Toby Moody brings us the latest insider gossip from the MotoGP paddock in Mugello...
A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE
Max Biaggi may have won the 250cc race here at Mugello on an Aprilia and Honda in the mid-90s but he left the MotoGP paddock under a cloud in 2005 after falling out of favour with the top teams. However, he was a visitor to the MotoGP paddock for the first time in seven years at Mugello. He marched straight into a Yamaha truck full of Japanese engineers and surprised them all. They were speechless – as was Max at times – as memories came flooding back.
HEY BIG SPENDERS
The Mugello car park is always a good indicator of who spends the most on cars. A white Ferrari 458 was the centre of attention, but for me Mattia Pasini and Andrea Iannone's M3s were the highlight. Pasini's white one had a sticker on the back of it of Marco Simoncelli waving goodbye, while Iannone's had his now-trademark Crazy Joe wallpaper all over the carbon fibre roof. It's the little touches that make the difference.
ABOVE THE LAW
Police in Italy have always been a law unto themselves when spotting cars with non-Italian registration – as I found out once when I was told, "but this Austrian plate is illegal to use in Italy." However, at GPs the police are spectacular. Five types of police were present at Mugello: Guardia Di Finaza, Polizia, Municipale, Carabinieri, and the bizarre Corpo Forestale Dello Stato. The latter are in charge of the countryside so what they were doing at a racetrack is beyond me. However, they looked great, had brand new FIAT 4x4 Pandas… and they all got free entry.
CAUGHT IN THE ACT
Oddest behaviour of the weekend goes to the Gresini mechanic who was caught washing Alvaro Bautista's Honda RC213V chassis at the bottom of the steps to the press office. He didn't like me taking a picture and was soon covering everything up. Listen matey, if you want to keep a secret then don't put it on show at the bottom of the entrance to the press office.
It's always busy at Mugello with thousands of people flooding through the paddock, but can you tell which riders' motorhome is the most popular for fans in case he pops his head out?
Team Italia has been going since 1985 and they celebrated their 27th year with a splendid get together. The Rainband played live at the do on Friday night and their song in memory of Marco Simoncelli got the President of the FIM waving his hands in the air.
The teams put on press debriefs in their trucks, motorhomes, garages and hospitality units throughout the weekend, but the best was saved till last when Valentino Rossi hosted the press on Sunday evening in the Ducati motorhome and served us all chocolate mousse. You've never seen journalists so quiet for so long.
VIEW FROM THE TOP
The best grandstand at any racetrack in the world is at Mugello. The Centrale Grandstand was opened last year but I only copped a load of its impressive view this time around. What a vista. You must be 50m above the track, but the key to the stand is that it's open-sided and lets fans look out over the second half of the circuit as well as the pits and the start line. If you're quick, you can rush from one side to the other and see riders twice. If there's one place to watch bikes, then this is it.
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