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 young guns and old dogs
That Qatar race was pretty special and not only because it was hugely entertaining, but because one of the riders battling for victory was almost old enough to be the other’s dad.
Valentino Rossi turned 35 in February, just a few days before Marc Márquez hit 21. That’s an age difference of 14 years, which isn’t something that happens very often in professional sport; in fact, has it ever happened before in motorcycle Grand Prix racing?
The question prompted me to trawl through my history books for evidence of a similar generation gap at the sharp end of premier-class GPs.
Leslie Graham is the oldest rider to be crowned 500 king. He won the inaugural 500 World Championship in 1949, just a few days short of his 38th birthday, but he mostly raced against similar-aged racers who like him had had their early racing careers rudely interrupted by the Second World War. Graham had been an RAF bomber pilot, flying Lancasters over Germany.
Of course, it happened on the other side too. Fritz Hillebrand was a Luftwaffe fighter pilot who got shot down and ended the war in a POW camp. In 1957 he won the sidecar world title, but lost his life in a race at Bilbao before the end of the season. Graham had been killed at the TT a few years earlier.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.