Rossi slips up, but MotoGP is a winner

Motorcycles

On Sunday afternoon I saw Valentino Rossi fall off his motorcycle.

I will repeat that.

On Sunday afternoon I saw Valentino Rossi tumble from his Yamaha. He was under no pressure and not in close company with any other rider. He wobbled under braking, turned in and fell to the Tarmac. I blinked.
The BBC repeated this occurrence several times, just in case we all thought we had imagined what we saw on the Bugatti circuit at Le Mans.

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Yes, the track was damp, and Rossi had just changed from a wet bike to a dry bike, but you simply don’t expect to see him make a slip in these conditions. The man is human after all. As was Michael Schumacher in his pomp. They all have their days.

Rossi was the first of many surprises in a gripping French Grand Prix.

As with all motor sport, the weather made the whole thing more exciting. Clever tyre strategy helped Rossi’s team-mate Jorge Lorenzo disappear into a huge lead while the recently underrated Marco Melandri came home second for Kawasaki. A tremendous battle for third between Honda team-mates Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso was settled in Pedrosa’s favour on the last lap, the Spaniard pipping the young Italian by less than a second.

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Rossi finished 16th and last, two laps behind, after no less than four pitstops to change tyres. Well, they change bikes, but you know what I mean. The battle for the World Championship is, to say the least, very tight as a result of this race on a grey day in northern France. Lorenzo leads by a single point from Rossi and Stoner. This MotoGP racing is so damn thrilling.

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I mention all this because I was interested to see how the BBC covers MotoGP in comparison to its new coverage of Formula 1 racing. I was impressed, just as I have been by the corporation’s treatment of the Grand Prix season thus far.

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I know little about MotoGP other than it is extremely exciting and makes good TV. I therefore rely on the commentary and the ‘expert’ observers. In both cases they are excellent, Charlie Cox and Steve Parrish helping me to get a very good grip on what was unfolding on the screen. Cox has a nice turn of phrase while ‘Stavros’ is typically pithy and informative. It’s a good team. The Beeb also has the race build-up sewn up nicely. Suzi Perry is just so right for the job, and she seems to be enjoying herself, excited to be in there among it all. In the pitlane Matt Roberts has got it under control – plenty of useful information and in the right place at the right time.

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We don’t have a BBC red button, but those with red buttons can watch the qualifying and the post-race chat as well as all the other races for the smaller bikes.

Well done the BBC I say. They’ve taken MotoGP from Eurosport and – for casual viewers such as myself – have done a superb job. They’ve taken F1 from ITV and made it just that little bit better. The Jordan/Coulthard duo was an inspired decision. I mean no disrespect to ITV who handed over an already excellent show. But thus far this season, both F1 and MotoGP have made for great viewing. For me, the bikes edge it on sheer excitement. How do those guys do what they do? Are they mad? Or brave? Or just skilful?

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So, The Doctor has fallen from his perch, but only by a single point. The greats always fight back, faster and stronger than before. I wonder how long it will be before Jenson Button is nudged from the podium? He must be due a retirement. And a mistake at Monaco is always costly. Even Ayrton Senna made one of those.

That’s what makes sport so gripping. Ronaldo shoots wide, Rossi falls off, and Button will falter en route to what I hope is his World Championship.

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