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Broc Parkes on a lengthy Qatar adventure

Broc Parkes on a lengthy Qatar adventure

Qatar 2014 will forever live on in the memory of Broc Parkes. He may have benefitted from some attrition in the Grand Prix, but the PBM rider overcame a cancelled flight and distinct lack of sleep en route to Sunday’s 15th position…

Parkes may be a new name in the MotoGP™ class, but the Australian is in fact a returnee to the World Championship. His single previous outing came in 125s at Phillip Island back in 1999, struggling badly with a lack of top speed – something he now finds amusing, almost 15 years later.

Fast-forwarding to 2014: as if the pressure of a MotoGP™ debut wasn’t enough to deal with, the 32-year-old from New South Wales was presented with a series of frustrations in just getting himself to Doha for the season-opening race.

"First of all, air traffic control in France was on strike," Parkes laughs. "Living in Andorra, I had to drive to Barcelona airport for a pretty long journey to Doha via London Heathrow. Because of the strike, the Heathrow flight was cancelled. Then I discovered that there was a direct flight to Doha from Barcelona! So I was booked onto that, but it meant waiting around in the airport for four or five hours. Actually, the whole Qatar weekend is very tiring; not only is it spread over four days, but you get back to the hotel in darkness and go back out when it’s dark again."

Pace-wise, PBM were not expecting spectacular results at Round 1, with Parkes himself looking to battle with team-mate Michael Laverty and IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci for honours at the tail-end of the field.

"We had a bit of a count on Saturday to see where I was on the grid, how many people I could finish in front of and how many had to go out in order to score a point," he continues. "It was a very long shot! We always try and dream about it, of course. Suddenly, at one point in the race I saw on the pit board that I was P16 and towards the end I thought to myself, ‘Wow, if just one more guy goes out we’re on for a point!’ But that ‘16’ stayed on my board for the whole race…just one position off the points. Then I get back to the pit lane. Birdy (Paul Bird, team owner) grabs me in the box and says ‘You scored a point!’"

In actual fact, the whole team had been confused as to whether Parkes was running in 15th or 16th position. This was due to a transponder problem on Cal Crutchlow’s Ducati, meaning the Englishman’s name was jumping up and down the timesheets even though he was inside the top ten for the duration of the race. Parkes’ promotion to 15th place came as Alvaro Bautista crashed out of third on the penultimate lap.

"I am well happy for the boys," Parkes carries on. "It’s pretty cool to score a point in your first GP – it has brought the whole team up. Things haven’t been very easy lately because we were quite late getting the bikes together and the whole programme was a bit delayed. The guys have been working double time to try and get it all ready. It is a real relief for them and we have begun the season on a positive note."

After reaching cloud nine on Sunday, Parkes was brought back down to earth almost immediately after leaving Qatar, with more airport-related troubles...

"On the way back, I had a stop over in Bahrain and then in London, then finally arrived back in Barcelona…but with no bag! The airline asked me to wait for three hours to get the bag into Barcelona airport. I said, ‘No way!’ I couldn’t wait to get home and I had a three-hour drive in front of me back to Andorra. By the end of the week I was still waiting for the bag…"

PBM’s earning of a World Championship point in Qatar was its first since Yonny Hernandez finished 15th at Laguna Seca last year. Incidentally, the missing Broc Parkes suitcase finally made its way back to the family’s Andorra home at lunch time on Saturday.

MotoGP, 2014, Broc Parkes, Paul Bird Motorsport

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