It's been a few years since I visited a round of the MotoGP championship, even though the Ricardo Tormo circuit is only a little over an hour from my home. Time to get my finger out and go racing again.
During the early part of the year before the racing season started, it looked like Valentino Rossi would retire at the end of 2018 as he hadn't signed a new contract yet. Not wanting to miss out on his final race a plan was hatched and 5 tickets purchased for the Valencia round held at the Ricardo Tormos circuit near Cheste.
In the end Rossi signed another 2 year contract with Yamaha and retirement was off the cards, nobody cared though and as it turned out it was the retirement round for one of the nicest riders to have never won a MotoGP championship, Dani Pedrosa.
Over the next few months due to other commitments, the group slowly changed to me, my brother and three friends from the UK. Picking the four of them up from the airport on the Friday of the race weekend the weather was starting to turn a little cold. We had 23-degree temperatures the week before and as it turns out the week after but for race weekend it would be cold and wet.
Opting to stay in an apartment in Moraira we would have a proper lads weekend with a little drinking and some nice food along the way.
Friday evening we drank in the Royal Beach Club before eating some lovely food at Plan B. Before we could do any of this however we had to navigate the now flooded streets, it just added to the fun of the evening.
Saturday morning came around and just two of us headed off for the qualifying, the rest opting to meander around Moraira for the day. The drive up to Valencia was a little wet in places but mostly just overcast, with occasional drizzle. Once near the circuit the queuing started and it took us around 30 minutes to get into the parking area, luckily it was one of the proper car parks. We managed to watch all of the qualifying sessions without the rain intruding on proceedings. I did however have to go and buy a beanie between two of the sessions as it was very cold. In previous years, always held in November, I have come back from the event with sunburn.
The qualifying went well with a few riders succumbing to the elements, poor Jack Miller falling off twice in quick succession right in front of us.
Getting back to Moraira the lads had had better luck with the weather and even had pictures of themselves in shorts, obviously they are crackers. Saturday evening we found a different location for dinner and had a very nice burger in BOZA Gastrobar, which was delicious followed by another beer in the Royal Beach Club and a final round in the Red Lion.
Sunday morning, race day, we had an early start as I didn't want to be stuck in a huge queue trying to get into the circuit, never a problem when we go on the bikes but in a car it can be. We set off at 07.00 and still queued for almost an hour to get into the circuit and then ended up in a grass, car park. The organizers are very efficient at Valencia however 120,000 people arriving for race day in the rain is always going to be an issue. We had a brief stop for coffee and breakfast in the circuit, not expensive, and then headed to our seats to watch the tail end of warm up.
Three of us had brought Ponchos and the other two had thick coats on to combat the cold & rain, however after the first race two of us bought large brollies from the Clinton Enterprises stand, to try to hold off the worst of the weather. The racing was great and we had really good seats with two diamond screens in view so we could see all of the action from around the circuit. When the MotoGP race was stopped due to the weather we considered leaving, but decided to wait it out for half an hour. We were all glad we did as the worst of the weather passed over and racing resumed Probably 25% of the crowd had decided to leave and were probably in the car park, stuck in queues, when the race was restarted. It was a great bit of racing and it was good to see Dani complete his last MotoGP race.
As soon as the race finished we hot-footed it out of the stands and across the car park, not an easy task for my brother Paul after his accident a couple of years ago. Amazingly we managed to get straight out and were driving down the motorway within about 10 minutes, it usually takes at least 30 on a bike and 2 hours the only other time I went in the car.
In the evening we visited the Royal Buddha Tandoori, which is one of my favourite restaurants and had a superb curry washed down with a beer or two. Then a trip back to BOZA for another beer.
Monday morning came around with more rain so we started a little later with breakfast at the Castle Bar before heading off in our GoldCar hire car to explore some of the area. First stop was the Bodega Xaló in Jalon for a little wine tasting before heading over Col de Rates and on to the Museo Vehiculos Antigua between Guadalest and Callosa d'en Seria. We finished the afternoon with a quick beer in Benidorm before dropping everyone off at the airport for their return flights.
The whole weekend was a blast, which was not spoilt by the weather it just added an extra element, with good racing, nice food and drink and great company. Hopefully we can organize something similar for another year.