BBC BLOGS - Matt Roberts

Stepping out of the Superbike shadow

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Matt Roberts | 06:51 UK time, Monday, 10 September 2012

With two free weekends between the Czech Republic Grand Prix and the next round at Misano, there has been plenty of time to reflect on a breakthrough moment for British motorcycling.

 

Cal Crutchlow's first podium in MotoGP was a first for our country since Jeremy McWilliams back in 2000 – and it feels good to know that's the last time I will have to reference that stat!

 

Many outsiders will think that it's about time we had some success in this sport, which has a huge and loyal fanbase in this country and has produced its fair share of top-class riders over the years – even though we have been waiting for a premier-class Grand Prix victory since the late Barry Sheene last celebrated at Anderstorp, Sweden, in 1981.

 

The main reason for this lies within the culture of motorcycle racing on a national level, which over the past two decades has revolved around production racing, i.e racing bikes you can essentially buy in your local dealership.

 

A thriving British Superbike Championship has developed riders ideally suited for its World equivalent and our success there – particularly that of Carl Fogarty in the 1990s – created the momentum that allowed other young British talents to thrive in that particular series, most notably Neil Hodgson and James Toseland.

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Rossi return should prove a real crowd pleaser

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Matt Roberts | 15:52 UK time, Thursday, 16 August 2012

After a short but enjoyable summer break spent, like much of the nation, revelling in the achievements of Team GB at the Olympics and enjoying the brilliant BBC coverage, it is nice to get back to work this weekend as the MotoGP World Championship resumes with round 11 of 18 in Indianapolis.

While I can't promise you emotion to match the Olympic Stadium, London Velodrome or Eton Dorney, on Sunday the world-famous 'Brickyard' circuit provides an equally iconic stage for talent that can rival anything those venues have had to offer over the past few weeks.

Watching Usain Bolt celebrating victory in the 200m final reminded me very much of Valentino Rossi at the peak of his enigmatic powers: charm, charisma and that rare ability to switch from crowd pleaser to ruthless racer in a split second.

Millions of fans around the world have grown to adore him because he's the funniest but also because he's the fastest - except not, in Rossi's case, any longer.

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Quiet man Dovizioso makes Honda pay

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Matt Roberts | 15:04 UK time, Monday, 9 July 2012

There could barely have been three happier faces on the podium at Sachsenring last weekend, with Dani Pedrosa sealing his first win of the season, Jorge Lorenzo taking an unlikely lead at the top of the championship and Andrea Dovizioso also benefitting from Casey Stoner's penultimate corner crash to take his third podium of the season.

It was with typical understated joy that Dovizioso stepped onto the box for the 19th time in his MotoGP career and his brilliant ride to hold off Cal Crutchlow and beat Ben Spies to third provided a timely reminder to factory team bosses planning for the 2013 post-Stoner shake-up that he remains one of the true class acts in the field.

As Repsol Honda scaled back from three to two riders at the end of last season, Dovizioso was in some ways unfortunate to be left out of the factory reckoning, but Honda’s loss was the immediate gain of Yamaha who instantly benefitted from his vast experience and famously concise feedback from the very first test at Valencia.

In fact, a good deal of the credit for the way Yamaha have closed the gap to Honda - and perhaps even overtaken them with the 1000cc YZR-M1 – over the winter must surely be attributed to Dovizioso's input.

Now, with Spies desperately struggling for form and Lorenzo with a championship to think about, Dovizioso's contribution to the machine's ongoing development will be vital.

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