Nick’s Blog

LAWN MOWER AND PARISH NEWS REPLACE VALE AND MARC

I’d be lying to say I do not feel a bit strange at the moment as the new MotoGP season beckons. For the first time in 38 years I’m not involved but I’ve filled the time in by buying a lawn mower and writing features for the Cumnor Parish News. I’ve also had a bit of a think what I will miss most about not being in Qatar for that opening race in three weeks’ time.

Saturday and Sunday breakfasts at Ducati where they called me Uncle Albert from Only Fools and Horses. Best scrambled eggs in the world.

The very British IRTA enclave in the paddock with cups of tea and British television on tap. Keith Huewen from BT Sport was a great tea maker.

Watching Premier League football with Matt Birt and Steve Day in Alpine Stars Hospitality on Saturday nights while discussing the fortunes of Cornish Pirates Rugby Club with Jeremy Appleton over a beer. It was always good if Arsenal and Leicester won and Spurs lost.

Alerting the Manchester – based studio of BBC World Service it was time to put the kettle on because I always rang at tea time, 15.00 on a Sunday afternoon with the race report.

Sneaking a read of the free copy of the Daily Mail on British Airways flights without Gavin Emmett from BT Sport noticing.

Suppressing uncontrollable laughter when somebody, often myself, had produced a rather nasty smell in the commentary box. Very childish but very funny.

Remembering Dylan’s name down in pit lane.

Practicing the pronunciation of the name of the Tissot Representative who was awarding the Qualifying watch winners, with MotoGP Media Manger Frine Velilla. I still got it wrong.

Checking the Oxford United full time score on my phone while the pole setters were answering my questions in the Qualifying press conference.

Locking myself in my office at Phillip Island in Australia when the python arrived to be draped over the riders shoulders in the pre-event photo-shoot.

That first cold beer on a Sunday night when work had finally finished.

Hoping that Valentino Rossi would not say f….. too many times in the press conference.

Trying to compose good questions for Cal Crutchlow because his answers sometimes scared me.

Trying not to say thank-you too many times to Marc Marquez in the press conferences.

So many great bars and restaurants but must mention Don Pepe in Jerez, Isle of Wight Pub in Phillip Island, The Brewery in Brno and the Sami Sami hotel bar and street food in Malaysia to name but a few.

Trying to keep up with Matt Birt as he strode through airports like Usain Bolt at a million miles per hour. It was something I never achieved especially on those escalators.

Being told to shut the f…… up in my headphones by Spanish producer Victor when the TV broadcast was coming to an end.

Staying at a Castle with a moat and drawbridge in Austria.

There are very a few things I won’t miss but seriously I’m already missing so much this truly incredible sport and the amazing people who work in it. That’s it, no more time for reminiscing I’ve got to trim the hedge and get that lawn ready for its first cut!

By | February 22nd, 2018|Nick's Blog|0 Comments

ILL – YOU WOULD HAVE NEVER GUESSED

The great thing about us blokes is we never moan or go on about it when the dreaded flu or in most cases heavy cold strikes at the end of January. I would not think of telling just how rotten I’ve felt for the last week and a half because we just get on with it and never moan especially to our partners.

However, while not moaning of course, it did give me the chance of taking a longer look than normal at some other sports on the television and in the newspapers. The superb three days of MotoGP testing went ahead in Sepang unnoticed and in most cases totally unreported which is no great surprise on the evidence of last season. The 2018 MotoGP season looks like another superb spectacle of close racing and pure excitement in front of record crowds and especially at the new Far East venue in Thailand. So how are the other Motorsport World Championships reacting and shaping up.

I was excited to find a double page spread in my favourite Daily Newspaper, despite the paper failing to mention Marc Marquez had clinched the 2017 Moto in their Monday edition after Valencia, about the Formula One World Championship. Would it look into new rule changes and plans to freshen up the sport they devote so many column inches to during the season. I was disappointed to find that while the Sepang test was not mentioned a lot of space was taken up telling us how Formula One was going to replace Grid Girls with Grid Kids this coming season. Some would argue replacing some of the complicated rules and making the racing a trifle more exciting might have been a greater priority.

Football rules in Britain and most of the world which is reflected in its wall to wall coverage. While not moaning of course, I even had to miss Oxford United’s brilliant away win at Charlton on Saturday because of my ailment, blimey I must have been actually poorly. One of the big talking points has been the use of Video Action Replays in certain games to check if the ball has crossed the line and important offside positions. The trouble was it took a long time for the video referee back in the studio on some distant trading estate to make the final decision. It was a bit like not letting the riders onto the rostrum because VAR had still not decided the winner. It will work in football with a bit of fine tuning and you only have to look how Tissot’s instant finish line pictures determine race and rostrum finishers in MotoGP.

