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Huge honour to lead MotoGP coverage

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Matt Roberts | 11:04 UK time, Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Hello everybody and welcome to my first blog as the new presenter of MotoGP!

It is a role I previously shared with Suzi Perry in 2008 and 2009, when I took over for the extra European rounds, so it is not entirely new to me but it is still a big step and a huge honour to be given the job on a full-time basis.

I have worked in the paddock since the start of the 2001 season and I'm proud (as well as a little ashamed!) to say I haven't missed a single race in all that time.

As a result, this is a sport I have developed a strong affinity for and the opportunity to share this with such a wide and varied audience as the one we enjoy on the BBC is an enticing prospect for me and a challenge I cannot wait to get started on.

This is the final year of 800cc motorcycles in the elite class before switching to a maximum capacity of 1000cc in 2012 so it is the end of an era. But it is also the start of a very exciting one, with Valentino Rossi forming an Italian "dream team" at Ducati, Casey Stoner emulating his hero Mick Doohan by joining Repsol Honda and Jorge Lorenzo defending the title as the new number one at Yamaha.

Lorenzo's new team-mate, Ben Spies, will be targeting the top step of the podium after an outstanding rookie year in 2010, while past race winners like Andrea Dovizioso, Nicky Hayden, Toni Elias and Loris Capirossi all have a point to prove.

The surprise package could be Marco Simoncelli, who was quickest in the first pre-season test at Sepang, Malaysia. And if you're after a dark horse for a surprise place on the podium, my tip is Hiroshi Aoyama, who beat Simoncelli to the 250cc title in 2009 but had an injury-hit rookie season last year.

Marco SimoncelliMarco Simoncelli caught the eye in testing. Photo: Getty Images

Of course, this year also sees the arrival of Britain's former World Supersport champion Cal Crutchlow to the premier class. He is someone the British public can really get behind and will hopefully have you jumping off the sofas. Cal has huge talent and unbelievable drive but he will need your patience and support, too, as he makes the difficult transition from production bike to prototype racing, a move some illustrious names like Neil Hodgson, Shane Byrne and James Toseland have struggled to make in the past.

With 17 riders, the grid is quite small, a matter that should be corrected in 2012 with the new regulations, but 14 of them have won an FIM-recognised world title in one category or another so what the field lacks in quantity it more than makes up for in quality.

As well as Cal in MotoGP, we have seven other talented youngsters to keep a close eye on in the smaller classes - the highest number of full-time British riders across all three Grand Prix classes for 22 years!

In Moto2, Scott Redding will look to build on a brilliant end to the 2010 season, which saw him score four top-five finishes in the final five races, while our most successful Grand Prix racer in recent years, Bradley Smith, makes the step up from 125cc with a record of 20 podiums, including three wins, behind him. The pair will be joined in Moto2 by Scottish rookie Kev Coghlan, who impressed in a couple of wildcard rides last year.

Finally, three exciting teenage rookies - Harry Stafford, Danny Kent and Taylor Mackenzie (son of Niall, our most successful rider in the 1980s and 1990s) - make their full debuts in the 125cc, where they join the more experienced Danny Webb, a potential title contender.

With coverage of all of those Moto2 and 125cc races and qualifying live on the red button, there has never been a better time to get behind our boys and follow their progress through the ranks.

Helping us stay across everything that happens on track and behind closed garage doors will be Azi Farni, a new addition to the on-screen BBC team. Azi joins us as pit-lane reporter and I am really excited by her appointment. Already an established and highly respected reporter within the paddock, I have no doubt her knowledge, energy and enthusiasm will ensure she quickly becomes a very popular member of our team.

Starsky and Hutch - Steve Parrish and Charlie Cox - will be back in the commentary box, too, so we'll have experience to go with the youth! It also means that, as well as top-class commentary, we're guaranteed plenty of laughs. Hopefully Charlie has had time over the winter to think up some new gags about my clothes for the season ahead.

Cal CrutchlowCan Cal Crutchlow make an impact in MotoGP? Photo: Getty Images

There are also a few changes to the team behind the cameras this year, with MotoGP being outsourced to an independent production company, Century TV.

In theory, this should not mean any changes to your viewing experience at home, although we are determined to build on the excellent work done by the BBC within the paddock in the past and make this the best year of MotoGP coverage yet.

Our new producer, Rohan Browning, has experience and enthusiasm in abundance, has put together a top-quality production team and we are chomping at the bit to get started.

The broadcast schedule for 2011 is very similar to last year, meaning we have a full 30-minute build-up before the majority of races, which are all on BBC Two and the BBC Sport website. It is amazing how quickly a programme fills up, though, so it is our aim to keep features dynamic and snappy, capturing as much of the pre-race atmosphere as we can, while covering the hot topics and hearing from as many riders as possible.

