The day of the race was as overcast and windy as the previous two. Rather than heading up to my seat at Lukey Heights I decided to walk around the track during practice. There really isn’t a bad part of the circuit, every corner has a fantastic view.
My personal favourite part of the track was probably Siberia, watching the bikes power up the hill before dropping back into the Hayshed. At this part of the circuit you can really appreciate the power of the MotoGP bikes. Even with incredibly sophisticated traction control trying to improve their behaviour the bikes buck and squirm around on the track, almost as if they are trying to throw the riders into the gravel.
Casey Stoner had a customised paint job featuring the Australian flag on his bike and a new set of matching leathers, which was a nice touch for his home GP. Despite the fact that he led from very early in the race Stoner was rarely far from Valentino Rossi. Each lap we’d see them coming over the hill from Siberia and try to judge the gap between them, then a few seconds later they’d blast past us on the hill at Lukey Heights giving us another glimpse of how close they were.
After Stoner clinched the win I took the opportunity to wander across the track and infield before leaving. One of the things that shocked me was the construction of the ripple strips, there was a step down of about an inch at the outside edge between each section, with the step becoming less pronounced towards the inside of the strip. Riding over this on a normal bike, while cornering would be fairly disconcerting, to do so on a MotoGP bike at over 200km/h is simply a frightening thought.
The following morning we left Phillip Island around 6am, and finally saw some sunlight. After stopping for breakfast at Healesville my riding companions headed towards the Hume Freeway, while I continued back the way we had come. It was a beautiful day, and one of those rides where everything just seemed to click, smooth and fast. The roads were filled with bikes returning from the GP, I’d follow along at the back of a group for a while before going my own way again. The ride was mostly uneventful, the only thing upsetting my trip was my luggage rack working its way out of the brackets that hold it onto the bike when I was about 70km from home. Thankfully, apart from a few scrapes on the outside of my bag, there wasn’t anything damaged.
A 900km round trip, my first visit to Philip Island and the MotoGP, it was all intensely satisfying. There is something very special about being out on a bike, even more so when you have the chance to travel with others. My Ducati is by no means a touring bike, no windscreen, an uncomfortable seat and no paniers are good clues to figuring that out, but that’s partly what makes it so much fun to take it on this sort of trip. Sadly Mrsdave doesn’t share my enthusiasm for discomfort and no luggage, so there will need to be a change or addition to the garage before she agrees to come along with me, I’m hoping for the latter.