Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - What really happened in MotoGP’s 2015 finale

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.


What really happened in MotoGP’s 2015 finale

I’ve never done this before, but I think now the time is right. It’s time to come out: as a Valentino Rossi fan. Social media has been so poisoned by Rossi fanatics in recent weeks that I’ve been judged guilty a thousand times for the crime of trying to be objective in the face of the facts. I’m not the only one. Many other MotoGP journalists, respected for years and years by their readers, have been subjected to the same abuse for the same crime of attempting to uncover the truth.

I’ve liked Rossi since the summer of 1996 (below), when he started hanging out in the press room on Sunday evenings, laughing and joking with journalists and generally having a fun time like no other rider. A couple of years later we got together and I started writing his columns, which required me to hunt him down on Sunday evenings (even then not an easy proposition) to chat about the race and what he’d been up to in the previous week or so. One of these chats was conducted beside a swimming pool in Rio de Janeiro, Rossi full of beer and champagne, while his friends and crew got flung in the pool, just a few hours after he had won the 250 title. He was always funny; bubbling over with enthusiasm for racing and for life itself.

Our contract regarding his columns – which were published in ‘bike magazines around the world – was hilariously amateurish and all the better for it. He gave me half an hour of his time at each race and I gave him a CD. I was deep into London club-land at the time, so I brought along weird drum and bass records, like Goldie’s game-changing Timeless. “Strange music, this Goldie,” he grinned.

Another couple of years later he agreed to let me write his biography, which entailed many hours hunkered down in his rather gloomy serviced apartment in St James Square, London.

We sat there talking about his past, while best-mate Uccio (Salucci) lay snoring on the sofa, sleeping off another heavy all-nighter in some bangin’ house club. Usually, Rossi’s latest 500cc winner’s trophy sat on the sideboard among the detritus of a crazy life lived on the road.

Writing his biography also took me to Italy where I spent time with his wonderful dad (one of my childhood racing heroes) and his warm and bright mother. His mum told me plenty of interesting tales about her boy, but what struck me the most was the stories he told her when he got home from the minimoto track, buzzing on adrenaline and talking ten to the dozen. She said it wasn’t just the racing that Valentino loved, but everything about paddock life. He loved it all and that is surely the main reason for his astonishing longevity.

I like Rossi because I like the way he races, like a warrior. Even more than that I like him as a person: bright, funny, liberal-minded, as are his parents. I have little doubt he’s a good human being; something which can’t be said of many racers clawing their way to the top of a cruel and vicious sport.

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

Total votes: 134
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Comments

Thank you for sharing this article.

Written with the heart, i would say "tendre" en français (the good way of the word, like with you children).

The perfect clap of the end for me.

See you next year guys, this website is great, I can do my racing psychoanalysis with smart people ... and without annoying my poor wife about these children and their toy.

PS: this Sepang gate will be a great subject for a thesis in psycho universities. I can't remember a situation where two completely opposite points of view can be "so much" equally true.

Total votes: 113

I'm glad Mat adds his voice to the group calling for all of us to reserve our harshest judgements in the absence of certainty, and that he reminds us that the recent unseemliness is rooted in the same fierce, uncompromising passion that causes us to root for these guys in the first place.

I'm also happy to see that there's an effort underway to give Jorge's accomplishment this year the recognition it deserves. Achieving seven victories would be an exceptional performance in most years, but leading every lap in every victory is superhuman. Remember how awed we all were when he led 103 consecutive laps at the beginning of this season, shattering Casey Stoner's record in the process? The guy's a narcissistic jerk, but to watch him at his best is to witness a man with utter mastery over his machine. I'm grateful that those documenting this sport (David foremost among them) are taking care to ensure that the actual racing isn't totally lost in the noise of the drama.

Total votes: 98

I had not heard about Rossi wanting to dedicate the championship to Simoncelli if he won. Interesting read. Funny that he had to "come out the closer" as a Rossi fan. LMAO!!! I am sure there is no lack of journalist that are fans of Rossi. Hopefully next year will be less dramatic off the track. Looking forward to 2016. Too early to tell much from test times other than Marquez having more speed than everyone off top. Thanks for sharing the link David.

