Thinking of words to describe pure road racing in the 2010’s, lots arise in my mind, character, grit, tenacity, idealism, reality, raw, real, roller coaster.
Lets be honest it has been like a roller coaster ride for road racing fans during the past decade, the sport has been through great highs, lows, medium highs, medium lows, low periods, sponsorship problems, persistent criticism and persistent praise.
Social media has provided the sport a fresh new platform to 100’s of thousands worldwide whilst elevated TV coverage has helped massively.
The bigger audiences allied to the countless record breaking moments, countless star names battling for victories, lap records has made the 2010’s for some pure road racing’s golden era.
Some could say the 50’s, 60’s, early 70’s were better with the bulk of the Moto GP World Championship rounds held at roads circuits.
When you reflect on the 2010’s though, has the overall standard ever been higher in road racing? It’s a contentious statement but there’s a strong argument to suggest this.
Racers to have starred throughout the 10’s have included Peter Hickman, Dean Harrison, Michael Dunlop, Bruce Anstey, John McGuinness, Ian Hutchinson, Guy Martin, Michael Rutter, Conor Cummins, Dan Kneen, Ryan Farquhar, William Dunlop, Glenn Irwin, Cameron Donald, Gary Johnson.
Add in the likes of Josh Brookes, Martin Jessopp, Horst Saiger, Simon Andrews, Jeremy Toye, Mark Miller, Sebastien Le Grelle, Didier Grams, Dan Cooper, Adam McLean, James Cowton, Dan Hegarty, Ivan Lintin and you can see why the overall racing standard has been of such a top level.
Despite the increased popularity, wider media coverage, scintillating racing from the aforementioned racers, endorsements from various well known celebrities, the decade has ended with all kinds of challenges facing road racing.
Financial problems, insurance issues, events struggling to make profits are all clear for us all to see.
The Ulster Grand Prix’s current situation alongside the confirmation of the Enniskillen Road Races dropping off the calendar for 2020 plus Junior Support class action likely to be dropped from Irish national meetings, has led to many voicing their concerns about road racing’s future online.
I for one am positive for the sport’s future cause for all the negative talk, road racing is a great product with unlimited potential, it’s unique, authentic, non distilled.
It has countless great supporters, great protectors, people who truly care for the sport and aren’t just in it to penny their pockets.
As Richard Ashcroft states You Better Hold On, tough times might be ahead but the sport will as always rise up, keep going and continue to showcase why it is the most exciting form of motorsport on planet earth.
Words by Stevie Rial