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Lone Wolf and the importance of having a star


How many of you crawled out of bed in the early hours  to watch the World Superbike season-opener from Australia? Perhaps you didn't go to bed. Either way, it was good viewing for a bunch of bike-racing nutters and we should feel grateful to Eurosport.

We have also, in the last few weeks, been exposed to the promotion of another form of motorised sport on Sky's package of sports channels ... Formula One, there I've said it. The difference between the two could not be more stark.


Since doing a deal with the BBC and F1 to share the rights - to the relief of licence-holders as it was costing them around £50m a season - Sky have had the pedal on the floorboards. Not only does F1 have it's own channel but more hours have been devoted to it than an entire season of WSB and MotoGP put together ... or so it seems. And the cars haven't yet turned a wheel in anger!

What are we to make of it? Firstly F1 is ten times bigger, or more, than MotoGP on whatever measure you care to take. A simple fact of life. It has always, more or less, been that way. We shall find out, for sure, in the next 18 months as both will be up for sale.

Secondly, Sky don't do things by halves. The Sky effect on sports they adopt has, in almost every instance, been hugely positive. We know about Premier League football but think about darts, speedway and now their investment in cycling. You might be interested to hear this, but F1 is jealous of the wealth generated by the Premier League which is bigger than all the other European leagues put together!

This is not to disparage Eurosport. Their's is a different model to Sky, they don't have subscribers and their revenue comes from advertising and, in this country, whatever Sky are prepared to pay them to include their sports coverage on the Sky channels. In other words, they don't have big budgets and although you might have thought that Jack Burnicle and Jim Whitham were basking in the sunshine of Phillip Island they were, in fact, in a studio somewhere in the northern hemisphere trying to keep warm.

It is great to have Eurosport. Even though some sports, motor cycle racing included, have to pay them - not the other way round! We need television coverage but it should, and could, be better. Our season has started with something of a whimper in television terms. The much vaunted marketing might of WSB owners Infront has, so far, been completely invisible. There's a month to go before round one of MotoGP and British Superbikes.

BSB has done a pretty good job in filling the grid with people like Haga and Anthony West. But let's see them step up to the plate in terms of build-up and presentation. New standards have been set.


A couple of old boys, one 40 and the other getting up that way, dominated the opening skirmish of World Superbikes. It is difficult to know whether to cheer or cry! Whatever happened to the likely lads?

All sorts of excuses were trotted out. And it is true that the Aprillias were ten mph quicker than anything else. But the bottom line seems to be that these ageing heroes are better than wannabes ten or more years younger!


Looking at it as rationally as possible, everyone acknowledges that Messrs Biaggi and Checa are class acts who have not lost the desire to win. And they are supported by the two most professional and experienced teams. Too many of the younger challengers handicapped themselves by hitting the gravel too often.

And while the incredible bravery of riders like Haslam and Laverty has to be admired, indeed wondered at, winners are generally those who crash least.

The upside is that teams like BMW and Kawasaki, after two humiliating seasons, now look like they are on the pace. It is Imola in three weeks time. Biaggi is already favourite to win the championship. It may look different by Easter.

Footnote: Excuse of the day came from Checa's team manager complaining that being forced to carry an extra 6kg was unfair. His man had just led one race and won another!



Many tributes have been paid to the late Robert Fearnall. Suffice to add that he was a gentleman of whom no one had a bad word.

The views expressed by Lone Wolf are not necessarily those of this website or its editor

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