“Spooning For Dear Life” ..OTB Does MotoGP

FASTEST is released on DVD and Blu-ray on Monday 11th June 2012

At 130 miles per hour, the rain hurts. Each time a drop makes it’s way into the gap between my helmet and my leather overalls, it’s like someone has shot me in the neck with an air rifle, and I want to brush my neck as if it were an insect bite. This isn’t an option.

I’m perched on the back of a 1000cc Yamaha R1 superbike, my left hand gripping as best it can to the smooth topside of the fuel tank. With no strap or handle to grasp, it’s like palming the top of a football, my main support coming from my right arm, which is wrapped around the driver’s waist, keeping me from flying off the back of the bike. I’m spooning for dear life.

As part of the run up to the release of Fastest, a documentary on MotoGP which is released on Monday, I’ve come to Silverstone, Britain’s arch racing circuit. I’m clad in a protective leather over-suit, reinforced with rigid padding. It’s reassuring, and, perhaps like any other uniform, gives me a sense of power, the restrictive clothing making every movement more robotic, more deliberate. It also gives me a sense of things to come.

When you accelerate from 0-60 in two seconds, the sensation is akin to having your internal organs being tugged in the direction of your spine. As the speed increases, so does the discomfort, your body reacting to a speed and gravitational forces that perhaps our evolution did not fully prepare us for. Whilst the driver slows down before attempting a bend, the G force imposed on you increases. MotoGP racers regularly experience two G as they take corners, not just due to the speed, but also the extreme angle they throw themselves into, with their knee just inches from the road.

The proximity to tarmac is what makes this a different thrill to a roller coaster. It’s this grey blur that necessitates the clothing I’m in. Head injuries aside, if I were to fall, without it, I would surely suffer a gruesome exfoliation. I try to put these thoughts to one side, and once the fear subsides, what’s left is gleeful abandon, and the churning of my insides feels more like excitement then nausea.

Whilst I was never a fan of motor sports, it quickly becomes clear why racers push themselves to such extremes, the speed, coupled with the immediateness of the ground, is like nothing else I’ve experienced. Before I know it, the laps are over. My legs are shaking, but I felt a tiny bit like Valentino Rossi.

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