Archive - Blog entry

August 19th, 2015

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Remembering the past at Brno

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.


Remembering the past at Brno

At Brno I asked Dorna if they would arrange a minute’s silence on the MotoGP grid to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, which claimed the lives of 55 million people and changed the lives of hundreds of millions forever. Indeed, it changed the entire world forever. We all live with the ongoing effects of what happened back then – just ask anyone who lives in Brno and knows what happened there during the war.

Carmelo Ezpeleta considered my request and turned it down, even after I had pointed out that during the weekend of the 1997 Czech Grand Prix he happily arranged a minute’s silence on the grid to mark the occasion of the death of Princess Diana.

August 12th

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - When no-one knew who Honda was

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.


When no-one knew who Honda was

When Marc Márquez swept to Honda’s 700th Grand Prix victory on Sunday he did so at the head of the factory Repsol Honda team, probably the biggest outfit in the paddock, with every member trained and drilled to deal with every eventuality.

It is a somewhat different set-up to the brave little crew that turned up for the company’s first world championship race, the Isle of Man TT in June 1959.

July 27th

Editor's Blog: Putting Suzuka Back On The Map

Once upon a time, the Suzuka 8 Hour race was a big deal. A very big deal. It was the race the Japanese factories sent their very best riders to compete in, the event often being written into the contracts of the top Grand Prix and World Superbike riders as part of their factory deals. The list of big names to win the race is impressive. Wayne Rainey, Eddie Lawson, Mick Doohan, Wayne Gardner, Daryl Beattie, Aaron Slight, Doug Polen, Scott Russell, Noriyuki Haga, Colin Edwards, Daijiro Kato, Alex Barros, Shinichi Itoh, Tohru Ukawa, Taddy Okada. And of course Valentino Rossi. There, they faced the very best of the Japanese Superbike riders, as well as the regulars from the World Endurance Championship, of which it forms a part.

It may have been an honor to have been asked to do the race, but the GP riders were far from keen. Held in July, the race fell right in the middle of the Grand Prix season. Racing in the event meant multiple flights to Japan for testing and practice, then the grueling race itself in the oppressive heat and humidity of a Japanese summer. It meant doing the equivalent of four Grand Prix in the space of eight hours, then rushing home to get ready for the next race. The best case scenario meant they started the next Grand Prix event tired and aching from Suzuka. The worst case was a crash and an injury that either kept them off the bike or left them riding hurt. The only benefit was that it kept the factories happy, and marginally increased a rider's chances of extending his contract with the manufacturer for a following season.

Gradually, the race fell out of favor, and more and more riders had clauses added to their contract specifically excluding them from being forced to race at Suzuka. Mick Doohan was one of the early absentees. Valentino Rossi did it twice, won it the second time around, and swore never to race at the event again. It was simply too demanding for a rider chancing a championship. In the early years of this century, the race languished in relative obscurity. The name of the event still echoed in the collective memory of race fans, but it passed without much comment. Except in Japan, where it remained the pinnacle of the JSB season, and the battleground for the Japanese manufacturers.

July 15th

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How tyres could decide the 2015 MotoGP title

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.


How tyres could decide the 2015 MotoGP title

Let’s do some maths: nine races gone and nine to go, so it’s halfway time when we get to examine the past with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight and pretend we’ve got even the slightest clue about what’s going to happen next.

If we take Sunday’s German GP and extrapolate that result all the way to Valencia, Marc Márquez will record a famous comeback world-title victory. However, if Márquez, Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo each win three of the remaining nine races, while recording podium finishes in the other six, then Rossi will most likely make history with a 10th world title, 18 years after his first. The possibilities are endless, of course, though it might be fun if someone fed the data into a supercomputer. Please be my guest…

July 1st

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Welcome to MotoGP’s controlled electronics era

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.


Welcome to MotoGP’s controlled electronics era

When the future looks uncertain, some people like to take refuge in the past, which goes some way to explaining the success of events like last weekend’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, which is largely about old motor sport metal.

The metal is all important because, unlike most sports, motor racing has a hugely tangible history: gawping at the goal posts used at the 1938 FA Cup final is never going to be as much fun as examining the supercharged DKW that won the 1938 Lightweight TT.

Among those paying homage to the past at Goodwood was Valentino Rossi. The (currently uncrowned) king of MotoGP jetted in from Saturday’s Dutch TT, still giddy on the taste of his 111th Grand Prix victory, to take part in celebrations marking Yamaha’s 60th anniversary.

June 17th

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Blue on blue

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.


Blue on blue

Forty years ago this Saturday Jaws was released in cinemas. The film’s theme tune still reverberates in people’s minds: a spooky riff synonymous with approaching danger.

Over the past four races Jorge Lorenzo has bitten shark-sized chunks out of Valentino Rossi; 28 points, to be exact. With seven rounds done and 11 to go, he is just one point adrift of his team-mate and poised for the kill. Or is he? Perhaps Lorenzo’s momentum is unstoppable or perhaps Rossi can rally himself.

Of course, the nine-time champ has been here before. Way back in 2009 he likened Lorenzo and the other new kids on the block to sharks. “If I am not strong, I know they will eat me in one bite,” he said. “They look at me with a little bit of blood flowing and maybe they think, OK, now is the time.”

June 3rd

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Into the Lorenzo zone

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.


Into the Lorenzo zone

It’s not easy finding out much about a rider in the 15-minute interview slots that are the norm in MotoGP now. Unless something interesting happens.

On one of the first occasions I interviewed Jorge Lorenzo, our brief time together was blighted by a malfunctioning automatic door. We were sat right by the door in the lounge area of Yamaha’s hospitality truck, with team staff coming and going as we chatted.

