Editor's Blog

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - One MotoGP season – more than a thousand crashes

One MotoGP season – more than a thousand crashes

During 2016 there were more than a thousand crashes in a MotoGP season for the first time in the sport’s history. What does this tell us about what’s going on?

There are two ways to judge how a rider and his motorcycle are working together: how many times the rider ends up on the podium and how often he ends up in the gravel.

Inevitably, the two stats tend to be diametrically opposed. And rarely more so than in 2003 when Alex Barros scored one podium from 16 races at the cost of crashing his factory Yamaha YZR-M1 14 times.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Lorenzo’s big message to Ducati

Why Jorge Lorenzo’s fourth win of 2016 was possibly the most important victory of his MotoGP career

A few months ago, many people believed that Jorge Lorenzo had given up on the 2016 season because his title defence had collapsed like a game of Jenga played by a bunch of two-year-olds.

You can perhaps understand his critics’ way of thinking. After winning three of the first six races, Lorenzo apparently fell to pieces. He was beaten at Assen, Sachsenring, Red Bull Ring, Brno, Silverstone, Misano, Aragon, Motegi, Phillip Island and Sepang. That’s 10 consecutive races, with just three visits to the podium; his worst-ever performance in MotoGP, even worse than his bone-crunching rookie season in 2008.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Marquez is still under pressure

He may be 2016 MotoGP world champion but Marc Marquez still has two important duties to perform at Valencia

You would think that Marc Marquez will be under no pressure this weekend. The 23-year-old wrapped up his third MotoGP title in Japan last month, so presumably this Sunday’s season-ending Valencia Grand Prix will be a heroic homecoming, a chance to glad-hand his Spanish fans and enjoy himself, free of any real concerns.

Not quite. Marquez will be under some serious pressure from Honda, because while he may have won his title, he hasn’t yet won Honda its prize. Honda currently leads Yamaha by 21 points in the constructors' world championship, so it’s not over yet.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Nine MotoGP winners – will it ever happen again?

Maybe not, because this season’s thrillingly unpredictable racing has much to do with the moment of transformation in MotoGP’s technical environment

Nine different winners in one season – something that’s never happened before in a championship that started shortly after the end of the Second World War. Amazing stuff.

But do the historic successes of Cal Crutchlow, Andrea Dovizioso, Andrea Iannone, Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez, Jack Miller, Dani Pedrosa, Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales prove that we are now in a new era of enjoyably chaotic MotoGP racing that will continue for the foreseeable future?

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Cal joins the Pommie pantheon

Cal Crutchlow dominated at the greatest MotoGP track of them all. What a shame that some fans spoiled a great day by cheering Marquez’s crash

Cal Crutchlow’s second MotoGP victory was even better than his first, mainly because every rider knows a dry win counts for more than a wet win. He now stands alongside Leslie Graham, Geoff Duke, John Surtees, Mike Hailwood, Phil Read and Barry Sheene as the only Britons to have scored two premier-class victories in one season. In other words, he’s in the Pommie pantheon.

Once again Crutchlow showed aggression and intelligence – he was one of the few to choose Michelin’s hard-option front slick and understood that whenever the sun disappeared behind the clouds the track temperature dropped, so he had to push harder (but not too hard) to keep the tyre hot enough to grip the track.

Marc Marquez and Aleix Espargaro chose the same front and both fell, proving the tyre had riders walking the narrowest of lines. Managing tyre temperature is a big part of MotoGP and Crutchlow did it perfectly. He beat the best in the world by over four seconds, which is proper domination during an era of close finishes. Even nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi couldn’t match the winner’s pace during his inspired comeback from 15th on the grid.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Mighty Marc: life on the knife edge

How does Marquez ride the way he does – apparently always over the limit – and get away with it?

All of racing – if you are anywhere near the front – is a knife edge. And the closer you get to the front, the sharper that knife edge becomes. MotoGP is a razor edge, sharpened to the point where any normal person will bleed if they even dare touch the blade. MotoGP is not a forgiving environment, no matter how easy it looks through the lens of the television cameras. Despite all the smiles, the sponsor meet-and-greets, the armies of PR people marching this way and that, it is a mean, vicious and pitiless sport. Like cage fighting, but at 200 miles an hour.

I am not a great follower of Formula 1 car racing, but I was glad to find out a few weeks ago that Nigel Roebuck, doyen of F1 reporting over the past few decades, is a big fan of MotoGP. It reminds him of how F1 was many years ago: men putting themselves out there in a wild world of risk, walking the line, because that’s what excites them.

“I never miss watching a race,” he told me when we met at a Motor Sport magazine do a few weeks ago.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Jorge and Ducati: how will it go?

