In conversation with David Croft

From Three Counties radio, to travelling around the world as part of his Formula 1 work, David Croft’s broadcasting career to date has spanned 25 years.

During the Autosport Show weekend in January, I caught up with Croft (@CroftyF1) for a chat to talk about his journey from local radio through to Sky Sports F1 commentator.

F1B: How did your stint in radio begin?

DC: I started covering Stevenage Borough for the local papers in the early 1990s, but my first radio broadcast was Stevenage Borough and Altrincham in 1994. The regular reporter couldn’t make it and they called me up as a last-minute replacement. Stevenage won 2-1, Martin Gittings scored the winning goal with his hand, which as you can imagine was controversial! BBC Three Counties radio paid me £6 for covering the game.

I thought I was utterly dreadful, and I had a phone call from Ken Wilson, who was the Sports Editor at the station, the very next day saying he thought that it was really good, and asking if I’d like to cover Luton Town versus Sheffield United the next week. I got £10 for covering that, a bigger game than Stevenage! Bit by bit, I started doing more and more, I used to go into the station on a Friday night to learn how to edit, produce, write scripts. I wanted to learn so was more than happy to give up my Friday evenings.

Mike Naylor, who took over as sports editor taught me what I needed to know. In all honesty, I owe Mike and Ken, and everyone in those early years a debt of gratitude because without their help and patience, I would have never been able to take my career further. As time went on, I started to take on more gigs. My first proper commentary job though was covering the Toulon Under 20 Football tournament for their world feed. France beat South Korea 1-0 in my first match, former Arsenal midfielder Robert Pires scored the goal and I met him in Monza a couple of years ago and had a chat about the match, he actually remembered it. But the key was never saying no to any opportunity, even if deep down you didn’t really think you had the experience needed.

F1B: I guess at that point in your career, it is whatever comes your way.

DC: You want to get heard, you need to get experience. Eventually, Three Counties asked me to present the breakfast sports bulletins each morning. I initially said no, I was working full time in my day job, as a Theatre Publicity Officer and working Saturdays, commentating for West County TV. But I, rather cheekily, said that if they wanted me then they should give me a full-time job and I’d be happy to do it. Later that day, Dave Robey, the station manager phoned me up and said that if I wanted a full-time job as a BBC Sports Reporter he’d give me a one-month contract and if I was any good, there would be a chance that I’d stay on. Well one month became three months became nine months and I stayed at BBC 3CR for over three years, eventually becoming the Sports Editor there.

In December 1998 I moved to 5 Live, working as a producer via the BBC Local Radio Attachment scheme. It was a brilliant scheme as it gave those working in local radio a chance to show what they could do for BBC Sport on a national level. Once again it was initially for a month, but I stayed for much longer and managed to convince the powers that be that I was a better broadcaster than a producer and I was given a full-time contract with BBC Radio Sport.

I could be heard presenting sports bulletins for Simon Mayo or Fi Glover, covering football matches on a Saturday, and eventually presenting Sport on 5 during the summer of 2004 and 2005. I’d worked at the 2002 World Cup and 2004 Olympic Games but I wanted to specialise on a particular sport and in the Autumn of 2005, I got my chance.

As a kid, my dream job was to be a sports commentator. I was into all sorts of sports, cricket, F1, football, boxing and of course, darts! Peter Jones was my absolute idol as a commentator, this guy was magnificent in the way he could capture tension and emotion in a couple of sentences, even if your team was winning 6-0, you wouldn’t switch the radio off. I used to listen to him on Sport on 2, smuggling my old Roberts radio under the covers and hoping that Mum and Dad didn’t hear that I was still awake listening to the midweek matches.

At the weekend I’d watch Grandstand or World of Sport and dream of doing what Murray Walker or Barrie Davies, Sid Waddell or Richie Benaud did. I’d listen to Test Match Special a lot in the summer too, my Dad played village cricket and passed a love of the sport on to me. Brian Johnson had me enthralled, not only with his ability to paint pictures in my mind, but the way he would break away from the cricket and move on to random topics such as the latest goings on in Neighbours. He was a huge fan of that soap opera and never missed an opportunity to wax lyrical about it.

So, this was my dream job, still is and I pinch myself that I’m doing what I dreamt of all those years ago.

F1B: Was it an easy decision with 5 Live to travel round the world for Formula 1, or were there other factors to consider?

