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RIGHT FROM THE START – TRIUMPH FOR TRIUMPH

Of course it could not have been anything but a Triumph victory in the Qatar Moto2™ race but it was still such a special day for the iconic British factory. Their first ever grand prix victory in a sport in which they were pioneers right from the very start.

Many people feel that this magnificent sport actually started at 10am on the cold cloudy morning of 28 May 1907. At that moment Frank Hulbert and Jack Marshall fired up and pointed their single cylinder Triumph motorcycles up a dusty track towards Ballacraine to start the very first TT race on the Isle of Man.The two Triumphs spluttered into life to begin a 158 mile journey around the St Johns course and motor cycle racing was born. Twenty three other riders joined the pioneers and just 12 returned to the finish. The two Triumphs finished second and third respectively behind the Matchless of Charlie Collier who took four hours 8m8.02 s to complete the race at an average speed 61.47 kms. A year later Marshall reversed the result over Collier to bring Triumph their first TT win.

When the World Championship staged its first ever premier class 500 cc race in 1949 at the TT races in the Isle of Man Triumph were there once again. New Zealander Syd Jensen brought the Triumph home in fifth place in the seven lap race won by Harold Daniell riding the Norton. Triumph had to wait 20 years before their one and only grand prix podium finish which finally came at the fastest circuit of them all. The versatile Test rider and racer Percy Tait finished second on the 500 cc Triumph behind Giacomo Agostini in the 13 lap 1969 Belgium Grand Prix at the magnificent Spa Francorchamps circuit.

On Sunday the revitalised Triumph factory made a welcome return to grand prix racing with their magnificent 765 cc triples screaming below the Losail International floodlights in a superb Moto2 race. At the finish just 0.026 s separated Lorenzo Baldassari and Tom Luthi at the finish. Triumph has replaced Honda as the engine suppliers in the Moto 2 class and there will be plenty more Qatar type races in the next 18 grands prix. Sunday was just a foretaste of the battles they lay ahead.

Welcome back to the big time Triumph. All we need now to complete the picture is a British rider winning on a British Motorcycle – Sam Lowes please take note.

By | March 14th, 2019|Uncategorised|Comments Off on RIGHT FROM THE START – TRIUMPH FOR TRIUMPH

Record there to be beaten?

It was the performances of Pecco Bagnaia in the first Sepang test and then Fabio Quartararo in Qatar that got me thinking; have any riders making their debuts in the MotoGP four-stroke era won first time out or even qualified on the front row?

The simple answer is no to the first question but yes to the second. One hundred and six riders have made their debuts in the premier class during this era, yet nobody has won first time out. Two, however, have qualified on the front row and one in pole.

Three Spanish riders have come closest first time out and finished on the podium. The first was Dani Pedrosa at his home grand prix at Jerez in 2006. Dani, racing the Repsol Honda for the first time after winning the 125cc and two 250cc world titles, finished second four seconds behind Loris Capirossi on the factory Ducati.

Two years later, another double 250cc World Champion Jorge Lorenzo made his MotoGP debut in Qatar. It was Ducati once again that won the race with Casey Stoner in the saddle. Lorenzo, on the factory Yamaha, was second five seconds down with Pedrosa third. Marc Marquez made his much-heralded debut in the premier class in 2013 with those 125cc and Moto2 world titles under his belt. Under the Losail International floodlights, he eventually finished third behind the Yamaha´s of Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi. Marquez did go one better than his countrymen Pedrosa and Lorenzo by winning the world title first time out, however.

I would have thought more debutants would have qualified on the front row. Perhaps taking a big risk on that one important qualifying lap but it’s not the case. Those two riders who have qualified on the front row have suffered very different fortunes since those impressive performances. Lorenzo followed up a pole position at that opening round in 2008 with a brilliant second place. He went onto to win three MotoGP world titles and fancies his chances to make it four this season riding the factory Honda.

