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 and the silver screen
The church bells in Tavullia rang out on Sunday afternoon, as they always do when the town’s local hero wins a Grand Prix. I only know this because I watched the new MotoGP documentary Hitting the Apex last week.
The film’s advertised stars are Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa, Marc Márquez and Marco Simoncelli, but (in my mind at least), its greatest stars are Tavullia’s priests, Don Cesare Stefani and Don Giuseppe Signoretti.
The pair sit in their church (called, oh the irony, the Church of San Lorenzo the Martyr), remembering the last Saturday of June 2013, when they rang the bells to celebrate the Assen victory that marked Rossi’s return to the top step after two miserable seasons that were surely the beginning of his inevitable decline into retirement.
Once the bells were ringing (they are electronically operated, so no need for tiresome campanology) Don Cesare Stefani wandered off to join the wild celebrations at Rossi’s nearby pizza joint. There’s footage of the Bacchanalian goings-on, with Stefani (who looks uncannily like Grandpa Simpson) in the middle of it all, sipping wine. Only one problem: he’s enjoying himself so much he forgets about the bells, which continue peeling for the rest of the afternoon.
Any director given full access to Dorna’s best MotoGP footage would surely struggle to make a bad film. But Hitting the Apex (released in UK cinemas today, and worth seeing on the big screen) is a brilliant doc. It is probably motorcycling’s Senna.
Most of us already know much of the footage, but what makes the film, apart from the shepherds of the Tavullia flock, is the way director Mark Neale gets behind the scenes and drives the story forward. He transforms the four seasons from 2010 to 2013 and their background into a thrilling drama that seems like it was made for the movies. There are many moments that send a chill down your spine.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.