DC: Jason Swales, the F1 producer, asked me to audition, as he knew I liked and knew F1. When he wasn’t producing 5 Live F1, Jason would come in and produce bulletins and various other stuff [for 5 Live], so we knew each other quite well. He said that we needed a new commentator, and that the contract was going out to an independent production company. We produced a dummy commentary as part of the pitch for USP Content and they won the contract. So, on December 23rd 2005 I was told I was the new 5 Live F1 commentator by Moz Dee, who was the assistant editor at the station at the time. Moz then promptly asked when I would be leaving as I couldn’t stay on a BBC Staff Contract, the F1 coverage was being independently produced. I went freelance, another risk, but this was an opportunity I was never going to turn down.

The next challenge was to learn more about the sport, prepare for the start of the 2006 season and work out just how you commentate on Formula 1, having never done it for real before I headed off to Bahrain for the first race of the season. I spent six years at 5 Live Formula 1, and it was brilliant. Holly Samos, Jason Swales, Maurice Hamilton, Ant Davidson, myself, and Natalie [Pinkham] were a small team, bringing a great sport to people on the radio, thoroughly enjoyable and hopefully the fun we had always came across on air.

F1B: How did you find your first year, just settling into the paddock?

DC: Frightening! The paddock is a scary place at first to find yourself in. But there are a lot of genuine, lovely people in it, and once you establish a level of trust and rapport, build relationships with people and gain more and more experience, you feel less scared. I asked a lot of stupid questions along the way, apparently there’s no such thing as a stupid question but I’m sure I challenged that theory. I always remember Jason’s adage, keep it simple, don’t try and do anything complicated, leave that to the experts.

It went from frightening, to a little bit daunting and then after about three years you feel that you fit in. People to start to ask your opinion on certain subjects and you feel more qualified to give it! You spend a long time at first listening to people, and I had the likes of Maurice Hamilton, Ian Philips, and the late Alan Henry to listen to, and what a complete delight it was to listen to their stories and opinions. And I was hugely lucky to have Jason as our producer and Maurice and then Ant Davidson as co-commentators, to help me along the way.

F1B: F1 moved to BBC TV in 2009, did anything really change from a radio perspective?

DC: A little, we were able to broadcast our commentary on the red button, which increased our audience, especially for the practice sessions. But I don’t go thinking “right, there’s more people listening today, that’s brilliant.” When I’m broadcasting I imagine I’m only talking to one person. There might be a lot more of that one person, but you’re having a conversation with that person, you’re trying to imagine whatever they’re doing and hoping that you’re engaging enough to make them stop what they’re doing and focus on what’s going on. I imagine there’s an old lady sat doing her knitting, if we’re getting her on the edge of her seat, and she’s stopped knitting for a while, then we’re doing a great job!

F1B: So, you guys were doing well at the BBC, and then we come to 2011. I think people still remember that practice session in Hungary, where you and Ant were getting deluged for something that wasn’t your fault.

DC: I walked into the track on Friday morning, and got a phone call from 5 Live Breakfast, saying that the F1 TV news was the lead story at 08:00! So, as correspondent, could I come on and talk about it.

Now, the BBC decided that they couldn’t afford to continue to cover F1 in the way they were at the time and approached Sky. For me, that was an important thing, because yes, there was a strong reaction from some of the fans, but I wasn’t going to take sides and join in with that strong reaction, I wanted to present the facts as I understood them to be.

I was a massive viewer of Sky Sports at that time, and have been for many, many years, and I love what they did to football, to darts, to cricket. Actually, I thought, it might be good for Formula 1. Sky will come in, give it the Sky treatment, and the sport will become very important within the Sky stable, and I truly believe that has happened.

Yes, there was a negative reaction, but 6 years on, it’s really interesting when we meet the fans and they give us their feedback. The people we meet at races, or even randomly out and about recently, tell us they enjoy what we do at Sky F1. Have we ruined people’s love of the sport as one listener said would happen back in 2011? Certainly not, I hope we’ve proved not only how much we love this sport, but how hard we want to work to deliver a really good product for the fans.

F1B: Was it an easy decision to move to Sky?

DC: I could have stayed at the BBC, and don’t get me wrong, I loved working there. But let’s go back to when I first joined local radio, I wanted to challenge myself, I wanted to stretch myself. When Sky became interested, we had a few conversations; myself and Martin [Brundle] talked too and both said that it could be fun! I love Sky and their coverage of sport. It was flattering that they were interested in me, and in the end, for many reasons, it was an easy decision to make.

