Sitting down to write about Catalunya has proven difficult. As far as Grand Prix weekends go, it went without a hitch.
I did have a minor problem with the GPS when I arrived in Barcelona. I entered the coordinates to my hotel and it came up with an address in Zaragoza 5 hours away. After a brief moment of panic, I came up with an ingenious idea. Why not try inputting the address, that did the trick.
For most of the grand prix I’ve covered this year, I’ve been fortunate enough to get a photographers vest. Having a vest gets me on the grid on race day, which provides a good opportunity for portraits of the riders, particularly as the tension starts to build.
Shooting the grid does however pose the question of where to shoot the race. If you have a scooter it’s not an issue. As I don’t have one, I have to plan ahead and either shoot around the start area or take my chances with the shuttle bus.
At Catalunya I didn’t have a vest, which therefore gave me a little more freedom to pick my location for the race. Also the layout of the track enabled me to go to several locations and get back for the podium without having to rely on the shuttle or cover too much ground on foot.
Mid-year product launches are usually uneventful affairs, as manufacturers basically trying to grab some column space with the reworkings of their previous-year machines. BMW Motorrad is no different of course, releasing information on a number of “2015″ machines that only really have new paint options to show for their model year distinctions.
Some credit can be given to the 2015 BMW R1200GS, which will be receiving the same heavier flywheel that is found on the current crop of BMW R1200GS Adventure and BMW R1200RT motorcycles. This should make the GS a little bit more manageable at lower engine rpm’s, and match the “bold new graphics” nicely in the process.
Another Bavarian motorcycle of note is the 2015 BMW K1300S Motorsport, which takes the venerable sport-tourer from BMW, and adds a bit of flash to the machine. The new paint scheme is the most obvious of new elements, and the BMW K1300S Motorsport incorporates a black engine spoiler, tinted windshield, HP wheels, and Akrapovic exhaust. What’s more important though, is in the fine print.
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is one event I always look forward to on my annual calendar. It’s an event like none other on the globe. The 14,110 ft mountain is my canvas to do as I wish. It is refreshing. Fun. Exhausting. Frustrating. Dangerous. Nearly every emotion that could be thrown at a person in one week is something you are guaranteed to feel on this mountain.
My first year, 2012, I was in sheer awe of the mountain and the event itself, and it was even more special working with Ducati. My second year, 2013, I was overwhelmed with a sense of being part of history as Sebastian Loeb rocketed past me in his special built Peugeot 908 on course to obliterate the standing record. But this year, the mountain had a different feel. And not in a better way.
I was back working with Ducati. I love the team. I love the company. I love the brand. I don’t get to shoot motorcycle racing much, but when I do, it find it to be an exciting and exhilarating challenge. But this year, the mountain had changed. The race was soulless. It had no energy. It had no atmosphere.
What I do not want to do is make this a smear post. Or rain on the parade of a 92-year-old race. But change is needed. Some of you may have read my series of tweets from Sunday afternoon. I stand by what I said. Nothing was said in anger. Only frustration for the event that I very deeply care about. So what has changed?
When the Erik Buell Racing 1190SX first debuted, EBR was tight-lipped on any specifics about its streetfighter model. Thankfully East Troy has given us a few more details, and we now know that the 2015 Erik Buell Racing 1190SX will not have a detuned v-twin motor from its EBR 1190RX superbike counterpart, so 185hp and 101 lbs•ft of torque will be on tap for street bike fans…as it should be
Additionally, the EBR 1190SX will come with a $16,995 price tag, which prices it just above the Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS ($14,999) and BMW S1000R ($13,150 – $14,950), while being on par in price with the KTM 1290 Super Duke R ($16,999).
Pikes Peak race day is a whole rainbow of emotions. At sunrise, you’re excited. Anticipation of the day is overwhelming. The thousands of cars filing up the two-lane mountain road are filled with people excited to see these gladiators tackle the famous mountain.
