Posted on Jun 04, 2015 by George Penny
It’s a good thing I’ve never really enjoyed the summer break because all summer holidays have been cancelled this year but for a great reason. It’s a real honour that the Yamaha factory team even considered me to ride for them in the prestigious Suzuka Eight Hour race in Japan but I’m in the team together with my team-mate Pol Espargaro in a race that means so much for the Japanese factories. We are both racing at a high level at the moment and I’m sure despite riding a new bike on a new circuit we can do a great job. It’s a tremendous challenge and something I’ve wanted to do for a while because I’ve heard so much about the Suzuka circuit and it will great to ride the new Yamaha YZF R1 Yamaha which my friends in America tell me is a great bike. Finally I love a physical challenge which it will be with the length of the race in humidity. A 24 hour race has never been that appealing but eight hours is more my cup of tea.
I’m not good at summer breaks and I’m much happier keeping myself busy and I’m certainly will be doing just that. Straight after the Dutch TT in Assen I fly to Japan for a two day test at Suzuka and fly back for the German Grand Prix. Straight back on the plane after Germany for another two day Suzuka test. Then a short break with plenty of press and PR and then the race before flying off to Indianapolis to continue MotoGP. Can’t think of a better was of spending my summer holidays.
At the last three grands prix I’ve never witnessed such big passionate and loud crowds around the tracks. The support for MotoGP through some incredible television and social media figure is there for all to see but the most important is at the track. In Le Mans we are not used to the best weather but the fans turn out in their tens of thousands even on a Friday to watch practice by taking time off work and spending hard earned cash. The MotoGP show with such close racing is packing them in wherever we race and also the Promoters are trying to help the fans. The real cool thing at Mugello was that if you bought a ticket for Sunday you enter the circuit at 10.00 on Saturday night to party with your friends ready for race day. MotoGP is all about fun and partying for the fans and enjoying motor cycle racing for what it is and we should never forget that. In the Mugello race I knew when Valentino was coming because all I could see on the hillsides was a sea of yellow with yellow smoke flares going off in the gravel. Our race trucks were parked next to each other in the paddock and the whole time the crowd were singing and chanting his name. Even though it was not my name it was a real inspiration to hear such support.
Le Mans a great race for me and the Monster Tech 3 team at their home grand prix. Also on Friday I topped the first day of the practice charts for the very first time on my Nan and Grandad’s 50th wedding anniversary which a great present for them. The team where great because it’s never easy at your home grand prix but they handled it really well and we were happy with that sixth place. I honestly thought at one point I was going to finish fourth and had lined up Andrea Iannone at the Dunlop Esses when Marc Marquez come up the inside from nowhere to spoil the party. That’s race craft and something I’ve got to work on and just following those two in the fight of the season made me realise they are more versatile on the bike than me and I believe they swapped places 17 times in around five laps. Another great learning experience.
My starts seem to be working at the moment and in Mugello it was amazing. I’d had a little hiccup in qualifying and was 11th on the grid but raced down the outside on the run into the first corner and came out fourth which gave me a massive boost. Struggled a bit, as I did at Le Mans, when the heat came up which something we will work on in the Barcelona test after the next grand prix. It was mighty interesting going into the race just one point behind Cal Crutchlow in the battle for the top Brit and satellite rider. Of course I didn’t want our fight for fifth to rnd the way it did with Cal on the ground but it’s exciting that we are that close in the Championship and in the races. It’s going to continue for the rest of the season which is great for the British fans. The most important is the top satellite battle with the top Brit no far behind. It’s relevant and not relevant at the same time.
Rare weekend at home coming up and then the real travelling starts after the Barcelona race. Looks like no need to pack the flip flops and swimming trunks and it’s the helmet and leathers that will be filling the suitcase.