Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Analysing MotoGP's crash stats

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.


Analysing MotoGP's crash stats

Call me sick and twisted, but I’ve been enjoying my favourite document of the year: the MotoGP crash report. This isn’t because I like to spend the winter hibernating beneath a cosy blanket of schadenfreude, but because the crash list tells you a great deal about what went on during the season.

If victory is the ultimate good for a rider, then crashing is the ultimate bad. No-one has ever explained this better than former 500 GP winner and World Superbike champion Carlos Checa.

“Crashing is shit for you, shit for the bike, shit for the mechanics and shit for the set-up,” Checa told me a while back. “It’s a signal that you are heading in the wrong direction. You want to win but crashing is the opposite. It’s like being in France when you want to go to England and when you crash you go to Spain. That way you’ll never get to England!”

Thanks for that, Carlos. So true.

The MotoGP crash report – painstakingly compiled by Dorna’s Frine Velilla – contains an avalanche of statistics that tell you which rider crashed the most, which corner caused the most crashes, the average crash rate per race and so on.

But first things first; what you really want to know is who topped the 2015 MotoGP crashing league. Step forward recently sacked Red Bull KTM Moto3 rider Karel Hanika who hit the ground on 24 occasions, or 1.3 times a weekend. It’s always tight at the top, so Hanika only beat Moto2 rider Axel Pons by a single crash and the next eight top crashers were separated by just two accidents: Sam Lowes, Álex Márquez and Alex de Angelis on 19 each, with Louis Rossi, Jack Miller, Hiroki Ono, Xavier Siméon and Tatsuki Suzuki on 18.

Of course, analysing the stats is what it’s all about. Usually, the riders who crash the least are those who feel most at one with their motorcycles, so they know exactly where the limit is, so they’re able to skim that limit lap after lap, without bother. Often, those who crash the most are the riders whose bikes prevent them from consistently locating the limit, so they keep tripping over it.

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

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Comments

When I was racing, and crashing far too frequently, I wished I had some help in trying to figure out why and what caused my crashes. I knew it was usually me and my riding, including concentration and focus. Such knowledge perhaps would have let me improve a bit more and perhaps faster and less painfully both literally and financially. For us lowly privateers a crash can mean the difference in racing and not. Spares? Yeah, I have them but I just haven't bought them yet.

Riding schools helped but it would have been nice to know some common factors of my crashes and what I could try to avoid so many trips to the kitty litter and the med center. As a former military helicopter pilot, we aviators know that crashes are seldom the result of one factor, but can be traced back along a chain of events or omissions when triggered the series that results in the event.

Far from being perverse, in my view crash analysis is very valuable way to spend time and effort. As the old saw goes, we learn more from our failures (crashes) than we do from our sucesses (non-crash sessions.)

Here is my take on it:

  • Corner #
  • type of corner (decreasing/increasing radius)
  • Camber (+ / -)
  • Entry - Uphill/flat/downhill
  • temperature
  • solo or not
  • tire compound
  • rack condition (wet/dry/ drying)
  • Front or rear loss of traction

Keep up the good work!