I started university in September 2014. And it was in my first Creative Writing class where I met my best friend, Emily. Emily is honestly one of the strangest people I have ever met but she’s so funny. It was only in our second year that I realised I can get her to fan girl about something I never expected from her, Motorbikes. More to the point Motorbike racing. I know, I didn’t really realise it was a big thing. And after revealing to her I used to think Valentino Rossi was a Formula 1 driver, and lots of glares for several hours afterwards I thought, why is the sport so small?
Anyway, as our second year and now our final year is progressing she’s making some serious headway in that area. She’s now a reporter (basically she harasses people and hopes they’ll talk to her – her words not mine)! As her best friend, I am so proud of her. And so that we had more to talk about and so I could understand what was happening when she was watching it I asked if she would help me understand. Of course she jumped at the opportunity to convert me, and its working – I can now name several riders and almost most of the time get their numbers right.
So for this assignment I really had no clue what to write, I will be honest. But all of our lecturers keep encouraging Emily with things to do with this sport, so I thought I would interview her to get her perspective on everything, and what she thinks of people who don’t know the sport as well as she does (or didn’t even know it existed, like me).
D: How did you get into motorbikes, and how long have you been a fan?
E: I’ve been raised around motorbikes. My great grandad used to ride, my grandad used to ride and my dad still does. I never really took much interest until a couple of years ago.
D: What are the reactions you get when people find out you are a fan of such a niche sport?
E: People really don’t get what it is and some people don’t realise that it’s a thing. Motorcycle racing is way more prominent in places like Spain and Italy because that’s where all the talent comes from. We have a lot of talent in the UK racing scene but it goes unnoticed because mainstream media seems reluctant to give it any coverage…
The sport used to have coverage on BBC1 but they seemed to stop for some reason. The TT races (something different to MotoGP) are covered by ITV4, but one has to wonder why a more dangerous sport is covered and not MotoGP?
D: How does it make you feel when people don’t understand what motorbike racing is?
E: Honestly it makes me sad (pulls a sad face) the British are really into their football – which I’m not knocking – but it means that more niche sports go unnoticed. If you mention motorcycle racing to a non-racing fan they’ll say “Oh yeah, Valentino Rossi – that guy from the drink!!” (The Monster Energy drink) and I’ll be like (pulls a confused face). You just have to read the damn can to know who he is!
D: Which is your favourite class? MotoGP, WSB or BSB?
E: I really don’t think I could pick just one class. They all have different things about them that make them interesting.
D: What is the difference between each one?
E: With British Superbike and World Superbike the majority of the talent is British. In MotoGP there are only 3 British riders. The current world champion of BSB is British, the WSBK champion is from Ireland, but the MotoGP champion is Spanish. The machinery is massively different too. You could go into your local Kawasaki dealership and buy the basic spec version of Jonathan Rea’s (2015/16 WSBK champion) bike. Obviously they use electronics which are just not available to the general public. The basic version of his ZX-10R will set you back around £14,000 (for the 2017 model) but the Honda RC213V (as close to Marc Marquez’s bike as your ever going to get) will set you back around £137,000! That’s your biggest difference.
Yes, I was just as confused with all that technical talk as you were!
D: Who are your favourite riders? You can have one from each class.
E: That’s hard!! My favourite in MotoGP is a toss-up between Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez but I also love Alex Rins who’s a rookie this year yay! BSB would probably be Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne, he took another title in 2016 and I was super happy for him! And in WSBK it would probably be Jonathan Rea because he’s such a cool guy and such a huge talent. I really want to see him win his third consecutive title this year!
D: How do you feel about the only publicity the sport gets is negative?
E: I don’t necessarily think the sport gets bad press, it just doesn’t get enough. When Cal Crutchlow (MotoGP) took his first win in 2016 the news got a tiny piece of coverage in the big newspapers. Even when Luis Salom died last year it only got a mention on the ticker tape on Sky Sports News.
D: What would you like to do to get more people interested?
E: Increase coverage!!! (Slams fist onto table) I really hate the fact that it doesn’t get enough. I think if media coverage was increased on the TV more people would watch it too. If you don’t have a Sky or Virgin package you can’t get Eurosport or BT Sport which means you can’t watch the racing. Some people don’t have that kind of money – they should bring it to Freeview!
D: How did you feel when you converted me?
E: It’s always great to introduce new people into the sport. It is niche and it needs all the fans it can get, so when someone new comes in and can experience the adrenaline and experience the sport it’s great!
On another note, I recommend you do watch the sport. It’s fantastic!
D: How is it to work in the industry and have friends in high places?
E: It’s really surreal to be honest. From last April I’ve started making waves in the industry and making contacts I’d never thought I’d make – from racers to magazines and everything in between! Everyone is so helpful and it’s a really friendly community, I have never met someone who isn’t willing to help me out or give me advice.
D: Tell me about your best experiences with the sport.
E: Going to the races is one of the best experiences you can have as a fan. You can watch it on TV as much as you like but you don’t get the same experience. Everything on the TV is flat, a crash happens and you go “ooooh” and then the coverage switches back to the race. But at the race itself you get to feel the tension – the way everyone goes quiet, it’s almost eerie. And then the sheer relief that washes over the crowd once the person that crashes gets on their feet, everyone cheers and claps and it’s immense. A feeling you cannot beat.
D: Do you have any exciting things coming up? Tell me about them.
E: I have, but I can’t say too much just yet!
Oh she’s so mean isn’t she?
So there you have it! My best friend is doing amazing in a sport that is otherwise male dominated and quite difficult to get in to. But I promise you, you will not be disappointed if you can access any of the motorsport races, I would highly recommend to watch them. They’re full of adrenaline and will leave you on the edge of your seat.
Guest blog. Words by Dana Halladay.