Upon entering the paddock on Friday morning the first person I saw was Eurosport’s MotoGP technical guru Neil Spalding (@spalders) Having exchanged a few messages with him on twitter and listened to his brilliant technical insight on Euroports MotoGP coverage it was good to finally meet him.
With the superbikes not out on track till the afternoon Friday morning was a good opportunity to hang around the paddock and spot riders and get some prints of my photos from previous years signed. I had a very successful day and only Max Biaggi eluded me.
This was a big weekend for the British riders in the series and expectations were high everyone was expecting Cal Crutchlow and Jonathan Rea to be quick and they didn’t disappoint.
When it came to Superpole on Saturday Cal blew everyone away with a lap of 2.04.091 that was 0.6 quicker thank Rea in 2nd and only 0.7 off Jorge Lorenzo’s pole position time (2.03.308) in qualifying for MotoGP at Silverstone!
As expected Crutchlow and Rea were the top two in Superpole with the front row being completed by Michele Fabrizio (more on him later) and Jakub Smrz.
During the post superpole press conference Cal Crutchlow provided the quote of the weekend for me.
Interviewer: ” Cal, Max Biaggi gets tremendous support from the Italian fans how do you feel to be at your home track”
Cal: “It great to be here in front of such knowledgeable British fans, you know sometimes I think those Italians think us Brits are a bunch of tw***!”
In Supersport after qualifying it looked like the race would come down to a straight fight between the title contenders Eugene Laverty, Kenan Sofuoglu and Joan Lazcorz who qualified in that order. Young Brit Gino Rea had looked good in earlier sessions but qualified on the 2nd row in 6th.
On the morning of the race most of the riders seemed relaxed in the paddock but you could feel the tension rise as race time drew nearer.
In race 1 as expected it came down to a fight between Crutchlow and Rea for the top step of the podium. Rea got the hole shot and took the lead but Crutchlow was never far behind.
Behind the front two Max Biaggi was 3rd after the 1st lap but was quickly past by the Xerox Ducati of Michel Fabrizio but the British crowd had come here to see an all British podium and Leon Haslam made sure we didn’t go home disappointed when he passed Fabrizio on lap 10 and pulled out a 3 second lead over the Italian by the end of the race.
Back at the front Crutchlow passed Rea on lap 12 and never relinquished the lead crossing the line with a 1.6 second advantage over the 2nd placed man.
Race 2 saw Rea and Crutchlow again get away at the front with Max Biaggi again in 3rd at the end of lap 1 but again he was quickly overtaken by Haslam. The ride of the race though has to go Biaggi’s team mate Leon Camier who starting from 16th was 10th at the end of the first lap and from there fought his way past Byrne, Smrz, Fabrizio, Toseland before reaching his team mate Biaggi only unlike race one this time he wasn’t going to let Biaggi finish in front of him lap 8 before moving past Haslam on the next lap and moving up to 3rd.
At the front Rea managed to hold off Crutchlow for longer this time but finally Crutchlow got through on lap 15 and quickly established a 2 second lead to take his second win of the day.
In the Supersport race it was an epic battle at the front between Eugene Laverty and Kenan Sofuoglu after the race was initially red flagged due to crash involving Roberto Tamburini and championship contender Joan Lascorz.
Early in the race Gino Rea had made an excellent start getting away with Laverty before Sofuoglu passed him, but Gino held on for his first podium finish in World Supersport.
The battle at the front wasn’t resolved until the last lap when Laverty made the decisive pass on Sofuoglu.
Getting back to Michele Fabrizio, before the weekend I wasn’t a fan but having seen him up close in the paddock I have a new found respect for the man. Here’s someone who enjoys his job and has fun doing it even when the races didn’t go his way he was still approachable and and jovial. He was having fun in the paddock this weekend like a man who knew his job was secure for next season, only time will tell if that’s the case.
What a fantastic weekend, great racing and great company I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend and with an all British podium in both Superbike races the majority of the crowd went away happy.
All photos can be viewed larger by clicking on them
These photos and a lot more from this weekend can be seen on my flickr page