Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Could 2017 be Rossi’s year?

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.


Could 2017 be Rossi’s year?

The 2016 season has only just started, but 2017 is already looking good for VR

So silly season is over. And it’s not even June. Now that all the major title players (with one exception) have inked their contracts for next year, it seems like the right time to write a 2017 preview. In May 2016.

Next year MotoGP’s balance of power will shift more dramatically than it has done since the arrival of Marc Marquez four years ago. What this means is that 2017 could be Valentino Rossi’s best shot at the title since his 2010 effort went west at Mugello; though obviously I’m not suggesting he’s already out of the 2016 hunt.

Jorge Lorenzo’s move to Ducati is the biggest factor in the 2017 scenario. Lorenzo’s sweet, neutral riding technique goes together with the sweet, neutral handling of Yamaha’s M1 like fish goes with chips, so it’s a huge deal that the reigning champion and current championship leader won’t be riding the bike that has brought him so much success.

Lorenzo will surely win races on the Ducati, but even with his former Aprilia guru Gigi Dall’Igna and Casey Stoner at his side, the Desmosedici will do what he wants at some tracks but not at others. The Italian V4 is more of a corner-speed machine than it’s ever been – which will suit Lorenzo – but it’s still a bit hit and miss. Witness Jerez where the best Ducati rider’s race pace was 0.99 seconds a lap slower than Rossi’s winning pace. Thus Lorenzo will most likely struggle to reproduce the consistency that’s been a vital cornerstone to his three titles.

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

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Comments

best thing Rossi did was put his love life on hold. you don't need any distractions when you're his age and still feel the burn of competitive motorcycle racing.  you need to focus 110%, 24/7 racing, racing and more racing!  women and sex are nothing but a diversion from your goal to win. 

Total votes: 127

Maybe a serious love pulling at your heartstrings will take the edge off your racing.
But a different umbrella girl every weekend keeps you sharp!

Total votes: 107

Oh, I just love Mat Oxley, this article is no exception. I own most of his books. My favorites are Stealing Speed, Mick Doohan's biography (Mighty Mick is my hero) and An Age of Superheroes.

Total votes: 96

Hi David. This following post isn't related at all to Mat's article, but didn't know where else to write it.

I was wondering if at some point you could do a write up on the finanical aspect of MotoGP. It can range from various things. Such as, how much prize money gets distributed between all the teams? What is a team like Yamaha likely to receive? Do any teams have any special bonus clauses from Dorna? What kinda of budget does a team need to run a healthy team across the three classes? Do the teams in Moto2 and Moto 3 get any sort of prize money? Money would certainly be harder to achieve in the smaller classes.

Over the years I've seen various reports on budgets and prize money handed out in F1 and currently how hugely unbalanced it costs to run a team and what each team gets is far from fair from top to bottom.

I've not really ever seen an article like this for MotoGP. If one has been written on here before, please feel free to point it in my direction. But if not, I think it would be a really interesting topic to uncover!
 

 

Total votes: 121

Can someone explain, without trolling me, how locking the rear prevents losing the front? I obviously do not have the testicular fortitude to do it and i can't think through it. 

That last lap was simply jaw dropping. Two different styles on two different bikes fighting for the fastest way around. I think i have watched the last few laps at least a dozen times already  

 

Total votes: 104

Maybe just to balance the bike a bit better? I doubt he's completely locking it otherwise he'd have no control or engine braking. 

Total votes: 86

It's hard to describe but I'll try with my limited understanding (which may well be wrong).  It's not so much preventing loosing the front as preventing crashing if you do loose the front.  If you loose the front while the rear has full traction then the front folds under and immediately goes down (unless you can get under the bike to kick it back up or with scraping knees). If you slide the rear and don't loose the front you can change the front wheel direction to ensure the bike is still pointed in the correct direction.  If you loose the front while the rear is sliding then you can change the direction of the front tyre to bring you further up towards the centre of the tread to regain traction which imparts a force on the rear due to the momentum of the bike to make it slide more and keep the attitude of the entire bike travelling in the correct direction.  And if you're really good like some of these guys are you can balance teetering on the edge wrestling the front and rear sliding ot use it all to change direction more effectively.

