Casey Stoner really flew on his way to the 2011 MotoGP title at Phillip Island, and so did about 10 million insects, as our man on the inside, Toby Moody, explains.
Lord of the flies
Being on the coast of the Bass Straight, Phillip Island is a beautiful place, especially when the sun is out, as it was for most of the weekend. The problem, though, is that warm weather and water means flies. And lots of them. It was one thing walking through the paddock at a sedate pace, but at nearly 200mph they don’t get out the way in time and Casey Stoner was worried about running out of tear-offs on his visor, he was having to use them so frequently.
It takes Moto2 to tango
And what a frantic dance Moto2 was in Australia. Championship leader Stefan Bradl crashed in FP1. Then so did rival Marc Márquez, and then again, earning himself a penalty that saw him start from the back of the grid. Was this Bradl’s turn to surge ahead whilst Márquez tripped? Never. Bradl bagged second, but in a scintillating ride reminiscent of Portugal last year, Márquez proved he’s got what it takes by scything through the field from 38th to third. The look on Bradl’s face in parc ferme? Priceless.
When the stars align
What do most people want for their birthday? And what do most people actually get? For one man over the weekend, it was one hell of a present. Stoner’s win on Sunday came on his birthday and was his fifth consecutive at Phillip Island, equalling Valentino Rossi’s record. It was also enough to seal his second MotoGP World Championship title. Which was also Honda’s first in the 800cc era. In his first year with the team. “The only other thing I could have asked for was for my son to be born!” he quipped.
Dining with the stars
There aren’t many places to hang out on Phillip Island, so if you want to catch a rider at dinner, Cowes is the place to be before the grand prix. A glance around one of the town’s restaurants of choice, Pino’s Trattoria, and you realise you’re eating alongside some of MotoGP’s greats. The walls sport photos of the owner standing with Giacomo Agostini and Troy Bayliss. Hanging from one wall are leathers from various eras, and in the other signed helmets, gloves, boots and programmes from the likes of Rossi, Loris Capirossi, Bayliss, Andrew Pitt and Daijiro Kato, and even the man who revolutionised medical care at racetracks, the indefatigable Dr Costa!
'The only other thing I could have asked for was for my son to be born!' – Casey Stoner
The emergency exits are located here…
Whether by choice or chance, the Phillip Island circuit’s up-to-date emergency and medical advice information that was displayed around the venue’s super-screens was shown to the soundtrack of Maroon 5’s Misery, with the classic line, ‘I am in misery, there ain’t nobody who can comfort me.’
In need of Wings
Dealing with 17 riders and over 700 Bridgestone tyres every race weekend, there’s only one thing that works after four days of late nights and championship pressure, as the above image shows…
Arrive and drive
Over the GP weekend, the inaugural Junior GP Challenge took place, a 50m sprint-dash along the main straight on mini-electric bikes, contested by 10 kids selected from the public riding area. And the winner: four-year-old Taylor McConville. A bright future awaits? At least he'll have over four years on Casey Stoner's offspring…