I watched and marvelled at the unbelievable play of Roger Federer in the Australian Open Tennis. What an athlete and competitor showing as much unbridled enthusiasm and pure joy of playing his chosen sport as a young teenager in his very first season. It all has a familiar ring to it. Swap the tennis court to the race track and there stands Valentino Rossi. Proper sporting legends are few and far between and these two are right up there with the gods of their chosen profession.

Finally I love cricket and during the last couple of weeks have tried to recoup the considerable amount of cash I owe Jerry Burgess, Rossi’s former Crew Chief. For over a quarter of a century we have always bet of the England /Australia Ashes series and I think I’ve paid him enough cash to finance his times with Honda, Ducati and Yamaha all put together and this year looks no exception. Don’t worry I’ll get the call from Adelaide reminding me of the exact amount.

By the way thanks for asking and I’m feeling much better now. Not that you would have ever known I’d been ill.

By | February 8th, 2018|Nick's Blog|3 Comments

THE AUDACITY TO ORGANISE THE COLLEGE GIRLS SPRING BREAK

This is a message to all those lucky people on the long flight to Sepang for the first MotoGP test of the 2018 season. Back in the day long before official test sessions for all the teams had been dreamed of we were sent to Daytona for the 200 miler event, which many of the top grand prix riders used as a pre-season test.

What a nightmare assignment it was as I’m am sure you can imagine. Two long weeks in the Florida sunshine at the end of February having to watch 750cc missiles race round the most famous piece of banked tarmac in the world. To make matters even worse you had to watch and yes even report on Supercross and short track racing, while witnessing more Harley Davidsons than you’d ever seen in your life parade up and down the Daytona strip every warm evening before enjoying more than one cool beer. Would you believe on a couple of occasions they even had the audacity to organise the college girls spring break at the same time of the races, now just how inconsiderate was that.

One year I even had to share a room with a colleague. The fact that it was enormous and overlooked the massive long beach with the sound of the Atlantic Ocean luring you to sleep each night, or in most cases early morning, was irrelevant. After so much hard work some nights it was difficult to take an early night because the band and particularly the girl lead singer who both looked and sounded like Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac for you youngsters) were too loud. They played in the bar of the hotel five nights a week, not that we went to the bar on that many occasions in those 14 tough days. On another occasion our sleep was interrupted when they launched a moon rocket from nearby Cape Canaveral, just another thing to moan about to my editor on return to a cold wet England in early March.

At the circuit some days you often had to keep out of the sun while watching a young Freddie Spencer in action for the first time on the four-stroke Honda taking on the likes of Kenny Roberts and Graeme Crosby on those frightenly quick 750cc Yamahas that would twitch and wriggle at over 150 mph on the banking.

It was a nightmare and you people on that long flight to Sepang just don’t know how lucky you are!

By | January 25th, 2018|Nick's Blog|4 Comments

OVER TWO AND A HALF MILLIONS FANS CAN’T BE WRONG

I’m so naive about believing facts and statistics. Like many people I’m happy to use them when they suit my purpose and to hide them when they don’t while not really knowing deep down if to believe them or not. However, I do believe the facts produced by Dorna regarding last year’s MotoGP World Championship because I was there first hand to check. I’m not pretending that I spent every race weekend counting the number of spectators in the grandstands on my fingers but I’m not surprised that the average attendance for each race weekend was just under 150,000 and was in fact 148,100.

It’s a staggering figure which was rarely eclipsed by any other 18 round World Championship in any sport and certainly in any other form of Motorsport. Two million six hundred and sixty five thousand eight hundred and six fans witnessed the action last year despite rain at some stage of the three day race weekend at 11 of the 18 events.

The final showdown of the season in Valencia attracted a sell-out crowd of 110,220 fans on race day and a weekend attendance of 209,707 to witness Marc Marquez capture a memorable championship. The Red Bull Ring in Austria was jam packed with 201,589 MotoGP fans which was around three times bigger than the attendance for their Formula One event. Sepang in Malaysia staged its last Formula One race for the time being while the MotoGP race brought in nearly 100,000 race day fans despite the rain.

Despite all the uncertainty about its future The British Grand Prix at Silverstone still attracted a weekend crowd of over 128,00 which should increase this year with Silverstone endorsing it’s faith in the event. Another venue looking for an increase is the legendary Sachsenring in Germany. Despite a date change which affected the ticket sales nearly 165,000 fans watched their local hero Jonas Folger finish second.

Naïve I may be about attendance statistics but I do understand they are a true indication just what a great show MotoGP produces for the masses. The equally impressive social media figures are more of a grey area for a grey head like me but on good authority, by people considerably younger than myself, I’m told they are equally impressive – I have to believe them.

