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 Rossi: the best tight fight ever?
Valentino Rossi has been through them all. He’s the ancient prize fighter who has taken out Max Biaggi, Sete Gibernau, Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo and the rest. His premier-class duels go so far back into racing history – all the way back to 2000 – that they cross generations. The same time span of 16 years would’ve had John Surtees taking on Barry Sheene, Mike Hailwood comparing genius with Freddie Spencer, Kenny Roberts doing battle with his own son, Wayne Rainey having a go with Casey Stoner and Mick Doohan with Marc Márquez. Hard to believe, but do the maths; it’s true.
The first racer who caused Rossi a real problem was Stoner – finally here was someone who had the sheer talent to beat the old master. Now there’s Marc Márquez.
But Márquez is different from all the others. We’ve seen Rossi happily resort to getting physical when times get tough. None of his old rivals enjoyed returning the compliment, at least not on the racetrack. At Catalunya in 2001 Biaggi waited until after the race to get physical. He had just been made to look silly by his young upstart rival, who had come from way behind to steal the glory that should have been his. So on their way to the podium, Biaggi landed a head butt.
Gibernau, Stoner and Lorenzo never wanted to lock handlebars or land head butts, they just wanted to race bikes. Rossi’s determination goes deeper, so deep that everything and anything can be countenanced in pursuit of victory.
Rossi’s attitude coincides with one of the greatest writers of the 20th century: George Orwell, author of Animal Farm, 1984 and Homage to Catalonia.
‘Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play,’ wrote Orwell in 1945, after witnessing football matches in various far-flung countries. ‘It is… war minus the shooting.’
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.