28 April 2007

World Superbike Assen Memories

This weekend Dutch TT Circuit Assen plays host to 2007 race 5 of the World Superbike series. Normally, usually, I'm witnessing the phenomenon personally, live from the pit lane, or the starting grid mingling amidst the worlds best Superbike riders. In fact when I attended in 1999, I was a guest of then Ducati Press Officer Michele Morisetti (who photographed me that year during Int. Ducati Club races, for limited edition Ducati book via Italy!) in the pit box of 'King' Carl Fogerty and Troy Corser, yes I go back that far! In years to follow, I achieved my own status and ability through my company RaceGirl Motorsport where I had access to the press rooms, corporate hospitality VIP rooms (Honda, Ducati) pit lane and press office immediate following the race. It was so special and always exciting. Hanging out with the worlds best sports writers in the press room was equally exciting--these people knew how to watch motorcycle racing, what to look for and shared their years and years of knowledge/statistics on each rider, team and manufacturer. I always learned far more than any book could divulge and in less time.

Now, in Canada, I watch the race 24 to 48 hours later from an unrealistic distance. As I observe a melancholy mood overtakes me because there is nothing comparable to being there especially when you HAVE been and in the fortunate capacity I was. By this time and date I would have already enjoyed a couple lunches in Ducati's hospitality tent and several personal paddock tours (usually on his paddock scooter) with Giancarlo Falappa "The Lion", Ducati's honorary and renowned racer. We were introduced in 1999 and every WSB from then on, he would send me SMS messages about one week prior to check on my avail and confirm my attendance. I'll never forget the time he wanted to arrive early in Amsterdam and park his RV in my very narrow Dutch parking lot--funny! Even when I was in Brands Hatch and Sachsenring, we' d meet up--wonderful times.

When I partnered with Ten Kate, I also had opportunities to hang out and observe data logging techniques with the team, chat with Karl Muggeridge and enjoy Honda hospitality with the friendly Honda Europe team--yes I know, wonderful.

The first time I experienced the official World Superbike starting grid, actually being on it, was back in 2000 when invited to assist former Dutch GP500 racer Maarten Duyzers as he competed in WSB upon winning a WILDCARD. I had no idea at that time who was who other than Foggy and Corser really. I'd never payed any attention to motorcycle racing until I started to do it myself. Walking next to Frankie Chile, Bayliss meant very little to me. Thank goodness my buddy Dave Goebertus produced a memoir photo book for us -- it was special. It did rain, it most always rains in Assen. Here two pics above on race day from the grid, the back of start/finish. Maarten did a great job and qualified which is what most Wild Card riders can but hope to do. Consider then Maarten was +/-46 years of age, a wonderful achievement when you consider the other contenders were half his age.

Now, this weekend, 2007, my very dear friend young 24 years of age Ghisbert van Ginhoven is racing on his well deserved Supersport WILD CARD -- on his Ducati 749. This is a Ducati family. His father, Ab van Ginhoven has also lived a life amidst motorcycling--my dearest of dear friends, has been sending me progress SMS messages since practise started on Thursday. He has qualified and is doing great. I know Ghis well and I know he'll save his best performance for tomorrow -- just like Rossi does.
Here's a pic
of the WILD CARD riders which include Dutch Barry Veneman en Arie Vos and red arrow pointing out Ghis.

I can't find any WSB on the Canadian Speed channel, so might have to miss it all together -- bit pathetic motorcycle racing here in Canada. So tomorrow Sunday, my spirit will be in Assen. I 'll imagine the many motorcycling, manufacturer, racer, rider friends, hanging out talking racing, viewing racing -- the Assen sounds, the excitement of race finishes. Me, I'll be heading out for a ride on my Ducati 1098S and celebrate Superbikes the best way I can, from this side of the globe -- riding one.
**Special acknowledgements and thanks to Willem Lute, Press Officer TT Circuit Assen for promoting and supporting RaceGirl ensuring/assisting accreditation.

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