Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The new MotoGP title favourites?

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.


The new MotoGP title favourites?

Many people thought the secret to MotoGP 2016 would be smoothness, but Sunday’s Argentine GP completely trashed that theory

So much for all the preseason theories that the secret to 2016 would be riding nice and smoothly to get the best out of the lower-tech control electronics and lower-grip Michelin tyres.

Jorge Lorenzo’s flawless victory in Qatar allowed all those theorists (me included) to give themselves a little pat on the back. JL and the Yamaha are the kings of gliding through corners and that’s exactly what they did at Losail.

But Marc Marquez finished only two seconds behind the world champ and he already had a glint in his eye.

In Argentina the twice MotoGP champ looked very much like he had during his title-winning seasons in 2013 and 2014: the bike kicking sideways into corners and shaking madly on the exits. There was nothing smooth about his riding, but he was devastatingly fast, which suggests we may have got our predictions entirely wrong.

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

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Comments

In an earlier, pre Qatar race thread, I opined that I thought that it would take at least through the Jerez race, before any season projecting trends, as to how each rider/bike/team would or wouldn't work, with/around the new tires and spec electronics.... and to see how the title chase was truly shaking out... I also thought that it would be a mistake to draw too many conclusions on one or two early race results... I stand by my thoughts on the subject... While I was really happy with the way Jorge performed and won the race at Qatar, I also knew that he had Argentina and Austin, two tracks that tend to bedevil him and the Yamaha(s), to deal with... And I also know that the Arg. and COTA tracks are ones that Marc and the Honda's are very strong at... even last year with the "agressive" Honda engine... In fact, those two tracks seem to be where the Honda's "agressive" nature actually shines or at the very least, minimizes its shortcomings... 

So I have to chuckle a bit to see the "MotoGP title favourites" pendulum, in the mind of some experts,  swing so abruptly between the end of the Qatar and Argentina races... 

Being a Lorenzo fan, I was hopeful for some good results/points on the "America's swing"... Not overly optomistic for wins though... While watching the practice and qualifying sessions, even though he threw down a good qualifying time, I knew Jorge wasn't "feeling it" in Argentina... Race day (and especially in light of all the tire switching/rain/drying track scenarios) my hope was for him to get around the track ok, get some points... maybe, just maybe, a podium spot... and move on to Austin... repeat in getting a decent result/points and then head on to the European tracks and hit his stride... The "scoring points/possible podium" thing, obviously didn't happen in Argentina... I hope for a better result for Jorge in Austin but totally expect Marc and his Honda, to do what they do so well there...

I fully expect Marc to head back to Europe with a nice points lead... It's after that that I think we'll start to see how things will shake out and where the title momentum pendulum is truly pointing... No doubt, Jorge getting zero points in Argentina puts him on a tougher path to the title... Remember, after the first four races last year... no one was thinking or talking about Jorge's "title momentum", much less, a real shot at the title... Even though Jorge hit the deck in Argentina... and Marc has ridden VERY well and is leading the title chase... after two whole races... I still think that it might just be a wee bit too early to be naming favoriites for the title... 

Addendum: I want to add that my views are not, in any way, to be taken as a knock on Mr. Oxley... I REALLY enjoy and appreciate his writting and input... and I will be the first to admit that he is a LOT more knowledgeable on the subject of motorcycle racing than I ever hope to be... I just find it a bit, uh, "interesting", that in the span of two short weeks/races, in light of all that has changed prior to the start of the season, his post race write ups went from: "Jorge Lorenzo's MotoGP Secret" to "The new MotoGP title favourites"... I just think that maybe both view points might have been or may be, a bit premature... 

I agree with you that the "only as good as the last race result" syndrome is often overdone, but if you look at the odds on the betting sites he is certainly the favourite.

http://www.oddschecker.com/motorsport/motogp/moto-gp-world-championship/...

(At the time of writing, MM approx 1.7, JL at 3, VR at 4.5)

Of course, if you believe the odds are wrong, you should put a small bet on your man...