Alongside Lorenzo on the front row at Qatar in 2008 was British rider James Toseland. The World Superbike Champion, riding the Tech 3 Yamaha, made a sensational start to his MotoGP career. He qualified in second place and finished sixth in the race and looked set to make a big impact in the premier class, but it didn’t happen. Injuries forced him to retire to pursue a new career in the music industry and as a television pundit.

Bagnaia and Quartararo step onto the big stage for the first time under the spotlights this weekend after impressing in pre-season testing. Can they re-write the history books by winning first time out? It’s a very big ask and just check out the previous 106 riders who have tried. The last rider to win on his premier class debut was Max Biaggi with victory at Suzuka in 1998 on the two-stroke Honda but records are there for the beating.

By | March 7th, 2019|Uncategorised|Comments Off on Record there to be beaten?

NEVER SAY NEVER

THE INSIDE STORY OF THE MOTORCYCLE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

BY NICK HARRIS 

PUBLISHED IN HARDBACK BY VIRGIN BOOKS | 23rd MAY 2019 | £20.00 | ISBN 9780753553855 

To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Motorcycle World Championships, the most dangerous and exciting sport in the world, legendary commentator Nick Harris, ‘The Voice’ of MotoGP, chronicles seventy years of drama, adrenaline, tragedy and celebration in a brand new book, Never Say Never. 

For 40 years Nick travelled the world reporting and commentating on MotoGP, and this rare privileged access has given him unparalleled insight into this incredible sport. From a motorcycle trip across Argentina the week before the Falklands war, to ignoring the apartheid travelling ban in South Africa, Nick has witnessed a changing world developing alongside the highs and lows of the greatest motorcycle races of all time. 

In a white-knuckle ride through the twists and turns of Grand Prix Motorcycle Racing, Nick Harris provides a new, mostly eye-witness account of the history of MotoGP, the battles and feuds both on and off the track, the remarkable personalities and the great tragedies of the sport from 1949 to present day. 

As a trusted insider, Nick got to know Valentino Rossi, Barry Sheene, Giacomo Agostini and Mike Hailwood as individuals. He saw feuds unfold, champions made and careers ended, and in Never Say Never, he shares the real stories behind the greatest legends of the sport. This is the book the motorcycling world has been waiting for. 

ABOUT NICK: 

Nick Harris has been a respected journalist, broadcaster and author for over 40 years. He is best known as a legendary television and radio commentator and presenter, presenting and commentating on the MotoGP World Championship for much of his career, attracting over 20 million viewers worldwide to each grand prix. When he announced his retirement in 2017, over 1.2 million fans tuned into his farewell video on Facebook, filmed with Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez. Nick is the author of several books, including the bestselling biography of Barry Sheene. His great passion is Oxford United Football Club, having previously served on the board of Directors. 

Twitter: @NickHarrisMedia | Website: www.nick-harris.co.uk 

Pre-order Never Say Never here

FOR ALL MEDIA ENQUIRIES CONTACT PATSY O’NEILL AT EBURY PUBLISHING poneill@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk T: 020 8293 8783

 

By | March 7th, 2019|Uncategorised|Comments Off on NEVER SAY NEVER

HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND A SAFE SUCCESSFUL NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL

Best Wishes,

Nick and Martin
Nick Harris Media Communications

We are not sending out Christmas cards this year and instead are donating to the Oxfordshire Charity for the Homeless

By | December 18th, 2018|Uncategorised|Comments Off on HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND A SAFE SUCCESSFUL NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL

COUCH POTATO

It’s amazing how much easier it is to commentate on a MotoGP™ race from your couch at home with a cup of tea in your hand. Why is it you see everything that is going on? Every pass, every mistake and every fastest lap just comfortably appears in front of you with such great clarity while in the confines of the commentary box with all the relevant facts and figures pinned on the wall around me, I could still miss things. I certainly now understand why viewers can get so annoyed and shout at the screen – Perhaps it’s that cup of tea that makes the difference. 

For the first time in 39 years I watched this year’s MotoGP World Championship from the outside and it was amazing experience for somebody who has been so involved for so long. It certainly made me realise what a truly unbelievable Championship it is. It’s absolutely made for the television viewer and very rarely have they switched over to watch its four wheel counterpart while any of the three Championship races have been on screen. 

