Former MotoGP™ commentator Nick Harris looks forward to the return of live Grand Prix motorcycle racing
It really is a no brainer – queue outside the Supermarket in the rain with face mask at the ready on Sunday morning. Listen to your own voice yet again commentating on another great old grand prix or watch live MotoGP™. At last the weekend returns to some sort of summer normality.
Like other sports that have returned from lockdown MotoGP™ will be different in everything but actually what happens where it really matters on the track. There will be no crowd, little ceremony and celebration but this should do little or nothing to spoil the show. Some television commentators will work from their home bases which is really no different to how they have always watched and commentated from the television screen.
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Football seemed flat at first without genuine crowd noise or even with the ‘canned’ crowd reaction, which reminded me of that added laugher we got in eighties television comedy shows. After a couple weeks we got used to it and MotoGP™ has still got the most important audio attachment of them all. Nobody back in the studio pushing the recorded audio button at the appropriate or in some cases wrong moment, just open the microphone and let that glorious-sounding symphony of sound and passion fill the room. Those high revving four-stroke engines, the gear changes up and down, the scrapping knees and elbows on the tarmac and even the grinding of a footrest and fairing when a mistake is not forgiven will return at Jerez.
Of course, it will be surreal as the sun rises early on Sunday morning over the usually jam-packed party-loving hillside overlooking Angel Nieto and Peluqui corners and to discover an empty desert of sand, grass and total silence. The air horns, the flags and sheer explosion of passion and excitement when the gladiators arrive in the arena to do battle will be sorely missed but when those lights change at the start it will be like we’ve never been away for six lonely months.
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Television commentators back home will find very little difference apart from missing some of those certain superb paddock breakfasts before starting work. With the wonderful exception of Phillip Island, you are totally reliant of what you see on the screens. All the information you require comes from the live picture and timing screens although it was not always like that. Back in 1996 BBC Radio asked me to go to the studio at the imposing Broadcasting House in Central London to commentate live on the 500cc Czech Republic Grand in Brno. It was the day of the London Marathon and they needed some commentary to fill the gaps as the runners took on 45.195 kms of pure hell. Just one screen with live pictures from the magnificent Brno circuit. All was going well with Mick Doohan leading and his Repsol Honda team-mate Alex Criville hanging onto his back wheel like the proverbial limpet. I knew and certainly Mick knew that Alex would wait until that chicane at the top of hill leading onto the finishing straight on the very last lap to make his move. He did just that. They crossed the line side by side and I had no idea or timing screen to tell me who had won. I took the punt on Alex and his celebrations and Mick’s disgust confirmed I was right, but it was a total guess.
No such problems from Jerez on Sunday. The infamous turn 13 now named after Jorge Lorenzo has probably produced more controversial last bend, last lap finishes than any other slab of tarmac in the World. Hopefully, it will be those timing screens once again that help us discover the winners on Sunday.
Bring it on we have missed you so much and no finer place in the World than Jerez to herald the return.
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