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Ducati Team – The MotoGP VIP Village Experience

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The lounge in the Ducati team paddock.

Thanks to the gracious auspices of a certain friend in a certain tobacco company, Des and I were able to enjoy the high life; being VIP’s during the previous MotoGP in Sepang International Circuit (SIC). The exclusive-invitation MotoGP VIP Experience, alternatively dubbed M.Scape, includes, but is not necessarily limited to; food, drinks & fun in SIC’s VIP paddock above the pits, a special tour and pit walkabout before the qualifying session, games that may net participants some really cool, quality goodies, full-day air-conditioning, and a live interview session with 2006 MotoGP champion Nicky Hayden.

Although we are generally known for car-related yummies, being true petrolheads, we do not shy away from adrenaline and speed, and MotoGP is a big kahuna in those terms. The generous opportunity handed to us for the MotoGP event is something we take to great honour and appreciation. Thus, this here is a concise recollection of that day in SIC.

The Event

The day, like all days to SIC, started rather early; departing the bed at about 0630 towards Dengkil R&R. Des and I were particularly thrilled to have our first time in being pampered while listening to high-strung engines and looking at g-strung paddock girls. Thanks to the VIP pass, we were able to park right beside the paddock, which was a good thing, since our kit weighs a tonne. Up at the VIP paddock, the manufacturers and sponsors were dishing out freshly grilled burgers in voluptuous sizes and quantities, fine dining food in the paddocks, and top-notch service for the VIP’s.

When we reached our destination, we were greeted with lanky receptionist girls, dressed in red, of course, welcoming us to the exciting world of Ducati M.Scape. We were situated right above the Ducati team pit, and we were able to see, and hear, the bikes zooming out of the pit lanes onto the straights.

Nice…

Immediately into the lounge area, we saw a replica of Nicky Hayden’s MotoGP bike, mounted on a rear stand. Too bad they wouldn’t let us start it up.

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Nicky Hayden's Desmosedici

However, the fellows minding the bike were pretty happy to let us sit on the bike, and they took photographs of us on the bike.

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Des had never been so happy, other than when eating and drifting.

Each participant was given a tag with a symbol at the back, and this was part of the game designed for the day; each person would need to find others with the same symbol, and together they are able to play a game with the M.Scape girls. There is also a huge touchscreen table in front of the bike, where the game is played on. Winning a challenge will result in a list of cool prizes.

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A few of the blokes who got the tags together trying their luck.

I had to admit, I enjoyed breakfast; a reasonable list of Western-cuisine varieties await hungry participants. The bar also serves anything from smooth Cappuccino to beer. Needless to say, we were pretty much pampered to the brim.

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Breakfast is pompous, as befits the VIP's

There was also a DJ stand opposite the bar, and as long as there were people in the VIP paddock, there was music. Great ones too, as the DJ spun awesome house, electronica and techno numbers followed by a host of gyrating hips on the dance floor.

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This DJ held the fort before Celeste Siam came to mesmerize us.

There were also computers situated at the walls of the lounge to enable the participants to log in and collect photographs taken of them.

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The USB drive given to us doubled up as windproof lighters... nice...

After a while, we were told that we’d have a chance of walking through the pits to check the bikes out, and most of us proceeded downstairs.

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This was before the gates were opened.

The sun’s scorching heat did nothing to dampen the fans and fanatics alike, as the atmosphere was as cheerful as ever. Little did we know about the catastrophe that was to happen…

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Pitwalk!

Once the pitwalk concluded, and the bikes were out on the track, we went back to the lounge for some more activities. The prizes for the winners were pretty tempting; some signed helmets from the Ducati team riders themselves.

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The helmets, in addition to looking pretty trick, has either Nicky Hayden's or Valentino Rossi's signature.

Then Nicky Hayden himself came onto the stage, much to the merriment of the crowd. He spoke a few words about himself, his entry to MotoGP and the challenges on the track, and also answered some of the floor’s questions. Nicky was polite and enthusiastic but succinct. I bet he’s got a lot on his mind so close to the race.

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Nicky Hayden in the flesh.

Once Nicky went off, we were treated to the awesome sounds of DJ Celeste Siam, the only female DJ to be afforded the opportunity to spin in Ibiza.

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Small in stature, but definitely big in talent. Before long, she got the entire lounge swaying to her tunes. This is her excited warm-up regime.

When the time came, Des got up to the rooftop to shoot the start of the MotoGP.

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And they're off! The two Honda Repsol's trying to make a clean break for turn 1.

As fate would have it, Marco Simoncelli got into a fatal collision with Colin Edwards and Valentino Rossi, along T11 in lap 2, and the organizing committee decided to cancel the race in respect for him. The decision was a difficult one, but the crowd vented their anger and frustrations anyway.

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No race restart. Just a looming sense of grim and dread.

The lesson learnt here was that despite every precaution, motorsports is, and always will be, dangerous. The realization meant that all of us at TCG will forever respect racers and riders, if not for their passion, then for their courage.

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Riposa in pace, Marco Simoncelli (1987-2011).

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About as beautiful as curves come, and they deceptively belie the danger inherent in racing.

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About Andrew Lee

Andrew is a commercial photographer by day and speed demon by night. Don't let his pleasant, approachable demeanour fool you, as he's an incredible fast driver on the circuit! Andrew is a man of many talents (some hidden). He often baffles many with his uncanny ability to stay awake for an inhuman number of days, then disappears. For hours. TCG labels him “Comatose Man” for his nocturnal endeavours and sleep super powers.

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