Almost 260 hours of flight (which would seem twice as long if you have to sit next to Frankie Carchedi) and 160 days away from home make up a single season of MotoGP, according to the Angel Nieto team.
At the end of any season, the victories, the joy of the good results and the satisfaction of a job remain fresh in the memory. What gets forgotten is the hours of hard work, the never-ending journeys and the many, many days away from home, away from loved ones.
Away from the glare of the cameras, before the television sets are switched on and after they are turned off at the end of the racing on a Sunday, the activity is frenetic. In total, a season such as 2018, with 19 Grands Prix and 3 preseason tests as well as a post-season test at Valencia, adds up to almost 160 days away from home, only 71 days of which feature motorcycles on track.
The Ángel Nieto Team took a total of 54 flights from their base in Spain to make the 19 races and four tests. Some long, between 12 and 14 hours, and some short such as Jerez. From Australia to Argentina, via the United States or Thailand, the MotoGP World Championship offers a unique opportunity to travel but without the time to truly get to know each place away from the circuit, hotel, hire car, aeroplane or airport.
The only time to really soak up the culture is at the races outside Europe, when the atmosphere and the pressure is reduced and the teams don’t have the hospitality units that are their homes and offices from Jerez to Aragón. Feeding the kangaroos in Australia, eating at a proper Japanese restaurant in Motegi, sampling an Argentinian barbeque in Termas de Río Hondo, or visiting the shopping districts of Kuala Lumpur…
A video call can eliminate the 17,000 kilometres between Phillip Island and home but even that can’t cut short the 260 hours of flights (and several more spent queuing in the terminal), or the 184,000 kilometres, over the course of a season. No fewer than 14 airlines take the team to 17 countries in four continents and a total of 23 different airports – those outside Europe and especially in the USA, with their lengthy queues at passport control, amongst the most feared.
Once the aeroplanes have landed, the remainder of the journey is usually taken by hire car. The distances, like the circuits, vary a lot – such as the 15-minute drive from Valencia airport to the Circuit Ricardo Tormo or the five hours from Bangkok to Buriram.
Once at the circuit, it is time to get to work. Before anything can take place on track, the teams spend two days preparing: Wednesday to set up the garage and Thursday to focus on the bikes and make sure everything is in top condition after the last race. For the riders, these two days are spent meeting media commitments, before free practice gets underway on Friday – a total of 46 days.