Mugello: MotoGP
          Practice & Qualifying

Saturday was a beautiful morning... perfect for racing! I left my "digs" early in order to avoid any traffic on the twisting road leaving from Firenze north to the Scarperia area track. Riding in was a tad confusing (non parlo Italiano) but I made my way to a gravel lot, pulled off the chaps and jacket and immediately went exploring. It was really early and I thought I must of been one of the early-birds, but thousands upon thousands of people had already staked out their viewing areas.
I took the picture above and below while I was standing on the eastern side of the track between turns 5 and 6. From there, you can virtually keep an eye on the entire track because you are on the top of a hill.
Now looking towards the timing tower/main straightaway with all the official vehicles/paddock area, etc.
There were many vendor stands but not as plentiful as in the States GPs.
But that doesn't mean that Italians are prepared for the big crowds...
... they just serve up their food in a different way. To be honest, I preferred the choices in Italy.
Walking towards the Materassi/San Borgo Lorenzo turns and my seat.
Along the way... yellow everywhere! Valentino!!
Morning practice... the riders are on the Borgo San Lorenzo part of the curves.
The Materassi turn from the Materassi grandstand (where my seat was).
Looking towards the 5/6 straight (more people had arrived by then). Firenze would be behind all the mountains in the distance.
Although the general seating areas were filling up quickly, the grandstands were virtually empty. People were also busy "circulating" around the track (as I was about to). These fellows (who I'd meet the next day) were the only ones using seats near where mine was.
Again, the view was great. The only place on the track where you briefly lost track of the riders was in turn one.
This is the Correntaio (#12).
This is who I came to see... #46 Valentino Rossi! Unfortunately, it was during this morning's practice that Rossi took a huge spill and broke his leg! DARN!
I wasn't the only one who was disappointed. THOUSANDS of people were there in yellow to cheer their main Italian man. The VR46 souvenir stand stayed busy the entire weekend while others (such as Pedrosa and Lorenzo) were virtually deserted.
Remember how I said I preferred the Italian concessions better?
This was one of the barbeque "pits". You could buy hot dogs, hamburgers, skewers of pork, chicken or beef, or entire chickens to name just a few barbequed items.
More views of the track...
... and the paddock. Aren't the team trucks colorful?
ALL of the eating tents had their own DJs. Continual music.
Important to cradle the wine... not to leave it down!
Here's evidence of some of those 1000s of VR fans...
... complete with the official fan club tent. (BTW... Tavullia is where VR was born and it's near Pesaro. Too bad I didn't know that beforehand! I would have visited! The fan club has its "headquarters" there!)
Yellow shirts everywhere I went!
The fan club membership fee goes towards charitable causes. They (obviously) raise money through other fun events as well! If you're wondering if I, too, became an official fan club member, OF COURSE I DID!!
Remember Susana from the Ducati tour a couple of days ago? These were her two friends who were on the same factory tour as I was on. They recognized me, not the other way around and unfortunately, I no longer remember their names. They hadn't been at the morning practice (it was afternoon by then) and didn't know that VR was hurt.
Turn 2 (Poggio Secco) and, of course, more yellow.
The large grandstand is the Tribuna Poggio Secco.
As you can see by all the tents, it's important to be there early to "squat" (i.e. claim your territory) for the best views.
I'm now beginning the long hike along turn #1.
At the tip of turn 1 is where *I* saw the most camper trailers.
That long hike around, I'm now on the west side of San Donato (#1).
Tucked along the long straight (start/finish along it) was the display area.
Some manufacturers/vendors were instantly recognizable.
I was surprised to see some manufacturers/vendors there.
Some had only become recognizable after being in Italy for awhile - Tim = gas.
ENI also = gas.
In the end, the name of the game was still "fun". I tried this similator but it was HARD to stay on the road. Still fun though!
Going around the outside of the track had been exhausting, especially because my foot/ankle was still very sore, the ground was uneven, and it was very, VERY hot outside. I wished I had one of these gizmos! :)
Ducati was selling souvenirs near their stands and even their tents were red!
Yes, Ducati had their own stands, maybe even the largest at the track. The seats were red, as well!
I LOVED this. Va, l'Italia! (Go, Italy!)
On the way back to my section, I ventured closer to turn 1.
You can see how much "crash" space they allow beyond what is the slowest corner on the track for safety's sake. The red bike is a Ducati. It's either Stoner or Hayden during the qualifying laps.
I got a kick out of these guys. They were lounging in their gotch, checking out all the cute girls as they walked by, and drinking wine. I took the picture from this side for propriety's sake. (hehehe)
In this picture, you get an idea of the change in elevation as the riders go around San Donato.
Even though the qualifying had ended for the day, people sat and relaxed. Perhaps they were among those camping out.
Many Ducatis were parked all over. This was the only Troy Bayliss replica one I saw though. Many passers-by checked it out.
Three immaculalte BMW GSs from France.
Not saying everyone stayed seated, either. There were masses of people walking out, motorcycles and scooters driving at (in my opinion) unsafe speeds through and by them.
I wasn't in any rush so I stayed put until the crowd died down before hopping on the BMer.
I wasn't sure how long it would take me to get back to Firenze so I only stopped once on the way back to take a picture of this beautiful garden.
Then I headed back to my accomodation, had a late dinner and went to bed.
My route to the Mugello track. Below, my hike around the race track (in purple).
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