Editor's Blog

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - ‘Anthony Gobert wanted a dancing girl in the pit!’

More gripping racing yarns from Stuart Shenton, the man who helped Kork Ballington, Freddie Spencer, Wayne Gardner and Kevin Schwantz to world title glory. And he might’ve done the same with Anthony Gobert…

In 1984 Stuart Shenton had been with Honda for 18 months when HRC engineer (and later HRC president) Satoru Horiike wandered up and asked a question.

“He said, if Honda were to build a 250, what should it be like?” says Shenton, who had already played a crucial role in Kawasaki’s domination of the 250 and 350 classes during the late 1970s and early 1980s. “So I asked him straight: are you building a 250? No, no, he said, this is just a casual question. Going back to my experience with Kawasaki, I told him a 250 must be on the minimum weight limit, it will need this much horsepower and it will need twin front discs. So at the end of 1984 I went to Japan and there was this 250, a fabulous piece of kit.”

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The MotoGP spannerman’s tale, part 1

Stuart Shenton was a race mechanic when he was still at school. Jobs with Kork Ballington, Freddie Spencer, Wayne Gardner, Kevin Schwantz, Anthony Gobert and Loris Capirossi followed, as did world titles with Kawasaki, Honda and Suzuki. He’s a man with plenty of tales to tell…

Stuart Shenton’s first experiences as a teenage factory race mechanic quickly taught him that racing isn’t all about spinning spanners and twisting throttles.

In 1975, Kawasaki unleashed its water-cooled KR750 on the F750 World Championship, originally created for bikes with streetbike engines. Only one problem, the factory hadn’t built enough bikes for homologation.

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Editor's Blog - A Word Of Thanks For Your Support

It has been a strange time. Not just for the MotoMatters.com website, or for motorcycle racing, but for the entire world. The COVID-19 pandemic put everything on hold, in many ways. Most of them bad.

In March, the world ground to a halt in an attempt to deal with the pandemic. Three months later, things are slowly stirring into motion again. The pandemic has been largely contained in Europe, and the authorities have deemed it safe for sports, including MotoGP, to start up again. On July 19th, MotoGP returns at Jerez, followed two weeks later by WorldSBK.

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Gordon Ritchie WorldSBK Blog: Outdoor Pursuits

I am not one who thrives on the negatives, or for whom the only good news story is a bad news story. I want every race to be a classic, every new rider a potential champion, every team a proven winner looking to expand. An impossible dream of course but it’s not naivety on my part - it's positivity. No business or sport was ever built, expanded or maintained without overarching optimism and sheer ambition at its core.

Whatever your particular field you have to aim for the moon to even have a hope of getting into the upper reaches of the earth’s atmosphere. WorldSBK was launched on ambition and optimism, survived on it for a long time, especially after some shaky early moments.

But sure enough, it was grown into the premier production-derived race series on planet earth; often by both those driving factors mentioned earlier – ambition and optimism. With MotoGP always the biggest class and firmly in existence long before WorldSBK came along, Superbike has nonetheless aimed above the GP glass ceiling just to get anywhere close to it. Or at least WorldSBK told itself to raise its own bar, and see how high it could jump.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP faces its toughest season ever in 2020

Last year’s MotoGP season counted 19 races over 37 weekends – the new 2020 calendar starts with 13 races over 18 weekends. How will riders and teams cope?

Much excitement last Friday at the publication of the long-awaited and heavily rewritten 2020 MotoGP calendar.

Racing starts at Jerez on July 19! Fourteen rounds, maybe more! Yay, let’s rejoice and go racing!

Yay, yay and thrice yay! It’s not long since some people were predicting that the Covid-19 pandemic would prevent any MotoGP action this year, so everyone – riders, teams and fans – should be delighted that MotoGP 2020 is finally go.

But while we rejoice, we should also take a look at the drastically revised calendar and what it means to the men and women that make the racing happen. Because the logistical, physical, mental and mechanical challenges of MotoGP 2020 will be on a different level to anything experienced before.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - “We believe in the importance of reality” — why virtual MotoGP races fail to thrill

MotoGP esport is better than no racing at all, but it seems like some fans might be confusing the two

“Nowadays, with the spread of PCs and games, children tend to be satisfied with simulated experiences. But we believe in the importance of reality.

“Through motor sports, we will continue our daily activities so that as many people as possible can understand the preciousness of life and the excellence of experiencing with one’s own body.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How come Silverstone can’t host a MotoGP round but is hosting two F1 rounds?

Silverstone managing director explains why F1 but no MotoGP. Also, how Britain’s biggest racetrack is surviving Covid-19 and the latest plans for MotoGP 2020

This summer, for the first time since the birth of motorcycling’s world championships in 1949, the United Kingdom will not welcome the world’s greatest riders and motorcycles to its shores.

