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.
Miller and Márquez, mountains and molehills
Twenty-three years ago Luca Cadalora and Helmut Bradl were engaged in a bitter duel for the 250 world title, just as Álex Márquez and Jack Miller are in Moto3 today. At Misano the pair exited the final corner side by side and dashed towards the chequered flag, the Italian blatantly elbowing the German onto the dirt. Cadalora won the race by nine thousandths of a second and Bradl wasn’t a happy man.
The following weekend it was the West German GP. The Hockenheim grandstands – a vast concrete amphitheatre overlooking the final few corners – were packed with locals and the atmosphere wasn’t pretty. Each time Cadalora rode into the stadium section the crowd erupted into a chorus of boos. Before the weekend he had already received death threats and during practice he made the mistake of crashing right in front of the grandstands. As marshals dragged the groggy rider out of harm’s way, the crowd added insult to injury, unleashing a torrent of abuse. Cadalora was hurt and plenty of fans seemed delighted.
I’m not a sporting patriot but I’m fine with a little light-hearted partisanship: taking joy in the success of someone simply because he or she possesses the same passport. In other words choosing your heroes by the accident of geography. But Hockenheim 1991 was just horrible and removed the joy of what should have been an epic encounter.
Cadalora was wrong at Misano, but the German fans should have let the riders sort it out. Did Jack Miller do wrong at Sepang on Sunday? He was undoubtedly on the limit, but isn’t that where racers are supposed to be? It was one Aussie on an outgunned KTM fighting against four Hondas, with a world championship at stake, so it was always going to get physical.
What Miller did was what Valentino Rossi did at Laguna Seca in 2008. He knew full well if that any of those NSF250RWs got more than a few corners of clear track then they would clear off. Thus he had to constantly get in their way, just as Rossi did to Casey Stoner at Laguna.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.