We have MotoGP Extra to come after each European race, which gives us the ideal opportunity to show you things and take you places you don't normally get to see. We'll also be giving the guys at the website plenty of extra video content so that you can get your MotoGP fix between races.

These are our basic ideas for building on last year's coverage and we'd love to hear yours, too. In the meantime, I'll be bringing you regular updates from behind the scenes of a season that roars into life under the floodlights in Qatar on 20 March.

Bring it on!


  • Comment number 1.

    Just like snowdrops and crocuses, the mention of the new season is a sure sign that Spring is on its way! I'm a relatively new viewer of Moto GP, but cannot wait to get my teeth into it again, especially with Rossi & Lorenzo on truly opposing teams. I was delighted with Lorenzo's victory last year...but a little part of me felt that he didn't have the hardest fight with Rossi being out so much - I hope we get to see a full season battle between the two this time. Also thrilled with the return of the comedy commentary duo - they make me laugh! So with the excitement building I say BRING IT ON!

  • Comment number 2.

    I am more than a little sad about the lack of mainstream coverage the BBC has given to the Brit Riders, anything in the pipeline to fix this?

  • Comment number 3.

    If Simoncelli dyed his hair blonde, he'd be a dead ringer for Harpo Marx... :¬)

    Anyway, roll-on the new season and nice to see someone else who thinks Aoyama could be a dark-horse tip for a top five at one round!

  • Comment number 4.

    As far as im concerned its a new year and a new season. Good luck to Mr Roberts and the Beeb, it all sounds good to me.

    Please don't let me down though, otherwise I will have to get my pen out again...

    Anyway, please prove me wrong and i'll buy you a beer at the end of what should be one of the best seasons we have had, well since the year before last anyhow!

  • Comment number 5.

    I've been looking forward to this season all winter. Interesting to hear that stat that 14 of the 17 riders on the grid have won some form of Championship. Does that mean we're in for a very unpredictable and close season?

    Here's hoping so!

  • Comment number 6.

    First of all, congratulations Matt on behalf of the majority on BBC 606 MotoGP board.
    I have been openly critical of BBC coverage and will continue to be but it has never been a personal issue with any presenter or specialist but I asked one question regarding language skills which you personally responded to and I think you won a lot of respect for answering a difficult question well.
    In my opinion its a sad day for minority sports that 606 will be lost to the afficionados of those sports and to the initiatoress? of 606 it must be gutting. I don't know her personally but I certainly remember the first stages of BBC webpages and some of the faces around. In that respect and her CV, I'm looking forward to hearing Azi Farni's input.

    Please give us a blog from the final testing session as I think you will go, regardless of whether the Beeb pay you to or not !

  • Comment number 7.

    Thanks for the congrats and good luck messages folks.

    Mav: Obviously we didn't have a Brit in the top class last year and whilst we are really keen to support or Moto2 and 125cc guys we also have to be careful not to confuse relatively new viewers who don't understand the complexities of the different categories. Also we were perhaps guilty in the past of building James Toseland up a lot and then people were extra disappointed with his results, so we have to make sure we don't do that with Cal. Having said that, we will obviously be seeing plenty of Cal and as I said in the blog keeping up to date with the youngsters in the smaller classes.

    Barristered: Thanks for the congrats. I agree it's a shame about losing the 606 boards but there are lots of other good forums around for MotoGP and there should be plenty of opportunity for chat here on my blog and on Twitter. I'm not going to the tests but Azi will be in Qatar so make sure you follow her Twitter page: @azifarni

    Keith Cleaver: with the way the Hondas are running in testing I reckon it could be wide open

  • Comment number 8.

    Will there be Beeb/Century footage be in HD footage this year? Guessing not with a BBC2 label...

  • Comment number 9.

    Great to see some of the young guys getting a mention and i think Danny Webb could well be a title contender with Mahindra this season.

    I hope you do well Matt, but sorry you're never gonna best Suzi Perry! ;)

  • Comment number 10.

    Congratulations buddy, I've loved you to bits whenever you've presented in the past. Good luck with it :)

    I did want to ask though, in the recent Moto2 test at Valencia, with Marquez topping the timesheets, do you personally reckon he is the real deal? I don't doubt his ability to string together fast laps, and of course, through being a 125 champ, he has learned to fight elbows out, but in your opinion, is he being overhyped by the media? I can't see beyond Iannone and Julian Simon.

    In addition, what do you think it says about Moto2 as a feeder class that Toni Elias, having run away with the title, and after only a single year out of MotoGP returns to arguably the bike of the moment (albeit a satellite version) and can't crack the top 10 in testing?

    Bring on 2011 :D

  • Comment number 11.

    I'd also like to see Danny Webb do well, in common with you, but I'm extremely dubious about this Mahindra Racing set up. An unease furthered by not seeing either Webb or Schrotter figure on the Valencia (?) test sheets.
    Did I just miss them or is there another explanation?

