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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 June 2008, 06:28 GMT 07:28 UK
What's it like to ride a MotoGP bike?
By David Garrido
Newsbeat sports reporter

The British round of MotoGP is coming up this weekend at Donington Park, with the likes of Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner and Britain's James Toseland in action. But what's it actually like to go round the world-famous circuit?

MotoGP bike


Donington in the sunshine. There's no place British bike fans would rather be, especially those who follow MotoGP.

The Derbyshire track has seen some cracking races and in the run-up to this year's event, Newsbeat was given a chance to cover those two-and-a-half miles of tarmac on the back of a Honda Fireblade.

OK, so it's not a proper MotoGP specimen, but it definitely gave us the gist.

Taking Newsbeat's sports reporter David Garrido round was Ron Haslam, known in his heyday, and still to some these days, as "The Rocket".

Ron enjoyed a very successful career, starting off in the late 1970s and early 1980s, winning several British and world titles.

In eight years in the premier class (the equivalent of modern-day MotoGP) Ron had 61 top 10 finishes, including nine on the podium.

He's even a world speed record holder, and also passed his gift on to son Leon, currently in British Superbikes.

Ron Haslam and David Garrido
Valentino Rossi currently heads the MotoGP points table
Ron's in his 50s now, but he's still quick and you can tell he still gets the thrill from riding round Donington.

We got kitted up - leathers, gloves, helmet, boots - and waited for the circuit to be cleared so we could get our laps in.

We watched in awe as Ron effortlessly guided the Fireblade around the track a couple of times to warm the tyres up.

Then the instructions. Basically to hug him and hold on for dear life. Oh, and put my hands on the tank in front whenever we slammed on the brakes.

The first thing you notice as you pull out of the pit lane and into the start-finish straight is the force of the wind - and round Redgate, the first corner, it's not as if you're at maximum speed yet.

Then a superb view as you head through the Craner Curves - right, left, right, and all downhill as well.

Going through the Old Hairpin and towards MacLean's, there's a brief chance to catch your breath and admire the scenery before the big right-hander into Coppice, which exits on to the main straight - an almost indescribable feeling.

The helmet flat against my face, the wind almost ripping it off completely, we reached 147mph before braking hard again into a tight left through the Fogarty Esses - named after another motorbike legend Carl Fogarty - and into "the loop".

Ron Haslam and David Garrido
Faster, a documentary about MotoGP, was released in 2003
You've barely recovered as you go into the slowest part of the circuit, knees shaving the ground into the first gear Melbourne Hairpin, uphill towards Goddards and then back on to the start-finish straight.

Ron chucked in a wheelie for fun and then we did it all over again. Several times.

I was just getting into my groove as pillion passenger (sensing when to lean and how not to crawl all over Ron's back), when we pulled back into the pit lane - our time was up.

A thrilling experience, but here's a thought - the MotoGP lads on Sunday will be roughly 15 seconds quicker. Gulp.



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