Nick Harris

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So far Nick Harris has created 42 blog entries.

MR STEADY IS READY

I’m finding it hard to type with one hand because I’m being honest and have the other hand above my head. Come on; keep your hand down if at the start of the MotoGP season last year you expected Andrea Dovizioso to be challenging for the Championship going into that last Valencia round.

Like me you expected the charming Mr Steady Italian to be picking up a few podiums even poles plus at the best a win or two on the factory Desmosedici Ducati. After all some people thought he was lucky to even keep that Ducati ride ahead of his very different team-mate Andrea Iannone and his new team-mate, amid a blaze of publicity. was Jorge Lorenzo. There had been no real hint of the truly extraordinary 18 round adventure that lay ahead.

Of course Dovi has always been quick, growing up mini-bike racing on those infamous kart tracks that dot the Adriatic coast of Italy. You don’t win the 125 cc World title while still a teenager and finish runner-up in the 250 cc title chase before switching to MotoGP without oozing racing talent but was he good enough to join the great at the very pinnacle of the sport.

Early indications pointed to an impressive MotoGP career but a world title challenger, perhaps not. He won that damp British Grand Prix at Donington Park in 2009 for the Repsol Honda team but it was not until the penultimate 2016 round in the pouring Malaysian rain he secured that second win. In between he had done a great job for the Tech 3 Yamaha satellite team before joining the ailing Ducati outfit in 2013. He was the ideal person to start restoring the fortunes for that passionate Italian factory that had really lost their way after the halcyon days of Casey Stoner. They were ready to challenge for the world title once again at the start of 2017 when three times MotoGP World Champion Lorenzo arrived to spearhead their challenge- well that’s what we all thought.

So what happened to a rider that was always going to be remembered as the really nice guy? Off the track, friendly, honest and accommodating. Perhaps that was the view we also had of him on the track. We could not have been more mistaken. While Lorenzo struggled Dovi just grabbed the opportunity to show a level of raw aggression and sheer confidence his rivals and Marc Marquez in particular had never witnessed before. He was quite happy to meet the World Champion head to head in epic final bend confrontations. Those wins over the Spaniard in Austria and Japan showcased the fact he had taken that giant step from grand prix winner to serious Championship contender. It’s a step that few make.

Typing is getting easier with both hands on the keyboard after witnessing Dovi destroy Marquez once again in Qatar last week. I will not make the same mistake again.

Mr Steady – I don’t think so.

Dovi is ready and more than capable.

By | March 23rd, 2018|News and Events, Nick's Blog|4 Comments

CAMELS – NEVER

You will not believe me but I promise you we did see camels on the way to the circuit. OK it may have been over a decade ago but camels were definitely out there in the Qatar desert. Today it’s a very different story.

We assembled in the hotel lobby for our first day back at school. The new shoes still a little tight, the new trousers as always too long and the crisp white MotoGP shirts still hiding a couple of painful pins, after only being unpacked from their cellophane wrapping 15 minutes earlier.

Anything more different to a trip down the A43 to Silverstone or the road between Cowes and Phillip Island could not be imagined. No Green Man pub on the left or signs to the Penguin parade as the circuit signs give notice we are getting close. Central Doha and the road to Al Khor was more like a trip to Mars.

Massive and I mean massive glass towers filled the sky. You imagined you are in New York, Hong Kong or Dubai but no this was Doha and it’s growing before our very eyes. Extra floors seemed to be added every day and in some cases overnight, to the plethora of new skyscrapers that filled the skyline. It was windy, it was dusty with giant cranes swaying in the desert winds and then there was the traffic.

In addition to those extra floors, new roads, roundabouts and routes appeared overnight. The army of four wheel drive monsters that fight you for pole position at every traffic light, junction and particularly roundabouts lapped up the challenge. It was a nightmare just surviving.

We passed a massive railway station that no doubt will feed tens of thousands who will flock to the concrete fortress like stadiums that will host the World Cup in four years’ time. Again they just appeared overnight where there used to be sand and more sand. We passed the Pearl, a millionaire’s playground of luxury apartments before at last a diversion sign pointed to the Al Khor road and the Losail International circuit. No sign anymore of the petrol station that used to fill our hire cars for less than a fiver and the café and mosque.

Fourteen years ago when MotoGP made its first visit to Qatar on a sweltering hot 40’ Saturday afternoon this was the desert road to Losail. Today the landscape was un recognisable. The new Losail city loomed on the right, cement lorries queued to be loaded from giant mountains of white sand while the obligatory new football stadium was under construction, surrounded by clouds of dust.

I will never forget my first glimpse of the magnificent Losail circuit glimmering in the piercing sunshine surrounded by a sea of white sand 14 years ago. Once again it has all changed. Not only do the hundreds of floodlight poles signal its appearance a lot earlier but a few years ago a space ship style stadium appeared out of nowhere during the winter. It’s like a scene from Star Wars with this enormous space ship landing in the desert. I’m told it’s no such thing but actually a handball stadium but you can only dream.

Over the redundant cattle/camel grid and turn right. The entrance beckoned and the MotoGP season was about to start – Bring it on but shame about the camels.

 

By | March 14th, 2018|Nick's Blog|1 Comment