It’s a risky decision, because it might not have paid off going from radio to TV, it’s a very different job. I’ve gone from a job where I say what I see, and I paint pictures, to working for a company that provides those pictures, in glorious Ultra High Definition now. Half of what you do on radio is describing and setting the scene. You can’t really do that on TV because people can see it, so you have to find a different way to tell the story.

Luckily, I’d covered the darts on BBC TV since 2004, so I had a little bit of TV experience there, and of course my first commentating experience as such, was for television, Toulon tournament and Westcountry TV. I had that to fall back on.

And I was going from a role where at 5 Live I commentated, reported, presented, and interviewed to the role of lead commentator. So, it was an adjustment there. Martin Turner, our first Head of F1 at Sky put together a fantastic team, very different people, but all of whom fitted in with everyone else and enjoyed each other’s company. There’s no pretence, we’re just a happy bunch of people travelling the world doing something we really love. Martin and the producers brought together creative people, hard-working people, talented people. It’s the best team I’ve ever worked with. Things have changed a bit since the first race, some staff have left, some have come in, but there’s no conflict or friction behind the scenes, and I think that’s really important for the show.

And as we speak there’s not long to go till we’re all in Melbourne for the first race of the season, and I’m sure, like me, everyone can’t wait to get going again for what will be the 13th season for me as an F1 commentator, which considering my first race, Bahrain 2006, still seems like a very short time ago, is a pretty scary thought.

My thanks go to David Croft for spending the time with me on the above interview.

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Behind the scenes in the BSB OB truck: the key roles and responsibilities

The 2017 British Superbike season is heading into its final stages, with the remaining three rounds forming part of the ‘Showdown’.

Silverstone was the last stop on the championship prior to the Showdown, and it was there where this writer was invited into the British Superbikes outside broadcast (OB) truck. Richard Coventry, who has been the television director for the MCE British Superbikes series for the past twelve years, is our guide to the Televideo truck. In the second and final piece, we talk about the various roles involved in live motor sport broadcasting.

As referenced in the first piece, Coventry sits on the front desk, with the monitor wall in front of him. But Coventry’s role as television director is significantly more encompassing than that. Coventry in his role speaks to all the key players around him within the British Superbikes production crew, from the producers through to the commentators, commonly known as ‘talkback’ where information travels back and forth between the various parties.

“I sit in the middle of talkback communication between myself, the Eurosport producer, the camera operators, the VT operators, the sound crew, the engineers, the presenter, the commentators, but also race control, so I can speak to the race director if I need to,” Coventry explains.

The end-to-end process between an incident happening on-track, through to the television viewer hearing the story is fascinating. Because of the communication lines that Coventry has, it means that he can gather information on a riders’ condition from the medical centre, and then relay the facts to the commentators. “I talk to everybody effectively and disseminate the information coming back.”

Sitting next to Coventry is a race producer and a vision mixer. Communication across the front desk is vital. The primary role of the race producer is to keep an eye on emerging battles, deciding with Coventry whether to switch to the battle. Following the decision, the vision mixer cuts the pictures to cover said action. The race producer sits to the left of Coventry, with multiple timing screens in front of him on the monitor wall.

“Myself and the race producer will decide whether the battle for the lead has spread out, we’ll look down for a battle for fifth or a battle for 19th. We must make a judgement call on what the best thing to follow is, it’s not always the same outcome. We’ll prioritise what battle we think is more important for the race, for the championship and we will take a view on that.”

British Superbikes - running order
The Eurosport running order for the British Superbikes qualifying programme from Silverstone on Saturday 9th September 2017.

Behind the trio on the front desk is the Eurosport programme producer and the production assistant (PA). Unlike in Formula 1 or MotoGP, the British Superbikes OB truck controls both the race feed and the Eurosport pictures, hence why there is both a race producer and programme producer. The programme producer writes the running order for the Eurosport show, whilst the production assistant at a high-level ensures the show does not fall off the air. “We do have to think on our feet, the running order has some leeway,” explains Coventry, “but everything is timed down to a second.”

“The PA tells us whether we’re over, under or on-time based on the running order and the event, whether we need to adapt the running order to keep us on-time. If there is a red flag, we might have to consider moving breaks, and it is the PA’s duty to communicate that back to Eurosport. And, to work out, further down the running order later in the day, the things that we need to change to make sure that we’re on time.”