The official MotoGP web site attracted 70 million visits, 24 million unique users with 208 million pages being visited which sounds like a lot to me. Facebook attracted 12.7 million fans, Instagram 4.9 million followers, Twitter 2.3 million followers and YouTube 1.2 million subscribers. The new MotoGP eSport Championship was a massive success with 25 million video views, 2.8 million engagements and a reach of 75.5 million.

The worldwide success of MotoGP is a clear indication that by producing a spectacle that excites and stimulates the fans whether at the venue, on the television or social media is the key to success. Build the infrastructure round the principle that the product has to be right before you can gain the benefits – Other sports should take notice and follow their example.

By | January 18th, 2018|News and Events, Nick's Blog|1 Comment

THE TWELVE DAYS OF MOTOGP CHRISTMAS

On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me:

Zarco’s debut podiums three.

 

On the second day of Christmas my true love sent to me:

Second place for Dovi

Zarco’s debut podiums three.

 

On the third day of Christmas my true love sent to me:

Three wins for Maverick

Second place for Dovi etc …….

 

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love sent to me:

4.9 million Instagram followers

Three wins for Maverick etc ……….

 

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love sent to me:

Five gold Rins

4.9 million Instagram followers etc…….

 

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love sent to me:

Six Franco poles

Five gold Rins etc ……

 

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me:

Seven Sepang swimmers

Six Franco poles etc ……..

 

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love sent to me:

Marc’s eight Tissot watches

Seven Sepang swimmers etc …..

 

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love sent to me:

Nine Luca’s coaching

Marc’s eight Tissot watches etc …….

 

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love sent to me:

Ten Joan’s winning

Nine Luca’s coaching etc ……..

 

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me:

150,000 fans at each grand prix

Ten Joan’s winning etc ……..

 

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love sent to me:

12 European venues

150,000 fans at each grand prix

Ten Joan’s winning

Nine Luca’s coaching

Marc’s eight Tissot watches

Seven Sepang swimmers

Six Franco poles

Five gold Rins

4.9 million Instagram followers

Three wins for Maverick

Second place for Dovi

Zarco’s debut podiums three.

By | December 22nd, 2017|News and Events, Nick's Blog|1 Comment

OLIVER TWIST – NOT ASKING FOR MORE, JUST A PARAGRAPH

I still love newspapers – perhaps it’s my age but while my younger colleagues scan phones, tablets and computers to keep up to date, usually when we are eating, I still like the rustle of news print. My delight on a MotoGP weekend is to find an English newspaper at the airport on Monday morning and spend the flight home scanning the page of football results, often to the annoyance of the passenger next to me who is busily checking the news on his tablet causing no inconvenience to anybody.

 

So imagine after the memorable Valencia weekend I arrived at the airport on Monday morning, nursing a sore head, to find a copy of the most famous English newspaper in the world on sale for four precious euros. It was surrounded by all the Spanish dailies with massive front page pictures of Marc Marquez celebrating his MotoGP World title. Rather than the usual football page I looked forward to reading what the esteemed publication reported from Valencia.

 

After all the Valencia Grand Prix was the biggest sporting event of the weekend in Europe and probably in the world. A championship still to be decided at the final round of eighteen, a weekend crowd of 209,000 and a race day crowd of 128, 00 was surely a clear indication just what a massive event this was. A championship that had provided 73 overtaking manoeuvres between the top six riders three weeks earlier in Australia. Certainly the social media following gave a clear indication the world was very interested indeed. Facebook reported 51 million video views from the official feed with 4.8 Million Instagram followers thirsting for information. There was no doubt this was a major sporting event.

 

Having parted with my four Euros I settled down for my favourite Monday morning read. I ploughed through two pages reporting on the Formula One race in Brazil although the championship had already been decided, pages of Rugby Union, ATP tennis and Ashes cricket. These are sports I love and thoroughly enjoy the coverage but where was the news on Marc Marquez’s win. I looked and looked and found absolutely nothing. I doubled checked and still nothing although the results were shown in the results section but not a word, line, paragraph or photograph from the race. For once the football results page was unread as my favourite newspaper for the last 50 years found itself on the rubbish bin at Valencia airport.

 

Apologies if the English edition did contain a report because when I got home my daily delivered copy of the unread newspaper also found itself in the rubbish bin. Perhaps those younger colleagues are right I need to change my reading habits to keep up to date with the real sporting news.

 

I’m not Oliver Twist asking for more but just for something. Just a paragraph would be a start. Otherwise that tablet could be top of my Christmas present list.

 

By | December 1st, 2017|Nick's Blog|5 Comments

Belfast Met Radio Interview 2016

The interview with Jordan Moreland for Belfast Met Radio talking about the upcoming MotoGP season:

Click the video below to hear the interview. Thank you to Moreland for a being a great interviewer.

By | September 1st, 2016|News and Events, Nick's Blog|1 Comment