Ride across Malaysia? Interesting. Police escort through traffic? Great. How about a MotoGP race to top it off? Pinch me now
If you\’ve read the article before this, or have any sort of general relationship with the internet and motorsport, you know that Marc Marquez was crowned champion with three races to spare. It was at Honda\’s very own, Twin Ring Motegi, where he laid claim to his fifth MotoGP title and seventh overall. Philip Island passed in the interim, where Yamaha finished 1-2 and Ducati scored a bag of points as well. It was in Sepang, Malaysia that Honda had to pull up their socks and finish the job then. World Champion is great, but the constructor\’s title was still up for grabs and that\’s just as important for Honda. Great time to join a bunch of die-hard Honda fans for a 500-kilometre ride across Malaysia and into race day at the Sepang circuit.
But first, a bus ride awaited, to take us to a massive parking lot, outside a stadium. Neatly stacked up there were close to a hundred Honda motorcycles ranging across various engine capacities and styles. The smallest motorcycle on offer was the parallel twin, CB500 in all its versions and the largest was the incredible flat-six powered Gold Wing. In between them were a couple of familiar bikes like the CBR650F and the Africa Twin. There was even the CB1000R in the mix, which should make it across to our shores soon, and the CB1100, which is Honda\’s take on a modern classic and happens to be one of my favourites. However, before we could ride off into the sunset, we were put through Honda\’s \‘Safety Riding\’ course with various motorcycles to make sure we had our basics right. Quite shockingly, none of the motorcyclists crashed and we were all deemed to be alright to embark on the journey.
I started off on my absolute favourite, the Africa Twin and over the next couple of days, switched several bikes to get a taste of the entire range. With a squadron of policemen shepherding us along the way, and every bit of traffic cleared out, the ride was a bit of a laugh. We blitzed past intersections and stop lights with policemen standing guard to let us through. I am not a big fan of riding in big groups, but this, I didn\’t mind at all. I just tried not to grin too wide, because I\’m sure the locals weren\’t very impressed with the proceedings. Just when I thought there was no way they could pull this off through traffic in Kuala Lumpur, well, they did. It is an opportune scenario for a Moses joke, but I am sure you\’ve got it already.
What did come off the ride at the end was a trip to the Sepang circuit, to watch the penultimate MotoGP race, live, from the paddock building. I have seen a single MotoGP bike before, and I\’ve witnessed a couple of Formula1 races, but listening to an entire grid of MotoGP bikes fire up and let loose is a different experience altogether. The noise is all encompassing and the molecules between your ears vibrate enough to make your vision blurry. And then there\’s the incredible acceleration, speed and, oh my god, the lean angles. It was delightful to watch a good ol\’ \‘ValeYellow\’ show, with him running away at the front of the pack. But, as always, you can never discount Marquez. After a couple of sensational elbow saves, he managed to move up to second and was hunting Rossi down. Honda fans had their hearts skip a few beats when it looked like Marquez was pushing too hard, with the bike wiggling about, and might cost them the constructor\’s title. But sure enough, Marquez prevailed and along with Dani Pedrosa\’s fifth place, locked out the championship for Honda with one race, Valencia GP, to go.
It was a bit of a surreal trip, this. Roads cleared out, sirens blazing through motorways and evenings spent among Honda fans discussing their bikes and the day\’s ride. Riding into the capital should\’ve been stressful, but it was only a heavy downpour that we had to deal with, the escort ensuring there were no stoppages in traffic. And finally, a trip to Sepang and watching our heroes lay it all on the line on a sweltering Sunday afternoon just completed the fantasy trip. Must watch for traffic lights now. Pinch.