Thanks, James Toseland, for everything you’ve done for British motorcycling in the past two years. If you hadn’t had the guts to risk the move from a safe home in WSB to leap into the raging MotoGP waters, Britain wouldn’t have had a single rider in motorcycle racing’s glamour class.
Motorcycling fans have long complained – rightly so – that our sport doesn’t get enough national media attention. You sorted that – massively. You earned motorcycling zillions of column inches in national newspapers and gave the BBC and British Eurosport TV teams a great focus point.
I know – because I’ve covered motorcycle racing for the Guardian, the Observer, and the Independent – how tough it is to sell stories into national newspapers. It’s the MotoGP of the media world. But your exploits and your personality opened those doors - for the benefit of motorcycling.
It’s a cruel world. Bikers too often bleat that riders lack personality. The MotoGP paddock worries what will happen post-Valentino.
You bounced into it as a rock ‘n’ roll-playing racer – totally unique! Not even Vale can do that! And then the bastards had the nerve to criticise you for dissipating your energy at the piano: they said you should have been focussing on racing. But those who know you realise that the Jools Holland touch is only ever pure relaxation from the day job.
There are also some cruel accusations flying around on the lines of, ‘He wasn’t good enough, he couldn’t make it.’ This mainly from people who couldn’t ride a scooter round a 30mph roundabout on a clean line!
They don’t realise what a thin line separates success from scorn in MotoGP. It hasn’t looked good for the Rizla Suzuki team this year – not a single podium. But if you compare the race time of their best finisher in the 17 rounds over the year to the winner’s time, they were a mere 1.4% off the top of the podium. It’s true – this is not my dodgy mathematics, but the workings of MotoGP statistician Martin Raines.
Anyway, forwards. You’ve got a factory Yamaha R1 for WSB next year, and the season starts in less than four months.
A Brit presence will be mightily missed in MotoGP next year, but we wish you success in your all-Brit line-up alongside the new World Supersport champion Cal Crutchlow.
And keep those great rock ballads flowing…