On tour with the ‘Irish Invasion’
On Friday 5th November, the motley crew assembled at check in at Dublin Airport for the flight to Barcelona. Amongst our number was special guest for the weekend and double Isle of Man TT winner, Ryan Farquhar who had taken time out of his busy schedule to help promote DSI on foreign shores.
After an uneventful flight we were met at Barcelona Airport by our Pole Position Travel representative, Patrick, who had our air conditioned coach waiting for us. On the four hour drive (including a 1/2 hour pit stop) Ryan and fellow road racer Andy Farrell kept the 25+ ‘Invasion’ entertained with tales of daring do between the Irish hedgerows and indeed in the various paddocks that they have have called ‘home’ over the years!
Once settled into our hotel (the Ibis) and after a brief wander around the old town, with a mandatory beer & pizza stop (when in Rome …Valencia) it was time for the PPT opening night party. Every year for the past four years, Gordon Howell (MD of PPT) has hosted a charity auction in aid of Down Syndrome Ireland and this year Gordon and his team had yet again pulled out all the stops with lots on offer from Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo to name but a few. We had also brought along some lots from the road racing scene that included Keith Amor’s TT boots and HM Plant Honda shirt.
After brief introductory speeches from Gordon and yours truly, Ryan took to the stage for a Q&A session that proved very popular with the guests who came from as far a field as Australia, USA and Germany. This was then followed by the auction which raised in excess of €5,500 which will go towards DSI’s on going work on behalf of it’s members and their families. Extra thanks must go to 125GP rider Danny Webb who quite literally auctioned the shirt off his back!
On Saturday morning it was back on the coach for the short journey to the circuit which is situated close to the town of Cheste. The ‘Invasion’ all had tickets for the grandstand situated between turns one and two but Gordon had given me a VIP Village pass for the weekend so I made my way there with the rest of PPT’s VIP crew. PPT sponsor the main prize on Rev-up4DSI every year which is a VIP weekend for two in Valencia and this year’s winners were Ted & Pauline Courtney who chose to sight see on the Saturday so they generously gave their VIP passes to father & son, Ronnie and Aaron Sutcliffe who needless to say were delighted, Aaron was doubly delighted when he got to meet Mark Marquez, Scott Redding and Bradley Smith on a guided paddock walk later in the day! With chef’s on hand and waiting staff parading around with trays of refreshing drinks all day, VIP truly means VIP when you travel with PPT! After a pit walk where we got to get up close and personal with the bikes, we made our way to the VIP grandstand which is quite literally three metres from the bikes as they turn in to the first corner, a fantastic vantage point to watch qualifying from!
After Qualifying we met up with the rest of the gang for the coach trip back to the hotel. The others were raving about their grandstand seats and the view it afforded them so I chose to swap my VIP Pass for a grandstand ticket with Ryan to see what what all the fuss was about.
Saturday evening saw us left to our own devices so we all jumped in to Taxi’s for the short hop in to the Old Town for dinner and the obligatory beer or two.
On Sunday morning, after the brief coach trip, we once again found ourselves at the circuit but this time it was race day and with strong Spanish interest in all the Championship’s, we guessed we were in for a spectacular day’s entertainment! After making our way to the grandstand I found out what the lads had been talking about! When it comes to Moto GP as in everything in life, it is always best to use local knowledge and PPT utilise every tool in the box when it comes to looking after their guests! Not only were we perched overlooking turn two but we were also afforded a cracking view of turn’s one and three, and to add to the specatcle we also had a huge screen opposite us allowing us to keep up to date with the happenings on track. With Mark Marquez winning the 125cc Championship and Lorenzo winning the Moto GP race, the local crowds were in festive mood and it made for a fantastic atmosphere all around the circuit.
Sunday night once again saw us back in the old town for dinner and beers and with no early start on the Monday morning everyone got to let their hair down, some let their hair down so much they struggled to find it again the next morning!
After the coach trip back to Barcelona and an uneventful flight back to Dublin, all that was left for us to do was to say our goodbyes, but to a man (& woman), all said they would do it again in 2011 which I think speaks volumes for the hospitality shown to us and indeed the slick organisation that PPT is.
Pole Position Travels motto is ‘Nothing beats being there’ and having ‘been’ there, I can only echo that sentiment!
Aidan Lynam. DSI.