Brands Hatch and the party's over
A slight end of season hysteria infected the crowd at the last round of the BSB at Brands Hatch last weekend, a hysteria that didn't quite make it to the staff however, as discovered by a late arrival’s question. "Who won the first race?" "I dunno, ask her" (pointing) "Who won the first race?"
Despite the rather obvious lack of interest in things bike amongst the staff, despite food concession stands manned by people with only the most rudimentary grasp of the English language (try not to wonder what sort of grasp they have of health and safety/food hygiene regs), the weather was kind and the atmosphere more akin to a club meeting.
The consensus amongst the crowd seemed to be that Kiyo had it sewn up, although nobody seemed to have told Gregoria Lavilla that. The first race seemed sewn up as a the HM Plant Honda’s stormed off, with Kiyo seemingly happy to let Rea take the strain, but the appearance of the Pace car allowed the field to close up and the sheer grunt of the Ducati out of the bends seemed to leave the four’s with no answer, particularly on the short Indy circuit.
So in a strange replay of the first round at Brands in the Spring, Lavilla managed the double in a fitting end to the series. On the basis of that performance and with the subsequent announcement of the exit of GSE, a number riders in other teams must be wondering how safe their rides for next year are. Between the races, a huge queue formed by a sign marked ‘Free Face-Painting’. However, despite appearances, this transpired to be not a sudden desire amongst the Kent crowd to decorate themselves as a range of colourful animals but rather a demonstration of the huge affection felt for newly crowned World Champion James Toseland.
The queue, which stretched the full length of the grandstand, eventually had to be closed off to the disappointment of some and the effect on his fingers of that number of autographs must have made him glad his performance at Skeggy had been before and not afterwards. It’s a sign of the man that at no point did he seem anything but happy to oblige his many fans. Of course, as always, the high-point of any BSB round was the interviews with Kiyo. Having now been privileged to witness a number of these sessions, one can only wonder – why?
Why do assorted press and, more importantly, TV staff insist on asking this quiet and unassuming man complex questions? He has a limited grasp of English (and before you say anything, how much Japanese do YOU speak?) and this seems exacerbated by a lack of confidence in front of the cameras. Yet the assorted interviewers insist on trying to engage in an analysis of the tactics, his feelings and thoughts about the previous and next races. Either give the man a translator or simply accept his limited stock of phrases.
It’s to be hoped that the withdrawal of Ducati, talk of control tyres and other changes won’t diminish not only the excitement of our domestic series but also the atmosphere that seems unique to BSB, helped by the number of races and the size of the fields.