Interview: Steve Parrish

BBC's MotoGP commentator and ex-GP racer Steve Parrish comments on the season ahead, the new 1000cc formula and Britain's hopefuls

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rgo's picture
Submitted by rgo on Thu, 01/03/2012 - 09:26

Predicting MotoGP is easy, my choices are Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa

I'd love to see Valentino Rossi in there but I'm not too sure whether the bike will be up to it and it's very difficult to say whether he is up for it. He's 33 years old now and I think there are some younger and faster people out there.

I hope he proves me wrong, I truthfully do. For motorsport and motorcycling in general, Valentino has been such a great ambassador and I'd actually like him to go out and pack up on a high. I'm really not too sure he'll be able to do that, and I'm sure I'll get hate mail for saying that. If Valentino can get fourth he'll have done a good job.

I really hope Scott Redding is up there in Moto2. He's a great talent and well we want a British winner out there, with both him and Bradley Smith up there in the running.

I'm really excited about Danny Kent in the Moto3s. He's another Roger Burnett protege, who got world championships out of James Toseland and Neil Hodgson, so let's hope he can do the same again with Danny because that's what us Brits need and it'd make my job at the BBC much easier. If we get a Brit on the podium in MotoGP then our sport will take off again.

We've got a really exciting season ahead of us. A) Because we've got strong runners in Moto2, B) MotoGP has got a new formula and we're all keen to see what will happen there, and C) the brand new Moto3 class.

I don't think 1000cc will make any difference, because the bikes will be quite similar, they'll have more horsepower but it will only be used in fifth and sixth gear because you cannot put more than 230bhp down until you get into the top gears. So, it won't make a great deal of difference.

It'll be good, don't get me wrong, as the bikes will sound good, they'll be torquey, the riders will be able to slide them a bit more as the rideability will be slightly better. But it won't make a huge change, the fast blokes will still be at the front.

The good thing about changing the formula of MotoGP is sometimes it can throw the odd spanner in the works, someone might get it really right and someone wrong. I guess what we had hoped was that Honda would get it wrong, but going off testing that doesn't look likely, as that would even out the Stoner aspect and Ducati get it right and that brings Rossi forward. It would be perfect.

Nowadays it's a bit like Formula 1 you dial the bike into the computer and you have the wheelbase, the head angle, the weight distribution, horsepower and electronics, and you get the end product. They're not going to be much difference between any of those bikes out there, that's the way the world is now you can deal with anything you want at the laptop.

The CRT bikes are getting slagged off a bit too much, I believed right from the word go that they won't be as far off as everyone expects them to be and Randy de Puniet has proven that by going out and being on the pace.

If you put Stoner on a sorted CRT bike I reckon he could get a podium, because you can't really use more than 230bhp from what I've heard, seen and been told and a CRT bike can put that out. If you get the electronics solved, sort the chassis out - which can easily be done with computer programs - and put the rider on it, it could easily reach the podium.

With de Puniet and Colin Edwards, when he's motivated, they will be able to get into the top six - especially if there is a bit of a shower or something like that.

The people who are saying 'they'll be two laps behind', they might well be if there are crap riders on them. That's being quite cruel, but unfortunately the CRT bikes will attract the lesser riders because the top riders will want to be on factory bikes. It's kind of compounding the issue.

MotoGP needs good class riders and unfortunately in some way it's being split up. Dare I say it, we have B grade riders on superbikes, A grade on MotoGP and it seems as though we're getting C grade coming to CRT. It's diluting the talent, and my view is: MotoGP is the premier class, Superbikes division 1 or whatever you want to call it, and what we could do with is some more quality riders on CRT and satellite bikes.

Nobody can afford pure-bred prototypes anymore, I look at the magnificent machinery that Honda built, like the 6-cylinder RC166 that Mike Hailwood rode, but it's all about the cost and nobody can actually see the return in their sales.

If the industry sold millions and millions of motorcycles, then maybe we'd see the revolutionary prototypes again. However, motorcycle sales are down, everyone is tightening their belts and the exoticness is unaffordable, so we've got to go back to something that we can afford.

As follower of the sport for the past 50 years all I want to see is close racing, I don't care what makes it. I think Moto2 has proven that, 130hp on bikes that aren't very exciting but the racing has been brilliant.

I have absolutely no idea why there is a lack of British winners in MotoGP. The Australians believe when they come over that 'it's a bloody long way to come to fail' so they reckon that they try harder.

Maybe we've got a bit of complacency, it's a lot of fun racing in the British championship and the riders can get a lot of success at home in front of large crowds, so the guys get a bit of notoriety and they're on television. There is all that going on that maybe the gamble and go overseas to start at the bottom end is too much for them.

One of the problems that we've got is that we don't have as many people to draw from. You look at the Spanish, the Italians and everyone has got a scooter or a moped from 15-16 years old, in Britain we're drawing from a smaller pool.

People ask 'why don't riders make the shift from superbikes to MotoGP' but if you look at a lot of riders they have been in the paddock from a very early age, to them it's like going back to a regular holiday destination so they know the surroundings and feel at ease with that and can focus on the racing as opposed to what's going on around them.

I hope Cal Crutchlow, Scott Redding and Bradley Smith can be up there, but Danny Kent is the bright star. I like him, he seems to have the right attitude, is quite mature for his age, is hungry and has the ingredients - but that hasn't always proven to be the person that'll win.

If Barry Sheene was racing now he'd be at the top. But you can't take riders from one generation to another and say who is best; Rossi, Ago, Hailwood - they were all the best at their time. Barry was the best in 77-79 and if you put him here now he would probably be as good as anyone out there. It's too difficult to say.

Me on the other hand, I'd always be fifth or sixth because that was where I always was and always would be. I didn't want to die, I was allergic to pain. I was a decent rider but I was never going to be a World Champion, I wasn't as committed as what I should have been.

The trouble is, and I'm not being rude, what the readers forget and it cracks me up at times, they go 'well I don't suppose that anyone watches BBC, they all watch Eurosport' but we get 1.5 to 2 million viewers and Eurosport gets 200,000.

Admittedly the ardent fan will watch Eurosport as they get full race coverage, it's all day. BBC give up an hour and a half, so we cannot give as much time and talk about what we want to. What we have to do is broadcast to people who don't know much about motorcycle racing and what we hopefully do is bring people in to like the sport and motorcycling.

It amazes me how people can't understand that, I could happily talk all day about the way the Desmodromic system works and how the valves are powered up and down, but that person is going to switch over and watch the cricket because it'll be just as boring. So we have to talk in a dumbed down way and keep it simple because to most of our viewers it's just a bloke on a bike, going around a race track.

It's easy to talk on Eurosport as the person that has gone there is a bike fan, they want all the in-depth information but that's not the BBC audience and that's who pays my salary.

I guess that's just the way it goes. You can please all of the people some of the time or some of the people all the time and there are some bloody idiots on these forums, and all they're doing is ruining it for other people. It's quite sad at times, how personal people can take it and if they don't like it then go somewhere else. Rather than bitch and moan about.

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