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 of Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Marquez and Dunlop: on the same curve
Sunday was quite a day for motorcycle racing: MotoGP at Mugello, the world’s greatest purpose-built circuit, and the Superbike TT on the Mountain Course, the world’s greatest circuit carved out of ordinary roads.
Michael Dunlop was the man on the Island and Marc Márquez might’ve been the man at Mugello, if he hadn’t teetered over the brink once too often. Even so, to come back from three practice crashes – including the fastest-ever in GP history, after he lost the front at 210mph – to challenge for a podium was nothing short of magnificent.
I see similarities between the Ulsterman and the Spaniard. Márquez is the wild young man of MotoGP, just like Dunlop was only recently the wild young man of real roadracing. Son of Robert, nephew of Joey, Dunlop ruffled some feathers and bashed some fairings in his earlier years, just like Márquez now.
Dunlop is a solid rock of talent, hewn from real roadracing’s greatest dynasty. Over the years he has sculpted and burnished his skills into something that can win four TTs on three different types of motorcycle over four days. The 24-year-old is a real character who says exactly what he thinks and rarely fails to raise a laugh in an interview. As he said after his win in the first Supersport TT – his second victory in 24 hours: “It’s like Pringles – once you pop, you can’t stop”. He was probably speaking from experience in more ways than one – last winter Dunlop shed some of the excess pounds he had been carrying for the last few years. It’s all part of the process of honing himself into a leaner, meaner winning machine.
Just like Márquez in MotoGP, Dunlop looks like he may be moving things on in real roadracing. He has devastating speed and yet the lock-to-lock wildness of a few years ago has been replaced by breathtaking momentum through the corners. On Sunday, Monday and Wednesday he made everyone else on the Island look a little second rate. Current Island king John McGuinness broke his own lap record in the Superbike race, trying to make amends for being “a little lazy at the start” (and a penalty for speeding in the pit-lane), so there’s no doubt McPint has what it takes to stage a counter attack in Friday’s Senior TT, but he already knows he has come up against the toughest rival of his career.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.