Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Rossi: The Movie

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.


Rossi: The Movie

It was American author Mark Twain who said that fact is stranger than fiction. It must be, he said, because fiction is limited by the human imagination, whereas reality is limited by nothing.

The Valentino Rossi story is way too far-out to be fiction. If someone wrote a Rossi-inspired movie (a kind of two-wheeled Days of Thunder) it would get laughed out of the cinemas. What a load of Hollywood nonsense – that kind of stuff never happens in the real world.

A decade ago you could have got away with writing a believable film about Rossi. Indeed during the first era of his pomp – the first half of the last decade – I used to think his life would make a great film, so long as you made up the final scenes, which would reveal him in a dingy London basement nightclub (he was living in London at the time, because he loved the architecture, ahem) and having the time of his life with some wild young Bohemians.

Then he would slide right off the rails, miss a race after forgetting to set his alarm, get sacked and end up blowing his fortune back in London, having hooked up with a rather less salubrious bunch of underworld glitterati. Next would come the early morning epiphany, encouraged by a slight case of bankruptcy, and he would fight his way go back to racing, his rivals sniggering as he walked onto the grid, all baggy-eyed. And once again he would destroy them. Roll credits…

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

Back to top

Comments

. . . . . is holding his breath for two things: One more championship and (more importantly) the remaining fourteen (I believe that's what it'll take, I don't have the figures in front of me) victories to once and for all pass Agostini. And put an end to that "greatest" argument for at least the next decade or two.

Sorry folks, Ago may have the number of championships and total victories. But if you go down his records, there were a lot of years when he was the only factory bike out there. Vale's been competing against the best the other factories can raise for nineteen years. He's never had a season without a Biaggi, Gibernau, Stoner, etc.

Agreed, and I think the respect payed to Ago as "greatest of all time" is mostly a respect for the history of the sport. Even Ago himself would admit that the riders and bikes during Valentino's era are FAR more competitive.

Heck, the 500cc era was the most competitive premier class racing of all time. Only this year have the four strokes started to come close to that level of competition, with the non-factory bikes finally being comparable to their big brothers.

If Valentino wins another title, he will undoubtedly be the greatest of all time (if for the sake of argument we say he isn't already). There just isn't the opportunity anymore for anyone else to have raced and won 10 titles in 125s, 250s, 500s, 990s, 800s and now 1000s.

Here's to hoping the legend continues!

"Only this year have the four strokes started to come close to that level of competition, with the non-factory bikes finally being comparable to their big brothers."

Even KRJr got close to winning on a home made 990, and indeed likely would have if he counted the number of laps, or read his board correctly.

As far as competition goes against VR, without being disrespectful to Biaggi or Gibbers they were NOT in the same league, especially when you think about the whole season. Where VR has demonstrated his mettle is against the likes of Stoner and Lorenzo, the fact that neither of these two were able to go back to back while VR did shows both his determination and ability to learn.

The fact that he won the first race of the season is cool, let's just see what he can do for the remaining 17 though.

I'll fully agree that Biaggi and Gibernau weren't up to Marquez, etc. as competition. However, they were still head and shoulders above the competition that Agostini was facing most of the years he was racing. Rossi has always had equal or much better competition than Agostini in the years that he has been racing.

IMO they don't rate amongst Rossi's strongest rivals. That would be Stoner, Lorenzo, Marquez, all of whom have a superior head to head win record. Rossi also had some years where the odds were stacked in his favour, such as the year where he was racing a 990 v5 against a field full off old two strokes, and there's the special Michelin treatment reserved for Rossi by Michelin. Rossi's win rate is nowhere near what it was before control tyres.

I was happy to see Rossi win at Qatar as much to see someone not named Marquez win a race as anything else, but I wouldn't expect too many more this year. He had a different front tyre to everyone else at Qatar, Marquez had a terrible start, Lorenzo had a helmet issue, Dani suffered severe arm pump and the Ducati's are still finding their feet.

