Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Dorna's mistakes

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.


Dorna’s mistakes

MotoGP’s Spanish rights holder has done some great things and some not-so-great things during its 25 years in charge

This year Dorna celebrates 25 years as lord and master of motorcycle Grand Prix racing. During that quarter of a century the company has done some good things and some bad things, some clever things and some stupid things.

Staying true to the journalist’s mantra of ‘comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable’ I won’t trumpet Dorna’s achievements. After all, CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta and his coterie don’t need me to say nice things about them. All they need do to bring a smile to their faces is check their bank accounts. (Or receive news that Valentino Rossi has renewed his contract for another couple of years.)

Instead let’s have some innocent fun examining the worst thing it’s done and the most stupid thing it’s done.

The one thing for which I will never forgive Dorna is killing off the 250s. This was an act of grave motor sport philistinism; a bit like an art gallery burning its collection of van Goghs and replacing them with a load of production-line Damien Hirst dross, reasoning that the world has moved on from post-impressionism.

The ‘bike that won the last 250 world title in 2009 – Hiroshi Aoyama’s Honda RS250-W – was the neatest, prettiest race bike ever created. It was a petrolhead’s Mona Lisa.

Not for nothing were the 250s, in their dying days, known as the ‘connoisseurs’ class’. No one has ever made a better racing motorcycle than a 250 GP bike. If I had my own racetrack and a vast garage that included all the best racing machines of the last few decades, I would ignore the rest and keep doing laps on the 250s, day after day after day.

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

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Comments

The 250's are greatly missed and no amount of blather can cover the fact that eliminating them was ignorant, idiotic and shortsighted....but enough about Donald Trump....Dorna fits right in, with their paycheck far exceeding their abilities or worth....

Did Dorna replace the Aprilia cup for the Kalex cup? With 250s manufacturers didn't support it, so they lost it.

They're pretty boring, I don't know why anyone would miss them. The races were boring and the rules made sure there was no development to speak of. Eliminating them was a good idea.

A bad idea was to make sure the same happened again with Moto2. The first years were rather exciting but it now has become a spec class yet again. To the point where there are riders who rather skip it in favour of being a backmarker in MotoGP. I've argued before about adopting Moto3 regulations for Moto2 and make them 500 or 450cc twins. Very applicable to the current selling climate of motorcycles.

Aaaand here it comes. I enjoy about half of our annual 2 stroke vs 4 stroke re hash. Sincerely, you folks are my friends. But blaming Dorna for the end of 2 strokes is misplaced. It was a global market shift. Nearing their end they were increasingly marginalized.

Thd 250GP bikes are wonderful! Their handling, weight, amount of power available, aesthetics. Love them.

And torque. I enjoy it. Fiddling w gears and a 1000rpm wide power band? Not so much. Wrenching on bikes to maintain them? Not so much. I made efforts to find a low cost RS or TZ 250 project bike in which to squeeze just the right Supersport spec 4 stroke motor. Yep, blasphemy for many. Considered the Aprilia 550 twin, Kawasaki 650 parallel twin, big singles... and in the end just went with getting a CBR600RR. Which felt a bit bulky. 675 triple? Feels great! Have you folks ridden the Triumph? Narrow between the knees, flickable, handles on RAILS like I understand the 250GP to be. And I wish for more top end of all things. Or maybe an 800cc overbore. I feel like Goldilocks.

Some folks love nastalgia. Evidently my thing is constructing Frankenbikes in my head. Perhaps we are all differently bonkers.

(And we could have a similar consideration of Moto2 - ideal reckoned with real world context of the times. Ad nauseum. I have some patience now w the complexion of Moto2 but it will run out).

Cheers!

The global market shift did happen, but it seems that it wasn't something completely inevitable. I haven't done any research but i do remember reading some interview from an official KTM person who clearly said that the elimination of the 2strokes was Hondas "idea" with the rest of the Japanese factories following up. He said that the environmental issues that were brought up didn't actually stand as the 2stroke technology had progressed a lot in lowering the emissions, and that they had no intention of stopping the development of 2strokes. In fact, just checked Honda's and KTM's websites, and Honda doesn't have a single 2stroke bike in the enduro and mx category, while KTM has a full range on both categories, competition and hobby versions. Honda also maybe kind of "sponsored" the transition from 250's to Moto2 by providing the engines, i don't know price and details but i don't think they did it only for the money. With KTM growing at a steady pace, dominating the world stage in the dirt, fighting with Honda as equals in Moto3 and now with a Motogp project plus a Moto2 bike things are getting really interesting. Oh and just yesterday there were accusations from KTM of Honda cheating! And since i 'm carried away from the subject, i would like to point out the fact that Aprilia and Suzuki already ran a season of motogp without a big sponsor, Yamaha had a hard time until it settled with movistar, and KTM from the first test has the red bull logo on it. We all know what redbull means, besides everything else, they run two F1 teams. Future looks interesting!

