Digital Edition Subscribers: Read Roadracing World Magazine Now >   |   3-Month Trial Subscription >
Roadracing World.com - An Online Service of Roadracing World Magazine
SHARE:
Nov 7, 2002

On Chris Peris' Wild Card Adventure At Valencia

From an e-mail from Fernando Peris:<BR><BR>Update on Chris's European adventure........Chris was granted a Wild Card 125 World GP for Valencia, Spain.<BR><BR>The FIM grants 5 wild cards for every event, in the 125, 250 and MotoGP classes, these wild cards are selected from applicants around the world and are selected on the basis of merit and who knows what else....Chris did not make the first selection and was on the waiting list if anything happened to the 5 selected. Something did happen: one of the wild cards from the 125 class had also asked for a 250 wild card and was granted the 250 wild card, so Chris moved up the ladder and was given a wild card. We found out on the way to Daytona, for the Formula/CCS event.<BR><BR>There was a lot to do and I didn't really know where to start. I had made contact with a Spanish national team called Team 3 Racing also known as Team Atheltico Madrid, before Chris was asked to do the Canadian National series with Honda Canada. I made contact with them again and they were able to provide a bike for Chris in Valencia. Their rider had also been granted a Wild Card.<BR><BR>We packed up all our gear and off to Valencia we went: Bill, Julio, Ari and myself, Chris, too.<BR>We had a 9.5 hour flight to Germany and then a 2 hour flight to Barcelona and a 1 hour flight to Valencia.<BR><BR>We arrived at the Communitate de Valencia on Wednesday at about 2:00 p.m. and met the team, they were all very nice and very professional. When we arrived there were two frames on the floor and I asked to see Chris's bike and the team manager pointed to the frame on the ground and said that's his bike...OK... I guess everything is torn down after every race and rebuilt, kinda scary to see a bike that way.<BR><BR>They asked about Chris's racing career on 125s and how much experience he had on an Aprilia 125 and I said he had never been on an Aprilia.<BR><BR>Valerio Sbarra (team manager) said in broken english, "this will be very difficult." In hindsight we should have tried to get a Honda for the race weekend but there just isn't a lot of people renting bikes for World GP events, so we did the best we could.<BR><BR>They put the bike back together again for Friday morning practice. 30 minutes to practice for a World GP doesn't seem like much, but the World events are not for learning how to ride. The other riders have been there for many years, or have at least tested before on the tracks.<BR><BR>Just to give you an idea, Chris's teammate has been riding since he was 3 and has been on 125s since he was 9, and is now 17.<BR><BR>The top racers have all been riding since they were babies, and we think if you start racing at 14 you've started young.<BR><BR>Anyway back to the first practice, Chris goes around the track a couple of times and comes in because the front end is chattering under braking, the team's not sure what the problem is and because of the limited time on the track to test, the best they could do was improve it a little with suspension set-ups.<BR><BR>Chris is still trying to get comfortable on the track and is doing his best with what he has. Chris never complains about the bikes and if they start, he'll try to ride them.<BR><BR>The qualifying session was a bit of a disappointment for Chris, as he had not qualified on Friday. The team was very supportive, saying, "to be able to qualify on your first time on an Aprilia on a new track with Bridgestone tires for the first time in your life, at a World GP, very few people could do that." I think they were setting us up for what they felt would be impossible. Chris probably would not qualify.<BR><BR>Saturday practice went worse than Friday, the chattering was still a problem. The faster Chris went on the bike the worse the chattering got and Chris lost the front end and crashed. No damage to speak of, but now Chris has to go into the last qualifier with only 1:20 of track time, pretty hard to believe.<BR><BR>The bike he had was a good national bike but not a World GP bike. The problems he was having are not unusual with a new bike. The difference is that usually you have time to set-up the bike. This was not the case with this event. The head of DORNA Toni Calvo, told me I should have let Chris go to a few National events first and not put him in a World GP first. He was right. This was the only chance we had, after this we had to concentrate on the 600s. I never really believed he would get a Wild Card ride anyway.<BR><BR>The first 20 minutes of the last qualifier on Saturday and Chris still had not qualified. The bike's top speed down the straightway is down 20 kms an hour. The best times are 229kms and Chris is going down the straights at 202kms...<BR><BR>There's only 10 minutes left for Chris to qualify. He needs a 1:46.38 to qualify and his best time so far is 1:48. He comes in for a tire change and a pep talk, the team manager says, "Chris this is it, you don't get 1:46 you don't race tomorrow, I don't care what happens to the bike, you (this requires a little visual, he does the hail mary cross from his head down and chest and across from side to side and then he just, twist his wrist and says pray."<BR><BR>With only 10 minutes remaining I can't even imagine what Chris is thinking, his bike is still chattering, he knows no other Canadian has qualified for the 125 World GP and he has 10 minutes to make it happen.<BR><BR>The reason I can't imagine what Chris is thinking is that the 4 of us Bill, Julio, Ari, and me are just sick to our stomachs with tension. I have never felt that tense in my entire life. Did I mention there are about 100,000 people watching?<BR><BR>As you probably know Chris did qualify, on his third lap out after his pep talk. We didn't care what happened after that, the crew, the managers and all of us reacted like he just won the World GP we were all jumping up and down and Europeans are very emotional. What a relief...................<BR><BR>On Sunday there was no pressure, Chris had qualified. For those of you who know what that means, how the race ended, would be fine.<BR><BR>Before we went to Valencia, I was told, by very smart and knowledgeable people, if Chris qualifies it's like he won the race and that's how I felt.<BR><BR>Sunday practice Chris goes out for 20 minutes, in the last two laps of practice his bike dies at 12,000 rpm and sputters. He come in and they try to fix what they think is the problem, a bad spark plug. The problem is they don't get a chance to test there diagnosis. It's now 9:30 a.m. and the race starts at 11:00, they start the bike and it seems fine. Heavy emphases on the seems fine.<BR><BR>Chris puts on his freshly painted helmet, by a buddy, Bert of Concept 5, the helmet has the Canadian flag on the front and the Spanish flag on the back, very COOL.(you gotta look good)<BR><BR>The team starts his bike up and the problem is back, they made last call in the paddock and we're all freaking out. It looks like Chris will miss the race. The bike will not rev properly, as a result Chris misses the pre grid they get the bike ready for the warm up lap. To bad, no umbrella girls.<BR><BR>Anyway, Chris gets off the line as best he can and after 2 laps has moved up to 35th position from 38th on the grid. The next 7 laps he's looking really good and has put quite a bit of distance between him and the rider behind him. The next lap would be the last lap he completes at Valencia, unfortunately he crashes when his front end tucks, he restarts the bike but the officials do not let him back on the track. It was very unfortunate because he was fine and so was his bike.......That's Racing, I guess......................<BR><BR>What an experience for someone so young, Chris has learnt what the highest level is like, I was overwhelmed by the differences in racing in North America and racing in Europe, if you had told me I wouldn't have believed it. Chris was asked to go from elementary school to University in 10 minutes.<BR><BR>Take Care,<BR><BR>Fernando Peris<BR>