Ameet Rajnikar shares his once in a lifetime experience at the grand Moto GP.
The FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix is the grandest event in motorbike racing, in which hordes of fans from around the world flock to the scene to experience the exciting sport. Few Nepalis are so lucky, but Ameet Rajnikar was there and he shares the blissful moment with Avantika Shrestha.
Where does your passion for bikes and biking come from?
AR: Since I was a kid, I was into biking. I mean, I started biking around the age of 14. I was born in Birgunj and at the time there wasn’t much for biking as a sport, but I was still very much into it. I used to do dirt-biking a lot as my friend had a dirt bike which I could borrow. It just happened; I started doing all kinds of stunts and my interest in dirt-biking only grew.
So, how was the whole Moto GP experience?
AR: The experience of Moto GP is something that you cannot describe in words. It’s just simply wow. You learn a lot, coming from Nepal and going to a world renowned race. It’s like, you like doing something and you finally get a place, a hub where you can meet the world’s fastest people and you meet all these people from all over the world who share your passion. It’s a huge thing. We normally look at a motorbike as simply a bike but there it’s so much more in-depth and technical. In ten minutes they can open up the entire bike and check each and every part. Here, people just clean the bike and that’s it. Over there though, they change the entire bike, making sure it’s in tip-top shape. They take the whole thing apart, wash it with a liquid, dry it off and then put it back together again. In a race like this, even 0.1g counts as weight matters a lot when it comes to racing. You could say, 1 kg less equals to 1 horsepower more. In a race, having even half a kg less weight than the opponent can be your winning factor, especially when the race is in a straight line. You don’t see that keenness to detail in Nepal.
I mean, racing is more than just riding your bike through an empty road. There are a lot of details to look into, like suspension tuning. A lot of people here use Indian bikes and have little to no knowledge about it but the rise of super-motorcycles has slowly made people more aware of this. Seeing the dedication and keenness to details at the Moto GP made my experience there heaven-like. Another example is how they heat the tires; heating them to a certain degree to ensure the best performance. It was something new for me. You also meet a lot of different people there; I met someone from Super Moto GP, who became a good friend.
How did this even happen, getting this incredible opportunity to meet all these renowned racers and attend the Moto GP?
AR: I went through NASA Nepal. The great thing about going through them is that I got a pass that let me roam around the whole area freely. I got to watch the bikes, the detailing of the bikes and the whole process of cleaning them.
Could an average Nepali on his/her own share your experience as well?
AR: The ticket itself is very expensive. To get a normal Grand Slam ticket would cost you around 99 Euros. Now the VIP pass is way more expensive, I think around $1500 to $2000. For people from Nepal, I would recommend the Malaysian track, the Sepang Circuit. Every year they test the bikes there. It’s really good for testing bikes because of the weather and also because they have straight lines and other technical that you can test a bike on. And the competition is also very tough there. Another alternative would be the Losail Circuit in Qatar.”
What was it like meeting all the racers and getting their signatures as well?
AR: I never thought I’d go and get everyone’s signatures. I mean, it took around four days to get all of their signatures. I had just bought this helmet at the time. Initially, I thought about buying a Chinese helmet for the signatures because I knew I wouldn’t wear the helmet after it got signed. I mean, it becomes a collectible after it’s signed. But I can’t get these legends to sign a Chinese helmet. I am a guy who loves to motorbike and I would not love to have all those signatures on a cheap Chinese helmet. This helmet was an investment, so why not dedicate it to my idols. I went there and I immediately started looking for Nicky Hayden. When I met him I was like, wow. He’s a very nice guy, not to in your face. When I met him, I was star struck. He called me up into his cabin and we talked and I didn’t know what to do, so I started taking everything from my phone to my helmet to get them signed.
After I got his signature, I thought why not get some signatures from Ducati riders as well since I am a huge fan of Ducati. I had to wait two to three hours as there were so many people. You have to wait in line. The only place you can meet them is going from the paddock stand to their personal cabinets. Sometimes, you have to sacrifice one of your riders. They’re going to be tired and tense, so you got to respect them and patiently wait in the queue. Sometimes they might not sign anything for you. The first day I got two signatures, the second day I got four. If you’re a really big fan, then wait for it. Once I went early in the morning because I knew they would rest the whole day.
And whose signature was the hardest to get?
AR: The hardest signature to get was Valentino Rossi. He was surrounded by bodyguards and he had a huge crowd of fans and you really had to squeeze your way through this crowd. I mean, I only got his signature on the day of the race.”
Is there anything you’d like to say to Nepali bikers out there?
AR: In Nepal, I’d like to suggest to the riders that it’s a road, not a track. On a track, you don’t have anyone to look out for or any obstacles in your way. Nepal is a place where there is loads of traffic and you don’t know where or what will come in your path. I mean, people will cross the road without a care in the world. So, please be careful and wear a good helmet, preferably a full faced helmet.”