Get rid of the single make superport road bike engine formula, 500 twins to similar regs to Moto3 with multiple manufacturers. The technology can be shared amongst the classes and be more exciting with more manufacturers involved. Possibly leading to the return of bespoke manufactured racing motor cycles?

With all respect to those who do of course.
Sure, for me I haven't followed moto two as closely over the last few years because free to air stopped showing it and i only subscribbed last year to catch up with it another factor was a lot of riders I followed had since moved on so it took me a while to get used to the field being full of different riders. there are some that have come/coming through now that will peak my interest again this year. That aside there has been some great races over the course and for a while there it was my favourite class. I'm not opposed to two strokes either and if it stayed that way knowing what i know now i wouldnt care if it stayed but for me, to say changing to four was one of their biggest mistakes I can't agree. fast close racing is what I want to watch. While I appreciate the skill required I'm not riding so things like Kevin schwantz's comments aren't to big a deal for me. If I was a rider they would but as I'm watching on the couch or track as long as it's fast and close I will enjoy the race.
I regards to the vale/Marc/Jorge thing at the end of the year that's all in the past and you can use hindsight to always make the better judgement. Sure they maybe not do the right thing but in the heat of it trying to contain three big egos in motorsport would be difficult. Anyway I don't know the biggest group of people but from the fans I talk to we have just moved on . Sure media always want to bring back to this but what dorna did after is far from our minds we are having to much excitement for the future and Qatar.

I totally agree with you regarding Dorna's poor handling of the circus last year. The ringmaster showed particularly poor judgement, and as result the prancing ponies did what they do best, and simply pranced to their own choreography.

I'm afraid I can't agree with your comments on the 250's. I love them myself, but had Dorna stayed the course they would simply be 2-stroke MotoGP bikes with electronics up the wazoo in 2016. The traction control in the later years would have morphed into NASA-spec electronics that take the fun out of the whole damn thing....from riding to watching.

Not to mention they are built for midgets so instantly you rule out any talented rider over 65kg's.

And wheels in line in all three classes would be a pill of unutterable bitterness that I would refuse to swallow. Moto3, MotoGP are just slot-bikes carving the same line + or - 0.2sec's, so please for the love of petrol give me SOME movement from the bikes! That role is ably filled by Moto2, which isn't perfect and needs some tinkering (but I'm not gonna open that can worms) but is a welcome change from the other classes.

This one just slipped past me because I have been involved in fighting the Miss America Organization in defense of the National Sweetheart Pageant (I am serious about that)...never mind. So I am checking in late and no one but you, whoever you are, is reading this.

Nostalgia is just old guys pulling rank on younger folks. The 250cc Championship had become, by the time of its demise, almost a con-game with Aprilia operating in the best traditions of that limbo where abuse of a dominant position and free market economies bump and grind. Nothing could have sustained two-stroke racing.

I also agree that Moto2 is an inferior show. I have never spoken to a Moto2 rider who had anything good to say about the experience of racing a prototype with a dead lump of an engine that sounds as boring as it feels. We used to describe that sort of sensation as being "as exciting as kissing your sister," but in these PC times I might end up offending some sister-lovers, so I am not saying that.

But, regarding Mat´s second point: I agree that in F1 there would have been all kinds of meetings, threats veiled and otherwise, but can any of you imagine whatever powers that were back in 1983 calling Kenny Roberts and Freddie Spencer into an office and telling them to make nice?

The Roberts-Spencer played out well when Roberts, furious to this day because he thinks Freddie stuffed him dangerously at the end of the airport straight in Anderstorp on the last lap of the 1983 Swedish G.P. decided to accept the results in the best way possible...posing in a photo placing a crown on Freddie´s head. That was a class act, and it does not change the fact that Roberts and Spencer still disagree as much as it is possible for two gunslingers to disagree without shooting each other.

The personalities of Rossi and Marquez are very different from those of King Kenny and Fast Freddie...and so are the times.

Dorna made no mistake in either of the cases Mat mentions (in my less than humble opinion), and, being a lot older than Mat and the vast majority of you all, I am just pulling rank. You want mistakes, I´ll give you mistakes. Take the FIM before Dorna on just about anything from safety to ...well, safety again. Everything else is stage dressing.

Now, I need to get back to the important stuff. Long live the 72-year tradition of National Sweetheart, who was, in 1941, not called National Sweetheart, but, instead, Miss Sweetcorn. We will not tolerate abuses by either April or the Miss America Org.

I miss the 990's more than I'll ever miss seeing 250's do donuts. The days of near liter MotoGP prototype machinery with minimal electronics. Electronics have even ruined WSBK so both series are seriously afflicted. No more crossed up coming out of a corner. No more smoking tires. No more rear and front tire sliding in unison.

Electronic rider aids have ruined motorcycle racing. 250's are on down the list.