One of the benefits of having contacts in the MotoGP paddock is occasionally getting info that comes in handy. At the end of last season I happened to ask a friend about the July 2013 test at the new Argentina circuit.
I’d been thinking that this round looked interesting; and as I love to go to new tracks, I was thinking seriously about attending MotoGP’s first visit to the Autódromo Provincial Termas de Río Hondo.
The trip from California to Argentina sounded good in theory. It was a shorter journey than flying to Europe, right?
That’s how crap my geography is. The flight from SFO is 13+ hours, 6,500 miles in the air. What I learned from my friend, because I’d not looked on a map yet, is that once in Buenos Aires you’re still 700 miles from the race track, and there is no convenient way to cover those remaining 700 miles.
My friend said that from Buenos Aires the trip had required a two-hour bus ride to another airport, another flight, another bus, another flight, and way too much waiting in between each stage of the journey to make for a pleasant trip. The final flight had been on a small, regional, propeller-powered airplane — always a red flag for me as I like to carry-on my photo gear roller.
Once at the underwhelming hotel, it was discovered that all energy drink-branded apparel had disappeared somewhere along the line. That was another troublesome bit of info for someone who travels with lots of photo gear. My friend concluded the story with, “If you don’t have to go, don’t! Getting there was a nightmare, and getting home was even worse.”
In Qatar I asked several photographer colleagues about their plans for the third round. Everyone I asked started griping about the complexity of the trip, and one told me that he and another shooter were planing to drive the 700 miles from Buenos Aires in their rental car.
That sounded like an interesting adventure in its own right, but driving 12+ hours across an unfamiliar South American countryside with $40,000 to $50,000 worth of photo gear seemed not so hot for a travel segment before a Grand Prix.
For the past two days, my Twitter and Facebook feeds have been full of paddock friends’ talk about the challenges of traveling to this circuit. But most I expect MotoGP fans will watch the action on TV or online with little appreciation for how much effort has gone into getting the entire circus to this remote location.
After all, it’s not just riders, teams, media, and VIP guests, it’s also all the Dorna staff and jumbo jets full of equipment. I feel especially bad for my pals on the TV production department. They have to get all the cameras, cables, etc to Spain for the back-to-back race at Jerez the weekend after this.
My question is, why Autódromo Provincial Termas de Río Hondo? Argentina has a track in Buenos Aires that has hosted Grand Prix motorbike racing as recently as 1999. Instead of racing at a revised version of this familiar track, MotoGP is 700 miles away at another circuit that itself was enlarged and modernized in 2012.
Maybe updating the Autódromo Oscar Alfredo Gálvez was not an option. But I’ve not heard any explanation for why MotoGP is in Río Hondo instead of one of the 42 other Argentine circuits listed on Wikipedia.
If Round 3 were at the Autódromo Oscar Alfredo Gálvez, I would probably be there right now. As it is, I am looking forward to seeing the new location on TV at the end of the week. This must be some sort of fantastic race track!
Scott Jones is a professional photographer who covers MotoGP and WSBK for racing industry clients as well as racing websites and publications in the U.S. and Europe. His online archive is available at Photo.GP, and you can find him on his blog, Twitter, & Facebook.
All images posted, shared, or sent for editorial use or review are registered for full copyright protection at the Library of Congress.