Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Where does the British Grand Prix belong?

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.


Where does the British Grand Prix belong?

Where should the British Grand Prix have its home? What we are looking for is a circuit that tests the mettle of the riders as much as the metal of the motorcycle. There would be only three on my list: Brands Hatch, Oulton Park and Silverstone.

To my mind, racetracks should have some primal scream to them; they should be more than mere technical exercise. On the current calendar – outside Britain – that means Brno, Mugello, Phillip Island and possibly Sepang; four circuits from 17 foreign venues.

Most of these places are old-school racetracks; no doubt drawn on the back of a napkin in a bar somewhere, not laid out on a Mac by a polo-neck-wearing architect in his designer office. And somehow, the amateur-sketched circuits work better. Mugello and Phillip Island are MotoGP’s greatest tracks, by a long way. They have everything: high-speed straights and wide open, heart-in-the-mouth corners, as well as superb use of topography and (not that this is a real requirement) beautiful scenery. Phillip Island dates from the 1950s, Mugello from the 1970s. They both make most modern tracks seem nothing more trivial squiggles in the dirt.

Old school circuits are on the endangered list. Every few years we lose another to health and safety concerns, just like World Superbikes has lost Monza, scene of some of WSB’s most magnificent battles. Once again, it’s that combination of high-speed straights and wide open, heart-in-the-mouth corners that allows riders to stay with each other, using the slipstream and riding side by side, lap after lap, all the way to the chequered flag.

WSB lost Brands Hatch long before Monza and Oulton would also fail all safety tests for WSB and MotoGP. Which, in my little world, leaves Silverstone as the only British circuit that would have Marc Márquez and the rest filling their throats with primal screams.

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

Back to top

Comments

I would dearly love to see the British GP at Brands, I don't pretend to understand what the safety issues which prevent this happening are, but I am sure it would be one of the most spectacular events on the MotoGP calendar.

It seems strange that BSB can run there but not WSBK? Knowing the issues, I wonder if it would ever be possible with some modifications to the track?

I am not a fan of Silverstone any more, it's just too open and vast in my opinion.

If you try to separate opinion from fact, and writers have to explain all the facts they used to arrive at their opinion before they can express their opinion, then all opinion articles would become bloated affairs full of facts that would be difficult to read. A bit like that last sentence.

You can always not read Mat Oxley articles.

That is a fact.

The charm of watching BSB races is something I recommend folks check out for themselves. Oulton Park is a gem. And Cadwell Park...

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Pu19EydPdyc

Dale88 my friend, feel free to posit your truth here too! There is a joy in us all getting together and saying our piece. Just like Mat. I agree w Mat mostly this time in that the character of the old tracks is of value and we are losing them. F1 Hermann Tilke tracks lack soul and then some.

It's not that I disagree with him on much of the stuff he writes it's more the way he writes. Not to say I don't think it's well written, it just doesn't sit right with me.

I don't think many would argue about the old tracks being better. Although I love Sepang too. I'd argue that Donington Park provides the value of seeing the riders tame the bikes into submission at parts of the track when they can't unleash all the power aswell as the flowing first half of a lap on top of amazing views.

Hi Everybody,
I'm new here on Motomatters.com, not as a reader, but as a registered member. This article about old-school racetracks just gave me that little nudge I needed to register ;-)
Reminded me of our famous and historic Belgian Francorchamps! Ok, back there in 1983, my Z1000R Eddie Lawson Replica was stolen, while our national hero Didier de Radiguès won the 250 race, and King Kenny Roberts won the GP500.
But was that a time to enjoy the racing and everything around at close quarters! I had a brief chat in the paddock with Kenny only moments before the start, and heading home afterwards on my friend's RD350LC (RZ350 in North America), I've got overtaken by a flying Jaguar E-type with license plate "BS7". Guess who that was? Yes, you're right, Barry Sheene himself ! I even had no time to think about following him ! Yeah, those were the days and the "spirit", definitely ;-)
But I will keep loving everything about motorcycles and motorcycle racing till the end of my days, as long as it comes from the heart...
PS surprised that you didn't mention Donington, Mat ;-)

Hi and welcome DannyV.

You express surprise that Mat did not mention Donington - maybe you only read the part of the article that is published here on MotoMatters? As is usual for Mat's articles, David only puts a teaser here, along with "Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website" - which is here:

http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/race/motogp-race/where-does-the-britis...

Enjoy :)

Thanks, v4racer. I found the answer I was looking for, reading Mat's comment about Donington on motorsportmagazine.com. Never looked at it from that perspective, and I fully agree that tracks that create the better racing deserve absolute priority. Nobody can really enjoy a race where the heat of the fight gradually fades away, even with the own favorite leading. I adore close racing from start tot finish, with brave rivalry ànd mutual respect...

In terms of facilities for riders and teams, Silverstone is far and away the best UK track. Unfortunately it also places the spectators a long, long way from the action and has a very sterile feel. The layout is very good from a rider's point of view, but there is little in the way of elevation change. My favourite UK circuits are Oulton Park and Cadwell Park - real rider's circuits, but with excellent spectator visibility and real change of elevation.

However Cadwell Park simply isn't up to staging a MotoGP race, and much as I love Oulton, it would face major obstacles regarding runoff areas and general circuit safety. I would absolutely love to see MotoGP bikes hammering around Cascades, Island, the original (unmolested) Knickerbrook, Druids, Lodge, Deer Leap etc but I can't honestly imagine it could ever happen.

So - Silverstone it is, then. Like it or not...

I miss D-Park in GP's. I miss Brands in WSB, and even Oschersleben. Edwards used to be hell there, and I loved the years it rained.

You know what the old tracks have that the Tilkefied ones won't?

In a quiet moment you can sense it. The old Assen for instance. My old little buddy (former team mate's son) Peter Lenz keeps saying "just ONE more sprint race Mr Dunlop, come on, PLEASE?"

And back out of the great paddock they roll again and again. Simoncelli. Kato. Tomizawa. Antonelli. Joey Dunlop. Robert Dunlop. Carreria. Craig Jones. Not sure what bikes they are on. But I know they keep turning the laps there.

World Superbike at Hockenheim in the mid to late nineties... now that was batshit crazy stuff. I'm sure I remember Yanagawa clocking 314km/h there, which at the time was the highest recorded speed for a WSBK bike - not bad for a late nineties 750cc bike that weighed as much as a small horse.

If you've never seen it, it's truly worth a look... here's a clip from a quick search but there are certainly better Hockenheim WSB races to be found.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qm8vN827TPU

but Keith Huewen, please, it's bordering on embarrassing. Fogarty, Fogarty, Fogarty. He's still doing it these days, it's one of the primary reasons I stopped my BT sport subscription.

(sorry all, rant over)..

Great circuits also have great last corners, or several corners, that allow plenty of overtaking opportunities.

Mugello, Philip Island, Donnington, Sachsenring all have these and make for great last lap duels.