MotoGP is enjoying a period of unprecedented popularity and Ring of Fire details the acclaim, the heroism and the pressures of riding motorbikes at speeds of more than 200mph. This is a world where manufacturers invest millions and the world champion celebrates by staging mock jail breaks and giving pillion rides to a blow-up doll. One rider warms up for major races by singing Hank Marvin songs on his karaoke machine and a rising Italian star sees the world in terms of black and white energy tubes. Another sees nothing strange in racing with two broken ankles.
Ring of Fire covers the recent history of MotoGP, from American Nicky Hayden spectacularly overturning established champion Valentino Rossi in 2006, through the emergence of wild young Australian Casey Stoner as the new champion in 2007, to the fierce rivalry between them and Spaniards Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo in what would prove to be one of the most closely-contested years of racing in 2008. It gives a behind the scenes look at World Superbike Champion James Toseland's attempts to break into this elite, and looks back at the tradition of reprobates, romance and debauchery in the paddock dating back to the 60s and stars like Mike Hailwood and Giacomo Agostino.
Rick Broadbent introduces us not just to the stars and the multi-million pound contracts, but also to the officals, mechanics, doctors, team owners and fans who make up this white-knuckle ride of a sport. By turns funny, sad, shocking and uplifting, Ring of Fire brings us face to face with those who battle to emerge unscathed, or who just ignore the pain and ride to win against all odds.
Rick Broadbent is a sports writer for the Times, for whom he covers MotoGP, among other things. He has previously witten books on football, boxing and athletics as well as, most recently, collaborating with motorcycle legend Ron Haslam on his autobiography Rocket Men, published by Bantam Press in July 2008.