Watching at first was so difficult but I got used to it and to the relief of the people around me stopped commentating from the couch by the time we got to Assen. I thought Dovizioso was going to win the title and just loved those battles with Marquez. I marvelled at Marquez’s ability to hang on and even pop his shoulder back into place when he didn’t. I so enjoyed watching that pure style of Lorenzo at last getting to grips with the Ducati and raised a glass to Rossi. Signing a new two deal with his 40thbirthday on the horizon, setting up a team that won the Moto2™ World Championship for Peko Bagnaia, cheering his step – brother on to his first grand prix win is the story of a true legend. I just wish he’d won in Malaysia. I celebrated that Moto3™ title with Jorge Martin after handing over so many Tissot Pole position watches to him over the years and woke up the neighbours celebrating Cal Crutchlow’s win in Argentina. I was sad to see the departure of Scott Redding and not just for those amazing haircuts. He’s done so much to increase the popularity of the sport in Britain since that 2008 win at Donington Park. Also the departure of the likeable Alvaro Bautista after an amazing career in all three classes.

Of course I missed so many things apart from the racing. Breakfast at Ducati, watching the football over a beer and discussing the prospects of the Cornish Pirates Rugby team at Alpine stars. The commentary box humour, checking how Oxford United have fared on my phone in the middle of the Qualifying press conference and of course the friendship and camaraderie that so long in the paddock brings.

Most of all I’ve missed that amazing feeling at 14.00 on a Sunday afternoon when the lights switched from red. That’s a unique moment that is such a privilege to have  experienced and can never be repeated.

By | November 23rd, 2018|Uncategorised|Comments Off on COUCH POTATO

Malaysian Grand Prix 2018 – Facts and Stats

  • This is the 28thmotorcycle grand prix event to be held in Malaysia
  • The first Malaysian Grand Prix was held in 1991 and has taken place every year since, with three different venues having been used; Shah Alam, Johor and Sepang.
  • The first Malaysian Grand Prix held at the Shah Alam circuit in 1991 saw a debut win in the premier-class for John Kocinski riding a Yamaha.  Italian riders dominated the smaller classes with Luca Cadalora (Honda) winning the 250cc race and Loris Capirossi (Honda) in the 125cc class.
  • The Shah Alam circuit hosted the event for a total of seven years before the Malaysian GP went to Johor for a single year in 1998.  The first Malaysian GP to be held at Sepang was in 1999 and this will be the 20thtime that Sepang has hosted the event.
  • Honda have had five victories at the Sepang circuit in the MotoGP era, including for four successive years from 2012 to 2015 – three wins for Dani Pedrosa and one for Marc Marquez. Dani Pedrosa’s win in 2015 was the last time that a Honda rider has stood on the podium at Sepang.
  • Yamaha have also had five MotoGP wins at Sepang, the last of which was with Valentino Rossi in 2010.
  • Ducati have taken five MotoGP victories in Sepang, including last two years with Andrea Dovizioso. The win by Dovizioso in 2016 was the first podium at Sepang for Ducati since Casey Stoner won the race in 2009.
  • Sepang is Ducati’s equal most successful circuit, with the five wins prior to 2018 equalling the number of victories for Ducati at Motegi.
  • Andrea Dovizioso won in Malaysia last year by less than a second from team-mate Jorge Lorenzo; the only time in 2017 that Ducati riders filled the first two places.
  • The best result for Suzuki at Sepang in the MotoGP era is fifth in 2010 with Alvaro Bautista. Suzuki with Kenny Roberts won the 500cc race at Sepang in both 1999 and 2000.
  • The most successful rider at the Sepang circuit is Valentino Rossi with six GP wins (1 x 500cc, 5 x MotoGP).  The next most successful, with five wins is Dani Pedrosa (1 x 125cc, 1 x 250cc, 3 x MotoGP).
  • The MotoGP title has been decided at Sepang on four occasions: Valentino Rossi (2003, 2005 & 2009) and Jorge Lorenzo (2010).
  • The eight Moto2 races that have taken place at Sepang have been won by seven different riders: 2010 – Roberto Rolfo, 2011 – Tom Luthi, 2012 – Alex de Angelis, 2013 – Tito Rabat, 2014 – Maverick Viñales, 2015 & 2016 – Johann Zarco and 2017 – Miguel Oliveira.
  • The Moto2 World Title has been decided at Sepang on four occasions: for Toni Elias in 2010, Tito Rabat in 2014, Johann Zarco in 2016 and Franco Morbidelli last year.
  • The six Moto3 races that have taken place at Sepang have been won by six different riders: 2012 – Sandro Cortese, 2013 – Luis Salom, 2014 – Efren Vazquez, 2015 – Miguel Oliveira, 2016 – Francesco Bagnaia and 2017 – Joan Mir.