Like with Sky’s Formula 1 programming, many other countries also take Eurosport’s British Superbikes output, and it is the responsibility of the PA to communicate any changes to the other channels. “The PA communicates with the rest of the World Feed recipients, such as Setanta Africa, Sky New Zealand, the people who are taking it live elsewhere to let them know if there’s been any changes to the schedule of the event, so they may want to change what they’re doing as well,” Coventry tells me.

Alongside the key roles, there are other important pieces of the jigsaw. Coventry also referenced the on-air presentation team, the camera operators, an editor, two assistant producers, four replay operators, riggers, amongst many more people behind the scenes. “It does go off successfully, I suppose that’s a relative term! It’s like the proverbial duck on the pond isn’t it, the legs are going ten to the dozen underneath, but the ducks are smooth on the surface!”

“It’s pretty labour intensive, you’ve got to have an operator for most cameras, if we’re live we need a live gallery PA. We couldn’t reduce this beyond where we are without affecting the output. It’s a fairly slick and tight operation. There’s a lot to consider, but fortunately there’s enough of us to think of it all.”

Behind the scenes in the BSB OB truck: the monitor wall

The 2017 British Superbike season is heading into its final stages, with the remaining three rounds forming part of the ‘Showdown’.

Silverstone was the last stop on the championship prior to the Showdown, and it was there where this writer was invited into the British Superbikes outside broadcast (OB) truck. Richard Coventry, who has been the television director for the MCE British Superbikes series for the past twelve years, is our guide to the Televideo truck.

The main component of any OB truck is the wall of video monitors, which is where most of the focus lies. At a very high level, the monitor wall is where the director can see the variety of sources. For Coventry and his team, this can consist of around 13 track cameras and two pit lane cameras.

The size of the operation massively depends on the series, those of you who read my MotoGP piece with Dorna’s Managing Director Manel Arroyo will know that Dorna have around 150 cameras per race! Nevertheless, the principles behind the outside broadcast truck are similar.

“The monitor wall is a multi-viewer, so its eight monitors split with lots of sources. Every source that’s available to me in the vision mixer is on the monitor,” Coventry explains. There is a left bank (with two monitors), the four centre monitors seen above and a right bank (with two further monitors).

The centre bank of monitors is where Coventry’s attention is for much of the time. “I’ve got 13 track cameras directly in my eye line, underneath the main programme output (PGM). Next to that is the vision mixer preview (EDT PVW – PVW) so what is coming next,” Coventry says.

As you may expect, the track cameras are ordered by their position on the circuit. So, track camera one, controlled by Phil, is positioned at Copse (identified on the screenshot above as 1 Phil). Further round the track, Matt is controlling track camera six at Club opposite the Formula 1 pit lane, and so on and so forth.

A special case is track camera eight, identified above as 8 Dodgy. The reason for this is that the camera can double up and act as two different cameras. In this instance, the camera can see the bikes entering and exiting the arena section. This is common place at tracks where there are tight complexes, or the layout is small enough to allow multiple uses of one camera (the camera high up above the start-finish straight at Monte Carlo is another example of this).

The two graphic operators (GFX and GFX 2) sit up in Race Control with the time keepers. The left-hand and right-hand bank of monitors feature repeating sources.

“I’ve got four replay machines, which are called EVS W, X, Y and Z respectively. Each replay machine can record up to six sources,” Coventry explains. Both sides also contain the off-air output for the channels that British Superbikes are broadcasting on (O/A 1, O/A 2, and Quest), the two pit lane cameras (RF1 Chris and RF2 John) and the big screen output around the circuit.

Eurosport use the two pit lane cameras for their pre and post-session presentation, controlled also from the centralised OB truck. “Because of the unique way British Superbikes is run, as well as directing the race production, we also do Eurosport’s presentation. In MotoGP or F1, you would have a BT or Sky Sports truck and then an international World Feed truck, where the UK broadcaster would sit downstream. For the superbikes, unless there is a clash with World Superbikes, we do everything.”

The most interesting part of the side banks is a camera identified as ‘Q-Ball‘. “We control the Q-Ball camera from the truck. The camera this weekend is at Woodcote, coming into the start-finish straight, it’s very close to the track so we wouldn’t place a camera operator there, it gives us a fast speed shot,” Coventry notes. The benefit of doubling some elements up is so that nothing can be missed.

Lastly, specific to the left-hand side are the raw timing screens (P1P2 and P3), and the final satellite output (Line 1). Adrian Bourne, normally sitting to the left of Coventry, will use the timing screens to keep an eye on any emerging battles and on any fallers. One thing readers may notice that is not here is any source on-board cameras. The reason is cost related: the cost of live on-board cameras for motorcycling is significantly more than their four-wheel counterparts. Some On-board footage however is produced for the BSB YouTube channel by Drift Innovation.

