BT Sport’s MotoGP wing have been promising news on their coverage and commentary line up for a good while and according to a report at bennetts.co.uk on their bike social pages it looks as if we now know most of what is planned for the 2014 season.
The online bike website claims that sources close to them have the main line up as :Keith Heuwen, Julian Ryder, Gavin Emmett, James Toseland and Neil Hodgson.
They will also be supported by a Tuesday night round-up/review show hosted by Craig Doyle and Iwan Thomas.
The team seems to be pulling a little from what everyone wants and if accurate is a fairly good compromise to the impossible task of pleasing everyone.
Lets look at how things were.
For years now the BBC had given us ex-rider Steve Parrish and his Australian ex-car racer sidekick Charlie Cox, Matt Roberts was upped to main presenter role in the last couple of years since the departure of Suzi Perry and Azi FArni had been a great addition to pit lane, leaving her double life at Dorna to go full-time with the BBC just before they announced they had lost the rights.
The Eurosport fans were incredibly loyal to their presenters and their team of Toby Moody and Julian Ryder with the occasional extra guest like Neil Spalding was considered by many to be the pinnacle of racing commentary.
Nick Harris and Gavin Emmett did a superb job for Dorna on the world feed.
Personally I was in the minority as I preferred the factual-with-occasional-walkeresque-howler style found on the world feed. They were informative and funny, though often for the wrong reasons and quick to correct each other. They made Moto2 and Moto3 coverage (as did the actual presence of lots of actual racing) great fun to be a part of.
Parrish was relatively popular on the BBC for giving the point of view of someone who had been a rider in the championship. He was less popular for insisting you listen to the sound of two Hondas together and constant reminders that he had been the late great Barry Sheene’s team-mate. I think I may have been the only person not to mind Cox having a ‘nightmare in a bubble car’ every race.
I was late to Eurosport so can’t really judge too much, I used them as support class back-up and as an occasional replay with their delayed MotoGP coverage, but they were a definitely a well informed team with a clear love for the sport.
BT have covered the world feed fans by getting in Gavin Emmett; their former support class commentator often also seen on the MotoGP website presenting the ‘After The Flag’ piece.
Instead of Parrish the ex-rider role is apparently to be covered by popular figures Huewen and Hodgson, with Toseland sure to be a popular addition, though the Bennetts article says the former MotoGP rider and double WSBK Champion is only in for ‘occasional appearances’, a shame given he is a more recent and prominent reference point for many new or young fans.
Eurosport fans will be pleased they will once again be able to hear Julian Ryder commentating, eyebrows had been raised when Moody recently ruled himself out, so half a team isn’t so bad when your trying to please everyone.
Rugby fan Doyle has been earning his crust for a while now as a sport presenter while his co-anchor on Tuesdays Thomas has relatively little presenting experience under his belt, the former Olympic runner however is a bike nut and an avid watcher of Motorsport, so I expect him to know his stuff well enough.
If the Tuesday presenters are looking for any pointers they can always call on their friend, former BBC man Matt Roberts.
Roberts is probably the biggest loss to MotoGP coverage in my eyes, but bike fans will still be able to see him do his presenting thing as he takes over at British Eurosport for WSBK and BSB coverage.
Matt Roberts had become so popular that by the time the BBC coverage ended he had a blog set up honouring his sartorial fashion choices. Not many presenters can say that! Head over to Matt Roberts Wears Smart/Casual for a good giggle!
Final points to note are that apparently there is one ‘key figure’ for the coverage yet to be announced and that the full OFFICIAL announcement on coverage and the presenting team is due at the MCN London Motorcycle Show next week.
Looks good so far so let’s see what they’ve got…
UPDATED: The host/anchor is rumoured to be Melanie Sykes…
UPDATE 2: Line-up revealed and these rumours were spot on with just the addition of MCN’s Matthew Birt into the mix, with Sykes also confirmed as the host.
The F1 Broadcasting Blog already have a good final update so click here for programme days and times and more: