Editor's Blog

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Which MotoGP bike will win the title?

Ducati, Honda and Yamaha all have a chance of lifting the MotoGP crown – so which factory has the technical advantage?

Five races to go, the top three riders on three different machines separated by 16 points, the top two equal. So what’s going to happen, who’s going to win?

MotoGP isn’t only about riders, it’s also about motorcycles, so it’s worth looking at where Ducati, Honda and Yamaha are by comparing their records since MotoGP changed so dramatically at the start of last season.

Since the arrival of control software and Michelin tyres, Yamaha has suffered worst. The brand has won 10 of the 31 races since the start of 2016, compared to the 15 victories it took in the preceding 31 races. That’s a disastrous drop of 33 per cent.

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Editor's Blog: Experimenting With Instagram Stories - A Weekend At Aragon

Inspiration comes from strange places. I was arguing – sorry, "discussing" – with the ridiculously talented MotoGP photographer Cormac Ryan Meenan about the relative value of various Social Media outlets. I am, as you may know, a big Twitter fan, and a fairly prolific tweeter. Twitter allows me to quickly post updates and respond to questions from racing fans. As I have little affinity with the graphic arts (a euphemism for saying I take rubbish pictures), I have no real time for Instagram. My primary method of communication is words, not pictures.

Cormac disagreed. He strongly believes in the value of Instagram as a means of communication, and especially in the power of Instagram Stories. Cormac, together with others like top photographer Tony Goldsmith and On Track Off Road kingpin Adam Wheeler, persuaded me that plenty of people would be interested in an Instagram story telling the tale of what an ordinary race weekend looks like for a MotoGP journalist. When I asked people on Twitter if they would be interested in such a thing, the response was overwhelmingly positive.

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Guest Video Blog: Freddie Spencer's Rider Insights On Misano, Rossi's Absence, And Mastering The Conditions

MotoMatters.com, in association with Motor Sport Magazine, is proud to feature the rider insights of 1983 and 1985 500cc world champion Freddie Spencer. Every week after each MotoGP race, Fast Freddie will share what he saw and learned from the race.

Once again, Freddie Spencer gives his insights into the weekend goings on after the latest round of MotoGP. This time it's Misano, and Fast Freddie first turns his attention to the track, and of course the absence of Valentino Rossi, who lives just a few km away from the track. Rossi was out due to an injury sustained riding enduro, and Freddie Spencer then discusses the benefits which riding off road, and especially riding dirt track can bring.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How Magic Marc walks the line

Eighty-five riders raced at rain-lashed San Marino GP on Sunday, and there were 80 crashes. How does Márquez stay on, let alone win, in such conditions?

It was difficult to watch Sunday’s race without imagining a kind of Gollum conversation taking place inside Marc Márquez’s head between his risk-taking self and his risk-averse self (if he has such a thing).

However tiny Márquez’s risk-averse self might be, it was in charge for most of the 28 laps. He wisely decided to let Jorge Lorenzo go about his business and then just as wisely decided to stay behind Danilo Petrucci, allowing the Italian to set the pace. All this while his risk-taking inner beast was surely fighting to get out…

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How Lowes can you go?

Who is to blame for Sam Lowes’ MotoGP demise: the rider, Aprilia or someone else? Look behind the scenes and there’s an obvious answer few have noticed

Silverstone was a weird weekend for Sam Lowes: his first and possibly (but hopefully not) last British Grand Prix as a MotoGP rider.

Lowes’ unceremonious sacking during the preceding Austrian Grand Prix caused a minor furore in the paddock and asked some major questions.

Most obviously, what is a contract worth? That’s an easy one to answer: a contract is worth next to nothing if someone is prepared to buy themselves out of it, to some extent. Lowes wanted to continue his MotoGP learning process with Aprilia next year, but all he will receive will be his salary. No bikes. It’s a miserable deal, but that’s the way the world works.

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Subscriber Blog: If You Were Lin Jarvis, Who Would You Choose?

Imagine you are Lin Jarvis, boss of Yamaha. It is Thursday evening, and you are in the car, driving home from Yamaha Motor Racing's headquarters in Monza. Your phone goes, and you answer it. It's someone from Valentino Rossi's entourage, calling to tell you that Rossi has crashed his enduro bike out training, and has been taken to hospital with a suspected broken leg. What do you do?

