the race but he has made history.
There was lots of action going on as the Doohan corner is good for overtaking. Nico Terol was riding for victory and could only be threatened by Johan Zarco. In the shadow of what happened to Simoncelli, I felt sick hearing the cheers when Zarco crashed out of the race. Personally, I think it is unsporting manners to cheer for someone crashing, no matter the benefits for your personal hero.
The Moto2 offered more entertainment. The Honda Gresini team who had, until late, debated their participation in the race saw their rider Pirro take his first win and being from the north it always makes me happy seeing Kallio on a podium. Sadly, Takahashi crashed out of the race, and seeing him being taken away on a stretcher I made a silent vow not to attend another race if he was seriously hurt. Luckily, he was unhurt.
The highlight of the day was, of course, the Moto GP race, “Categoria Reina”. This was my first experience on the Ducati grandstand and it was all very exciting. We had got red t-shirts and caps to wear but due to the cold I was wearing 5 layers of clothing, a Swedish Ducati Club buff on my head and mittens to keep warm, sadly no way to show colours in the November cold.
When the riders did their warm up lap we got to hold up red and white papers that would form something, later I found out that it was ”SIC 58”.
This is what it looked like
I was looking forward to sharing my excitement with other Ducati fans during the race but the grandstand fell silent when both Hayden and Rossi were taken out in the first corner. Out was also Randy de Puniet from the Ducati satelite team and Bautista, who caused it all, is one of my favourites. Still, I enjoyed the race, I just had to re-focus. I enjoyed seeing Ben Spies fighting with the Hondas in the top and best of all was to see Loris Capirossi racing for the last time of his 22 year long career. His final race he dedicated to Simoncelli, racing with number 58, this number is now retired and will for ever belong to Super Sic.
It was an amazing weekend, Sunday evening we summed it all up while enjoying an Indian meal. We had experienced the true meaning of the Spanish word “homenaje”, the tribute to Simoncelli was ever-present during the weekend and still with a joyful spirit.