In the hours between the warm up and the first ever Moto2 race, the tension down the far end of pit lane - which housed the Moto2 teams - grew and spread, cloaking the garage and pits like spider web and creating an almost tangible resistance to those passing through. I could almost taste it in the air as I passed through the paddock for a final time, before heading back to the press room to watch the races.
Things had barely been much less tense shortly after qualifying the day before, when I bumped into FTR boss Steve Bones, head of the chassis manufacturing firm supplying the Aeroport de Castello - Ajo team of Alex Debon, and the FIMMCO Speed Up team of Gabor Talmacsi and Andrea Iannone. Bones, looking simultaneously delighted and nervous, with FTR's M210 about to be put to the test for the first time, spoke to me briefly about the way things had been progressing for the Buckinghamshire-based chassis manufacturer.
"Overall, we're pretty pleased with where we are," Bones told MotoMatters.com. "Alex [Debon] is on the second row and Gabor [Talmacsi] is not so far behind. With the times this tight, we're happy to be close to the front." The debut of the Moto2 class had shown up how little any of the teams or manufacturers knew about the class, though. "There's still so much to learn," Bones added, highlighting aerodynamics as one area that FTR felt they could improve on.
On that subject, FTR was watching the Speed Up team with interest, Bones said. The Speed Up team were using the latest FTR M210 chassis, but had fashioned their own bodywork and tail section. The side panels were based on the Aprilia RS250, Bones told me, and the tail section was a reworked unit from Aprilia's defunct but glorious RS3 Cube MotoGP project. "Mark [Taylor, the engineer behind the M210] calls the Speed Up bike a FTRilia," the FTR boss quipped.
Bones said it was hard to make sense of the times set so far, though. "The Moto2 class is still confused," the FTR boss continued, "so many riders are still chasing tires just to try and figure out how they work." The brand new Dunlop tires and the Suter clutch, the standard slipper clutch fitted to all of the Moto2 bikes, were both causing a few problems for the Moto2 bikes. "Everyone has chatter here, especially at the rear."
After the race, the tension which had permeated the Moto2 paddock had finally dissipated, and the winners and losers celebrated or commiserated their results. Steve Bones and his FTR factory had plenty to be happy about, with Alex Debon taking 2nd place, scoring a podium on the bike's first outing, while Gabor Talmacsi in 9th on the Speed Up machine. But for all of the Moto2 teams and manufacturers, there's still an awful lot of work left to do.