We had a great vantage point at the first chicane at the end of the start/finish straight. Watching yesterdays practice sessions it had been clear this was a tricky spot, and we were amazed that there were so few accidents here, and the skill and speed at which they were able to thread their way through
Here are the Superstock 1000's with the orange KTMS struggling at the back of the field
Unfortunately in the second Superbike race they didn't all manage to make the first corner though, and here is an amazing sequence taken by Brian of the crash which involved James Toseland , Johnny Rea, and Ruben Xaus. I didn't actually see this crash as David, Andy and I had decided to decamp back down to the Parabolica.
One of the Ten Kate riders at the Parabolica
Check out the lean angle of the works Aprilia
Biaggi ran away with both Superbike race victories but the Brits showed well, and we had a great day. The weather had been kind and rain had held off, but as we started the walk back to the hotel the rain started, and ten minutes after we stopped off at the resaturant for a snack on the way back, the heavens opened and I was starting to regret not having brought a waterproof! After a while we had no option other than to get wet and were grateful that this time we had managed to find the quick route back, and were only drenched rather than drowned.
As Brian, Alex, David and I changed back into our bike gear at the hotel, we started to envy Andys decision to drive down, as it was clear that the weather was now going to stay wet for a long time! Trusting David's GPS to see us out of Monza we set off, and within 1/2 mile my GPS was saying we should have taken a left hand turn, and sure enough a km up the road David did a U turn and started heading back the way we had come. Of course this was slow progress due to the amount of traffic, and about 20 minutes later we rejoined the correct route, only to find ourselves filtering past Andy, warm and dry in his car. We struggled to get out of Monza, and then find the autostrada. Multiple roadworks just confused the GPS's and it took what seemed an age to reach Milan. It was still rainig heavily and soon Brian was indicating that he needed petrol, these guys with K1200/1300's, how do you get by with such small tank ranges?
At the services I changed my tinted visor insert for a clear one, managing to trap some moisture between it and the screen, which allowed a mist spot to form directly in my line of vision. Struggling to see over it we nevertheless pushed on, but were surprised to see how much standing water there was even on the motorway. GPS failure number 2 came as Brian and I managed to overshoot the turn off for Mt Blanc, as my GPS was still showing the turn was 1.8kms ahead, and even Andy made the same mistake in his car. David wasn't being fooled by his GPS though and followed the sign, so the group was now split. The next junction was only 6kms away so we turned off and headed back to the missed junction. Brian was now in high speed mode and our average leapt up as we tore back towards Mt Blanc wondering if we might catch David. I had the throttle on the stop several times as my 106bhp French GT tried to keep up with the hard ridden full power K1300S in front of me. At around 21.00 we pulled in to a services for petrol and for Alex to strectch his aching legs.Checking the phone I found an SMS from David sent an hour earlier saying he was carrying on.
I didn't need to fill up but decided to stay with them even though Brian suggested I continue on my own. David had sent an SMS message an hour earlier saying he was carrying on. This turned out to be an excellent decision as darkness had now fallen and the next leg home proved to be a nightmare. Brian was starting to lag behind which surprised me given his speed earlier, but he later told me he was being blinded by the srpay off my reat wheel, even though I had the mudguard fully extended. Through the series of tunnels near Mt Blanc we eventually emerged from the last one to find the road had disappeared! There were no road markings, the night was now pitch black with no moonlight at all, and I just couldn't see where to go through my partially misted visor and screen. Even with the visor up it was incredibly difficult to see, and the last section to the tunnel is via a sequence of hairpin bends, not fun!!!!
Through the tunnel and instantly the change in air temrperature fogged up the mirrors, but at least it was warm! Out the other side towards Chamonix and I waited for Brian who came through behind a large truck. We had to follow this truck and a coach down as we couldn't see the roads and needed their headlights to see where to go! Once we had hit the main roads it was no better. Poor road marking, roadworks, and no moonlight meant sitting in behind cars to try and figure which way to go. We took an ultra slow descent behind other vehicles as I constantly fought for vision. Raised visor meant a rain lashed face and I started to think what I'd be prepared to give to be in Andys car rather than here right now.
Autoroute reached and again struggles to see the roads through the rain and darkness, I can't remember riding in such difficult conditions. I tucked in a safe distance behind a car and followed it for miles so that I could at least see which was the road went, crazy when even a motorway can't be seen clearly!
I parted company with Brian close to the Swiss customs at Bardonnex and had a gentle ride back, only to slide on road markings less than a mile from my home. Amazing you can travel nearly 800kms in two days without problem, even given the horrendous rain conditions, and the only problem you have is close to home! I'm sure that this trip will be remembered more for the difficulty of the ride back from Mt Blanc than for the racing, and even Andy in his car and found the roads difficult and wouldn't have wanted to trade places with us!
So that's the Monza weekend, good weather, good racing, 790kms, the bike behaved pretty well, and after a few days of recuperating, maybe we'll plan another trip somewhere, but for me, next big event is the Ron Haslam Race School at Silverstone in a couple of weeks time, I'm looking forward to that, just hope the rain holds off there too.