A walk in the paddock during the Misano GP... Feature: Jeffrey Zani

Misano 2015 was sold out. Several hours before the race, hosts of the TV-news, newspapers and radio presentersstarted to warn that those who didn’t have a ticket would have no chance to see the San Marino round of the MotoGP championship from the stands, because no places were left.

The “yellow crowd”, as people refer to the Italian formula “popolo giallo”, wanted to see Valentino Rossi in action. Especially this year, since he was leading the championship by 12 points over his team mate, Jorge Lorenzo, and had won the previous race in Silverstone.

On Saturday, September 12th, Mr. 46 unveiled his “Misano helmet”. The artwork showed a small fish (him) escaping from a threatening shark (Senor 99). That was the sense of the weekend: the Spaniard hunting down the Italian, who was swimming in friendly waters, supported by his home crowd. Tavullia distances more or less 15 kilometers from the circuit, and in 2014 Rossi had won the race ahead of his team mate. Everything seemed ready for what was likely going to be a great day of sport and fun.

Together with the 152,000 spectators that reached the Misano World Circuit during the weekend, a lot of paddock passes were given out for the event, and that made life crazy for the staff of the teams and the press. Sometimes it was barely possible to walk from one hospitality to another. But not for everybody. Let’s see how and why through a series of photos.

MisanoGP_BikeReview-IMG_2154

Niccol Antonelli arrives at Misano with the boost of his first win ever in the Moto3 championship, which he took four weeks earlier in Brno, Czech Republic. The owner of Ongetta Rivacold team is Mirko Cecchini, and the father of Mirko, who works with his son, is Giancarlo, the most experienced mechanic of the paddock. He started back in the 1960s with Benelli (one world title), then switched to Morbidelli (four world titles), later to several different motorcycles, including MBA (two world titles) and Honda (one title with Andrea Dovizioso in the 125 class). I know him well, so he allows me to spend a few minutes in the box while the warm-up is going on. Niccol takes first position, the crew claps for him. As soon as he enters the box, even before he takes his helmet off, he is telling Mirko what to check in the telemetry. He sounds like a robot: “Look at corner 10 and 11 because I have a weird feeling with the front”. Wow, these youngsters look very professional indeed.

I leave Antonelli and his crew to the setting of the Moto3 Honda and head towards the central part of the paddock. But my way is blocked by a crowd of people waiting for something, or somebody. "Is he there?", I hear someone saying. "Is he coming?", a young boy dressed in a yellow cap and t shirt asks his father. Then Valentino Rossi appears, and people start to yell. He's entering the Yamaha truck and cheers at the crowd. Smart phones up, mouths open, voices loud. "Vale, Vale, Vale", the people say in a soccer-stadium-style. When Rossi is out of the view half of the pack leaves, while the other half remains there, waiting for him to exit the truck.

I leave Antonelli and his crew to the setting of the Moto3 Honda and head towards the central part of the paddock. But my way is blocked by a crowd of people waiting for something, or somebody. “Is he there?”, I hear someone saying. “Is he coming?”, a young boy dressed in a yellow cap and t-shirt asks his father. Then Valentino Rossi appears, and people start to yell. He’s entering the Yamaha truck and cheers at the crowd. Smart phones up, mouths open, voices loud. “Vale, Vale, Vale”, the people say in a soccer-stadium-style. When Rossi is out of the view half of the pack leaves, while the other half remains there, waiting for him to exit the truck.

Lucky people, Rossi's fans would think. They can wait for Valentino not from behind the truck, but close to the Yamaha box entrance.

Lucky people, Rossi’s fans would think. They can wait for Valentino not from behind the truck, but close to the Yamaha box entrance.

Lucky lucky people, Rossi's fans would think. No barriers between them and the local idol.

Lucky lucky people, Rossi’s fans would think. No barriers between them and the local idol.

MotoGP riders in actions during the warm up. Jorge Lorenzo is exiting the last corner of the track. In the background, the hill that gives the view on the fastest corner of the circuit is packed. Flags, sausages, beers, and also a few cannabis joints, I have to say. No clouds in the sky.

MotoGP riders in actions during the warm up. Jorge Lorenzo is exiting the last corner of the track. In the background, the hill that gives the view on the fastest corner of the circuit is packed. Flags, sausages, beers, and a few joints no doubt, I have to say. No clouds in the sky.