 

By | October 31st, 2018|Martin Raines Blog, News and Events, Uncategorised|Comments Off on Malaysian Grand Prix 2018 – Facts and Stats

All news is good news?

My old News Editor used to drum two facts into us raw recruits – all news is good news and never spoil a good story with the facts. I’m not sure about either of them now and certainly not the first one after the goings on at Misano last Sunday.

Suddenly MotoGP™ was on the radar of the national media and they certainly milked it. Romano Fenati’s disgraceful act at Misano was flashed round the world on video and photographs in seconds. My usual Sunday evening snooze was interrupted by video of the incident on the national television news that had ignored Cal Crutchlow’s Grand Prix victories a couple of years ago. In the morning my favourite daily newspaper that could not offer a column inch in its massive sports section when Marc Marquez clinched the title last November, gave half a page of photographs to show their readers just what had happened in the Moto2™ race. Even in my local pub where the main topic of conversation is usually football and Formula One, Fenati’s action were top of the list.

We have to accept and certainly in this part of the world, to get MotoGP™ in the evening news or in the sports sections of the Daily Newspapers there has to be more than just a racing angle. Of course, it makes me so angry but I’ve had to learn to accept it. It just does not matter if we had the closest finish and sensational race in the 69-year history of Grand Prix racing, its Rossi not shaking hands with Marquez or his problems with the Italian tax authorities that will excite the news desks.

It’s always been the same story. Back in the seventies it was the front page revelation about the romantic liaison between Barry Sheene and Stephanie at the Kobenzl hotel on the eve of the Austrian Grand Prix that made the headlines. Understandably the tragic deaths of TT legend Joey Dunlop and Marco Simoncelli have received massive and deserved coverage. The alleged coming together of Rossi and Max Biaggi on the steps of the Barcelona podium and years before those massive fall outs between Phil Read and his team-mates Bill Ivy and Giacomo Agostini that have excited the media.

I’m afraid we have to accept it because it’s all part of the game, but it’s a double-edged sword. If we want more coverage bringing more interest and investment into the sport, we have to accept and in some cases even encourage these outside of the box angles. But there has to be strict boundaries. Going into the Aragon race this Sunday I think I would go back to my Mum’s favourite piece of advice when I was setting out of my life’s travels. She told me that no news is good news and I think we’d all stick with that this weekend in Spain.

By | September 21st, 2018|News and Events, Nick's Blog, Uncategorised|Comments Off on All news is good news?

