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GP Week : Issue 132
GPWEEK OPINION >> privileged to be the only journalist invited to a select dinner hosted by Yamaha later in the evening. I do try not to be star-struck. Riders are just people who happen to be good at riding and driven to prove it, and deserve to be valued as people rather than demigods. But sitting opposite Wayne, his old team-mate Luca Cadalora, flanked by Loris Capirossi and Franco Uncini (world champions all), with Randy Mamola adjacent and Eddie Lawson on Wayne’s mobile, it did feel like a select company. The stories flowed with the wine: some unprintable, others merely historic. Like the one about how Wayne’s racing debut at Misano had started with a big argument just to get on the grid, and finished with him being signalled off the track separately from the other riders: “I thought: What have I done now?” Having been left trailing as he always was, back in the days of dead-engine push starts, he had no idea he’d finished on the rostrum. Most impressive was his indomitability. He hadn’t come back to Misano to lay ghosts, he said (though he did that for us). He had no grudge against the track. In fact he’d always loved it, for the series of increasingly fast left-handers onto the back straight, before they changed the direction – designed it seemed to favour US ex-dirt-trackers. “It’s racing. Crashes happen, and you can get hurt.” In the intervening years, he’d completely come to terms with his injury and his new life. No regrets, he said; and you could tell that he meant it. Racing is dangerous. It can do horrible things to people you like and admire. Rainey proved to all that you can come out the other side physically diminished, but just as much of a man as you always were. * Wayne Rainey: His Own Story – Haynes But this week’s ball ache has been getting my Indian visa. I’ve never seen the point of visas. Scan someone’s passport and, in two seconds, you know where they’ve been and if they’re on a no-fly list. You don’t need to hold onto the bloody thing for a week just to stick a visa in there. It is, I’m sorry to say, simply a money making scheme and an exercise in cuntation. China and Korea are the only grands prix, apart from India, which require a trip to the consulate. In Turkey, they grant F1 personnel free visas at the airport. I’m a British citizen living in Paris, and apparently this makes things a lot more complicated. On arriving at the Indian passport office I was told it would take 7-10 days to process my application, at which point I flew of the handle. Seven to 10 days? I’m never in one country for more than five! To add further frustration, I’d actually visited the passport office the day before but it was closed, for an Indian holiday. Despite the fact no one working there was Indian, and the visa service is run by a company registered in the UK. I was told the fee was 95 Euros – steep – and proceeded to write ‘journalist’ in the occupation box. Ah, said the Frenchman on the counter, I will have to pay more then. A journalist’s visa is 145 Euros. I was speechless. I crossed out ‘journalist’ and wrote ‘author’. It’s the same thing, he dismissed. What utter bollocks, I said. JK Rowling pays extra too does she? I handed over this appalling number of notes and then spent the next three days tr ying to get through on the phone to the Indian High Commission. It’s a commonwealth country for goodness sakes – why do us Brits even need a visa? After about 40 phone calls (no exaggeration) they finally picked up and gave me an email address. Vicky Chandhok, president of the Federation of Motorsports Clubs of India, has been a superstar and immediately emailed the High Commission to expedite my application. Only they’d given us the wrong email address. In retrospect, I should have gone over to London where I could have got my visa in 24 hours, no doubt cheaper. Even including the Eurostar. But none of the service times or fees for France were mentioned on their website, so how was I to know? In fact, simplest solution, I really need to get myself a second passport. All I’m saying is, India had better be worth it. And now there’s the added complication of how I get to the Italian GP without a passport. ... 145 Euros? India had better be worth it 23