World Superbike TT-Circuit Assen The Netherlands: Memories

Vicki Gray World Superbike Grid Assen
Vicki helping Duyzers on World Superbike Grid Assen

This weekend Dutch TT Circuit Assen plays host to Race Five of the World Superbike (WSB) series. Normally, usually, I’m witnessing the phenomenon personally, live from the pit lane, or the starting grid mingling amidst the worlds best Superbike riders. In fact when I attended  World Superbike at Assen in 1999, racing my Ducati 900SSC, I was invited by then Ducati Press Officer Michele Morisetti (who photographed me that year during International Ducati Club races, for limited edition Ducati book via Italy!). I had full access and spent time in the pit box of ‘King’ Carl Fogarty and Troy Corser, yes I go back that far! In years to follow, I achieved my own status and ability through my company RaceGirl Motorsport where I had access to the press rooms, corporate hospitality VIP rooms (Honda, Ducati) pit lane and press office immediately after the race. It was so special and always exciting. Hanging out with the worlds best sports writers in the press room was equally exciting–these people knew how to watch motorcycle racing, what to look for and shared their years and years of knowledge/statistics on each rider, team and manufacturer. I always learned far more than any book could divulge and in less time.

Now, in Canada, I watch the race 24 to 48 hours later from an unrealistic distance. A melancholic mood overtakes me because, Im not there and being here, is so frustratingly disappointing.  By this time and date I would have already enjoyed a couple lunches in Ducati’s hospitality tent and several personal paddock tours (usually on his paddock scooter) with Giancarlo Falappa “The Lion”, Ducati’s honorary and renowned racer.

We were introduced in 1999 and every WSB from then on, he would send me SMS messages about one week prior to check on my avail and confirm my attendance. I’ll never forget the time he wanted to arrive early in Amsterdam and park his RV in my very narrow Dutch parking lot–funny! Even when I was in Brands Hatch and Sachsenring, we’d meet up–wonderful times!

Falappa and Vicki Gray
Giancarlo Filappa & Vicki Gray

When I partnered with Ten Kate, I also had opportunities to hang out and see data logging techniques with the team, chat with Karl Muggeridge and enjoy Honda hospitality with the friendly Honda Europe team–yes I know, incredible!

The first time I experienced the official World Superbike starting grid, actually being on it, was back in 2000 when invited to assist former Dutch GP500 racer Maarten Duyzers as he competed in WSB upon winning a WILDCARD. I had no idea at that time who Foggy and Corser were. I’d never payed any attention to motorcycle racing until I started to race myself. Walking next to Frankie Chile, Bayliss meant very little to me. Thank goodness my buddy Dave Goebertus produced a memoir photo book for us! It was special. It did rain; it almost always rains in Assen. Those two pics above are on a race day via the starting grid, the back of start/finish. Maarten did a great job and qualified which is what most Wild Card riders can but hope to do. Consider then Maarten was +/-46 years of age, a wonderful achievement when you consider the other contenders were half his age.

Ghisbert vG Assen on MOTORESS
Ghis on Assen WSBK

Now, this weekend, 2007, my very dear friend young 24 yrs. of age Ghisbert van Ginhoven is racing on his well deserved Supersport WILD CARD  his Ducati 749. This is a Ducati family. His father, Ab van Ginhoven has also lived a life amidst motorcycling–my dearest of dear friends, continues to send me text messages of updates. This since practise started on Thursday. He has qualified and is doing great. I know Ghis well and I know he’ll save his best performance for tomorrow — just like Rossi does.

The WILD CARD riders included Dutch Barry Veneman en Arie Vos and the pic above, Ghis.

I can’t find any World Superbike on the Canadian broadcast channels, so might have to miss it all together. It’s actually rather pathetic the motorcycle racing scene here in Canada. So tomorrow Sunday, my spirit will be in Assen. I’ll imagine the many motorcycling, manufacturer, racer, rider friends, hanging out talking racing, viewing racing. The Assen sounds, the excitement of race finishes. Me, I’ll be heading out for a ride on my Ducati 1098S and celebrate Superbikes the best way I can, from this side of the globe and riding one.
**Special acknowledgements and thanks to Willem Lute, Press Officer TT Circuit Assen for promoting and supporting RaceGirl ensuring/assisting accreditation.


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