Impossible to say who the 'Greatest' is. In terms of wins it's Ago. In terms of talent you can take your pick of Hailwood, Spencer, Stoner or Marquez. In terms of longevity it's Rossi, in terms of beating the odds it's probably Doohan.

Yes, he is the last 500cc champion. Something that none of the rest of the current guys can say. The 500's were nasty beasts void of all this electronic wizardry and rider aids. To the old guys I know who saw Rainey and Schwantz race, multiple times, winning that last 500cc crown is key. 2 strokes, 4 strokes, in all sizes, he's done it.

Rossi is already the GOAT of the premier class. He's got more wins than anyone in the top class so he is already the MotoGP greatest of all time, just not the total wins category in all classes. Marquez could top this one day but he'll have to stay relatively healthy, and motivated, for quite some time, and he is well on his way.

I have watched Vale on TV and on the track . My abiding memory of his was at Welkom, South Africa in a shit hotel before his first season in 250cc. I was at the breakfast buffet and he was there with his headphones on, lalalala a happy kid. 90 minutes later OJ was flying around fastest lap after fastest lap in FP1 and Vale was at the back doing his times. Sunday came and he blitzed it and OJ was nowhere near. He works slowly and methodically and professionally. Quali is good but it doesn't matter a lot of the time, its not F1. His real skill is winning when it is not on ( the same as MM). Australia, Barcelona, Mugello, Langua, Sepang all fantastic, gladiatorial memories against the best compared with any era. He is a winner who loves what he does and inspires the people around him and the broader audiences, he gives them what they want, a hero, a comeback kid, and inspiration, never say die, everything. GOAT or whatever, he is the best in my eyes, not just because of his victories but because how he does it. He shares his victories with those who follow him, by deeds and words and the show he puts on. I can be him through his show, he is an accomplished sportsman and actor, I can see, feel and be him through the magic of TV. My life is richer for his feats, observing them close up and from afar. Forza Vale! Dio vi benedica e sostenervi. Vittoria!

Ago started in an era where races were won by minutes and the winner would often lap EVERYONE. He should always be considered and mentioned as one of the best ever but as far as I'm concerned Rossi has that title and always will. His achievements, trials, variety of machinery, impact and influence will never happen again.

Why do people state that Qatar isn't a good indication of the rest of the season? Last year Marquez wins from Rossi, the championship finishing order. The fastest guys are equally the fastest guys for the rest of the year. (Ducati is kind of an unknown but that thing was a missile.)

Michael Stanley Bailey Hailwood IS the greatest of all time.

Consider: he raced and won GPs on motorcycles as diverse as the Ducati 125 single, Honda 125 twin, Honda 250 twin, MZ 250 two-stroke twin, Norton 500 Manx, Honda 250 four, Honda 250 six, Honda 350 six, Honda 500 four, MV Agusta 350 four and MV Agusta 500 four.

He also made the podium on the MZ125 two-stroke single and Mondial 250 single.

At some GPs, Hailwood raced and won in three classes in one day and in 1961, he became the first man in the history of the Isle of Man TT to win three races in one week when he won in the 125 cc, 250 cc and 500 cc categories (and was on track to win the 350 race when his AJS 7R broke down).

In 1962 he won the first of four successive 500cc world championships, becoming the first rider to win the premier class four times in a row.

He was also the first rider (with Dan Shorey) to win the Thruxton 500 mile endurance race - on a 650 Triumph twin. He also won the Hutchison 100 at Silverstone on a BSA 650.

Hailwood also returned to the Isle of Man after an 11 year absence from top level competition and won the Isle of Man Formula One race on a Ducati V-twin. Prior to that he had raced a Yamaha TZ750D at Bathurst, and a Ducati 750SS at the Castrol Six-Hour race at Amaroo Park, and the Adelaide Three-Hour.

His mastery of a huge range of race tracks around the world, and his ability to win on everything from 125cc four-stroke singles to 500cc fours in GP racing, plus English 650 twins, Italian 860cc V-twins and Suzuki's RG500 four puts him head and shoulders above anyone.

Plus, he was a bloody good bloke.