Belfast Telegraph

One era comes to an end, just as another one starts

By Billy Weir

"We're off to Spain for the final live MotoGP of the season," said the announcer on BBC1 and then forgot to add "and the last time for the foreseeable future as BT Sport have nipped in again while we weren't looking."

Yes, it is the end of an era, and the start of a new one too, as Spanish wunderkind Marc Marquez (pictured) won the world title at the first time of asking after an incredible final race in Spain.

Indeed, Valencia hasn't witnessed such scenes of sporting passion and heroism since senors Armstrong and Arconada were up against each other back in 1982, but this time we were guaranteed a home winner with Marquez just needing a top four finish to deny fellow countryman Jorge Lorenzo the title.

For the Beeb though it had the feel of the last day of term and you half expected presenter Matt Roberts to turn up on the grid playing Ker-plunk with intrepid commentary duo, Charlie Cox and Steve Parrish.

This would be a little dangerous with all those marbles although there is a convincing argument that Cox and Parrish's had long since rolled under the sideboard, but they will be the biggest loss of all if they are confined to the garage of memories.

As yet BT haven't named their line-up, but splitting these two up would be like Dastardly without Muttley, Peters without Lee or Cannon without Ball, only they are considerably funnier than the last two mentioned.

"We've got perfect weather, we've got a capacity crowd, it's our last race on the BBC, so Steve, Charlie, try to hold back the tears," said Roberts, with Parrish replying that he "brought a tissue just in case".

"Why, have I soiled myself again?" was Cox's contribution, proving once again that he who thinks Australian shouldn't always speak Australian, but as viewers guffawed or loled as I believe the hip youngsters say these days, we moved swiftly on.

The big pre-race news was of another split, the legend that is Valentino Rossi parting ways with his Yamaha crew chief and the BBC's go-to man when they had time to fill, Jerry Burgess.

"Rossi described Burgess as his dad, his racing dad, but he still dropped him like a hot rock," explained Cox, with Parrish wondering "if the ad for Rossi's grandma is up".

Thankfully they'd already got the final interview with Rossi in the bag as we took a trip down memory pit lane, including an all-too fleeting return of Suzi Perry, before the racing got under way and Cox was in his element.

A fast and furious start had the riders bunched together in a multi-colour line like a 'bunch of racing Smarties' with the leaders 'flat out like a lizard drinking' and one making himself 'as wide as an old Pontiac'.

"What a lovely little sashay that was – this should be on Strictly Come Dancing," was his view on another incredible move in the duel between Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa, with Marquez just behind, as the opening 10 laps provided more action and entertainment than 10 years of F1.

It wasn't all good news, top British rider Cal Crutchlow crashing out, much to his and Cox's chagrin, summing it up succinctly that he 'needs that like a third armpit' while Parrish wasn't impressed with Ducati's preparations with his considered view that 'you have to say they couldn't really sort out a wardrobe'.

There was also talk of a new series for the Beeb – Some Mothers Do Rev 'Em – as Parrish hoped Marquez stayed back 'just in case there was some kind of whoopsie down there' as a man on roller skates and wearing a brown Mac lapped one of the backmarkers with hilarious consequences.

"At the end of it, I want you to all stand up and take your caps off," ordered Parrish.

"I'm not taking my cap off, it holds my brain in," answered Cox.

"I want to know what you're wearing for your prom now this is the last day of term," countered Parrish, with Cox concluding that 'you can be my date' and all this madness ensued while racing continued relentlessly.

And then it was over. Lorenzo won the race and Marquez's third place won him the Championship at the tender age of 20.

"He's young, good looking, fast and happy... you've got to hate that," said Cox and in the blink of an eye they were gone, confined to one last half hour on the red button and for that alone we have to hope that BT Sport treats its sport with a bit more respect.

If they could just fork out a few more quid for Cox and Parrish too, then we'll all be wheelie happy.

Belfast Telegraph

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