British Superbikes - OB truck - buttons.jpg

Below the wall of video monitors is a series of buttons, known more formally as the vision mixer, responsible for slicing the final live product together. There are four repeating banks, each correlating to the sources in the screenshots above. On each bank, there are buttons for the 13 track cameras, the two pit lane cameras and four replay mixers. “It’s layers of vision mixer, cascading into the layer below, so we can make layered complicated effects if we wanted to,” Coventry explains to me.

Each layer also contains a variety of lime green buttons, generated before the live show. “All the green buttons here are macros, which are things written in advance, they’re complicated moves that you wouldn’t be able to build live so we build them in advance. For example the start lights animation is a macro, the team boxes, changing the name of the team boxes, these are stored in the mixer, as is the BSB bug and the timing graphics as well.”

The detail above covers the technical element, including the variety of outputs and graphics. But every television product has a human touch to it, and British Superbikes is no different. The technical side of television production is only one side of a complex story…

British Superbikes - OB truck - Monitor Wall Left 2.jpg

In conversation with Manel Arroyo

It is Saturday afternoon at a surprisingly warm Silverstone circuit. I am half expecting rain at any moment, but apart from early morning drizzle, the MotoGP event took place in remarkable conditions throughout.

About half an hour before the official post-qualifying press conference started, which featured the Moto2 and Moto3 pole sitters, plus the top three riders in the premier class, this writer headed for the Dorna offices situated next to the media centre. Inside, there was a flurry of activity, with a range of guests heading in and out at various intervals.

Dorna have been the commercial rights holder for MotoGP for just over a quarter of a century. “This is our 26th year. We started in Japan in March 1992, the team back then was just twelve people”, Manel Arroyo, who is Dorna’s Managing Director, recalls. Since 1992, Arroyo and his Dorna team have seen a range of technological changes, on both large and small-scale. Arroyo comments, “One of the big moments is when we changed from analogue to digital, it was a huge change for everyone in the industry.”

“Since then, we have gone from 4:3 to 16:9 [in 2008], from SD to HD, and now we are here looking at 4K technology. The cameras that we now install on the machines have significantly more performance, which allows fans to follow the likes of [Valentino] Rossi. This is what makes our work very enjoyable.” During this weekend’s San Marino MotoGP, fans can access a live 360-degree view from Andrea Dovizioso’s Ducati via the MotoGP Video Pass service.

A worldwide operation
– 155 cameras per race
=> including 95 on-board cameras
– 360,000 kilograms of equipment
transported
=> 230,000 for the teams
=> 130,000 for Dorna
– 92 tonnes of TV equipment
– 50 trucks
– 4 cargo Boeing 747 planes

From twelve people in 1992, the number of people working for Dorna on their MotoGP coverage has increased to 300, with a split of around 230 people on-site and 70 people in Barcelona depending on the race. “For all of us, Sunday is a special day, because it’s real racing, there’s great racing and competition between our riders,” says Arroyo.

“Each race seems better than the last one, although it will be difficult to have one better than Austria! The paddock works altogether as one, for the common good of the sport, that means riders, manufacturers, teams, FIM, Dorna, broadcasters, media and all our other partners. It’s important that we listen to what the riders like, what the riders don’t like around the rules, what the broadcasters like, what the broadcasters don’t like and so on, whether they want the show in another format or package,” Arroyo continued.

> BT Sport likely to retain UK TV rights for MotoGP

Although not always visible, the work that Dorna does goes beyond the MotoGP paddock, with Arroyo keen to point out the links to other motorcycle series to help talent flourish through the system from end-to-end. “We have been running with Red Bull the Red Bull Rookies Cup for many years. We also have the Asian Talent Cup that we’re running in Asia with Idemitsu and Honda, this is its fourth year. And [prior to Silverstone], we’ve started the process for the British Talent Cup, we will be running it next year.”

“We have connections with MotoAmerica, the American championship. We help them to produce the TV feed, and with the sporting and technical regulations, as we understand that in the long-term this will help grow the appeal of our sport.” Following Silverstone, it was announced that MotoAmerica would be expanding with a junior series, plus it is enriching its online offering so its European and Latin America fans can follow the series.

On the social media front, Arroyo is happy with the metrics, as demonstrated on this site. “We are reaching through social networks [to younger audiences], as you know very well, we’re the best motor sport in terms of followers in the social networking space!” The feeling that I received from Arroyo is that MotoGP is in a good position.