Do you know how much it costs to name a MotoGP after you? For the "Gran Premio di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini", exactly 1,069,387.20 Euros are paid to the organizers. San Marino, which shares the cost with some of the cities of the Adriatic coast, is a small independent country that distances about 40 kilometers from the circuit. Not a lot of tourists reach it during the race week end, so San Marino tries to maximise the image-impact of its presence in several ways. One is the quality of the umbrella girls. The beauties were constantly busy taking photos with the paddock visitors.

Do you know how much it costs to name a MotoGP after you? For the “Gran Premio di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini”, exactly 1,069,387.20 Euros are paid to the organisers. San Marino, which shares the cost with some of the cities of the Adriatic coast, is a small independent country that distances about 40 kilometers from the circuit. Not a lot of tourists reach it during the race weekend, so San Marino tries to maximise the image-impact of its presence in several ways. One is the quality of the umbrella girls. The beauties were constantly busy taking photos with the paddock visitors.

Almost time for the Moto3 race. MotoGP rider Jack Miller, in his first year in the top class, cheers up Karel Anika right outside the Red Bull KTM box. One year ago he was battling for the championship with that same team.

Almost time for the Moto3 race. MotoGP rider Jack Miller, in his first year in the top class, cheers up Karel Anika right outside the Red Bull KTM box. One year ago he was battling for the championship with that same team.

If Rossi has to live like a fugitive in order not be stalked by the fans, other riders can have a relatively quiet experience. That's the case of Scott Redding, here chatting with a friend of his in the paddock, with nobody noticing his presence. According to what I saw, these are, in the following order, the most hunted riders of the Misano paddock: Rossi, Marquez, Lorenzo, Iannone, Dovizioso. Good response also for the former rider Loris Capirossi, who still works in the paddock and is a TV commentator.

If Rossi has to live like a fugitive in order not be stalked by the fans, other riders can have a relatively quiet experience. That’s the case of Scott Redding, here chatting with a friend of his in the paddock, with nobody noticing his presence. According to what I saw, these are, in the following order, the most hunted riders of the Misano paddock: Rossi, Marquez, Lorenzo, Iannone, Dovizioso. Good response also for the former rider Loris Capirossi, who still works in the paddock and is a TV commentator.

Valentino Rossi's merchandising is often sober and direct. For the Misano race, a special t-shirt was made with a basic artwork in the front that showed his M1 and a house. On the back, the description of that image: "Il gran premio di casa" means "the home GP". What you see is Valentino's handwriting.

Valentino Rossi’s merchandising is often sober and direct. For the Misano race, a special t-shirt was made with a basic artwork in the front that showed his M1 and a house. On the back, the description of that image: “Il gran premio di casa” means “The home GP”. What you see is Valentino’s handwriting.

First lap of the MotoGP race. After a sunny morning, too many clouds arrived. It will soon start to rain, transforming this in a messy race, because it will soon stop and the track will dry relatively quickly. Marc Marquez will win ahead of Bradley Smith and Scott Redding. Small-fish-Rossi will finish fifth. Shark-Lorenzo will crash.

First lap of the MotoGP race. After a sunny morning, too many clouds arrived. It will soon start to rain, transforming this in a messy race, because it will soon stop and the track will dry relatively quickly. Marc Marquez will win ahead of Bradley Smith and Scott Redding. Small-fish-Rossi will finish fifth. Shark-Lorenzo will crash.

The yellow crowd is not satisfied with the podium result. They call the name of their hero, and Rossi is rushed in front of them in order to say hello to his fans.

The yellow crowd is not satisfied with the podium result. They call the name of their hero, and Rossi is rushed in front of them in order to say hello to his fans.

"Where do we go now?" After the adrenaline of seeing Rossi, the crowd doesn't really know how to get out of the racetrack. The race finished at about 2:50PM. People will be able to leave the circuit more than 3 hours later.

“Where do we go now?” After the adrenaline of seeing Rossi, the crowd doesn’t really know how to get out of the racetrack. The race finished at about 2:50PM. People will still be leaving the circuit more than 3 hours later.

The holy graal. For those who remained until late, a shot of Rossi's M1 getting in the Yamaha truck. It will now go to Aragon, Spain. See you in 2016.

The holy grail. For those who remained until late, a shot of Rossi’s M1 getting in the Yamaha truck. It would head on toAragon, Spain. See you in 2016.

Share this:Share on Facebook
Facebook
Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter