Whenever I meet readers and friends of MotoMatters.com, I am invariably asked the same question: What's it like in the paddock? Since earning entry to that hallowed ground, I have often wanted to share some of the experiences and the atmosphere in the MotoGP and World Superbike paddocks, but had never found - or never got round to finding - the appropriate outlet for such musings. MotoMatters.com is focused intently on news, analysis and background of MotoGP and World Superbikes, and fitting random observations into thenews and interviews we do would merely detract from what the core of our work. It was clear that MotoMatters.com needed some kind of blog, but with a million other things to do (mostly trying to raise money), the idea of a blog kept slipping down our list of priorities.
Fortunately for our readers - at least I hope it's fortunately - we have been spurred into action by an extraordinary offer from the Fiat On The Web team. I have been invited to be Guest Blogger for the Fiat Yamaha team, which entails giving readers an insight and behind-the-scenes view of the life of MotoGP's leading team. I follow in some illustrious footsteps: the last people to go before me were the folks at leading Italian blog network Motoblog.it, who did some great work, interviewing Jorge Lorenzo and the team photographer Gigi Soldano. In order to do that, we have had to create the MotoMatters.com Editor's blog.
The first step in the journey comes early Tuesday morning, when I board a plane to Doha, Qatar, arriving some time in the early evening. Along the way, I'll be spending some time in the Islamic Art Museum, visiting an ancient fort and sightseeing at the Pearl Project, a giant project to create an artificial island in the Persian Gulf. Living in a country famous for land reclamation - the Netherlands - that should be quite an experience. Naturally - this being done for the Fiat Yamaha Team - we'll be traveling everywhere in a Fiat 500.
From Friday, it's down to business at the circuit, for the floodlit season opener at the Losail circuit. I have made no secret of my personal aversion to the night race at Qatar, yet everyone who I have spoken to who has attended the event has nothing but praise for it. It may be that I end up undergoing a Damascene conversion at the sheer scale and spectacle of the event, but I am hoping my rational half will not be overwhelmed by what is, admittedly, an extraordinary feat of engineering.
There'll be updates daily from Qatar in the blog section of MotoMatters.com, and I'll be trying to keep everyone up to date on Twitter, while simultaneously trying to avoid bankruptcy through roaming data charges on my cellphone. Any tips from Qatari residents in this regard would be warmly welcomed.
But now to bed. It's already late here in Europe, and I have to be up in 7 hours time. Between now and then, I have to pack, sort my papers out and try and sleep. With the MotoGP season rapidly approaching, sleep is proving increasingly elusive. Plenty of time for that in November...