Monthly Archives: April 2019

Be patient Vale, you will do a Tiger

America was so close to being the afternoon of all comebacks on Sunday. It started with golfer Tiger Woods winning the Masters in Augusta and ended with Valentino Rossi failing by under half a second to win the Red Bull Americas Grand Prix in Texas.

Taken heart Valentino, Woods had waited 11 painful and controversial years before getting back to winning ways on the fairways. The gap is nothing like as big for the 40-year-old Yamaha rider. His last Grand Prix win in America may have come 11 years ago at Indianapolis, before the hurricane and ‘white horse’ arrived, but it was less than two years ago he won for the last time at the Assen cathedral.

Those fighting second places at the last two Grands Prix surely have paved the way for some more Grands Prix victories for The Doctor. With three different race winners in the opening rounds before they arrive in Europe at Jerez and with nobody dominating the Championship surely his big chance will come sooner than later. Indeed, if the Championship continues in the same vein with the points being spread around every time we could be talking about the comeback of all comebacks for Rossi. He seriously could challenge for the title especially with a couple of Grands Prix wins to add to his incredible tally of 89 premier class victories. He is just three points behind Andrea Dovizioso in second place and that long-awaited race win at Jerez would put him top of the table.

While perhaps a little disappointed that Vale didn’t win on Sunday it was equally great to see Alex Rins win his first MotoGP™ race to give Suzuki that first win for almost three years when Maverick Viñales won at Silverstone. After such a tough injury-hit first year in MotoGP, ™ Rins has just got better and better in the Premier class and Suzuki has provided him with a race winning stead. It was also good to see Jack Miller back on the podium and performances of Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo show the changing of the guard at the front is being prepared.

I commentated on every one of Vale’s 89 Premier class wins, well not quite every one. I sat in the commentary box while he fought Casey Stoner in the battle of the Corkscrew in at Laguna Seca in 2008. I could only watch and not utter a single word because my voice had completely disappeared. Gavin Emmett and John Hopkins did a fantastic job describing one of Rossi’s greatest ever victories.

Rossi arrives in Jerez in a couple of weeks’ time in the form of his forties. Be patient Vale because I’m sure you will not have to wait as long as Tiger to stand back on the top step again.

By | April 18th, 2019|Uncategorised|Comments Off on Be patient Vale, you will do a Tiger

In Conversation with Nick Harris

Thursday 30th May 18:00 – 20:00 at Milton Keynes – Midsummer Place

Meet Nick Harris here in Milton Keynes (at the larger of the two Waterstones stores) at 6 pm as we spend the evening in conversation discussing the book that the Motorcycling world has been waiting for, “Never Say Never’

As ‘The Voice’ of motorcycle racing for forty years, commentator Nick Harris became the biggest star NOT on two wheels in the paddock, and his book ‘Never Say Never’ is his mostly eye-witness, white-knuckle account of MotoGP’s scorching seventy-year history….
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Tickets are available online and in store, only £3 (and give you £3 off the cost of the book!)

Further details: 01908 395384

By | April 15th, 2019|Uncategorised|Comments Off on In Conversation with Nick Harris

Family values

Legendary journalist and television commentator Dennis Noyes told me to expect something different when Nicky Hayden and his dad Earl arrived from Owensboro, Kentucky into MotoGP™ in 2003   – Dennis is rarely wrong. The very nature of the sport makes the MotoGP™ paddock a tough uncompromising work place. Lives, reputations and careers are at stake in a frenzied atmosphere of competition and egos. It’s not a place you would associate with family values and manners but, in addition to that 2006 World Championship, that’s exactly what Nicky brought to our world.

Nicky embarked on the worldwide adventure with his Dad that led to that ultimate MotoGP™ world title with enormous talent that had already brought him so much success at home. They arrived on new continents and in new countries to compete against the very best, battle-hardened campaigners and came out on top. Wherever they went they made friends with their humour and humility in their totally new surroundings.

Who will ever forget that first Grand Prix win fittingly at home in Laguna Seca in 2005 when Nicky picked up Earl for that pillion ride on the celebration lap? Who will ever forget that sunny afternoon on the Mediterranean coast of Spain when Nicky clinched the 2006 world title fighting off the challenge of Valentino Rossi in Valencia? It was one of those I was there afternoons and rarely in the 70-year history has there been a more popular win among the occupants of the paddock.

I only saw Nicky lose his temper on two occasions. The much filmed and discussed collision with his team-mate Dani Pedrosa in Estoril that so nearly cost him that 2006 World title brought a rare burst of emotion and expletives. The second occasion was more frustration than temper. Valentino Rossi had a habit of talking to the person sat next to him in the press conferences while another rider was answering questions from the audience. Nicky stopped his answers on one occasion to tick off Valentino that it was bad manners and the nine times World Champion took notice.

There have been so many great World Champions who have made that trip across the Atlantic to upset the European domination on two wheels. The likes of Roberts, Spencer, Lawson and Rainey may have won more titles but few have left such a lasting impression as Nicky Hayden.

In Austin on Thursday, Nicky’s number will be retired from MotoGP. I’m sure I speak for many when I say it may have gone but we will never forget number 69 represented that humility and honesty still had a place in this crazy world.

By | April 12th, 2019|Uncategorised|1 Comment

Where did that come from?

I think it caught us all by surprise. While theories that the closest ever top 15 finish at the previous round in Qatar was a bit of a con because riders where protecting their tyres have been expounded in certain sections of the media, Marc Marquez simply blew away the opposition in Argentina on Sunday.

It was one of his biggest ever dry weather victories and the 9.8s gap between him and the fight for second did not even show just what a difference there was between the World Champion and the rest. Sure he took the gamble on the soft rear tyre on the Repsol Honda but his domination over the 25 laps meant he was quite simply in a class of his own.

Winning at the highest level is an art and skill that only a few are lucky to possess. Racing at any level is all about winning. That is the aim of every rider competing from the humble beginnings of club racing to MotoGP™ and World Champions have the ability to do it whatever the circumstances.

A World Champion and multiple Grand Prix winner once told me that winning races at the slowest possible speed was always his aim. Protect the tyres, protect the engine and protect yourself was always part of his winning strategy. Today more and more protection of the tyres has to be a vital part of race winning strategy. The fact that it can produce record breaking close finishes like Qatar and controversy that boiled over between Rossi and Marquez in Australia four years ago is surely a bonus for the fans. For the riders and the teams, it’s just about understanding and then implementing the conditions and the circumstances to their advantage. For both the media and the fans it just adds to the drama.

When I first got the Grand Prix bug a long time ago a certain Giacomo Agostini was winning races on the MV Agusta by vast distances that were often calculated in laps rather than minutes and certainly not seconds. Ago was the true master and took full advantage of the circumstances but being brutally honest after admiring his brilliance and the glorious sound of the MV Agusta, it did not make compelling viewing.

At the third round of this year’s Championship at Austin in a couple of weeks’ time Marquez arrives with an unbeaten record in Texas. He will take full advantage of the conditions and circumstances to ensure that record continues to enable him to arrive in Europe with an increased advantage at the top of the Championship. If it has to be an Agostini style victory or a fight to the line after a tactical battle grabbing 25 precious points will be his only aim. Selfishly I know which race I would prefer to watch but I’ll never be chasing a world title.

By | April 4th, 2019|Uncategorised|1 Comment