Yamaha India had us over in Malaysia to witness the penultimate round of the MotoGP championship. Here is a report from the eyes of someone who attended a MotoGP race live for the very first time.
Story: Azaman Chothia
Since i’ve been a little kid, watching MotoGP races on weekends has been somewhat of a ritual. It was actually the main reason behind my obsession with motorcycles and up until very recently, I had unfortunately never been able to attend a race weekend in person. Thanks to Yamaha India who invited us to be a part of the penultimate round of the 2022 MotoGP championship at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. Considering that Malaysia has not hosted a MotoGP race in the last two years due to the Covid-19 restrictions, this was one hell of an experience with high energy levels and getting to witness the championship battle between Fabio Quartararo and Francesco Bagnaia that has been intensifying with every passing race this season.
The atmosphere at the track during a race weekend is surely a great feeling for an enthusiast who has been waiting to experience it live. While we did miss out on the practice sessions that take place on Friday, our Saturday started early as we headed out from our stay which was situated around 50 km away from the race track. On the way to the venue, we got a glimpse at the stunning automotive culture in Malaysia. Mostly every motorcycle, scooter, and car is customized in some way or the other, making each one a unique sight. When we got closer to the circuit, various superbikes in groups roared past us as they were all heading to catch the action that was set to take place after a long wait of two years.
Then comes the main part which is what makes everything so intoxicating for a motorcycle enthusiast – the beautiful, yet deafening sounds that the machines from all the classes produce. The beautiful Sepang International Circuit is a 5.53-kilometre track and can host approximately 1.30 lakh people. It features 15 corners and two high-speed stretches. With a width of 16 meters, the track allows many overtaking opportunities and the widest part spreads up to 22 meters. Also, this time out, we visited the track as spectators so we would get to experience it however we liked and this gave us time to check out different zones and sections from where you get the best view of the manic MotoGP machines.
A little later in the day, Yamaha called us to their stall situated right outside the entrance to the grandstands and handed us access passes to the paddock. This was exciting as we then got to explore all that goes on behind the scenes. As an enthusiast of the sport for years, it is a great sight to see the riders from all classes fully focused and in conversation with their respective team members. Apart from that, the level of preparation before every session is just stunning. All of the parts are cleaned perfectly so that the motorcycles are spick and span before heading out of the pitlane. At the paddock, I did feel like a kid in a candy store and appreciated how different aspects of the sport are handled. The Malaysian crowd was really enthusiastic with a lot of fans cheering on their favourite riders.
While I thought that the atmosphere would be the same on the next day when all of the races were set to take place, I got a glimpse at the actual number of fans as there was a long traffic jam leading up to the Sepang International Circuit. The stands all packed up as we entered and we got lucky to find a few seats even after an early morning start. After enjoying the Moto3 and Moto2 races, I did not want to miss the sight of the MotoGP race start so I headed back to the paddock and found a nice spot where I could see the bikes fly by after making their superb starts. The tension and feeling between the crowd increases and it all goes silent as the lights are about the go off for the start of the race and the entire environment is taken over by the sound as all the GP bikes roar past violently to make up positions before the first corner. There are also large screens spread all around so spectators get to keep up with the action on the parts of the circuit that are not visible to them.
The highlight for me had to be the beautiful, yet deafening sounds that all of the MotoGP machines produce. Witnessing the warriors from all classes push their limits to secure those valuable points is just surreal. Fabio Quartararo was the man we were all there to support and he gave it all to secure the final podium spot after starting from 12th with a broken finger. That is seriously superhuman – it showed me the level of dedication and willpower required to be a part of this sport. With Francesco Bagnaia finishing first, the championship battle goes down to the race in Valencia and we can’t wait to see the outcome of this unpredictable season. My first visit to a MotoGP race showed me a fully different side of the sport that I am glad to have been part of.