Well, first you call William Favero, Yamaha's communications manager, and sort out the communications process. But after that, and once you get confirmation that Rossi's leg really is broken – a double break, tibia and fibula – then you start to think about whether you will have to field a substitute rider for the upcoming races. Who do you call?

A lot of people have been playing this game since late on Thursday evening, when news of Rossi's injury broke, but very few have been able to put themselves into the position of Lin Jarvis. Instead, the suggestions offered have been made from the perspective of possible future configurations of the Yamaha MotoGP team, or riders who deserve a chance in MotoGP, or just a particular fan's favorite rider, who they would like to see get a ride somewhere. So who are the candidates? Who will get the call? And more importantly, what motivates the decision that Lin Jarvis will eventually have to make?

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Rossi is back in the game

Valentino Rossi told us at Silverstone he doesn’t have the late-race speed to win the title, but recent bike improvements suggest otherwise

As we all know, on Sunday afternoon Valentino Rossi became the first motorcycle racer to contest 300 Grands Prix in the premier class; a statistic that makes your head swirl. If he had started his debut 500cc race in March 2000 from his hometown of Tavullia and kept racing westward on the same latitude he would already have completed a full circumnavigation of the earth and be well into his second lap at full-race speed, heading past Montréal, Canada, at around 220 miles an hour.

At Silverstone the 38-year-old led all but three laps of his 22nd British Grand Prix (including the only one that matters) to finish less than a second behind winner Andrea Dovizioso and place himself within 26 points of the championship lead.

So here’s the big question: can Rossi be world champion at the end of his 306th premier-class race?

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Is Ducati’s grip computer-enhanced?

The Ducati MotoGP team is using trick new software created to improve tyre performance, so how important is this technology to the factory’s title challenge?

It looks like we may get away without a proper soaking at Silverstone this weekend, but that won’t make it much easier for riders and teams trying to choose the best tyres for Sunday.

This year tyre choice is by far the most important factor separating MotoGP victory from defeat, so the teams clever enough to find their way through the Michelin maze have a crucial advantage on race day.

Ducati is currently the most successful factory out there, with three victories from the last six races, which suggests that its engineers have become very good at choosing the right tyres. But how?

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP’s first Honda v Ducati title duel

Sunday’s breath-taking Austrian GP heralds the first-ever Ducati versus Honda duel for a MotoGP crown

Incredible but true: Honda and Ducati have never battled each other for a Grand Prix world championship. For one reason or another, each factory’s best years have never coincided with the other’s. Until now…

When Casey Stoner won Ducati’s first Grand Prix crown in 2007, Dani Pedrosa finished second, but the Honda man was never in the hunt, ending the season a whopping 125 points down. The only other time Ducati came close to winning a GP world title was in 1958, when Alberto Gandossi rode Fabio Taglioni’s first desmodromic engine to second in the 125cc championship, just seven points behind MV Agusta’s Carlo Ubbiali. Honda entered the Grand Prix arena a few months later.

Now, here we are, seven races to go in the 2017 MotoGP Championship and the season is developing into a Honda versus Ducati duel, rather than the usual Honda versus Yamaha fight, the recurring theme of the last 35 years.

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Guest Video Blog: Freddie Spencer's Rider Insights On Austria, And The Importance Of Tire Management

MotoMatters.com, in association with Motor Sport Magazine, is proud to feature the rider insights of 1983 and 1985 500cc world champion Freddie Spencer. Every week after each MotoGP race, Fast Freddie will share what he saw and learned from the race.

Freddie Spencer kicks off this week's video blog with his own memories of the Austrian Grand Prix, though when he was riding it was at the Salzburgring rather than the track that is now the Red Bull Ring at Spielberg. That was a different track, but suffered some of the same concerns with the weather.

Next up, Freddie Spencer looks at the challenges of the circuit, and goes on to talk about the weight of expectations resting on the shoulders of the Ducati riders at the track. The former 500cc world champion discusses the fortunes of the Hondas and Yamahas, and provides a truly fascinating insight into tire management, and how you conserve tires as a rider.

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Guest Video Blog: Freddie Spencer's Rider Insights On Brno, And Thoughts On Ángel Nieto

MotoMatters.com, in association with Motor Sport Magazine, is proud to feature the rider insights of 1983 and 1985 500cc world champion Freddie Spencer. Every week after each MotoGP race, Fast Freddie will share what he saw and learned from the race.

