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Blog: British riders in GPs

Published: 02 September 2006

MCN MotoGP reporter Matt Birt spends his days, nights and weekends getting to know the GP world better than anyone. Now he's sharing the experiences of being a top GP reporter with a new blog.

"As anticipated, I was a fully paid up member of the wide awake club at 5am this morning as the jetlag worked its magic.

Luckily I dozed back off but catching up on some sleep proved a tricky task, largely thanks to whoever is in the next room deciding it would be a good idea to watch CNN at a volume that would have put an Iron Maiden gig to shame.

I tried to watch a DVD to pass some time away before leaving for the track but couldn?t get into it all, so fired up the Ipod and got stuck into the new Kasabian album that I bought at Heathrow on Tuesday.

Anyway, to work matters and Thursday's are always a great time to speak to people in the paddock. It's a calm before the storm day really. Everybody is relaxed and there's not the intense pressure that gradually builds up over the weekend as the race looms.

It's even better at the flyaway races because the riders have no motorhomes, team trucks or hospitality units to duck for cover in.

Caught up with Nicky Hayden and Colin Edwards to see if there's been any movement on their 2007 plans. For the record, as of writing this, Edwards is still awaiting a Yamaha decision, though he added it should come this weekend.

Hayden meanwhile, if defending his 25-point series lead wasn't enough to occupy his mind, reiterated again that his priority was to stay at Honda, despite serious interest from Yamaha.

Also spoke with Valentino Rossi as we do on a daily basis. You can?t afford to miss his debriefs as he's always got something interesting to say. You could ask him about a fairing bolt and he?d give you a line that was good enough for the front cover.

This afternoon was no exception as he talked about his thoughts on the final five races, and he also had some interesting comments on Dani Pedrosa and their clash at the last race in Brno.

I heard from the boys back at the office that James Toseland had decided not to make the switch to MotoGP next season.

Spoke to some Ducati people for reaction and they were disappointed, as they obviously believed the offer to ride in the D?Antin team would be enough to tempt him over. Luis D'Antin arrives in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow so it will be interesting to hear his thoughts.

Personally I'm quite disappointed because I was looking forward to working with James. I've had brief dealings with him on and off for a number of years and have always found him one of the easiest riders to deal with. I'd imagine there were plenty of fans out there too looking forward to seeing James come over to MotoGP.

I'd spoken to James and his manager Roger Burnett on the phone from the recent Czech Republic in Brno when the rumour really started to gather momentum that he was in discussions about leaving WSB.

From what they'd said I'd have staked a big chunk of my life savings on James moving. But it just goes to show how quickly things can change in racing, and what a bad gambler I'd be.

What Honda put on the table was obviously way too good for him to turn his back on and James is as clever as he is fast, and his decision was obviously based on him still being able to fulfil his ambitions in MotoGP in the future. I doubt it will be the last time his name mentioned with MotoGP.

With James staying put in WSB, and with James Ellison?s future looking in serious jeopardy, at the moment it leaves MotoGP seriously bereft of British riders. This is not something that Dorna or the BBC will swallow easily at all. So attentions will have to turn elsewhere now.

Step forward Leon Haslam. His name is being banded around again in MotoGP and I've heard it mentioned today in Sepang.

I think Leon is definitely worthy of a shot at MotoGP again. He seems to have matured a lot on and off the track since his last MotoGP excursion, which he's proved with his brilliant performances this season in BSB.

At the moment there is a lot of talk and little set in stone, but it seems unthinkable that a British rider won?t be in MotoGP.

Watch this space.

To see more from Matt's personal blog, and to ask him a question, click here (external site)

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