British GP 2018 – Facts and Stats

  • This is the ninth year that Silverstone has hosted grand prix racing since the motorcycle world championship series returned to the circuit in 2010 after a gap of 23 years.
  • The first motorcycle grand prix event to be held at Silverstone in 1977 was also the first motorcycle grand prix to be held on the British mainland; prior to 1977 the British round of the world championship had been held since 1949 on the 37.73mile long Isle of Man TT circuit. The move from the Isle of Man was made mainly for reasons of rider safety.
  • The winners at that first grand prix at Silverstone in 1977 were: 500cc – Pat Hennen (Suzuki), 350cc & 250cc – Kork Ballington (Yamaha), 125cc – Pierluigi Conforti (Morbidelli).
  • The original circuit layout used for the grand prix from 1977 to 1986 was 2.93 miles long (4.71 km) and the fastest lap in a race at the circuit during this time was set by Kenny Roberts riding a Yamaha in 1983 at an average speed of 119.5 mph (192.2 km/h).
  • The British grand prix was held for ten successive years at the Silverstone circuit, before the event moved to Donington Park in 1987. The British GP returned to Silverstone in 2010 with a revised circuit layout measuring 5.9 km.
  • Kork Ballington and Angel Nieto are the two riders with most GP victories at Silverstone, each having won there on six occasions.
  • The only three riders who have had more than a single victory at Silverstone since GP racing returned to the circuit in 2010 are Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez and Maverick Viñales. Lorenzo has won the MotoGP race there three times: 2010, 2012 & 2013; Marquez won the 125cc race in 2010 and the MotoGP race in 2014; Viñales won the Moto3 race in 2012 and the MotoGP in 2016.
  • Cal Crutchlow’s second place in 2016 was the first podium finish in the premier-class at Silverstone by a British rider since Ron Haslam finished third in the 500cc GP race in 1984.
  • Yamaha have won four of the eight MotoGP races that have taken place at Silverstone, the last of which was three years ago with Valentino Rossi.
  • Honda have had two MotoGP victories at Silverstone, with Casey Stoner in 2011 and Marc Marquez in 2014.
  • In 2016 at Silverstone Maverick Viñales gave Suzuki their first MotoGP win since Le Mans in 2007 when Chris Vermeulen won the wet French GP. This was also the first podium finish at Silverstone in the MotoGP era for Suzuki and the first win for Suzuki at Silverstone since Franco Uncini won the 500cc race at the British GP in 1982.
  • Last year Andrea Dovizioso gave Ducati their first ever grand prix victory at Silverstone.
  • Honda riders have qualified on pole in the MotoGP class at Silverstone for the last seven years. The only non-Honda rider to start from pole at Silverstone in the MotoGP class is Jorge Lorenzo on a Yamaha in 2010.
  • In the last six years the only rider to win the MotoGP race at Silverstone from pole position is Marc Marquez in 2014.
  • Three British riders have won a solo grand prix race at Silverstone; Danny Kent won the Moto3 race in 2015, Scott Redding won the Moto2 race in 2013 and Ian McConnachie won in the 80cc class back in 1986.
  • Only three British riders have started from pole at Silverstone, across all solo GP classes; Barry Sheene in the 500cc class in 1977, Sam Lowes in Moto2 in 2015 & 2016, and Cal Crutchlow in the MotoGP class in 2016.
  • The eight Moto2 races that have taken place at Silverstone have been won by eight different riders: 2010 – Jules Cluzel, 2011 – Stefan Bradl, 2012 – Pol Espargaro, 2013 – Scott Redding, 2014 – Tito Rabat, 2015 – Johann Zarco, 2016 – Tom Luthi, 2017 – Takaaki Nakagami. None of these riders are competing in the Moto2 class in 2018.
  • Six different riders have won the six Moto3 races that have taken place at Silverstone: 2012 – Maverick Viñales, 2013 – Luis Salom, 2014 – Alex Rins, 2015 – Danny Kent, 2016 – Brad Binder, 2017 – Aron Canet.

 

By | August 22nd, 2018|Uncategorised|Comments Off on British GP 2018 – Facts and Stats

Snow, snow, quick, quick snow

Of course, riders worry about the weather before they go into battle but at the Austrian Grand Prix in the eighties, it was not rain or high winds that caused furrowed brows before the visors dropped. Snow and really thick snow was the problem.

The MotoGP™ riders looked up at the darkening sky as clouds amassed over the grid on Sunday – would the weather play yet another vital part on the 21-lap proceedings round the 5.403 km circuit that snaked its way through forests on its undulating journey up and down the hillside overlooking the city of Brno. This time those black clouds did not drop their contents and the asphalt remained dry throughout.