Total votes: 103

It's a riding technique from the planet of mars from where Marc comes from. Well... What mat Oxley said as a possible explaination is, by locking up the rear, maximum weight is transferred to the rear of the bike. Or in more proper way the front is not loaded that heavily. Michelins are quick to lose the front, so he compensate for heavy braking on the front by dragging the rear. Makes sense in a way, but just raises more questions.

Total votes: 111

When you lock the rear, you are not pushing the front as much, hence less chance of it loosing grip and sliding out.

I do it all the time. In my dreams.

Total votes: 84

... not being a motogp star, that locking/sliding the rear perhaps allows the bike to be turned on the brakes a little without using so much front tyre to do it.

I.e., braking hard and then starting to tip in, the rear of hte bike is already rotating about the headstock which reduces cornering load on the front tyre.

I don't have the balls to try it either yet, just starting baby steps with trying to get the rear out of shape on corner entry on track days... at the point of small hops/slight rolling stoppies in a straight line at the moment.

Total votes: 107

Because there is no residual momentum coming from the rear wheel turning to further pressurize the front (threshold braking of the rear while hard and on the limit of the front is very difficult to achieve, thus locking it is almost a natural consequence of using both brakes to slow the bike down on the limit of adhesion- something not all racers do) and so all focus shifts to finding the braking limit of the front - which he incidentally locks briefly as well.

Total votes: 97

On TV It looks to me like Marquez is rear wheel steering the bike on the entry to the corner as well as the exit. This would take a small proportion of the workload and stress off the front tyre since the rear is now slowing and turning the bike.
I guess it's the end result of Marc taking his dirt track style to its logical limit on tarmac

Total votes: 107

MSs 58, for your question, I can answer based on my own experience. I would like to clarify that my bike doesn't have ABS. Basically, locking the rear for me happens when i gear down for turns/corners in quick succession. In that case, the rear wheel slips and slides. My front brake is barely engaged, if not at all. The engine braking takes care of all the braking.

What I feel from my experience is that the front brake is rarely engaged in such situations, and that doesn't cause any load on the front suspension, preventing the kind of load on the tire that can cause it to go sideways.

Also, the rear wheel drives the front on a bike (since engine power is transmitted to the rear). So when the rear locks, it tends to go sideways and not forwards (except for momentum). This also makes the front go a lot slower and hence, it doesn't lock up. (unless you grab the front brake out of sheer panic). 

If you want to try, just gear down in quick succession which will tend to lock the rear. As it goes sideways, lightly tap the rear brake. It is fun, I tell ya!

 

Ps: this is my first comment on the forum. Been reading Motomatters for the last two years, but only got around to creating an account yesterday.

Total votes: 97

On the road, yes, but these racers are jamming their front brakes like anything all the time. There is no one out there who doesn't use front brakes to slow down the bike especially after the main straight. And the trick of not-using-the-front-brake-but-downshifting-hard doesn't work in racing when you want to brake late to outbrake your rival.

Total votes: 93

... You're a slow rider? because your front brake is barely engaged?

Total votes: 91

Nope.  I'm saying (not implying) that you're a slow rider if you don't use the front brake because there's no way you can slow down to corner speed in a reasonable distance without using it.

The rear brake on sports bikes is mostly used to stabilise or destabilise the bike and performs only a small amount of speed reduction, and most of that is achieved by it's tendancy to squat the rear - if you apply it early enough you can use it to lower the bike a little and make it harder for the rear to come up which allows you to use more front brake.  It doesn't do a lot to slow the bike by itself.

If you attempt to do an emergency stop to pass your riding test using only the rear brake (or engine braking) (at least where i live), you will almost certainly fail.

Using the front brake means you can brake later and harder, which means you can stay on the gas for longer.