Yamaha may have refused to give Lorenzo full early release from his 2016 contract but there are other factors that will have much greater effect on his 2017 form

Who knows why Jorge Lorenzo and Yamaha have had a falling-out – maybe we’ll find out when we get to Motegi, or maybe we won’t.

The factory’s decision to allow its three-time MotoGP champion to test with Ducati just once before the winter testing moratorium suggests that the two have had a squabble and this is Yamaha’s way of rapping his knuckles.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - ‘And so I flipped him the bird!’

MotoGP is suddenly all afroth about rudeness and lewdness; but does it really matter?

Next week the MotoGP circus heads to Japan, possibly the politest nation on earth, so this may be a good time to investigate MotoGP’s new penalties created to stop riders being rude to each other.

In fact, there’s no specific new rule that punishes riders for making obscene gestures, but there’s a catch-all in the disciplinary code of the MotoGP regulations.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP’s new golden era?

Don’t believe the hype – it’s not what you think

What an amazing season! The most thrilling and unpredictable in recent memory and eight different winners in eight consecutive races, something that’s never happened before in almost 70 years of premier-class racing. It seems like MotoGP is entering a new golden era, the like of which we’ve never seen.

All thanks to Dorna, of course, for forcing the manufacturers to lease fully competitive motorcycles to independent teams and telling them to junk their priceless, tailor-made electronics in place of Magneti Marelli’s same-for-all unified software. Suddenly it seems like pretty much everyone has a chance of winning a race because the machinery is so equal.

Editor's Blog - Aragon Round Up Delayed Due to Ill Health

The round up from Sunday's three races at the Motorland Aragon circuit has been delayed. Ill health (nothing serious, just a severe bout of flu, and not of the 'man' kind) means I am unable to concentrate sufficiently to produce the quality of work my readers expect and deserve. The aim is to have the round up on the website on Tuesday.

My sincere apologies for the inconvenience and delay.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - A petrol-head soap opera?

After Misano, let’s hope the off-track chatter at Aragon doesn’t once again eclipse the on-track action

Right now the world’s MotoGP media is all agog, counting down the minutes and seconds to 17.00 hours on Thursday. The reason: a live edition of the latest episode of the MotoGP pantomime, a kind of petrol-head’s soap opera, during which Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo will be encouraged to say nasty things about each other by journalists hungry for Friday morning newspaper headlines, or Thursday afternoon clickbait.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why Dani Boy made everyone look slow

Pedrosa has had major tyre struggles this year – finally it all came good at Misano

The first time I interviewed Dani Pedrosa, in 2002, I asked the 17-year-old (born in 1985) what kind of music he liked. 1980s pop music, he told me. Wow, I thought, his mentor Alberto Puig even tells him what music to listen to.

Therefore I’m not sure if Pedrosa has ever listened to the song That’s Entertainment sung by new-wave heroes The Jam. (The greatest band the world has ever known, in case you didn’t already know.)

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP has turned upside down

Britons winning MotoGP races, Suzuki beating Honda and Yamaha – what’s behind all these upsets?

What the hell is going on? The MotoGP World Championship seems to have shifted on its axis and nothing seems to be quite the same anymore.

There have been seven different winners in the last seven races (the first time that’s happened since GP racing started shortly after the Second World War), there have been four first-time winners (the first time that’s happened since 1982) and there have been four different winning manufacturers (for the first time in a decade), with Suzuki scoring its first dry-weather victory since 2000. It’s the same throughout the paddock: this year there have been 21 different race winners across three classes, that’s the greatest number since 1982, when there were five classes: 50cc, 125cc, 250cc, 350cc and 500cc.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Is Marquez already champion?

Marc Marquez looks like he’s cruising to title number three, but is it really that simple?

MotoGP 2016 reaches two-thirds distance at Silverstone this weekend: round 12 of 18.

Marc Marquez goes into the race, which last year he failed to finish, holding a 53-point lead over Valentino Rossi. It would appear to be game over: even if Rossi or Jorge Lorenzo win the last seven races, Marquez can afford to finish second or third at every race and still take home the title.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Crutchlow: MotoGP’s brave heart

It’s taken him 98 races and 92 crashes but it’s all been worth it – Crutchlow has finally made it all the way to the top

Andrea Iannone one week, Cal Crutchlow the next; what a difference a week makes. It’s hard to think of two more different winners in the MotoGP paddock: Iannone, the tattooed, coiffured bad boy so in love with himself, and Crutchlow, the scruffy, amiable family man who would happily wrestle a grizzly bear if you gave him half the chance.

Crutchlow’s win at Brno was hugely popular within the paddock because he’s one of the good guys; usually joking, often a bit rude and always straight down the line. He says what he thinks and damn the consequences. Within the shiny MotoGP bubble, where pretence and smoke and mirrors dazzle way too many people, Crutchlow stands out like a greasy-haired rocker in a bunch of preening, perfumed mods. What you see is what you get.

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