Archive - Blog entry

February 10th, 2016

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The Easy Rider in Valentino Rossi

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.


The Easy Rider in Valentino Rossi

The nine-time champion hasn’t just changed his riding style to stay on top; he’s changed his whole lifestyle

I watched Easy Rider on the plane home from Sepang and thought about Valentino Rossi. There’s more than a tenuous link here, honest. Rossi would do almost anything to have been born thirty years earlier, so he could’ve been racing and generally having a good time in that wildest, most excessive of eras.

February 4th

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why Honda never take the easy road

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.


Why Honda never take the easy road

Honda’s RC213V engine is a wild thing, but this is not an unusual problem for them to solve. Here’s why…

Many people will tell you the most important things about preseason tests is lap times. These numbers are endlessly analysed by so-called experts attempting to predict the outcome of the new season, rather like weirdos trying to divine the future by reading the tealeaves in the bottom of their teacups.

It’s all a load of nonsense, of course. Individual preseason lap times mean nothing. If they did, Marc Marquez would’ve won last year’s MotoGP title.

January 28th

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP’s big change

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.


MotoGP’s big change

The balance of MotoGP is set for a dramatic change as the bias moves from the front of the bike to the rear

Next week MotoGP undergoes its biggest technical shakeup since the arrival of the four-strokes back in 2002: one-size-fits-all rider aids, Michelin tyres and plenty else.

Which will have the greatest effect on the racing? No contest: it’s the tyres, the final interface between motorcycle and racetrack.

The switch from Bridgestone to Michelin will change the whole balance of MotoGP, because over the past seven years MotoGP riders enjoyed a front tyre that was better than the rear; now they have a rear that’s better than the front.

January 19th

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Rossi and Lorenzo: into 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.


Rossi and Lorenzo: into 2016

Yamaha has launched its 2016 factory team and hostilities between its riders are already fizzing

I don’t usually do team launches. They are the exact opposite of racing: totally safe and entirely predictable. Attending a MotoGP launch is a bit like going to a restaurant and reading the menu but not eating the food. A pointless exercise.

But there are exceptions. During more than three decades of doing this job (luckiest man alive) I’ve worked out that most big sponsors are businesses with money to burn, like those flogging tobacco, mobile phones, oil, that kind of thing. I’ve also learned that the dirtier the money the better the launch.

January 14th

Editor's Blog: So You Want to Be a MotoGP Champion? 7 Tips for Young Riders

Dear Next Big Thing:

So you made it into Moto3. Well done. That feat alone makes you one of the most talented motorcycle racers on the planet. You may think that the hardest part of the battle is behind you. You would be wrong. You have your foot on the bottom rung of the ladder to MotoGP stardom. It is a rickety old thing, slick with grease, littered with broken rungs and what look like short cuts and easier routes.

Before you embark on your Grand Prix adventure (and what an adventure it is!) some words of advice from someone who has been in the paddock long enough to have his illusions shattered.

1. You will get nowhere on talent alone

The fact that you are in Moto3 means that your talent is not in question. To get here, you will have beaten the kids your own age, simply by being better at racing a motorcycle than them. That is already an impressive achievement.

The trouble is, Moto3 is full of kids who have all done the same. They have come up through the same system, beat the same kids, towered head and shoulders above their contemporaries. They are at least as good as you are, and some of them will now have a couple of years of experience on you. Getting into the Grand Prix paddock is 90% talent. From here on in, you can't rely on just talent any longer.

So how do you beat a rider who is just as talented as you are? You work on the details which make a difference. Switch your focus from talent to preparation, from being fitter and stronger than the riders you face. The fitter you are, the less quickly you tire. The less quickly you tire, the easier it is to concentrate as the race goes on. You need to be able to sustain your body at or above your anaerobic threshold for 45 minutes. If you can't do that, then the equally talented kid who is fitter than you will beat you in the last five laps.