At first the door obediently swooshed open and shut like we were on the Starship Enterprise, but then it developed a fault, and each time it jammed Lorenzo became more infuriated, until I was certain I could see steam coming out of his ears.

May 20th

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Planes, trains, autocycles…

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.


Planes, trains, autocycles…

Whatever you are doing, drop it right now and plan your visit to the Italian Grand Prix because there may never be another MotoGP race like it.

Ride your bike, jump on a ferry, book a flight, buy a train ticket, strap a tent to the back of that rusting C90 in the back of the garage, share a car, hire a minibus, or hitch, or crawl the whole way, like a pilgrim, backwards.

Valentino Rossi is leading the 2015 MotoGP world championship, riding the crest of a wave, aiming to achieve what will be a hugely historical – not just in motorcycle racing but across all sports – 10th world title, 18 years after his first.

May 6th

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Roll on 2016!

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.


Roll on 2016!

That was prime Jorge Lorenzo: grab the holeshot, then lay down the law, so there’s no gunfight at the end. Perhaps there would’ve been a shootout in the final laps if Marc Márquez hadn’t been handicapped by his finger injury and Valentino Rossi hadn’t been spooked by a few front-end scares, but that’s all ifs and buts.

Jerez was the first procession of a so-far dazzling season which will surely give us more great races, but I’m already looking forward to 2016.

We have had four seasons of classes-within-a-class MotoGP racing. Next year MotoGP will be back to where it should be: everyone working to the same technical rules, a level race track, no excuses, let’s go racing.

April 22nd

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Márquez vs Rossi: the best tight fight ever?

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.


Márquez vs Rossi: the best tight fight ever?

Valentino Rossi has been through them all. He’s the ancient prize fighter who has taken out Max Biaggi, Sete Gibernau, Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo and the rest. His premier-class duels go so far back into racing history – all the way back to 2000 – that they cross generations. The same time span of 16 years would’ve had John Surtees taking on Barry Sheene, Mike Hailwood comparing genius with Freddie Spencer, Kenny Roberts doing battle with his own son, Wayne Rainey having a go with Casey Stoner and Mick Doohan with Marc Márquez. Hard to believe, but do the maths; it’s true.

The first racer who caused Rossi a real problem was Stoner – finally here was someone who had the sheer talent to beat the old master. Now there’s Marc Márquez.

April 15th

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - 122 seconds in the life of Marc Márquez

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.


122 seconds in the life of Marc Márquez

There was quite an admission of guilt from the podium trio at Austin on Sunday. Not one of the top three – Marc Márquez, Andrea Dovizioso or Valentino Rossi – had ridden the entire race flat-out. They’re not getting lazy or anything, they just knew that Austin’s 20 corners and especially the Turn 3/4/5/6/7/8/9 flip-flops and the never-ending Turn 16/17/18 right-hander chew the hell out of the front tyre. So don’t abuse it or it will abuse you.

All these things considered, Márquez was miraculous on race day. Following overnight rain, the track had lost some grip, so he held back in the early laps while Dovizioso crept ahead at the rate of several tenths a lap. Was Márquez struggling? Was he, hell. He was just getting acquainted with the new grip character and once he knew what he was dealing with, he surged forward and that was that. Another brilliant win, his 20th in the premier class, which puts him equal with his forefather Freddie Spencer.

But I won’t remember the weekend for Sunday’s 43-minute race. Much more memorable was what happened on Saturday afternoon.

April 1st

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Rossi: The Movie

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.


Rossi: The Movie

It was American author Mark Twain who said that fact is stranger than fiction. It must be, he said, because fiction is limited by the human imagination, whereas reality is limited by nothing.

The Valentino Rossi story is way too far-out to be fiction. If someone wrote a Rossi-inspired movie (a kind of two-wheeled Days of Thunder) it would get laughed out of the cinemas. What a load of Hollywood nonsense – that kind of stuff never happens in the real world.

March 18th

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Motorcycle racing’s dwindling classics

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.


Motorcycle racing’s dwindling classics

As MotoGP’s superstars rode out on Saturday night to tweak their black boxes and twiddle with their high-speed rebound adjusters, the world’s greatest motorcycle race was roaring into action 7000 miles away.

Not that anyone seemed to care. While cyberspace was afire with every detail of the final preseason tests outside Doha, the 74th running of the Daytona 200 didn’t even raise a ripple in motorcycling’s Twitter-sphere. It wasn’t even televised.

March 4th

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Rubber and robbery

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.


Rubber and robbery

Many of you probably already know something about bike racing’s greatest story of industrial espionage, when East German Ernst Degner defected through the Iron Curtain at the height of the Cold War, carrying with him MZ’s hard-won two-stroke secrets. Degner sold MZ’s knowhow to the struggling Suzuki factory, which went on to win its first GP victories and first World Championship the very next year.

For all we know, stuff like this happens all the time; we just don’t get to hear about it. But we did get to hear about something that happened 10 years ago in Ireland.

February 18th

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Where does the British Grand Prix belong?

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.


Where does the British Grand Prix belong?

Where should the British Grand Prix have its home? What we are looking for is a circuit that tests the mettle of the riders as much as the metal of the motorcycle. There would be only three on my list: Brands Hatch, Oulton Park and Silverstone.

To my mind, racetracks should have some primal scream to them; they should be more than mere technical exercise. On the current calendar – outside Britain – that means Brno, Mugello, Phillip Island and possibly Sepang; four circuits from 17 foreign venues.

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