Le Mans - MotoGP
Trip Start Jan 31, 2011
71Trip End Jul 10, 2011
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Where I stayed
Hotel du Lion D'or
We discovered the hotel had about 6-7 British bikers staying who had come over from the UK just for the race. The P-D was happy in the secured carpark with his two wheeled cousins!
Day 1 - MotoGP today - yeahhh!!
We headed off early because we wanted to be in time for the first free practice session of the MotoGP starting at 10.10 am just after the 125cc practice. We got there about 10 minutes late and saw a good looking sort getting a ticket from a Gendarme for not wearing a helmet.
We found a possie to watch Casey STONER record the fastest time.
We then wandered around getting a feel for the place before watching the afternoon session where STONER was again the fastest breaking the track record held by Valentino ROSSI set in 2008.
A minor problem on the way out from the secure bike parking with one of the officials wanting to see our registration papers to prove we owned the bike. We tried to explain that they wereback at our hotel but we had Australian passports and were on an Australian registered bike and Greg had the bike keys otherwise how could he start it. The official shook his head and pointed to the signage above the EXIT point which clearly said in French (that we couldn't read) that you must produce your registration papers when exiting. As Kerrie said a bit late telling us now when we are on our way out and we can't read French! Anyway, he relented probably realising we were riding our own bike and let us through. We then headed home after a first relaxing day at Le Mans.
Day 2 - today we noticed the secure bike parking area had a lot more bikes in it than yesterday but was still only about 20% full. We said that there was no way it would be full tomorrow if this was all that turned up today. Another successful day for STONER who qualified on pole setting another track record after Danni PEDROSA had momentarily snatched it from him. We tried to walk around the entire track but found we couldn't so we settled for finding the best place to watch the race from tomorrow. We found one skallywag when Greg ordered an ice cream. He must have forgotten his dacks?
We noticed from our wanderings around the track and displays that Valentino ROSSI merchandise was for sale all over.
We counted over 10 tents just selling his stuff.
There was a tent with some Jorge LORENZO stuff and he's the current World Champion and another with about 1/3 of its stuff with Cal CRUTCHLOW's number 35. There was nothing else for any other rider. You could not buy a Casey STONER shirt or merchandise for any other rider even if your life depended on it. ROSSI even has his own stand where to sit in it you must be a member of his fan club and wear some clothing like a t-shirt with his colours and number 46 on it. The guy is a merchandising megastar.
Day 3 - The first indication we had that a big crowd was on hand was when we reached the exit from the autoroute which led to a roundabout. The traffic was backed back for 500 metres still on the autoroute.
Once off it, it was bumper to bumper bikes all crawling alone at walking speed trying to get into the secured bike park. Some bikes over heated and guys were getting off and pushing them. The P-D got hot too but Greg kept a close eye on the temperature gauge and all was OK.
Just walking to and getting into the track was a challenge. People everywhere. We took some photos of the bike park and reckoned it had twice the bikes than Phillip Island.
We then surmised that if Phillip Island gets a crowd of around 40-45,000 then the Le Mans crowd must be close to 80,000. We weren't far off with a record crowd of 88,000 turning up. Everything was jammed packed. The toilets were so crowded the waiting lines stretched over 100 metres for the girls and that was just to get into the toilet block!! The guys gave up and just used the nearest fence.
If the local Gendarmes worried about public urination (which they don't as it's the national French pass time for men to leak in public whenever and where ever they feel like it) then all the cops in Le Mans would be busy dealing with guys flopping it out.
Before the big race we had two fools dressed up as cavemen entertain the crowd. We couldn't figure out their connection to MotoGP but they were funny anyway.
Casey STONER of course won by a country mile - 14 seconds which at the speed they travel in over half a kay in front.
The local favourite, Randy du PUNIET, fell off on the second lap and the groan from the crowd was a cruscendo. We also noticed that when Jorge LORENZO was over taken the crowd cheered; he is obviously very unpopular with the French crowd.
They say everyone has a double somewhere and Greg spied Wayne CLAYTON's.
Wayne works with Greg and Greg at first thought Wayne was moonlighting in France. The only difference that Greg could pick was this guy had slightly more hair than Wayne! (Sorry Wayne).
After the podium presentations to Valentino ROSSI (3rd), Andrea DIVISIOSO (2nd) and the winner Casey STON-AIR
followed by the playing of the Australian National Anthem, we stood proudly on the hill from where we had watched the race, singing Advance Australia Fair for all our worth, even though Greg was out of tune. The French crowd appreciated our efforts and several stood and smiled at us after we had finished (or was it that they were happy that Greg had stopped singing?).
Getting out of Le Mans took us over an hour
and on the ride home we noticed people lining the sides of the autoroute and all streets in the villages waving to the bikers with geniune affection for the two wheel display they were being treated to.
We were pulled over in a village by two Gendarmes, one male and the other female who were doing random breath testing and driver licence checks. The young guy looked about 18 years old with white headed pimples that needed popping.
His breath testing device was of the type you speak into so that it analyses your expired air. When Greg said he didn't speak French the young guy got flustered and went to his older, female partner who spoke passable English and had clearly been in a good paddock. After she inspected the P-D's rego papers and Greg's international driver licence she asked where we came from in Australia. Kerrie said from Queensland and she replied "it is 'ot out there." Greg then asked for a photo with the two after spilling the beans that he too is 'a boy in blue'. They both gladly posed with Greg for the photo and wished us well. Like most coppers every where, they were doing a fine job.
With MotoGP over and Casey STONER doing the right thing and winning for us, we head to the UK.