Camel Pramac Pons Honda Says:

John P Burns
by John P Burns


This week they embarked on that familiar yellow brick road
which commences its six month journey at Jerez this weekend.
On high road and low, the tortuous route rushes through
eight separate European countries before reaching its final
destination at the end of November. The Camel Pramac Pons
team are on the move together with nearly 2000 travelling
companions for the next six hectic months of MotoGP
paddocks, motorway service stations and long hours at the
wheel. The European stage of the biggest travelling show in
World Championship motorsport has started.

As the Formula One car racing travelling show moved out of
Barcelona on Monday after the Spanish Grand Prix, the MotoGP
travelling circus passed close by on route to Southern Spain
and Jerez. Formula One looks after just ten teams while
MotoGP has 44 and that makes for a lot more transport, space
and probably hassle than its four-wheeled counterparts.

The Camel Pramac Pons team's four Renault articulated
lorries were joined on their journey into the sunshine and
sherry by 124 other 'arctics', transporting all the needs of
the teams in the MotoGP paddock. The 44 teams involved in
125, 250 and the MotoGP classes use 60 giant articulated
trucks to carry their bikes, spares and equipment to the ten
European races which end in the same country they started
their journey, at Valencia at the beginning of November.

A further 38 articulated trucks carry the equipment needed
to service these teams including those of tyre manufactures
and suspension and fuel experts. Servicing the needs of the
teams but in a very different way is the Clinic Mobile. The
mobile hospital has been increased in size this year to look
after the health and well being of not only the 80 or so
grand prix riders but all the other people in the paddock.
At most European races over 1700 personnel are required to
put the show on the road and anything from a sprained ankle
to a life threatening heart attack has been treated at
MotoGP's very own version of ER.

Completing the wagon train of articulated trucks making
their way down the A4 from Seville are the 35 hospitality
units that play such an important part of the modern day
commercial grand prix scene. Riders, teams, sponsors and
guests have to be fed and watered throughout the weekend and
that particular need produces an industry all of its own.

So 128 articulated trucks converge from all over Europe to
the gates of the Jerez circuit at the start of the week -
where are you going to put them all and can they all fit
into the paddock? Last year the paddock at Jerez, including
the complete pit complex, was totally renovated and they can
fit everybody in. At other circuits it's more of a squeeze
but with computerised planning, plenty of forward and back
driving in tight spaces and sometimes a few cross words,
everybody gets in - just.

A space the size of at least seven football pitches is
required to fit everything in and that's without areas for
parking, the television compound and VIP's. In total an area
of 35,000 square metres is needed at each venue, making the
paddock around three times bigger than its Formula One
counterpart. The contrast between two and four wheels does
not end there.

A couple of years ago there was quite a stir in Formula One
circles when both David Coulthard and Jacques Villeneuve
decided that to beat the traffic and to retain some privacy,
they would bring their own giant American style motorhomes
to the circuit. Up till then the drivers always stayed in
hotels and fought their way through the traffic and fans to
get to the track. The MotoGP stars such as Max Biaggi and
Tohru Ukawa gave up that particular hassle many years ago.
At Jerez there will be 38 of those giant motorhomes in the
paddock plus 60 smaller ones, where the riders and their
families will live for the duration of the grand prix.

The Motorhome area has the population of a small village and
the atmosphere is very much the same. Life long friendships
have been forged by families meeting every two weeks in
different countries, but in the same paddock. Make shift
swimming pools keep the kids happy while barbecues are all
part of the evening entertainment. It's a welcome relief
from the intense and focused world of the pit lane just a
couple of hundred metres away.

Thirty Camel Pramac Pons staff will at at Jerez to service
all the needs of their two riders Max Biaggi and Tohru
Ukawa. Each rider has a technical team of six staff members
who are joined by technicians from the Honda Racing
Corporation and Michelin tyres. The Commercial and Marketing
department will be serviced by five people, while two others
look after the needs of the media. It's a big weekend for
both departments with the launch of the prestigious
Camel-backed Who Works in MotoGP publication and the Camel
Race Day Breakfast for permanent MotoGP media.

The breakfast will be held in the Team's Hospitality Unit
which is one of the biggest in the paddock. A chef and five
waiters and waitresses travel with the team to ensure nobody
goes hungary or has to wait too long.

For nearly 2000 people the arrival of summer signifies the
start of their travelling season. What better way to spend
those long summer days than helping to produce the biggest
Motorsport travelling show in the world.
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