The not-unexpected cancellation of this year’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone was announced last Friday morning, when Moto3 bikes should’ve been riding out of Mugello pit lane to start first practice for the 2020 Italian GP.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Danilo Petrucci, “I don’t want Ducati to put me against Dovizioso”

The rumour that Jack Miller will join the factory Ducati team in 2021 puts Danilo Petrucci and Andrea Dovizioso in competition for the second factory Ducati seat. Petrucci tells us about his hopes for the 2020 season, his 2019 Mugello victory and his plans to do the Dakar

The MotoGP rumour mill usually does its work in the darker corners of the paddock, where journalists, rider managers and team managers arrange secret assignations under cover of team artics, during which they whisper the latest news (and lies).

This year is different: FaceTime, WhatsApp and Zoom is where it’s all happening.

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Gordon Ritchie WorldSBK Blog: The Past Is A Foreign Country…

Can you complete the second half of the famous quote that forms the headline? I confess I had to look it up to make sure of the correct wording. It was L.P. Hartley’s book ‘The Go-Between’ that delivered its much-quoted opening line “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there,” into the language.

With still no racing in WorldSBK since the opener in Australia in February/March, and no more absolutely guaranteed for some time yet, everybody and their media outlets are looking into the past for their WorldSBK source material now. We gotta watch and read something.

May as well join the nostalgia fest here, but with the past being a foreign country and all, it may need a degree of translation when comparing early WorldSBK feats to the 2020 versions. Everything and everybody has a past, even if WorldSBK - now in its 33rd year - is decades younger than GP racing.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why inline-four MotoGP bikes handle better than V4 MotoGP bikes

V4 MotoGP bikes make more power, inline-fours handle better. That’s why Johann Zarco, Jorge Lorenzo and others struggle when they switch from inline-fours to V4s

Speak to most MotoGP engineers and they will tell you that the two most important words in race-bike engineering are balance and compromise.

Pretty much whatever you do to improve one area of performance impairs another: you make the bike turn quicker and it becomes less stable, you increase peak power and you lose midrange and so on.

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Steve English Blog: Sport is back, but is it a blueprint for the future?

Wasn’t it amazing! Football, motorsport and golf were all back on television. There is a God and His name is Live Sport In Your Living Room! Suddenly instead of endless re-runs and memories (I’m as guilty as everyone else) there was now new memories, new moments and a new norm was being constructed before our eyes.

The cost of not returning to football to finish the 2020 season could cost over €6bn worldwide. Whether it’s the Premier League having to pay out over €750m or the loss of gate receipts, the effect of the shutdown could be profound. The German Bundesliga at least shows that it is possible to host a game, and the TV coverage wasn’t noticeably different.

The lack of a crowd, substitutes evenly spaced along the sideline, and the muted celebrations are strange but you grow accustomed to it. Why can the Bundesliga return and other countries can’t? The German government took steps before other nations to limit the outbreak and now they’ll also act as a guinea pig for how football can return.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP season opener to be confirmed this month

Dorna hopes 2020 championship will start in Spain in July, with strict medical protocols and quarantine rules in place

MotoGP rights-holder Dorna hopes to announce the start of the 2020 MotoGP world championship in the next few weeks. The Spanish-based company is aiming to get the racing underway in Spain in July, with ten or 11 races in Europe, possibly followed by several more outside Europe.

Currently, these races are expected to be viewed only on TV, with no trackside fans allowed, due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.

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Editor's Blog - Optimism, Pessimism, And How To Think About The COVID-19 Situation

These have been strange times. The outbreak of the SARS-CoV2 virus and subsequent global COVID-19 pandemic has been a roller coaster, turning the world on its head as countries around the world do their best to contain the outbreak.

Four months ago, it seemed like a distant problem that would barely affect us. Three months ago it looked like a serious problem which might affect racing at some point. Two months ago, as the pandemic grew, the scale of the impact was starting to become clear.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP 2020: Plans for an August start... and the doomsday scenario

Optimists hope the MotoGP season will start in August, while pessimists think that a single-class, three-race championship at one circuit is more likely

The 2020 MotoGP world championship could get underway at Red Bull Ring in August.

Following the cancellation or postponement of the first ten rounds of the 20-round series there is now the hope that the Austrian circuit will host the season-opening race on August 16.

The Formula 1 championship is aiming to start its season at the same venue, on July 5, with no fans allowed and COVID-19 testing required for all team staff. If that event goes off well, with no regional spike in COVID-19 cases, then MotoGP could follow six weeks later, using the same format.

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Gordon Ritchie WorldSBK Blog: Second; Best?

How much WorldSBK rights holders Dorna value their second division championship will only be fully known after the COVID-19 lockdown across most of the world has been lifted. Nobody seems to think that is about to happen anytime soon. And to state the obvious, you cannot hold a World Championship of any kind unless all the riders and teams, scattered across the entire globe, are allowed to first travel, then race and finally get back home again afterwards.

The WorldSBK calendar, as we have seen twice already, is being actively rescheduled, ‘back-weighted’ to the autumn months and will be heavily truncated unless a miracle happens between now and July. (On a personal note my 2020 wall planner is taking on the appearance of a Jackson Pollock action painting, with WorldSBK rounds having been inked in and scrubbed out already).

It was interesting therefore to note that Dorna made an official comment on the whole virus situation recently, and even managed a kind word or two about WorldSBK next to the gilded MotoGP lettering, which got its usual top billing.

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