Former commentator Nick Harris told MotoGP.com how he lived Valentino Rossi’s two decades in the queen category, decades during which he narrated his exploits. Here is his tribute to the new world champion.
Commentary on the Times of Rossi, by Nick Harris
I got on a carousel and clung to it for an incredible 17 years. I had no idea what to expect, but the timing was perfect. I returned full time to the MotoGP paddock in 2000, after a six-year adventure in Formula 1. 125 and 250cc world champion Valentino Rossi was making his debut in the queen category at Welkom. 89 Grand Prix and seven world titles later, Vale says goodbye at the end of an unforgettable journey.
For the past 20 years, I have been able to comment on the exploits of the great Champions. I had just come from F1, where I could see the media wave that drivers like Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher had generated around the world, but nothing had prepared me for the Valentino Rossi phenomenon. I think no one ever doubted his talent, perhaps apart from Casey Stoner in that first corner in Jerez in 2011.
MotoGP had a difficult time in the late 90s when Mick Doohan and Honda dominated. In Britain, even the titles of Carl Fogarty’s World Superbike Championship were the headlines.
Suddenly, everyone knew who Doctor / # 46 / Vale was. This young man, who came from the Adriatic coast and who rode his motorcycle to make a living, had become a world star: a charismatic, arrogant and funny world champion, who acquired the status of a real legend. I just took part in this journey and enjoying every moment. In Britain in 2000, only 18,500 fans attended their first 500cc victory. The following year, the crowd had doubled, tripled three years later, and quadrupled four years later.
I commented on each of these 89 wins and secured all the post-race press conferences … well, almost. I was present in the comment booth, but I lost my voice over one of the biggest fights of all time in 2008. It was an epic battle between Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner that left me helpless. This victory is the second most beautiful of his career, after Welkom’s in 2004, for his first race with Yamaha.
Vale was the only person I met in international sports who could constantly say “F ***” in an interview without anyone telling him to stop. Many of his passages in the press room marked me. I loved it when it won a Grand Prix, because after a long weekend I just had to ask how the GP went and I was able to sit down while detailing all the aspects. Of course, some interviews didn’t go so well. Most runners don’t like Thursday afternoon’s media obligations. Valentino Rossi was no exception to the rule … but he was sometimes in charge of moderating the debates. I will never forget the two Sepang lectures, where he released Sete Gibernau and Marc Márquez. With him, we rarely got bored.
While covering a ceremony for Yamaha on Phillip Island in 2017, I felt a little sorry for myself because I only had three events left before I retired. Unknown to me, Vale had just recorded a wonderful message for my retirement video. He approached me, put his arm around my shoulder and said to me: “What the hell am I going to do without you, Nick, because now I’m going to be the biggest in the MotoGP paddock. » I’m sure it’s a status you won’t be sad to lose this Sunday.
There is no sport that better illustrates the need for change and progress. On the track, the discipline is going very well, with this new generation of young drivers and World Champions who are ensuring a bright future. Of course, it will continue to evolve without Valentino Rossi, but to be honest I think MotoGP will never be the same without its Doctor.
When I arrived in Welkom in 2000 this March morning, I had no idea what to expect. It’s been two decades of my professional life that I’ll never forget.
Hello Vale and thank you!