The Phillip Island Moto Grand Prix 2013 is being pitched as a ‘new era’ and it’s easy to see why. After triumphing for the last six years, Casey Stoner has retired and cleared the way for a stunning rookie season from Spain’s Marc Márquez, who has been dominating tracks he’s never raced before.
This could be a big one, since the Australian race is often where the world champ is crowned. The legendary seaside circuit on Phillip Island is beloved by two-wheeler fans worldwide. Racing icon Valentino Rossi has long cited it as his favourite, probably because it’s the fastest in the world (with an average speed of 176 km/h).
Expect blistering laps from all classes: the buzzy Moto3 (formerly the 125cc class, with a top speed of almost 240 km/h from what is essentially a dirt bike engine) and Moto2 (formerly the 250cc class – that’s an engine capacity of a pot of beer), to the 340 km/h top speeds of the MotoGP bikes. And remember, the contact patch of the back tire is approximately the size of an iPhone screen.
Unlike some fair-weather F1 fans, MotoGP brings out the crazy, obsessive diehards who own rides almost as powerful as the pros. There’s the tradition of campers so dedicated that last year a Broome biker arrived two days early to set up outside the grounds.
If it’s your first time, just set up a deckchair at turn one and witness the sight and sound of a motorcycle coming into a turn at more than three times the maximum speed limit. Jaws will drop.