…or why I go to my home GP, every year, even though it’s not my favourite.
Silverstone charged £15 for Sunday parking this year, kids were only free if under two and admission on the day prices are heading dangerously near F1 costs, but I was there on Sunday, with a single hope, for which there was a common consensus in the crowd – we all wanted a British win.
Okay, not for the two guys on holiday I came up on the train with who wanted the MotoGP Brits to fail miserably, and technically I was also really looking forward to blitzing the merchandise stands for goodies so I had two hopes, but I digress.
It’s been a while in MotoGP/500cc racing, and like winning the World Cup that elusive victory seems to be taking forever arriving. This explains why as a nation we tend to go a bit nuts when we do actually win at ANYTHING, a sudden love Andy Murray taking over even his biggest critics post Wimbledon or forgiving the England cricket team for urinating on the wicket (more British than queuing, fish & chips or jellied eels, as you’ll find after a Saturday night out in any major UK city, just minus some stumps and add a wall!)
This meant that there were a LOT of people adorned with the number 35.
If they didn’t arrive with it, they had already bought it, ripped the packet open and donned their badge of honour.
Cal Crutchlow is like Marmite for me, one week I’ll be impressed by his comic timing on Twitter (let’s just say Marc Marquez has to have a good sense of humour!) the next I’ll be gobsmacked that’s he’s talked himself out of a great seat with the same mouth.
I think they’d picked the wrong number, and I wasn’t the only one. I was also at my home Grand Prix in 2008 at Donington Park. Moto3 was off last, as is the case for the British Grand Prix timings.
A huge section of the crowd had stropped off when in the MotoGP race a St George flag-styled James Toseland hit the dirt, ending the dream, missing out on watching him steel himself and circulate to finish 17th, those who stayed made sure to make enough noise to let him know the effort was appreciated.
Even less stayed to see a bit of history when Scott Redding on a 125cc bike held on for dear life in blustery conditions as those in front of him seemed to get blown away and took the win, aged just 15.
I can’t vouch for what it was like in the stands that day, so maybe people with fancier tickets are better prepared and have read the entry list beforehand.
Where I was stood there was myself and my partner, cheering like mad when the Gloucester born rider hit the front, some guy about ten people in front also got it and knew what was going on. Much shouting of ‘Go Redding!’ by the in-the-know parties our side and a bit further down the fence seemed to generate interest and by the line there was a decent cheer for our 15 year-old hero. Some kid called Marc Marquez showed promise by appearing on the radar for the first time with his first podium, a third place.
He was so small it was a miracle he made the finish, I came home with some odd kind of wind tan that day, it was blowing so hard.
Fast forward to 2013. Crutchlow did a ‘Toseland’.
Redding did a ‘Redding’.
There’s a lot of talk of ‘curse’ but there’s also a lot of pressure to win and the longer the wait, the heavier it feels. You can feel it when you have been shuttled in from the first train to the sound of Moto2 warming up, you see it as the spectators play a kind of fan bingo while they see what everyone else is wearing and who is supporting who, with a glare if your numbers don’t tally ( or smiles and cooing if you are my toddler in his Nicky Hayden attire, EVERY TIME).
Redding differs as he has said before that he thrives off the home crowd, they’ve all paid to come and see you, will you to win, he takes it all in the positive, which seems to eradicate any nerves or extra pressure.
Generally speaking, the stats don’t help. I worked qualifying and sitting there looking back at me while I wrote my race reports up were the following facts:
The only British rider to have started from pole at Silverstone, across all solo GP classes, is Barry Sheene – in the 500cc race in 1977
Only one British rider has won a solo GP race at Silverstone – Ian McConnachie in the 80cc class in 1986.
Scott Redding is first British rider in any solo class to arrive at British GP leading the world championship, since Barry Sheene in 1977.
That’s all a lot of years back.
Cal crippled that Tech3 trying for the first fact on the list, impressively his mechanics fashioned a rideable Yamaha from the leftovers of his crash-fest of a weekend, but alas it was not to be, finishing seventh.Bradley Smith has the unenviable job of sharing his rookie year with Marc Marquez, he came ninth.
For more on Crutchlow’s fortunes and the excellent battle between Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez see the excellent race report at Riding Fast and Flying Low by Chitra Subramanyam , she knows he stuff and this link will tell you all you need to know for the’ main’ race.
Now let’s get to the win.
Moto2 went off first, when you factor in Donington, Redding had himself to beat as the last home winner of a British Grand Prix, and with the ride of a champion, he delivered.
Out-racing Nakagami – so desperate for his first win – instead of setting for second, the ‘putting the championship first’ answer, Redding gave us a taste of what we wanted and extended his lead in the championship in the process. Esaprgaro ended up teary and looking emotionally battered while being comforted by his brother after the race. More on their rivalry in this report by me, here at crash.net.
The Brit had even tempted fate and curse with his union flag leathers and bike, topped off with a fancy wolf helmet (and crazy wolf celebration, a lot of faces pulled by the general public trying to work that one out!), see more here.
This is the home race difference: You felt proud to be there. That’s why it’s special.
I like Estoril (so long, my GP friend!) for the awesome holiday to Lisbon, and the natural mountain banking which meant you could see most of the track without a big screen (just as well as they don’t have any!).
I love the Catalunya race. No excuse is needed to soak up some culture in Barcelona. The mix of fans form all nations and all ages all pouring onto the local train to Montmelo is a great (but sweaty) experience. The walk from the station to the circuit gives you a feeling of inclusion it’s hard to get anywhere else. I got to see Rossi vs Lorenzo with a bonus ‘Julian Simon can’t count’ race, which makes it a winner, my first choice of Grand Prix.
Yet, there is something special about your home race, being able to say ‘I was there’ for Redding’s two home wins, which is pretty undeniably awesome in it’s own right, the reason why I keep turning up.
Silverstone clearly acknowledge how dedicated bike race fans are as they have improved food, fun, transport and changed the layout to make your day feel more inclusive… and easier on the feet. I saw Aleix Espargaro on a scooter down by the motorhomes! you could never get THAT near before. Hopefully they don’t price all but the wealthiest out of the market in return.
Always had the best toilets though, they’re F1 posh.
They know though that piggy banks will be raided as we all wait for the next premier class win. The ‘new’ Hailwood, Surtees or Sheene. I want to be there for that British GP win and I know I’m not alone, the record crowd prove it. Perhaps if I put on my ruby slippers and repeat ‘there’s no place like home’ I may be able to magic my way in for free!
With Redding off to Gresini Honda, maybe he’ll fancy a home win in the top class to complete the set?
I’ll save up for 2014 now then…