Total votes: 102

I admire your loyalty, especially due to your personal acquaintance with Rossi. I've never met him, so I can only speak as an observer from a distance. Funny or not, he has a foul mouth, and personally has insulted a lot of people. In the recent unpleasantness, he profanely insulted, defamed and slandered Marc's mother, in addition to all the rest of his reckless words, accusations and actions.

He has some growing up and apologizing to do. Perhaps, as his friend, you could help him do that.

Total votes: 183

Excellent read! Perfect way to sum up 2015. Rossi, Stoner, Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Marquez are all amazing at what they do when everything goes right, and if they didn't have the rest of the field behind them, we'd have to way to mark just how amazing these guys really are. :)

Total votes: 102

I've read here a few times and some other places that Rossi must know this year was his last real shot at the title. When will people learn. "Never write Rossi off".
IMO that still holds true for the 2016 season. Everyone is hitting the reset button with the new Spec software and switch to Michelin. He's still hungry, make no mistake. I think 2016 will be the season Rossi becomes the shark instead of the guppy.

I'm also very interested to know how the conversation with Rossi and Carmelo went after he asked to speak with him in his motor home. Wish I was a fly on the wall for that one.

Regarding Rossi's complaints towards Marc at Sepang a lot of people are saying he should of kept quiet while some say they lost respect for him. While its impossible for us mortals to know the truth behind the situation lets pretend for a moment that Rossi' accusations are in fact true. What else should he of done? When someone who is capable of running you're same pace makes it a point to stay around you instead of clearing off into the distance (and this is definitely possible) what else would you do? Remain silent, watch the title be decided by someone not in the hunt, and act as if nothing is happening? Oh well, try again another day? True champions never complain? How can anyone who is serious about motor sports or knows anything about its history say that with a straight face. It blows me away. Lorenzo and Stoner complained about other rides way more than Rossi ever has. To those that say they lost respect for him I say good riddance. You wont be missed.

Total votes: 177

"Heroes are remembered, Legends never die."

I always find this poem fitting whenever people, in any context, assume matters in our lifetimes are of the upmost historical importance, particularly when dealing with things as trivial as entertainment.

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: 'Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear --
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!
"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.'

- Ozymandias

MotoGP 2015 and all its heros and villains will too pass into dull memories of history barely remembered by future generations.

Total votes: 117

Well said SpiesFL! Am glad someone had the guts to say this, as saying you support "Rossi" these days is about as popular as saying you enjoy a cigarette!

Lots of people think it, but this "elite" forum makes it unpopular to say so! You agree with Rossi? You are a "fanatic" or a "fanboi" (have I spelt it right?)...

No doubt I'll be pulled up about my grammatical errors.

Total votes: 110

There are plenty of great Rossi fans out there but you know something is not right when Mat Oxley, a self-proclaimed VR46 fan for 2 decades (we all knew it), says he and his peers can't form a different opinion without being insulted or threatened.

Total votes: 110

At Phillip Island, I watched in real time and thought it was a brilliant race at the front four but in light of Vale's accusations, I re-watched it and thought that Vale might be on to something, but I had a wait-and-see attitude. And yes, the Ducati and Honda burned him on the straights.

As I watched Sepang live, I agree with what Mat Oxley wrote, in that Marc showed Vale what it's like to be messed with, and Vale responded by running him wide. MM crashed either by his own design, panic, a kung-fu kick from Rossi or because a butterfly flapped it's wings in Mexico two years ago. We'll never know.

So now we head into Valencia after Rossi's CAS appeal is denied and is announced by HRC of all things, and there is still racing to be done, but Rossi's hopes last hopes are for the Honda Spanish riders to defeat Lorenzo, but he's already pissed in the pot, and Marc doesn't want to play.

Valencia played out exactly as I expected at the top, but not for the other racers. I wish they had more coverage. I wonder if Pedrosa rode with relief (was he alerted when Ianonne crashed out?) There are so many stories in MotoGP.

I think that it's going to take me a couple of months just to frame 2015 in my mind. Any help appreciated!

Total votes: 116

It sure didn't look like it to me Mat. I saw none of his distinctive loose rear wheel style on the brakes and into corner entry- like he's about to throw it away (but almost never does). Marc has the most distinctive style amongst active Moto GP riders. I saw none of it on Sunday.

