Misano, hosting last weekend's San Marino GP, is right on the doorstep of Valentino Rossi's home town – not that you'd notice, says Toby Moody in his latest exclusive insider's view of the MotoGP paddock news and gossip.
Moto2 championship leader Stefan Bradl was in the front-row press conference on Thursday afternoon. He was back at the front in qualifying as he enters the autumn of the championship and the most important races of his life. Just as he answered the first question fired at him, the German national anthem blared out of the circuit’s PA system in celebration of Florian Alt winning the Red Bull Rookies Cup race. You just couldn't have made it up. Upon sniggers from the delinquent journalists at the back, Bradl did raise a smile.
Back to Indy
Indianapolis has inked a new deal with MotoGP to stay there for a further three seasons after much back-and-forth negotiations between the track and Dorna. Many in the paddock love going to Indiana – and so they will continue to do so until at least 2014.
Return of a legend
Wayne Rainey came to the paddock as part of a European tour he's doing. Yamaha celebrated their former top rider in style with a dinner of former friends and mechanics. Perhaps one of the coolest racers in recent times made an appearance too – Luca Cadalora – and this cool-looking YZR 500 in red and white.
A bit of a poser
Misano is another one of those mad GPs with a small amount of chaos in the paddock with scooters, posers, fans, more posers, pretty girls trying not to dress up, more posers etc. The Rossi fans are out in their thousands urging on their darling, but surely the bravest little guy out there was a Lorenzo fan who sat right in the middle of the grandstand nearest the paddock wearing the full-on Yamaha Lorenzo gear. He was surrounded by a seas of yellow and red. "Uh-oh," thought a few people, but in the end both parties cheered the other. Great fun and great banter.
St Valentino’s Church, 46 Rossi Street, Tavulia…
Tavulia is Valentino Rossi's home town, just a few kilometres away from the Misano circuit. I went there on Thursday evening to investigate what it's all about, and thank goodness I made the time to go and look. It's a sleepy place that would otherwise have the odd tourist on a road trip drifting through, but no, this needs to be renamed Rossiville. Every tree, railing and wall has a 46 draped hung or stuck to it, most windows have got a cardboard cut out of VR himself waving from them, but the best has to be the church window that's got the nine-time world champion waving from it! That's the church bathed in yellow floodlights…
Seven premier-class titles, quattro formaggio…
Rossi's got a pizzeria there that he's converted from a house and which opened in April. A trendy shop in the garden there sells all the quality VR46 stuff you can imagine, with trade brisk. Inside the restaurant, there are real race helmets and leathers with lots of glass, chrome and black granite. It's all pretty cool…
500 reasons to support Vale
Rossi’s limelight was stolen for an evening by a friend of the Greek TV commentator for MotoGP who came over with his wife in a friend's Fiat 500 that was all stickered up in Rossi graphics. The attention to detail was exceptional with the next race on the bootlid. "I'm going to change the next race’s graphics before we leave the circuit on Sunday," he exclaimed!
For me the biggest laugh came from the village shop that also was rammed full of memorabilia and a picture of Rossi's overtake of Stoner at Laguna Seca in 2008. Underneath it was a preserving jar full of grit and dirt, a pass to that race wrapped around its rim. Stuck to the glass was a note: "Dirt of the legendary corkscrew with fantastic grip!" Always original are the VR46 fan club.
How cool was Suzuki's chrome special edition scheme for Álvaro Bautista? Very McLaren – but a shame it won't be back again before the end of the season. Or will it? Send those tweets and emails to the Suzuki team, folks!