January 13th

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Hutchy’s journey to hell and back

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.


Hutchy’s journey to hell and back

Why Ian Hutchinson beat Britain’s latest world champions to win Britain’s biggest biking gong

Each year dozens of motorcyclists win world championships of every shape and form but very few fight back from injuries that seemed destined to leave them ex-racer amputees. Mick Doohan was one, Ian Hutchinson is another.

Hutchy’s tale is an inspiring story of the wonders and the possibilities of the human spirit. Just a couple of months after becoming the first man in history to win five Isle of Man TTs in one week, Hutchy crashed out of a Silverstone BSB Supersport race and was hit by another bike. The accident shattered his lower leg. Surgeons gave the limb up for lost and told him the only way forward was to amputate from below the knee.

December 23rd, 2015

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Blessed by nature?

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.


Blessed by nature?

The third of our four Hall of Fame blogs examines the dazzling skills of the so-called natural riders: Freddie Spencer, Kevin Schwantz and Casey Stoner

People often talk about naturally talented bike racers, but does such a thing as natural talent to ride a motorcycle actually exist?

It seems unlikely. Our distant ancestor homo erectus lived 1.9 million years ago, while the motorcycle, in any useful form, arrived a little over a hundred years ago, which works out as 0.005 percent of mankind’s time on earth. It doesn’t seem possible that in such a short time a gene might exist that allows some of us to control machinery better than others.

December 16th

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why did MotoGP get nasty?

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.


Why did MotoGP get nasty?

Who to blame for the poisonous end to the 2015 MotoGP season: (in alphabetical order!) Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Márquez or Valentino Rossi? Or how about none of them? How about thinking about the problem a little more deeply and investigating its root causes?

Here’s a theory. This problem has been coming for years and we’ve been cheering all the way, unaware of what’s at the bottom of the road we’ve been travelling down. We get excited when the first four rows of the grid are separated by just one second and last April we greeted the Argentine GP – the first premier-class GP in which the top 20 finishers were covered by less than a minute – as a wonderful moment.

December 9th

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Lawson, Rainey and Doohan: giants of their 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.


Lawson, Rainey and Doohan: giants of their era

I blame it on Kenny Roberts, but it would’ve happened anyway. When ‘King’ Kenny arrived in Europe in the late 1970s he upped the ante: he rode harder, trained harder and thought more about his racing than anyone else.

The arrival of bike racing’s all-American pro had an instant effect: it blew cigarette-smoking, girl-chasing Barry Sheene into the weeds. The longer-term consequence was the careers of Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey and Mick Doohan.

These men were the foundation of modern racing, because they took the sport forever beyond the point where cocaine-snorting hedonists and gym-shy child prodigies could win glory at the very top. They were also the giants of their era, winning 12 500cc world championships over a 15-year period: Lawson four, Rainey three, Doohan five.

December 2nd

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Analysing MotoGP's crash stats

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.


Analysing MotoGP's crash stats

Call me sick and twisted, but I’ve been enjoying my favourite document of the year: the MotoGP crash report. This isn’t because I like to spend the winter hibernating beneath a cosy blanket of schadenfreude, but because the crash list tells you a great deal about what went on during the season.

If victory is the ultimate good for a rider, then crashing is the ultimate bad. No-one has ever explained this better than former 500 GP winner and World Superbike champion Carlos Checa.

November 25th

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Duke, Sheene and Dunlop: three great British bikers

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.


Duke, Sheene and Dunlop: three great British bikers

Sheene, Dunlop, Duke… it would be difficult to find three more different motorcycle racers, let alone three more different human beings.

We all know the iconic images of these three late, great Britons: Duke waving a jolly hello, his hair painstakingly groomed and Brylcreemed; Sheene topless and in cut-off jeans, sucking on a filter-less Gitanes, one arm around Stephanie MacLean; Joey nursing a pint and puffing on a fag from under that lank thatch of hair.

