When Javier Del Amor attended the 2013 Catalan GP as a fan in the stands on Friday, little did he know on the Sunday he would join those riders on track.
The 37 year old had not really made an impression outside of the Spanish championship, riding superstock machines for BMW with some level of support, but never really making the step up.
Hiroshi Aoyama was declared unfit to ride for the Avintia team following an accident requiring finger surgery, therefore the team needed a rider, and Del Amor fit the bill. He arrived at the track on Saturday on a street motorbike wearing street riding gear and a helmet used in the CEV season. It was the teams home race and they needed a rider, team manager Raul Romero said, “This race is the home race, very important for our sponsors. Ivan, our reserve rider, was injured and when I saw Del Amor I thought he was my man. I have known him for a long time and I know he is a good rider.”
Javier had his helmet checked over and was approved for use for the race weekend, ready to make his MotoGP debut. As you can imagine, it was a baptism of fire as his first time on the FRT-Kawasaki was the FP4 session, he qualified dead last, over 2.5s slower than the next best rider, Lukas Pesek, but within the 107% rule, meaning he could take part in the race.
Come Sunday, conditions on track were less than ideal. There were no less than eight retirements, and Del Amor navigated the tricky conditions to get himself a fairytale point, finishing in P15, albeit a lap down from the winner Jorge Lorenzo but ahead of the aforementioned Pesek, where others around him could not judge the slipperiness of the track and pushed too hard.
In an interview after the race, he said “I think I’m living a dream. Today was very hot, the asphalt was very slippery, and that’s probably why there have been so many falls. I had to be careful and took precautions because all I wanted was to finish. I don’t know what will happen in the future but this is a day I will never forget.”
“It was a surprise. I had come to greet the team and … the truth is that it is a strange feeling, because everything is new; from the carbon brakes to the tires, which here in MotoGP are Bridgestone, not like at the CEV, where I had been competing until this year. A very beautiful but also very complicated experience,” finished Del Amor.
Will we ever see the likes of this again? With the professionalism of the teams and the lack of CRT machines now, it is probably very unlikely, meaning Del Amor will always be remembered by some as the rider who started the weekend in the stands, and finished it as a MotoGP point scorer.
Featured image – www.motogp.com