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.
The Sepang incident
I wish Hunter S Thompson was still alive for many reasons. I particularly wish he had been at Sepang, because no other writer could have written better about MotoGP’s weirdest weekend.
Thompson’s most famous novel – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – had his alter-ego Raoul Duke covering the Mint 400 motorcycle race outside Las Vegas. Thompson also did newspaper work, covering the Watergate hearings that led to the end of Richard Nixon’s presidency.
On the Watergate job the gun-toting acid casualty spent most of his time in the hotel swimming pool, doing lengths and occasionally stopping at one end, where he had placed a portable TV and a bottle of bourbon. The hearings were broadcast live, so whenever the coverage suggested things were about to get interesting, Thompson made his way over the road to the courtroom and took his reserved seat, no doubt scaring colleagues with his fumy breath.
What would Hunter have made of Sepang? The weekend had everything that got him excited: speed, paranoia, a fight and explosions (at up to 16,000 a minute).
I see him doing lengths in the hotel swimming pool, then hurriedly wrapping a towel around his torso and bursting into the pre-event press conference that changed everything, cigar in one hand, glass of bourbon in the other.
He would’ve stood there, blinking against the TV spotlights, slack-jawed in wonder as he listened to the GOAT attempt to dismantle a troublesome young talent sat just a few feet away.
Was this genius or madness? Was he demolishing Márquez or was he laying the foundations of his own destruction?
No one would know until Sunday when, to borrow a few of Hunter’s sports-writing words, the riders’ “nerves burned like open sores on a dog’s neck. White knuckles. Wild eyes. Strange fluid welled up in their throats, with a taste far sharper than bile”.
And then the fans. “By noon, many were weeping openly, for no apparent reason. Others wrung their hands or gnawed on the necks of pop bottles, trying to stay calm. Many fist-fights were reported in the public urinals.”
From around 3.11pm local time, we all saw the result of Rossi’s attack on Márquez. If the Spaniard hadn’t been a grim enemy before Sepang, he certainly was now.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.