Stars of the motor racing world turned out in force at Magny-Cours on Thursday, June 30th to witness a motorsport battle of epic proportions ¿ but the machinery concerned was a world away from the precision hardware found on your average F1 grid.
Held as a prelude to the French Formula 1 Grand Prix, the Alpinestars Mini Moto Challenge saw motorsports journalists, photographers, race team members and motorsport industry identities assemble to pitch their skills head to head, as teams raced 50cc Honda mini bikes around a specially constructed off-road track next to the Alpinestars hospitality suite.
Several F1 hotshots such as Kimi Raikkonen, Juan Pablo Montoya, Tonio Liuzzi, Jacques Villeneuve, Tiago Monteiro and Christian Klien all watched enthusiastically from the sidelines, as did other notables from the GP2 field, including Nelson Piquet Jr, Gianmaria Bruni and Mathias Lauda.
Freestyle Motocross magician and Supercross hotshot Travis Pastrana was also in attendance, as was snowboarding champ Tara Dakides, who together proved they were more than happy to strut their stuff on the miniature machines throughout the course of the F1 weekend.
At one point Travis even pulled a daring backflip on a stock Suzuki 110cc dirt bike, leaping off a ramp of earth of his own construction ¿ an aerobatic feat that brought a rousing cheer from all the four-wheeled talent present.
The mini moto circuit itself came complete with berms, jumps and hairpins all waiting to catch out the unwary, while torrential rain just prior to the event ensured the challenging conditions only added to a thrilling spectacle that won¿t be forgotten in a hurry.
However, only one team could triumph in the arduous 15-lap event, and when the chequered flag fell the honours went to the crew comprising former F1 test driver Patrick Lemarie, Jacques Villeneuve¿s public relations manager Yan Lefort and Villeneuve¿s physiotherapist Irwin Gollner.
The second running of the Alpinestars Mini Moto Challenge proved once again to be a hit for all concerned ¿ and it certainly showed that members of the four-wheeled motorsport world aren¿t shy of taking up a two-wheeled challenge once in a while either.