Guest Blog: Mat Oxley: Losing focus in MotoGP

MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.


Losing focus in MotoGP

I interviewed Sito Pons at the Sachsenring, chatting about his times winning 250 World Championships in the late 1980s. He told me that when he was training – running or whatever – he only ever had two rivals in his sights.

“When I trained, in my head there were only two riders: Toni Mang and Carlos Lavado,” said Pons, who won the 1988 and 1989 250 titles and now owns Pol Espargaró’s Moto2 team “They were my focus, no one else, because they were fastest and most consistent riders, so I knew if I could beat them, then I could be world champion.”

All racers need a focus and when they lose that focus, things can start to go wrong. After his first crash of the year at Catalunya, Jorge Lorenzo revealed that one of his focuses this year had been to do the whole season without crashing. An admirable goal, but possibly distracting from the only goal that matters, winning the world title? He crashed again at the next race at Assen and then again on Friday in Germany.

Lorenzo certainly seemed to have lost his normal focus during Friday practice at the Sachsenring. Instead of his usual manner of chipping away at things, always focusing on Sunday, he was a man on a mission, like he had something to prove, to show the world that he really is a superman. He was fastest on Friday morning and then roared out of the pits on Friday afternoon, once again with the hammer down.

His out-lap was nine seconds faster than anyone else’s and he was into the 1m 22s on his second lap, when most riders were at least two seconds slower. His last full lap kept him at the top of the times for most of the session and the first half of his fateful final lap was only 0.07 seconds slower than the fastest of the session. This was surely a momentary lapse of reason from the metronomic machine.

Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

Comments

Quote

"For the second consecutive race, it was a great press conference: three grinning maniacs in a row. Just the way we like it."
Spot on !!!!!!

Total votes: 73

Agreed!!!!

Any chance we can keep Jorge and Dani off signing autographs during the press conferences
Or have Cal give them lessons on public speaking
If we wanted to watch auto bots tow the corporate line all the time we'd watch F1
It's f#%€ing motorcycle racing for F sake

Total votes: 66

Nice article, thanks.

But if the tyres are such a problem then why don't they 'make more of a fuss'? Is it a contractual gag to stop anyone saying bad things about BS?
Or, is it a team-led thing because they are concerned that the status quo is at least predictable and their bike may not 'like' a new spec?
MGP should be full prototypes from the rubber upwards, and the single tyre rule seems to be one of the worst mistakes the rule-makers have made in many a year.
Riders will always push to the limits and beyond, but such an unnecessary hazard as this seems like cost-effectiveness gone mad. Bridgestone obviously think the cost of peoples careers and medical care aren't factored into their budget and therefore it's not their problem. Either that or they think (and Dorna) that its a great way of 'shaking up' the entertainment - I sincerely hope not...

I also thought that Capirex was supposed to be handling this or any other safety issues.....

Total votes: 72

Marquez is

There can be little doubt that MM is a very special racer. Not that all of them aren't,but rookie performances like his are obviously rare...However,the fact that he remains extremely lucky that his slamming into the ground several times has not resulted in greater injury.....and that his two main rivals have not been so lucky in their get offs seems lost on Mr. Oxley...I can only wonder at the what-if narrative were he sidelined while they raced...One can only be impressed by the talented MM so far.But the widespread media adoration of his talent seems to have overtaken the race calendar.....Injuries,bad luck,small sample sizes etc. are all still in play ,as we are about to reach the mid point.....lots of racing remains......the crown is Lorenzo's....the spotlight of adoration is Marquez's....one is earned...the other is of little consequence.....

Total votes: 68

Very interesting article - about focus

Surely as any sports psychologist will talk about - and for sure these top riders do all the time - you cannot actually focus on *not* doing something - you can only focus on doing something specific or something other than the stuff you don't want to do.

So if JL wanted to win by *not* crashing, perhaps his focus was to just beat #2's times - whoever that may have been. Not try and lay down the law, rip the records to shreds to make sure no-one else could come close. That is a different approach. And likely crash-laden.

Total votes: 68

focus

When landing a hang-glider in a field, you don't look at trees and fences and think " I must not hit these " but rather you must look at the space you will land in and think " I will land there ". If you focus on the trees and fences that is exactly where you will end up... (I speak from experience)
(negative) Target fixation.
JLo and his "will not crash" has the idea of 'crash' in his focus and look what's happend :O(

Total votes: 82

+1

Precisely...

Total votes: 74

Casey!

I remember Casey blasting Bridgestone and the tire problems and the overwhelming response was that he was 'whining again'! In fact, he said that when he was with Ducati, every time he/team had a tire issue, Bridgestone always said it was NOT the tires, but chassis, suspension, set up issues. Hmmm....guess Casey was right.

Total votes: 81

On the contrary to Sito's well made point

Had George and Dani focused on the bigger picture,the title, rather than some form of psychological ascendency over their toughest rivals,they both may well have consolidated their championship positions. Not to be and price paid. It looks like they will both race Laguna and apply their minds viz a viz the situation accordingly. I sure hope they both race and avoid injury,no matter the respective results.

Total votes: 64

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