30 October 2004
Michael Jordan makes MotoGP debut!
Basketball legend Michael Jordan made his MotoGP debut at the Valencia Grand Prix today - riding the Ducati Desmosedici two-seater!
Recognised as the greatest basketball player of all time, Jordan rode four laps of the twisty Spanish circuit on the 990cc machine - capable of reaching speeds of over 210mph in grand prix competition - shortly after the final qualifying sessions had finished.
The American was joined by four MotoGP full-timers - Sete Gibernau, Colin Edwards, Kenny Roberts Junior and Kurtis Roberts - and watched by over 60,000 MotoGP fans.
"Today was something you'll never get to see again," said an elated Roberts, who borrowed a fan's GSX-R1000 for the occasion. "It was something real special, a spur-of-the-moment thing."
A keen motorcyclist since the age of five, Jordan is a racetrack regular in the United States, where he runs a team fielding Montez Stewart in AMA Supersport and Superstock. The six-time NBA champion is also an enthusiastic street rider, owning a Ducati 998 and 999 amongst a substantial two-wheel stable.
Jordan flew to Spain in his private jet, with the simple idea of watching this weekend's Valencia GP, the final event of the 2004 season. But he then found himself getting talked into taking control of Ducati's 230-plus horsepower V4 (pictured), which Randy Mamola usually uses to give pillion rides to VIPs.
"It was Sete who talked me into it!" laughed the six foot six giant, who wore a custom-made set of Alpinestars leathers. "That was fun, but I only got it up to fourth gear, I can't imagine what these things are like wide open in sixth!
"The straightaways were no problem, but I was trying to find the markers for the corners, then I had these other guys riding alongside tapping me on the leg!" he smiled.
"These things have so much power, I was trying to pull a wheelie, but in the end I was a bit too afraid, so I just started waving! I guess you could say I need a bit more time to get used to all that power," he admitted.
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