Next Sunday the riders will once again cast a wary eye over those magnificent mountains that surround the Red Bull Ring as they line up for the Austrian Grand Prix. Just ask anybody who was there in the nineties if it can rain, I promise you it can and very hard but snow in August, surely not a chance.

The Salzburgring was a magnificent venue but I didn’t have to race a fearsome 500cc two-stroke round the 4.240 km frighteningly fast undulating track that staged the Austrian Grand Prix 22 times. Magnificent scenery in the foothills above the city of Salzburg. A mountain stream ran through the tunnel that led you into the paddock and you’d walk alongside another stream that followed the wooded path to the start and finish line and the communications hut that was staffed with an iron fist by the apply named Fax Family who were very easy to upset, which we often did. We stayed in a great hotel in the lakeside village of Fuschl Am See, which is now the home of Red Bull. They not only understood why you needed to be on the phone at reception for a couple of hours to relay the race story back to England but would keep a supply of apple strudel and beer to keep you going on a yet another long Sunday night. Marlboro would stage a magnificent dinner usually hosted by Giacomo Agostini at the superb hotel half way up the mountain overlooking Salzburg before practice got underway on Thursday night.

So, a great place to work and spectate but it was the timing of the race which often was the first Grand Prix of the season that spoilt our fun. The Venezuelan Grand Prix had already been cancelled in 1980 because of financial problems and so Austria was due to start the new season on April 27th. Spring it may have been but some unseasonable thick snow – even for this part of the world – not only prevented riders actually tracing the outline of the circuit in the blizzards but blocked any chance of the trucks and motorhomes getting into the paddock. The first race of the season moved onto Misano in Italy two weeks later where Kenny Roberts was a comfortable winner. You would have thought they had learned their lesson but a year later on the same weekend practice had to be delayed for the opening Grand Prix of the season. You guessed it, because of the snow. Although the race won by Randy Mamola did take place.

Never say never but with Europe frying in the summer sunshine, the last thing on the riders mind lining up for the Austrian Grand Prix as Ducati chase a hatrick of victories will be snow.

By | August 9th, 2018|Uncategorised|Comments Off on Snow, snow, quick, quick snow

Czech GP 2018 – Fast Facts

  • Last year Marc Marquez won at Brno by a margin of 12.438 seconds from team-mate Dani Pedrosa. This is the largest margin of victory by Marquez in the MotoGP class.
  • At the Czech Grand Prix Marc Marquez is scheduled to make his 100th Grand Prix start in the MotoGP class. At the age of just 25 years and 169 days Marquez is the second youngest ever rider to reach the milestone of 100 starts in the premier-class. The only rider to reach this milestone at a younger age is John Hopkins who was 24 years 348 days old when he made his 100th premier-class start at the Chinese GP in 2008.
  • Pol Espargaro’s ninth place finish last year at Brno was the first top ten finish in the MotoGP class for KTM.
  • The two riders with most grand prix victories at the current Brno circuit, each with seven wins, are Max Biaggi (4 x 250cc, 2 x 500cc, 1 x MotoGP) and Valentino Rossi (1x 125cc, 1 x 250cc, 1 x 500cc, 4 x MotoGP).
  • Valentino Rossi is the only rider to win the MotoGP race at Brno in successive years – in 2008 and 2009.
  • The best result for a Czech rider in the MotoGP class at Brno is 9th for Karel Abraham in 2012 riding a Ducati.
  • When Valentino Rossi lines up on the grid at Brno it will be the 23rd successive year that he will have started in a grand prix race at Brno, and will be just the second circuit, along with Jerez, he will have raced in every year of his grand prix career. The other three circuits that have appeared on the grand prix schedule every year whilst Rossi has been racing (Mugello, Catalunya and Assen) were all circuits he did not start following his accident in practice for the Italian Grand Prix in 2010.
  • Cal Crutchlow’s win at Brno in 2016 was the first victory in the premier-class by a British rider for thirty-five years since Barry Sheene riding a Yamaha in the 500cc Swedish Grand Prix at Anderstorp on 16th August 1981.

 

By | August 2nd, 2018|Uncategorised|Comments Off on Czech GP 2018 – Fast Facts