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GP Week : Issue 135
MOTOGP FEATURE >> Argentina putatively back on the calendar in 2013, it is a good time to recall just how specially disorganised were the races that ran at Buenos Aires. The first was exemplary in this respect. For a start, the circus arrived with the track not yet completed. Workmen were still completing the final chicane complex. They never did, because it was in any unacceptably tight and dangerous. Other parts of the circuit, in a park on the outskirts of the sprawling city of Buenos Aires, were also badly sub-standard. With the help of a load of extra straw bales, delivered under threat of boycott, riders got together with IRTA to design a version of the track (several layouts were possible) that would be fit for grand prix. The Argentine workmen had gone home in disgust by now; the sight of leading riders and team managers joining forces to heft bales around, making chicanes and protecting obstacles, would be unimaginable in the new century. By some mercy nobody was badly hurt, for one feared that the medical facilities were as haphazard as everything else. The comedy of errors was repeated at the next return to the track, now finally finished, in 1994, Mick Doohan’s first championship year. The surface was so green it was unraceable; a sand-blasting truck was brought in to remove the gloss from the too-new tarmac. It was fairly effective. But it had a big oil leak of its own, and it laid a streak of it round much of the track. With pressure-washing and cement dusting going on right up until race day, it was still perilous to stray off line. “It’s as though somebody put a beach there,” said Mick. Talking of beaches, Rio specialised in them, just part of the fun of a race sadly missed by most ... the last GP at the Nelson Piquet circuit was in 1995. But Rio brings us neatly back to the original topic: power failures. One year the media centre had to be evacuated in a hurry because of an electrical fire in the workings within the building. Fleet-footed Italian journalists led the escape, everyone carrying their lap-tops so they could carry on working: for the rest of the weekend a worried- looking security guard was posted outside the smoke-blackened transformer room, which fizzed and crackled, but didn’t go up again. Funniest of all? That was also in Rio. The sun was up, the black vultures and frigate birds were wheeling overhead, waiting for the first crash, and the 125s were warming up, when suddenly all the power tools went silent and the screens went dark. Power cut – but no fire, no blown fuses nor any other reason could be found. The reason was much more prosaic: the circuit electricity bill had been unpaid for so long that disconnection was overdue. The utility company chose the strategically perfect moment to pull the switch. Within the hour the bill was settled, the lights were back on, and the motorbikes could go out and play once more. Makes a blown transformer seem like a mild problem, doesn’t it? Far left: A generator is hoisted onto the paddock roof to help overcome power issues that crippled the Aragon Circuit. Above: The delayed second practice at Aragon. Left: Kevin Magee and Bubba Shobert after their post race accident at Laguna Seca 41