Attendances are fluctuating, with an unusually low attendance for the British MotoGP. Overall, whilst the picture is positive, the championship cannot afford to be complacent with roadblocks ahead, which is why Dorna are preparing for the long-term future and the next generation by investing in feeder, localised series around the world.

A race to the printers

When the chequered flag falls on Sunday afternoons, the hard work may be over for the MotoGP riders, who have just raced around some of the world’s toughest circuits. But behind the scenes on the journalistic front, there is a separate race against time that goes unnoticed. A race for the printers. A race round the paddock to get the quotes that will either be the lead story online, or the lead story on the supermarket shelves. It is a frantic race, that brings with it many layers that must fit seamlessly into place for the process to work.

In the lead-up to the home round of the 2017 MotoGP championship, Motorcycle News (MCN) published a 32-page British Grand Prix special, that was months in the making. “We’ve been planning the paper for three months. I started on it at Sachsenring before the Summer break, planning and then gathering quotes during Austria and Brno,” explained Simon Patterson, MCN’s MotoGP reporter.

Patterson, who has been MCN’s reporter since the start of 2016, described how the input of British riders was vital in helping with delivery of the special. “With British riders, we can do things over the phone as we have a great relationship with them. One of the features we have in the preview is a track map which needed to be annotated. I sent the map to Tarran [Mackenzie], he printed it, scribbled notes on it, photographed it and sent it back! There’s mutual benefit.”

Despite a reduced circulation, the weekly paper is still a key part of MCN’s output, with an audience of around 66,000 readers per week in 2016 according to Press Gazette, a healthy number and comfortably ahead of its competitors in the market. It is important for the future of the newspaper that it has exclusive stories, such as Jorge Lorenzo’s move to Ducati from last year.

“You get to build your circle of sources. There are a few things that someone has told me a month in advance, I think it doesn’t sound correct, and then a month later it comes true! The next time they tell you something, you take them a bit more seriously,” Patterson says.

Attention during the early part of the weekend is on producing content for the website, with a clear emphasis on disseminating driver quotes, session results and evening round-ups, before focus turns to gathering key information ready for the magazine.

The paper, which is published each Wednesday, forms the backbone of Patterson’s post-race output. “The race normally finishes at 3pm local time, we go straight into rider debriefs and the press conferences, trying to catch riders in the paddock. Normally that takes me until around 6pm, and it is just me from MCN at this stage! I won’t start writing until 6pm essentially, which is normally four spreads of the paper, eight pages and around 6,000 words in total,” explains Patterson, who regularly spends Sunday evenings amongst other journalists in the media centre until the early hours!

Only after the chequered flag falls does the lead story start to fall into place, but even then, the narrative may still be undecided. “You have an idea of what the story is, but sometimes you can ask a question in the debrief to get the quotes from them to support what you’re going to write. You know your angle, you ask the question and get the supporting evidence from them, that’s the way to build it,” Patterson notes. Patterson is MCN’s sole MotoGP reporter at 16 of the 18 rounds, meaning that his role is critical throughout the entire process. The news gathering process is similar irrespective of organisation.

Unlike the television crews around the world who broadcast MotoGP, journalists have time to digest the information presented to them before writing their narrative. “[The TV guys] can do a certain amount of prep [before going to air]; they may have talked to people after warm-up, but I get the chance to talk to all of the riders first, talk to crew chiefs, talk to people from Michelin and then form an opinion,” explains fellow MotoGP journalist David Emmett, who has been writing about MotoGP for MotoMatters for a decade. “Because it is more reactive it requires less preparation, because I write 2,000 words in the evening, I have time to sit down and think about it.”

Outside of the circuit, once Patterson has written his material for the newspaper, a quality assurance phase occurs, a procedure common place in the print industry to ensure the material written is accurate and of high-quality. Known as ‘sub-editing’, Patterson’s pieces for print go through four layers involving three MCN editors (Sports, Production and Senior) and the design team before final sign-off. It is an exhaustive, but vital, process. Already in the background, journalists are compiling quotes and research for future races, as MotoGP speeds towards the flyaway races, the process is constantly moving forward.

Following publication of last week’s edition of MCN looking back at the British MotoGP, truncated stories are published online to direct attention to the paper. And then, for Patterson and the rest of the fraternity, attention turns to the next stop of the season, which this weekend is the San Marino MotoGP…