I am an urban rider. If you ask me who Casey Stoner is I would say he's hot and rides motorbikes. What motorbike did he ride? Which races did he win and when? Well I just don't know. Did he ride for Ducati? No idea. My Dad will be disappointed in me for saying that considering we grew up watching the MotoGP and Superbike races, I even named my pet frog Carl Frogarty, but don't really know all the races Carl Fogarty won. But over the years I can't say I have followed anything to do with racing.
Why am I telling you this when this is obviously a blog about the famous MotoGP circuit, Phillip Island? Well, the point being that although I am not an avid moto sports fan, I went down to Phillip Island on a quiet day just to check out what all the fuss was about and I have to say, I was blown away. Why?
Phillip Island itself is more beautiful than I was imagining. Crossing the bridge from the mainland and traveling around the tiny island was just stunning every way you looked. Green fields and gorgeous coast line and everything you would expect of an island. The main reason for heading down there that day was to check out the famous race track and it did not disappoint. The visitor centre did disappoint, you spend about 15 mins in there, but the track, boy was it gorgeous.
My sister and I entered the track area, following eagerly behind our guide, and I was mesmerised. Beautiful green lawn around the circuit and positioned right next to the ocean so you can see right out over the water. I immediately was imagining how incredible it must be for the riders heading down the main straight when it looks like it goes off the edge of the island!
We were there on a track day for a Victorian racing club so they had several races throughout the day from youngsters to the oldies who were clocking up to 280kmph on the straight. Standing in the pedestrian tunnel that runs over the main straight whilst bikes are burning past underneath you is a real overwhelming experience and you could not wipe the smile off my face! I can only imagine what it would be like doing that whilst the superbikes are rushing past.
We visited the control tower and got to see the track coordinators at work. Everything from operating the lights on perfect cue, to monitoring the many CCTV screens to communicating with all the volunteer marshals around the course. There is so much that happens behind the scenes to make these races amazing but safe for all the riders. We saw an old video of a race on the CCTV where the third poll rider stalled on the lights and he got nicked by two other riders, one ending up in hospital and the other had his boot ripped off in the collision. I couldn't believe the damage that could be done in such a short space of time but when these bikes go 0-100 so fast and they have only eyes for the road these things can happen. I have a new found appreciation for these guys, what a job! Dangerous but also so thrilling!
There is so much history surrounding this internationally renowned race circuit. In 1928 it was merely just four residential roads that were used as the track until 1956 when the Phillip Island Auto Racing Club was formed and they constructed the Grand Prix track. With damage to the track over the years and tough access to fix it being on an island it wasn't until 1988 when the track you see today was completed and it was in 1989 that the first international version of the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix was held on the island. It is really incredible how it has changed over the years, the way the riders talk about how much they love riding the circuit and the amount of events that are held there throughout the year. It is a circuit that deserves all it's glory and hopefully will be open for moto sports enthusiasts, and those who aren't quite so much, for years to come.
I can't recommend enough a visit to this gorgeous island for a stunning ride out of the Melbourne for a day trip or a weekend away but just make sure you gear up properly as the wind can bite and it gets very cold especially in the evenings. Happy exploring and I hope you love the island as much as I did.
MOTO GP 2016 | 21-23 OCTOBER