This week, Freddie Spencer starts his video blog with his memories of Ángel Nieto, who died last Thursday. Fast Freddie arrived on the race scene just as Nieto was coming to the end of his career, and though they never raced in the same class, he got to know the Spaniard a little both at the time, and later, when they were both riding at classic events.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP’s thrilling unpredictability explained

This year MotoGP is more unpredictable than ever, which is great for fans. Here’s why

This may turn out to be the best season of Grand Prix racing ever. It is already the closest-ever contest for the premier-class world title: after nine of 18 races the top four are closer on points than they were after the season-opening race in March. Championship leader Marc Márquez and the fourth-placed Valentino Rossi are separated by just 10 points, with Maverick Viñales and Andrea Dovizioso in between. This has never happened in the previous 68 seasons of Grand Prix competition.

The racing has mostly been good, too. There have already been five different winners and last time out in Germany the reigning world champion aboard the latest factory weapon spent much of the race fighting with a rookie using a two-year-old chassis.

I wouldn’t have been surprised if Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta had died and gone to heaven at the Sachsenring. Right there, before his very eyes, was the culmination of a life’s work: an indie rider hassling a factory rider, lap after lap after lap.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Out there with the big boys – part 2

Part two of Mat Oxley's 1989 Suzuka 8 Hours: race day. This story is one of many that appear in Mat’s The Fast Stuff, available on Kindle

The Suzuka 8 Hours race celebrates its 40th anniversary this Sunday. I contested the race several times in the 1980s and 1990s, with a best finish of seventh in 1986, riding with Vesa Kultalahti for Team Howard Lees. This story, written at the time, tells the tale of the 1989 race, when I partnered French journalist Gilbert Roy to 12th. They were the boom years of the 8 Hours, when you got to share the track with Rainey, Schwantz, Doohan, Gardner and the rest

Read part one

Race day dawns a little sunnier but a few clouds keep the temperature down to a ‘cool’ 30 degC. Normally Suzuka can be 35 degC with stifling humidity.

The hype fuels the tension as the 11.30am start approaches. I was slightly faster than Gilbert in practice so I’m doing the Le Mans start. And from where I stand it’s a long, long way to the front of the grid where Doohan stands on pole. After a few mouthfuls of electrolyte energy drink I line up for the sprint. My mouth is parched, my heart racing and my legs nervy like jelly as Suzuka’s electronic grandstand info board counts down to ‘GO!’.

I make a good getaway but within two seconds all hell breaks loose. Two bikes collide in the melee. I swerve wildly to avoid the exploding debris and I can’t believe it when another bike alongside me ploughs into the wreckage. The last I see of the rider he is six feet in the air hanging onto his motorcycle, upside down.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Out there with the big boys – part 1

Mat Oxley's account of his foray into the biggest race on the endurance calendar: the Suzuka 8 Hours. This story is one of many that appear in Mat’s The Fast Stuff, available on Kindle

The Suzuka 8 Hours race celebrates its 40th anniversary this Sunday. I contested the race several times in the 1980s and 1990s, with a best finish of sixth in 1986, riding with Vesa Kultalahti for Team Howard Lees. This story, written at the time, tells the tale of the 1989 race, when I partnered French journalist Gilbert Roy to 12th. They were the boom years of the 8 Hours, when you got to share the track with Rainey, Schwantz, Doohan, Gardner and the rest

The weather is typical of Japan in July: so steamy hot that the air you breathe feels second-hand and rivulets of sweat run down every part of your body.

I shouldn’t care though: I am lying on a couch with two women draping nicely chilled towels across my legs and torso. I have an ice-cold drink in one hand and a bowl of sliced orange and banana within reach of the other. A Japanese doctor massages my body and an electric fan blows a cooling draft at my face, rustling the leaves of the nearby palms.

Heaven surely couldn’t be a much more delightful place but the pleasure of this visit through the pearly gates is tainted by the knowledge that soon I must return to the fiery torment of hell.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How to fire up a MotoGP star

You would think that gold and glory would be enough to get them fired up, but a little extra always helps…

Journalists sit very low in the feeding chain in MotoGP. We have little or no use to the riders and teams, or at least that’s what they tell us.

But occasionally we do have our uses, because the pen can be a mighty thing.

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