 

 

Total votes: 93

It's too bad the 2016 season isn't looking the same for VR.  JL is going to have 4 titles on a Yamaha equaling the same amount as VR.  37 points ahead already, when VR was leading by 1 point going into Assen last year.  Jorge has perfected the perfect start regardless of where he is on the starting grid.  

Total votes: 102

Like a dare from Oxley to HRC not to change their engine layout, in the hopes that his man VR can take the crown next year. It's clear where Oxley's thoughts have been since the bitter disappointment of Mugello. He makes a good point though. Marquez will likely be Rossi's biggest hurdle, but VR stands a good chance of beating him through consistency. Jorge's style, while very fast on the beautifully balanced M1, does come apart a bit when he misses his setup window and I can see that happening a lot more on the Ducati. I think Vinales is a smoky for the title on the M1. Pedro isn't part of the conversation anymore, which is sad because I think it might have been different on the Yamaha.

Total votes: 106

I loved Mat's veiled irony: what better time to talk about 2017 than May 2016 ?
And of course the way he talks about it makes me long for it already....
I don't agree though: given what we've seen so far, this season is (was?) VR best shot at that 10th title. I cannot believe that come next year Honda will not have found a solution to give MM what he needs/wants. And I certainly don't believe that Ducati won't turn upside down the earth and the sky in order to give JL the perfect machine he wants/needs. Besides the stellar amount of money they paid him JL said it himself that he was looking forward to a bigger involvement in the development of the bike.
I really think that JL and MM will be as strong as ever.
But right now I want to concentrate on this season and see some brilliant racing.... hopefully with VR in the mix.

Total votes: 108

I dont know how Jorge will fare on the Ducati in 2017/8 - i would hope the machine Ducati gives him will be better than one Rossi put up with.

I wonder whether 2019 will herald the return of Jorge with the retirement of Rossi ?

Total votes: 96

A large Lorenzo pay-check comes with no guarantee of success at Ducati - it's a work in progress.

Similarly, Vinales is unproven and doubts remain.

But would Lorenzo ever return to Yamaha - with Rossi in his brand ambassader role?

Yamaha had better start saving now if they want future success - both Tech3 riders have gone. 

 

Total votes: 97

Lorenzo returning to Yamaha with Rossi the brand ambassador would be interesting. Just imagine, a tweet from Rossi congratulating Lorenzo on a victory and a great race ;)

Total votes: 96

Rossi won't be winning another title. He is too old and too cautious. Look at the 3 flyaways last year, he was knackered, and lost him mind. That is a hurdle that will never get easier. Last year he was slower and lucky and didn't win. This year he is on par with speed, but it seems unlucky. For more energy, better he ditch the side businesses than the GF.

Total votes: 113

I appreciate the honest answers that were devoid of "grow a set of ba**s and find out"

So are we to understand that this style is then altogether different than how MM93 is riding on Michelins vs. Bridgestones? I remeber back in '14 he was basically grabbing so much front brake that he was fully compressed, rear an inch or two off the ground and yet able to turn in deep into corners on just his front. Granted, the Bridgestones are said to have had a front like no other, but I think it is remarkable to adjust riding styles so quickly - I won't say effortlessly. Either way, I am sure that at some point approaching braking markers they see God, waive, and keep going.

 They are amazing.

 

 

Total votes: 96

I'd say that is exactly what is going on.

Rather than braking so hard as to get the rear OFF the ground in order to achieve the same effect, he is locking/sliding it (i doubt he's LOCKING it, but rather, dragging brake or using more engine brake to overcome the traction it has with a small amount of weight on it, rather than being in the air).

No doubt, getting the level of braking/engine braking, etc right to do this has taken HRC/Marc some time, but yes - this is what I believe he is doing, to get the same sideways corner entry without having to push the front quite so hard.

Hence his(?) comment that he is sliding the rear to avoid losing the front.  By sliding the rear (via more brake/engine brake, while it is in contact with the ground), he can avoid needing to use so much front brake while turning to get the same effect.

Make sense?

 

 

 

Total votes: 86