Duke came from a different age, not only of motorcycles but also of society and culture. He surely would’ve been mortified if he had stumbled into one of Joey’s ale-fuelled lock-ins at The Saddle pub in Douglas, even more so if he had mistakenly walked into Sheene’s hotel bedroom.

November 18th

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP's big 2016 change

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.


MotoGP's big 2016 change

At Valencia last week Michelin more or less matched Bridgestone’s lap times, albeit at the cost of a pile of trashed carbon-fibre and scuffed leathers.

Making exact comparisons between lap times with the French tyres and the Japanese tyres is fruitless, because most riders were also testing Dorna’s compulsory software.

In brief, Marc Marquez was the fastest man on Michelins, four tenths quicker than his best race lap, but half a second off his qualifying best. Maverick Vinales was the best improver: second fastest in the tests, 1.6 seconds better than in the race and two tenths quicker than in qualifying. Yamaha riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi struggled most, both slower than their race pace.

November 10th

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - What really happened in MotoGP’s 2015 finale

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.


What really happened in MotoGP’s 2015 finale

I’ve never done this before, but I think now the time is right. It’s time to come out: as a Valentino Rossi fan. Social media has been so poisoned by Rossi fanatics in recent weeks that I’ve been judged guilty a thousand times for the crime of trying to be objective in the face of the facts. I’m not the only one. Many other MotoGP journalists, respected for years and years by their readers, have been subjected to the same abuse for the same crime of attempting to uncover the truth.

November 3rd

Editor's Blog: MotoGP's Descent Into Madness, And How To Get Out Again

If what happened on lap seven at Sepang was bad for MotoGP, the events which have followed have made it infinitely worse. Rossi's single act of frustration has unleashed a tidal wave of insanity which has battered MotoGP, washing away the good and leaving it battered and stained. And every time you think it has finished, yet more madness emerges to engulf the sport, dragging it further down into the depths. It is a hard time to be a fan of the most exhilarating sport on the planet.

The incident itself was ugly, but it can hardly have come as a surprise. When Valentino Rossi launched his surprise attack on Marc Márquez in the press conference, accusing the Spaniard of trying to prevent him from becoming champion, a reaction from Márquez was inevitable. These are the two biggest egos in the MotoGP paddock, and with some justification. Rossi is the legend who both raised the profile of the sport and has dominated the sport for longer than any other rider in history. Márquez is the prodigy who set about smashing the record books on his entry into MotoGP, and is the man set to usurp Rossi's place in the history books. Neither man is willing to step aside, both feel they are deserving of exceptional respect.

So two angry men took to the track on Sunday, and inevitably, once their paths crossed, bad things happened. Márquez, apparently furious at being attacked on Thursday, raced Rossi as if it was the last lap of the race and the title depended on it. Rossi, unable to beat Márquez outright, lost his cool and ran the Spaniard wide and caused him to crash. It seemed like the lowest point in MotoGP for a very long time, but much worse was to come.

October 27th

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The Sepang incident

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.


The Sepang incident

I wish Hunter S Thompson was still alive for many reasons. I particularly wish he had been at Sepang, because no other writer could have written better about MotoGP’s weirdest weekend.

Thompson’s most famous novel – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – had his alter-ego Raoul Duke covering the Mint 400 motorcycle race outside Las Vegas. Thompson also did newspaper work, covering the Watergate hearings that led to the end of Richard Nixon’s presidency.

On the Watergate job the gun-toting acid casualty spent most of his time in the hotel swimming pool, doing lengths and occasionally stopping at one end, where he had placed a portable TV and a bottle of bourbon. The hearings were broadcast live, so whenever the coverage suggested things were about to get interesting, Thompson made his way over the road to the courtroom and took his reserved seat, no doubt scaring colleagues with his fumy breath.

What would Hunter have made of Sepang? The weekend had everything that got him excited: speed, paranoia, a fight and explosions (at up to 16,000 a minute).

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