When you’ve spent much of your life with the MotoGP paddock charging around the world from one race to the next, it can be difficult to realise the impact and the changes going on around you.

But after 12 months outside of the bubble of non-stop action that presided over his professional life, Nick Harris has reflected on the key moments that shaped an incredible career.

This has led the iconic MotoGP commentator to release Never Say Never: The Inside Story of the Motorcycle World Championships a part-memoir and part-chronological walkthrough on the 70-year history of Motorcycle Grand Prix racing.

While not all memories can be happy ones producing the book became a cathartic experience for Harris who initially couldn’t watch the sport continue without him after he hung up his racing commentator microphone at the end of 2017.

After missing the 2018 opener completely, before having his head turned, Harris accepts it was futile to ignore the sport which took centre stage of his life.

Now a fan watching from home, while keeping himself busy with book writing, featured work with MotoGP championship organiser’s Dorna and BBC Radio Oxford, Harris remains a strong supporter and feels both the series and the sport is in its greatest-ever health.

“We always look back with rose-tinted spectacles and the early days, which I wasn’t involved with but I remember following, on the road circuits with the likes of Geoff Duke and the British machinery was an incredible time,” Harris said. “Then the 500cc two-strokes with Kenny Roberts, Barry Sheene and then the Raineys and the Lawsons and the Schwantzs and the Spencers.

“But I don’t think there is any doubt that this is the absolute pinnacle at the moment.

“Full grids, full factory involvement, different riders winning races each week and very, very close racing. Safety has improved to as good as it can be and there are massive crowds. The average of around 151,000 at each round. The sport is in a very good place at the moment.”

One rider of the current crop stands out to Harris and it takes little effort to guess who.

In his eyes the reigning MotoGP champion Marc Marquez is already “up there with the very best” through the way he has transformed and stamped his riding style on Grand Prix racing and Harris sees the 26-year-old on a charge towards legendary status.

“I think so and I wouldn’t even say [a legend] in the making, I’d say he’s got one foot firmly in the door,” Harris explained. “Like all sports, it is difficult to compare over the eras as things were so different.

“Could Valentino Rossi ride three Grands Prix in a day like Mike Hailwood did? Could he ride at the TT? Could Mike Hailwood compete in a modern MotoGP race? We’ll never know.

“Marc Marquez is up there with the very best. I think things he does on a motorcycle is beyond something we’ve ever seen in those 70 years.

“I’m sure the likes of Fabio Quartararo, Franco Morbidelli and Joan Mir we’ll be saying the same thing. Hopefully they can produce something even different. But to watch Marquez ride a motorcycle, well, you are never going to be bored.

“Nothing would surprise me with Marquez, even if he tried to do Moto2 and MotoGP in the same season!”

Despite the current MotoGP grid possessing a nine-time world champion (Valentino Rossi), a seven-time world champion (Marquez) and a five-time world champion (Jorge Lorenzo), Harris doubts any will ever reach the all-time leader of Giacomo Agostini who sits at the top on 15 titles in the debate of the greatest to ever race.

“Agostini’s 15 world titles is never going to be touched. It was an era where he could ride a 350cc and a 500cc quite comfortably so he could win two world titles in a season,” he said. “That is a record that will stand forever and that has got to put him very close to the top of the list as the greatest rider of all time.”

With time to reflect on his career as a commentator and journalist in MotoGP, a voice recognised by millions around the world, Harris says putting the book together allowed him to encapsulate the many highs and lows he’s witnessed.

From history-making world championship victories to heart-breaking tragedies, Harris hopes his work provides a shining memory to the sport that shaped his life.

“It brought back a lot of memories and it was perfect for me because I did feel raw initially about things,” he said. “But doing something like this fully occupied my time for six months morning, noon and night. I brought back so many great memories and so many sad memories. It was a cleansing experience.

“The very nature of the sport, from when I started to now, means it has always been a dangerous sport but the safety in the sport is one the biggest changes in the sport.

“There have been some very sad moments when people have been killed and I hope the book shows that I was taught from very early on it was your duty as a journalist and as a friend to do a professional job. That is the best way to remember the person gone and also to honour their memory.”

Never Say Never by Nick Harris is out now, published by Virgin Books.

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