Sunday 14th October
Up at 5am to catch the first bus, 5:50am, to the race track. Queues already forming so I stood in while Chris grabbed us the good ol Maccers, bacon egg mcmuffin, hash brown and coffee combo to get us through the morning. Funny thing we've discovered, not sure if particular to Utsonomiya, but the locals don't like to stand on buses. The seats filled up before we were anywhere near getting on the first bus but then no one would go on. The call went out to anyone who would be happy to stand, so we worked out because it was all in Japanese, and we jumped at the chance. Not getting up this early to start being fussy. Cost 1,500 yen each one way, about $18.
Ride to Motegi Twin Ring took an hour on quiet, back street roads. You would think that they would take a direct route on a raceday, we passed over the highway several times and saw signs for the expressway but no, we meandered though tiny streets slowly making our way there. The circuit is set in what looks like a national park area, mountains and trees all around. Lots of people milling already there but not so we couldn't go straight up to the ticket counter and exchange our internet voucher for real race day tickets. Good opportunity to buy and look at all the merchandise tents before walking to our stand.
Stand Z was in the back of beyond, much like when we buy rugby tickets, we always seem to have the seats furtherest from the entrance. Seat all in shade at this time and still a bit of condensation on then so once we knew where we were we went for a wander.
The only practice session was in the morning for each class and started at 8:40 and by that time our seats were dry. Nice and cool spot with the sun just starting to warm our backs. The stand opposite us, think Stand G, was facing the sun and didn't look to catch a lot of breeze and the people there were already fan themselves.
Stand Z only saw a straight coming into a corner and while there was the occasional running off or spill, was not a big enough area for enough of the race. It had come recommended in my google searches as a good spot. Yes, it was but there were definitely better ones. Stick to the main stand or even next to the main stand was general admission seating with great views of majority of circuit apart from our section.
Clouded over before the main race at 2pm. Thought we may have had some rain but it held off. The National Anthem of Japan was played and only about half the crowd where we were sitting stood up which surprised me. Then two fighter jets did there fly over a couple of times. The crowd was so awed by them that the GP boys barely got noticed as they went around for their sighting lap. Boy, these bikes cover the circuit quickly. In the previous 2 races I would turn my camera on as they hit the hairpin before coming down our straight and I would focus on the corner and wait for the bikes to appear. With the MotoGP guys they were there before I had focussed the camera.
The flag marshalls went to extraordinary lengths to celebrate the end of the race and the bikes came around for the victory/thank the fans lap.
Got the first bus home from the circuit. We probably would have been waiting on the third bus, judging by the numbers ahead of us but again not one wanted to standing and we hopped on. Half an hour into homeward journey it started to shower with rain so glad we weren't standing in that. Quite a bit of traffic around and took over 100minutes to get back, again driving through all the back streets. This driver was definitely on a go slow though, looked like he was called in to help with the raceday passengers, he was not making an effort for anyone.
Cannot believe they do not have a better transport system to and from the track. In a country so advanced in running trains on time to the minute, I cannot understand why they do not have a rail system that runs out to the track. Raceday numbers were only about half full from the look of the stands and I would think that getting to and from the track would be a big deterrent. A hundred minutes on a bus trip after a great day really puts a dampner on it.
But ending on a happy note, we did get to see Casey Stoner race and as we left the circuit there were a dozen of so workers standing with signs in different languages saying goodbye, well, the English one said SEE YOU AGAIN. Lovely touch.