By 7:30 am, the first bikes are lining up to make their run, and the energy is reaching fever pitch, with the sun still low in the sky and the light near perfect. One by one, the bikes roar off, up the mountain. Then it comes. Red flag.
They’re a common sight at Pikes Peak, but immediately this one feels different. My friend on the summit texts me and says it’s serious and that Flight for Life is on the way. This is not how you want to start the race. We are not even an hour into the day.
An hour and a half later, an official walks up to the pole-sitter, who is next to go, whispers something in his ear, and the rider immediately drops to his knees, and puts his head in his hands. Bobby Goodin has passed away on the mountain in something of a freak accident, after he cross the finish line. It is the worst possible way to start the day. But the race goes on.
It’s hard to get back into the racing energy when you know something like this has happened. Add to that the sheer number of red flags don’t allow you to get back into the groove and keep your mind off of the tragedy that has occurred.
Many many hours later, and many many many red flags later, the day is done. Romain Dumas has claimed honors for the four-wheels. And Jeremy Toye, on a Kawasaki, has taken honors on two wheels – incredible since he wrapped the bike around a tree on Friday morning.
But despite the successes and the triumphs of many…..the day is still marred by many mistakes on the mountain. Horrific traffic, poor organization, and far too many red flags. It was not Pike’s Peak’s best day.
Respect for the mountain is not a question. It is a demand.
A lot has happened with the Husqvarna name in the past few years. Recently sold to Stefan Pierer, head man at KTM AG, the Swedish dirt bike brand was also recently reunited with Husaberg, the brand established from the remnants left behind of the company in Sweden from when Husqvarna moved to Italy.
Folding Husaberg back into Husqvarna, the reformed off-road company was reintroduced to the market in 2014 as essentially rebadged KTM motorcycles — a similar statement can be said about the Husky entry in the Moto3 World Championship.
Not all of the 2014 line came to the US market though, and for 2015 we will see the company’s updated enduro models, the Husqvarna FE 350 S & Husqvarna FE 501 S, come stateside. Other additions to the US market include the FC 350 four-stroke MX and the TE 125 two-stroke machines. And yes, they’re still basically rebadged KTMs.
At long last, we were down on the bottom section of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb race course. Each group that runs the bottom uses it as their qualifying run — fastest time to the flag at Glen Cove is on pole.
The bottom section is distinctly different from the two above it. It is the only section completely in the tree line, so you get some interesting light coming through the pine trees.
I find the bottom to be particularly difficult as a photographer. It offers fewer options and vantage points than the sections above, but it has the advantage of not being so high of altitude, so working and walking there is slightly easier.
At the end of our morning, Lambert Fabrice was on pole on the #38 bike, which isn’t at all surprising considering he has been swinging off his machine like a mountain goat version of Marc Marquez.
Saturday is a well deserved day off for everyone. After four straight mornings of alarm clocks sounding off at 2:20 am, we all need a little rest. Nothing happens on the mountain as far as official race practice goes, but almost everyone will probably do one more sighting run with the public traffic.
They won’t see or run the mountain until Sunday, and when they do, it will be one run — fastest to the top is king of the mountain. It’s a long day. Hopefully free of red flags and clear weather….sadly, I almost guarantee we won’t be free of either.
It’s Sunday morning and after we hit the ATM, I ask Ash to check the event website and see what time tech inspection is. In my head, its sometime around 11:15, and no bikes are to be started before 12:00 on Sunday (at the request of a local church).
Ash reports that the web site says tech inspection is from 9-10 and that the rider meeting was at 10:15. Shit. I text Thor Drake (my boss from See See Motorcycles,who is sponsoring the event), it’s 10:24. We’re in Longview, driving a borrowed Mazda B2500 that has a terrible miss, which only gets worse with more throttle.
We arrive at the scene in Castle Rock, WA. There are people in shorts riding all manner of choppers, Thor is dressed in white 12 o’clocking a slice of Sizzle Pie that Bjorn Drake affixed to a Honda ATC200, something to do with some advertising deal, but no one cares. It’s awesome.