Julian Ryder is to retire from his MotoGP broadcasting duties at the end of the 2017 season, this site can confirm. It means that his commentary alongside Keith Huewen for BT Sport in Valencia, will be his last in MotoGP, for now at least.
Ryder follows MotoGP World Feed lead commentator Nick Harris in retiring, Harris also bowing out this weekend. BT nor Ryder have yet to comment, but I have been able to independently verify the news with multiple sources, whilst stars from the paddock fraternity have noted it on social media.
Involved in motor cycle racing for over 30 years, Ryder started off as a journalist before moving into the television space with Eurosport in the late 1980s. Ryder’s first major stint was with Sky Sports, working alongside the likes of Huewen and Martin Turner (more recently Sky’s Head of Formula 1) on their World Superbikes coverage.
Into the new millennium, Ryder moved to Eurosport, covering MotoGP with Toby Moody and Randy Mamola, forming a partnership that became universally liked by viewers from the beginning until Eurosport’s coverage ended in 2013. Ryder made the switch with MotoGP to BT Sport, reforming his partnership with Huewen, lasting for four seasons.
BT Sport’s presentation line-up has changed various times since their coverage started in 2014, with Melanie Sykes, Abi Griffiths, and Iwan Thomas coming and going at various stages. Ryder’s departure appears to be his decision as opposed to a BT influenced move. It is fair to say that BT will lose his vast array of knowledge and expertise spanning the three classes on the MotoGP programme, which will be incredibly difficult to replace.
The problem for all motor sport series, especially MotoGP and Formula 1, is that as the number of races increases, so does the demand and strain on all involved with the championship, including broadcasters’ and journalists. The more races you add to the calendar in fly-away locations, the less desire there is to continue said travel.
If broadcasters want to retain their best talent, both in front and behind the camera, they need to strongly consider rotating their talent better, including commentary or, as an alternative, to call some of the fly-away races from London. For next season, I would expect Neil Hodgson and Colin Edwards to be the prime candidates to fill Ryder’s void, in what could be BT Sport’s fourth and last season covering the sport.
Either way, the 2017 Valencia MotoGP round marks the end of an era, with two legendary commentators heading to pastures new outside of the MotoGP paddock.
Update on November 10th – Speaking at the start of BT Sport’s coverage of the first MotoGP practice session on Friday morning, Ryder said, “My name is Julian Ryder, I’m here for the last weekend of my MotoGP career.” Ryder also explained his reasoning at the start of the broadcast. “I decided that I can’t deal with the travel anymore, I’ve got other jobs I want to do, so I’m quietly out the door on Sunday.”
Speaking to Keith Huewen, Ryder said that “it has been the pleasure of my professional life to commentate with you. It has always been fun, as it should be!”