Marc's explanation that he was racing like at Indy- waiting until the last lap to make a pass rings hollow too when taking into account that Dani was closing in on the pair for the last 10 laps of the race. Surely he saw this happening from his pit board. Why would Marc sit there and wait for the last lap to make a pass when he clearly sees that there's another rider closing in on the front 2 hand over fist? Does that sound like the race strategy of a 4-time World Champion?

Total votes: 122

I've been involved in National roadracing for several years and once I was talking to someone how hard it is to become the front runner. He said to me that in his opinion and I agree with it, only the "bad ass" runs in front, in Dutch it sounds a little sweater. I think this counts not only in sports but also in general life, nice people don't come very often out on top ..........
I hope to see some good racing next year and as long as a Yamaha comes out on top I don't really care who's on it, though I would like to see a Pedrosa, Vinales or Rins on a Yamaha, who knows what happens in 2017, cheers!

Total votes: 102

I am Italian but not a Rossi fan and I really appreciated reading Max Oxley.
This is a wonderful website where I feel at home. David Emmett is really doing a wonderful job and for the moment ( IMO ) it is the only website where you can discuss about Jorge- Marc- Rossi and Motogp in general without becoming " hooligans ".

By the way also in Italy we have a serious website " gpone " that is saying, in this right moment that ( maybe ) CASEY STONER will be a test rider for Ducati.

Wow, I hope sooner or later he will come back. If Rossi complains about " odds " being against him for not winning, what should Casey say?

Total votes: 96

Thanks for this article. It is good to know there is a sensible forum to continue to discuss this. There is such a strong desire from FIM, Dorna, Jarvis, Nakamoto, many journalists and a section of fans to simply sweep Sunday under the carpet under the rhetoric of "the new season has started", "let's focus on the racing" and "Lorenzo deserved to be champion because he won the most races" to the point that I am still not even sure this comment will make it through moderation. What they seem to be ignoring is a fundamental, major, and deeply troubling "nettle" that no-one appears willing to grasp and the implications are huge.

I don't want to regurgitate all the arguments here. Fundamentally we know Sunday was a final race showdown between Rossi and Lorenzo where Lorenzo needed at least seven more points. Lorenzo and Rossi both did what they had to do and realistically Rossi was only ever going to finish fourth. So it was always going to depend on whether the Hondas beat Lorenzo. There is a significiant enough probability (notice I am not saying definite) that Marquez ensured that would not happen - he did not attempt a single overtake of Lorenzo, appeared to slow to stay behind in some corners and retook his faster teammate running them both wide towards the end of the race. This is in stark contrast to PI and Sepang where he battled ferociously with the other championship contender, does not fit with Marquez's history and M.O. and on the balance of probability we can safely assume he would have tried to overtake Rossi had he been leading on Sunday.

There is therefore a serious enough potential that Marquez threw or fixed the result of the race on Sunday and therefore the championship. The motives or reasons why he might have done this are irrelevant because in doing so he has defrauded the series, the fans and the two championship contenders. This is highly significant given how long MotoGP fans have waited for such an electric championship and final race decider. It is also hugely significant given the implications for the history books if Rossi had won.

I am deeply disappointed that the FIM and Dorna are not investigating this as we have already learnt in the last few weeks that the rules are woolly at times and open to interpretation so we do not need definitive proof whether Marquez fixed the race just a balance of probability. I am not suggesting Lorenzo should be stripped of the title nor that Rossi should be awarded it, merely that Marquez should be investigated and a penalty issued if deemed appropriate. Without this I fear that the precedent has been set for fixing races and championships in future. I could not care less about Karma or what has happened in the past, all I care about is that when I switch on to watch the races they are "real".

Total votes: 127

Thank you for stating what I have been feeling, but have been unable to put into words.

Total votes: 104

I'm profoundly disappointed that this site implemented a moderated forum.

Total votes: 107

This has always been a moderated forum. But instead of moderating retrospectively, by deleting or unpublishing comments, they are now screened beforehand. Given the vitriol on all sides of the argument in recent weeks, a moderated forum is the only possibility. Without moderation, people would have left in droves.

Total votes: 84

Moderation was the only alternative, in order to avoid the filth that has permeated discussions pretty much everywhere else.

Total votes: 87