A lightning from the clear blue sky - such was Australian motorcycle rider Garry McCoy's rise to fame in the 500cc class of the 2000 World Motorcycling Championship season. Or should I say a greased lightning striking sideways.
His sudden appearance virtually out of nowhere, his constant underdog status, not only because of the bike he rode but also because of his physique, and last but not least his incredible riding style made him an instant crowd-favourite.
Despite the fact that, for most spectators, he only surfaced in 1999 as a surprise replacement for fellow Australian Simon Crafar on the Red Bull Yamaha team, Garry Mc Coy was no stranger to the world of motorcycle racing.
Born April 18th 1972, he rode his first 125cc race in 1992. The following year he won two races ( in Malaysia and Australia, and generally had a pretty upbeat season.
He first raced in the top class of the World Championship on a Shell Advance Honda, in 1998, but misfortune had already become a on-again off-again companion for him. Hindered by ankle problems he had a disappointing season that year and found himself without a ride for the season-to-come. 1999 wasn't a full season for him, but his continuous struggles must've caught the eye of the Red Bull Yamaha Team bosses.
In 2000 he was a starter for the team and fast became no1 rider. With victories in Welkom,SA and two other races of the season, he found himself in the unlikely position of World Title contender. The crowd loved him, not only because of his awesome riding style, which presented a spectacle on its own whether Garry was in the lead or not, but also because of the fact that the small-framed, light weight, (58 kg) not too young rider, who had more than his fair share of hardship during his GP500 years, presented the perfect underdog to root for.
Misfortune, however, seemed to be only temporarily parted from Garry's side. The promising 2001 season was ruined for him by a wrist fracture suffered in LeMans, and 2002 turned out to be a fiasco as well.
The joining of the struggling Kawasaki team in 2003 only came to further accelerate the obvious. Garry was fast on his way out of the World Championship, to my (and lots of other people's) greatest regret.
From 2004, us motoGP fans almost lost track of our once-favourite "Slide King" as he joined NCR Ducati in Superbike. He spent the 2005 season there too, having switched to the Foggy Petronas team.
A few days ago, as I was searching for information on Garry, to my greatest surprise I've learnt that he would return to the motoGP for a full 2007 season. Not only that, but he would run in the last couple of races (Portugal and Spain) of the 2006 season on a 800cc Ilmor machine shod with Michelin tires.
This news pretty much made my day. I'm aware of the fact the he most probably won't present a threat to fore-runners in either of these two races, however, just to have Garry back in the WMC is absolutely awesome.
He again looks all washed out and everything just the way he looked before that sensational 2000 season, but despite this, he's back. I can't truly express how much I appreciate this type of resilience.
This guy keeps taking punches and then coming back and asking for more. If he doesn't deserve recognition for his attitude and courage no one does. I honestly hope one day he'll walk away with the Championship and laugh right into Misfortune's face.
One thing for sure, if and when that day comes I'll be laughing with him.
Till then: " GO GARRY!!"