  • Comment number 12.

    Hello Mat,

    have to say that your appointment is very welcome, no disrespect to the previous BBC presenter.
    I have previously only watched the races on as it's the only commentary that carries any real understanding of the sport but will give Aunty a go now they're taking it a bit more seriously!

    I have placed a hefty wager on Spies as his first year was vastly under-rated by most i feel, and i'm sure he'll be mixing at the top in 2011.

    Good luck.

  • Comment number 13.

    Hi Matt - nice blog, your knowledge and passion for the sport really comes across - looking forward to new season more than any in recent years - think Cal will do OK - he will be a lot like Spies - build on things and learn as the season goes on - HairBear will definitely be knocking on the aliens door this year - think Danny may have to watch his back if (when?) Casey has a good year - as a diehard Ducatisti I would love to see Nicky back on the podium this year, Vale will be worth every penny as he & JB will get the GP11 sorted - bring it on!

  • Comment number 14.

    Will there be a preview program of the 2011 season on the beeb

  • Comment number 15.

    Your appointment is most certainly welcome and hopefully you'll make a lot more of the job than your predecessors.

    Looking forward to the new season, good luck!

  • Comment number 16.


    I have tried in vain to get a copy of the interview you did with Bradley Smith at the back end of last year. You may recall I am one of his sponsors and we spoke on Twitter about it. Can you tell me is there anyway I can get to see it. I live in Taiwan but visit the uk almost monthly.



  • Comment number 17.

    Hi Matt

    Good to see you are taking the lead on this. Can I suggest that for newbies you give a short introduction to the support classes, their differences and similarities, and how they feed up to the pinnacle that is MotoGP? That way, all the Brits would get their profiles raised, and in context, too.
    Looking forward to the the season; hope it will be a cracker, with good, close racing and no injuries.

  • Comment number 18.

    Stu: unfortunately MotoGP will not be in HD this year, at least at the start. As far as I am aware this is due to BBC budget reasons although there is the possibility it will be reviewed before the end of the season. It is a shame but sooner or later everything will move into HD anyway so I guess we just have to be patient!
    Hairbear: I don't know too much about the Mahindra project to be honest but I'm afraid I share the scepticism of 77Heliconius. There's no doubt Danny has the speed though so here's hoping!
    daggersfan3: Marquez is definitely the real deal and will be a title contender this year, no doubt for me. It reminds me of when Pedrosa moved up from 125cc to 250cc in 2004 - he went and won it at the first (and second) attempt! I know what you're saying about Elias but I think lots of things about the first year of Moto2 suited him - he had experience of four-strokes, prototype chassis, the tracks etc etc. I am a massive Toni fan but I don't think he has the style or consistency to be a frontrunner in MotoGP. Moto2 will bring through some top young riders over the next few seasons though.
    Scamax: No preview show on TV although there will be some features on the website and I believe there is a plan to run last year's review show on loop on the red button before the season starts.
    Proliteboss: We may be able to run this video on the website I will find out
    Pitbabe: That is a great suggestion I will put it forward, thanks!

  • Comment number 19.

    Well done Matt, looking forward to seeing the new re-vamped team as well as the old fogies (statler and waldorf) in the commentry box. This season should be a firecracker with som many competitive bikes and hungry riders out there, Simoncelli, Rossi and Lorenzo banging farings would be a sight to behold. I am so fired up for this season I can't wait for it to start, I reckon a close fight to the title with it all going down to the last race and Rossi to win the season on the Duke :) The madness of the Moto 2 and 125 races I hoep is a good as previous years and fingers crossed we get some new teams up in the top class in 2012, its looking a bit sparse, definitely Spies will win a race this year, and he may not stop I reckon Cal will be fast enough to challenge for the podium as well. its gonna be a belter!!!!

  • Comment number 20.

    I will miss Jennie (as I still miss Suzi), and hope Azi restores my faith that MotoGP won't become a boys-only club. Jennie was coming into her own, and for her to be dumped like this smacks of sexism, I'm afraid. That said, I hope you continue the high standard of coverage your predecessors set. As far as the coming season is concerned, I think it's going to be business as usual for Marquez, Bradley Smith and Scott Reding will set Moto2 alight, and I hope to see a resurgence of The Doctor's greatness.

  • Comment number 21.

    I know Jennie was not everyones cup of tea but the way she has been dumped has been very badly handled. Surely a thankyou and "wish all the best" wouldn't have been too difficult for Matt or the BBC

  • Comment number 22.

    What about a guest appearance by Phil Read say at Silverstone. As our last living premier class world champion [1974], it would be interesting
    to here his views on modern day racing.
    As for the previous presenter Jennie Gow,i thought she did a good job and fitted in well.
    But i am sure Matt will do a great job as well.


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