Organizer Frank Melling: “I’ve seen some real track wars over the years. Hailwood and Agostini, Sheene and Kenny Roberts, Rossi and Gibernau to name but a few. But Parrish (above) and Roberts (below) are taking rivalry to a whole new level.
In the red corner, surrounded by his all-female team of physios, life-style gurus, Reiki experts and cocktail preparers is Steve Parrish – multi British champion and Grand Prix star.
Across the paddock with the mainly blue Transit van – except for the front right wing which is still in primer – is young gun Matt Roberts assisted by his mate Barry and of course Cheryl, the rescue whippet, who is the team’s mascot.
Parrish said: “I know that Roberts sees the Thundersprint battle as the very pinnacle of motorcycle sport. As I said to Prince Charles last week, winning MotoGP is no better than getting first dibs at the caviar canapés compared with standing on the top step of the Thundersprint podium!
“My team has had Matt under intense surveillance and we know that he has been to a few track days this year and we were impressed when he got his knee down – quickly followed by his elbow, bum and shoulder.
“For my part, I am in full-on training from now until next May. I am cutting down on the number of olives in my cocktails and I am insisting on squeezing my own toothpaste to build up my finger stamina for the arduous 447 yard Thundersprint lap. This is serious business.”
Roberts is equally determined. The 34 year old Yorkshire iron man athlete said: “Parrish might have 30 years of racing behind him, and a house full of trophies, but at the end of the day this is about north versus south and we know what happens there.
“When you’re out on t’tops, with a howling wind, rain lashing down and the sheep looking nervous, you find that special place deep inside – the place where your body, heart, mind and soul meld with mushy peas and steak and kidney pudding to make you what you are: an invincible competitor.
“Parrish has more chance of finding a lightly oaked New Zealand Chardonnay in Cleckheaton on a Saturday night than he has of beating me. Bring it on!”
Thundersprint organiser Frank Melling was nervous over the forthcoming battle. “I’ve seen some real track wars over the years. Hailwood and Agostini, Sheene and Kenny Roberts, Rossi and Gibernau to name but a few. But Parrish and Roberts are taking rivalry to a whole new level.
“We’re bringing in a specially trained team of security staff to keep the two camps well apart and we’ve warned both of them that we want to see the rivalry kept to the track. I’ve made it clear that any paddock brawls, or machine sabotage, will result in an instant ban – and confiscation of their Thundersprint goodie bags.”