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.
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I don’t usually do team launches. They are the exact opposite of racing: totally safe and entirely predictable. Attending a MotoGP launch is a bit like going to a restaurant and reading the menu but not eating the food. A pointless exercise.
But there are exceptions. During more than three decades of doing this job (luckiest man alive) I’ve worked out that most big sponsors are businesses with money to burn, like those flogging tobacco, mobile phones, oil, that kind of thing. I’ve also learned that the dirtier the money the better the launch.
Marlboro’s week-long shindigs in the upmarket Italian ski resort of Madonna di Campiglio were the stuff of legend. Few other businesses could afford to rent half a town and half a mountain for a week and to feed and water (wine and whisky, in fact) several hundred MotoGP and Formula 1 journalists. These events set the standard for excess and ostentation, unlikely to be beaten this side of the Roman Empire or Roman Abromavich’s yacht.
Last year’s CWM LRC Honda team launch did have a go at matching Marlboro’s extravagance. Funded by city-trading company CWM FX – now under investigation for fraud and money-laundering – it was an epic knees-up.
I still feel dirty for drinking so much of their champagne. At the height of this frenzied affair in a slinky London nightclub, where dancing girls found themselves cavorting onstage with drunks in suits, I espied Jack Miller snogging a local lass on a barstool, while LCR team owner Lucio Cecchinello giggled nervously, torn between enjoying himself too much and worrying about getting his money out of CWM boss Anthony Constantinou, currently on trial at the Old Bailey for groping employees. Then Cal Crutchlow sidled up to me and shouted over the bangin’ tunes: “Wolf of Wall Street!”
He was right, of course. The party was exactly that: city bad-boys high on wealth, power, champagne and probably other stuff, letting down their expensively coiffured hair.
So, you might ask, why did I bother attending Monday’s Movistar Yamaha team launch – a daytime do in a mobile-phone head office, where the most exciting thing on offer was the free wifi?
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.