Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Márquez vs Hailwood – the percentages

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.


Márquez vs Hailwood – the percentages

After Marc Márquez’s 13th win of the year at Valencia last month I tweeted that el fenómeno had broken Mick Doohan’s 12-wins-in-a-year record.

Not long after, Casey Stoner came right back, with a good-natured tweet reminding me that Doohan had won his 12 victories in a 15-race season, while Márquez had won 13 out of 18.

“Sorry Mat,” he wrote. “But I think we both know Mick’s record still stands ;) He had about three to four fewer races when he was around.” (NB: Stoner haters – this wasn’t a moan, that was a smiley face and a wink there.)

Stoner’s point is valid. I’m no mathematician (in fact I’m borderline innumerate), but Doohan had a higher percentage win rate in 1997 than Marquez in 2014, 80 per cent against 72 per cent. So, looking at it that way, Doohan is the more successful rider.

But there have been better, on a percentage basis. When I replied to Stoner, telling him that two riders – John Surtees and Giacomo Agostini – have ridden an entire championship season without getting beaten he was bowled over. “I didn’t even know that mate, that’s bloody impressive!!”

These two legends will never, ever be beaten. In 1959 Surtees won seven out of seven races and in 1968 Agostini won all ten races. They are GP racing’s only ’100 per centers’ and they won’t ever be beaten, not even by today’s riders who like to tell us that they’re going out there to give it 120 per cent.

Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

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Comments

I have to agree that it seems like some of the most competitive racing ever at the moment. With a slight twist of fate any of the top four riders could take the championship. Three of them have won multiple championships, and the fourth is the most successful rider to not take a championship. The 2007 season proved that, with a slight tweak of the rules, a second rider on a (perceived) second rate bike can come in and take the championship.

I'm certain if the record were Stoners the first thing he'd have pointed out would have been Mick's superior percentage.

in fact i think if Casey went 100% one year he'd still say something like "well, the 500s were way harder to ride back then"

However many races they had in a given year, the record for the greatest number of races won in a year now belongs to MM - fact. If there is a records for greatest win rate as a % then Mick Doohan sits higher than MM in the list of greats. Different measurements, but as an absolute number of wins MM has the record.

... that was the be all end all in my book. Glad I was alive to see it.

That being said, from '04 to '14 the competition has ratcheted up on an increasing slope each and every year. And I'm even more glad I'm still alive!

MaxPower firstly I was not announcing my Kiwi heritage, I was actually saying I am a Kiwi which puts me closer to Aussie not Spain.. I am not a bro either my name Deb should have told you that ;).. I don't judge sportspeople or teams by where they come from, I give each sports person/team credit for their achivements not their nationally. I do not have a chip on my shoulder as a kiwi when it comes to Australians,be a bit harsh of me if I did as lived over there for as least ten years and loved it. I have also met Stoner and know he would have thought what I said as funny.. We are all allowed to have a say whether others like it or not. I enjoy MotoGP and hope to be at Phillip Island next year for the excitement it brings. Just saying..

The competition in rider and machine is by far greater today than in any time in the history of the sport. Every time i hear someone talk about how great the racing was in the 2 stroke era, i just shake my head. There was a handful of great races, but on average, the winning margins were more than double what they are today. I like Doohans records better than Ago's because he raced against much better competition on more equal machines, and i like the numbers Rosssi put up better than Doohans for the same reason. Now, Marquez is putting up numbers against even better competition and more equal machinery than Rossi did.