For the last two grands prix, the movers and shakers in MotoGP have been dodging behind travel boxes, meeting behind drawn blinds in porta-cabins and trying to look inconspicuous in hotel lobby's.

It's that time of the season when contracts are being discussed or even drawn-up for next year and it could not come at a worst time for the people involved, who want to keep their business out of sight and away from prying eyes and listening ears.

It's only going to get worse for them because following those flyway races in Brazil and Japan they are now on the plane for Malaysia and Australia, still leaving no place in the paddock to hide and talk.

Rumours of reported sightings of interested parties spread through a MotoGP paddock like a forest fire in a drought. A casual good morning between two people on a race day can lead to stories of multi-million pound deals in the offing. Pit lane is awash with rumour and intrigue, which take almost as much time and effort to spread and digest as actually complete this current season.

In Europe it's easy to keep the wraps down. Motorhomes are the perfect private meeting places to discuss machinery, sponsorship and of course just how much the riders are going to earn next year. Away from Europe there are no motorhomes. The teams are housed in porta-cabins, which double up as offices and catering units. Everybody tends to stay in the same hotels, so casual meetings over a beer after a hard days work can soon be interpreted as so much more.

It all adds up to the fun and games and sheer hard work at the 'fly-aways', where suddenly the MotoGP family find themselves away from many of the creature comforts and facilities that we all take for granted in Europe. It also provides the teams with enormous logistical problems being away from their home base for six weeks.

The Barcelona-based West Honda Pons team are a typical example. Immediately after the Portuguese Grand Prix in Estoril last month, they filled 22 flight box containers with everything from the NSR Honda machines to the pit box coffee machine. Those containers were transported to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil by special charter plane at the start of the next week and will not return to Barcelona until the beginning of November, six weeks later.

Running out of coffee is the least of the team's problems and they have to cover every eventuality while they are away so far from home. The main cargo in those 22 boxes are four NSR 500cc Honda machines, all the spare parts which include two complete spare engines, 16 fairings, 30 exhaust systems and 30 different wheels. Also in the excess baggage department is all the pit box assembly and decoration.

So no space for those golf clubs or sun tan lotion, not that there would be time to use them in the hectic period that sees three grands prix in Japan, Malaysia and Australia in just 14 days. To add to the stress as soon as the boxes return to their home base in Barcelona, they have to be unloaded and then loaded almost immediately into the trucks for the trip to Valencia for the final grand prix of the season just two weeks after the race in Australia.

Become the member of a MotoGP team to travel the world, the recruitment adverts may say. What they don't tell you is there is no time to actually see or do anything outside the paddock, that apart from the weather could be anywhere in the world.

It's also tough for the riders although at least the next three races are almost in the same time zone. Their equipment also has to go in the flight boxes. Between them Alex Barros and Loris Capirossi sent eight crash helmets, eight pairs of leathers, ten pairs of gloves and ten pairs of boots. They will be hoping there will be no contact with the Motegi, Sepang or Phillip Island tarmac to send them dashing to the phone to order any replacements.

Tyres used to be sent by sea around two months before the races but such is the competition between the leading companies Michelin, Dunlop and Bridgestone that the majority of the Michelin tyres used by West Honda Pons are flown in for each race. However, one vital component still has the cruise style luxury of a sea trip and that's the fuel.

One thousand four hundred litres of Exxon Mobil fuel was dispatched two months ago for the four races. The team use around 350 litres per race while 50 litres of Mobil1 lubricants went with the fuel.

Please believe the postcards you get from exotic locations telling loved ones back home, that the next three weeks is no holiday. It's a real slog across the globe for the teams while those movers and shakers will just have to be as discreet as possible in finding a place to talk, perhaps even negotiate but definitely not sign.

They can't wait for the race in Valencia.

 

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