From the Blog

Going around The Bend

Sorry, but I just couldn’t resist it…Well, I am reporting to you from The Bend Motorsports Park just outside of Tailem Bend, South Australia. I’m here for the Round 3 of Motostars who are staging their event on what is called the Stadium Circuit at this $125 MILLION dollar facility. The name is a little pretentious as it is just the Go-Kart track but a very good track it is and equipped with all the latest facilities.

The Bend is owned by a company called the Peregrine Corporation, a South Australian success story which has grown into a multi-million dollar business.

As well as the main circuit having state of the art facilities including a Rydges Hotel in the building on the main straight it has a number of different track layouts to suit different motorsports disciplines. The largest of these is the GT Circuit which has a lap distance of 7.7kms; no prizes for guessing that the circuit is angling for some big international fixtures.

Contained within the confines of the multi-acreage facility is a service station and a Big 4 caravan park where we are presently staying ($35 per night for a powered site with full bathroom and kitchen facilities)

It is quite a walk (1km) to the track so the organisers have laid on a shuttle bus to take us back and forth, they’ve pretty much thought of everything. It’s an understatement to say that everything about The Bend is BIG, words aren’t really adequate.

We took 2 days to drive down, down the Hume to Gundagai, across to Wagga and on to Hay where we stayed the night on Wednesday. On Thursday we completed the trip through the mallee country, as dry, dusty and depressing as any place I have ever travelled, We sure were glad to get here.

The ASBK is happening on the big circuit so I took the opportunity to toddle over yesterday morning and catch up with lots of friends in the paddock as well as check on the progress of many of our MotoStars graduates who are now kicking butt in the big game.

Current MotoStars rider, Marianos Nickolis trying out Mitch Kune’s bike for size, still a little big 🙂

While at the track I did notice a few glaring omissions which you’d think that the design team would have noticed. The flat area at the back of the main garages was where the “domestic” riders were housed, in a long tent. Unfortunately, someone forgot to note that the tent straddled one of the main water courses in the paddock. The combination of water flowing through your pit while you are using 240v tyre warmers didn’t seem real sensible to me.

More worrying was the fact that the pit exit lane from the track is placed on the outside of the last corner leading onto the straight, a blindingly fast right hander. Sooner rather than later a rider slowing and peeling off into the pits is going to get collected from behind by a rider, on the gas and striving for a fast time. Seems crazy to me. I didn’t see but I noted that the pit EXIT is similarly placed to funnel riders out of the pits and straight onto the racing line at the end of a 1km long straight; again, seems crazy to me.

MotoStars are trying a new experiment this meeting, racing under lights at night time on the Stadium Circuit. Practice started at 1700 and racing wrapped up at 2300, it was a long night. 10 out of 10 to MotoStars for having the courage to try something new but I’m sure they would have had second thoughts if they had been able to assess the track lighting at night time before they put pen to paper. The fact is that the lighting MAY be adequate for nighttime go-kart sessions with slow-moving karts, but it is not adequate for bikes at racing speed. Riders made the best of it, of course, as riders do, but it was far from ideal.

The other difficulty was that Friday was a bitterly cold day even during the daylight hours. Come night time the temperature dropped even further and riders were struggling for grip on the cold bitumen even after using tyre warmers and having a warm-up lap. Perhaps a night race during the Summer would be better?

Of course, the less-than-ideal lighting made commentating a nightmare (did you see what I did there?) The extremities of the track were in inky blackness and, for most of the lap, the bikes were merely indistinct blobs against the track lights which were shining towards us and further affecting our vision. Difficulties with the electronic timing meant that often the race positions were not visible on the screen either so it was, altogether, a little like commentating by Braille. And I have to do it again tonight.

It’s mid-morning now and I don’t have to be on deck till 1600 so I think we’ll take a little drive into town and check out the sights. If you get the chance to go around The Bend, I recommend that you do, it is, by far, the wildest and most extravagant motorsports facility you are ever likely to see.