Catalan Moto GP
The Moto GP of Catalunya, the Gran Premi, is always one of the showpiece occasions of the Moto GP calendar, and in 2009 will be held on Sunday, June 14th.
Not to be confused with the Spanish Gran Prix, which is always raced in Jerez de la Frontera early in the season, the Catalan Moto GP is held at the Circuit de Catalunya at Montmelo, 12 miles to the north of Barcelona.
This race track is ideal for spectators to obtain a top-rated Moto experience. With no fewer than 17 grandstands, 3 of which are covered, and with 20 giant screens, the view of the racing is unsurpassable. Additionally, there is free parking at the track for over 25,000 cars and bikes. Having said that, many people prefer to come by using the excellent public transport laid on for the race. For example, a train ride from Barcelona Sants station takes less than half an hour and from the station at Montmelo you can either have a 20 minute walk to savour the developing atmosphere or take one of the shuttle buses directly to the track. Alternatively, the Sagalés Bus company runs regular services from Passeig Sant Joan 52, which is quite near the Metro stations of Tetuan(Purple Line, L2) and Girona (Yellow Line, L4). A return ticket will cost 6 euros.
Purchasers of tickets should know that there are good discounts available for children – indeed, under 5’s are admitted free of charge – and that if you get a multi-day ticket, the pit lanes are open on the Thursday prior to the race from 4.00 pm until 7.00pm. As befits a modern stadium, the facilities for disabled spectators at Montmelo are excellent.
As for the race itself, it is usually one of the most exciting of the year. With two very long and fast straights and a variety of tricky corners, as well as unpredictable wind shifts and sometimes a bumpy surface, the Circuit presents 4,727 metres offering many challenges to the riders. The first Catalan Moto GP, back in 1992, and won by Wayne Rainey, had three different manufacturers managing to achieve a podium finish – Yamaha, Honda and Suzuki – and since then there have been some fascinating battles. Spanish riders won in 1995 and 1999(Alex Criville) and again in 2008 with Dani Pedrosa on a Repsol Honda. In between, Valentino Rossi has demonstrated exactly why he considers Montmelo to be one of his favourite race tracks by winning in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006.
All-in-all, the Moto GP of Catalonia offers aficionados a wonderful weekend of top quality sport. When you factor in that it also means you can spend some time in Catalonia’s vibrant, exciting and historic capital city of Barcelona, then it is no wonder many people consider this event one of the essential sporting highlights of their year.