Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Will MotoGP go radio gaga?

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.


Will MotoGP go radio gaga?

Some people want pit-to-rider radios introduced to MotoGP. Please, no… please, no…

So, Valentino Rossi wants to discuss the introduction of pit-to-rider radios in MotoGP’s Safety Commission.

This is weird, because radios are currently banned from MotoGP, partly for safety reasons, after various riders and teams tested the technology some years ago. Radios certainly won’t improve safety in any great way; they will merely be a tool that might have saved Rossi the woeful embarrassment of disregarding his pit-board in Germany a few weeks ago.

Radios won’t stop riders and teams making mistakes in wet/dry races. There will still be confusion and errors. Some will make the right call; others will make the wrong call. Racing is like war in many respects: most wars are won by the side that makes the fewest mistakes. It’s the same in racing – radios will not prevent cock-ups, they will merely create different types of cock-ups.

I am against radios in MotoGP for various reasons. Riders spend hours and hours throughout each weekend conferring with armies of engineers, technicians and advisors; so what makes the race so compelling is that the moment the lights go out the riders are totally alone and 100 per cent masters of their own destinies. This is the moment of release to which they’ve all been looking forward: finally, it’s all down to them. The endless debriefs and discussions about strategies, tyre choice and settings are done, the rider is at last where he really wants to be: alone on his motorcycle, just him against the world.

For what it’s worth (because this bit has nothing to do with racing) I get the same feeling when I’m out on an everyday ride. The moment I flip down the visor, I am alone. It’s just me, the bike and the road, so I am entirely responsible for what happens next. I never feel more relaxed than at this moment: no phone, no internet, no nothing; just 100 per cent focus. To me, it’s the best meditation.

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

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Comments

I don't really get the problem... I'm not really opposed to radio's but not entirely convinced either. I mean... a crew can already pass any message they need to via the pitwall, okay that's very limited and can easily be overlooked (depending on the circumstances). And in principle, a rider can signal when he decides to come in, not really rocket science... okay they can't discuss tactics or tire choice. But with a clear plan (as MM93's team: ignore inters), one can get far. A team could as wel agree on different signals: signalling with a foot = inters, signalling with a hand = slicks.

But... I would be more looking into dash-messages. There is already a system in place where red/black flags are passed onto riders dashboards. Why not expand on that a bit? Easier to manage, race direction can screen, easily to make rules for (number of messages, number of chars, ...), extra on-screen for tv. Still a one-way street but an improvement to the very basic/error-prone pitboard?

"easily to make rules for (number of messages, number of chars, ...), extra on-screen for tv"

You could save money too, just velcro their cell phones to the dash and send them tweets... they're already character limited!

Thanks, really value that addition to my ridiculous reasoning, what was I thinking?

Having some experience in riding and driving, they're so far apart in terms of conversing behind the wheel/handles. I can drive fast while talking, but when riding I have to go slow to be able to have a two-way conversation. I tried riding while wearing an earset once, but upon realizing that I lost input to the bike's sounds, I never wore it again. One can only imagine racing on bikes at maximum speeds only to lose input to your surroundings when a sudden voice thunders inside your ears, and repeatedly so.

If MotoGP took this path, I think that could lead into some embarassing moments during races. Just sayin'.

I get both sides, but why not just allow them while the rider is in pit lane? This would allow the rider to communicate to the team any drastic changes they can make while he is riding down pit lane and also to communicate what tires are actually on the bike when they do flag to flag bike swaps. I also think it would allow the teams and safety officials to immidiatly talk with riders after a fall to help confirm their state of injury or safety. Just a thought.

Aside from the obvious I suppose. Did Rossi not SEE his board?! Cause it seemed like just ignored it. So if he had radio wouldn't he have still ignored that in Germany??? I've always loved how unlike NASCAR and F1 these guys don't have radios. Like Max said, it makes it more about the rider. I've always assumed in certain situations it must be EXTREMELY difficult to see the board at approaching top speed, has anyone ever suggested having some sort of message system on the instrument panel? A rider could quickly glance at going down the home straight like Race Direction uses for Ride Throughs etc.? I have to agree with MM93, I couldn't imagine someone in your ear at max lean at 200kph

I agree on pretty much thw whole piece. Radio spoils the fun, even in F1. The only thing I do not agree on is the best quote. That has to be the one from young Max Verstappen, in Singapore, when his team ordered him to let his team mate Sainz through. "NO!" See: radio doesn't work.

If we really want the rider to be able to request types of tyres etc for rain races, why not just make the radio "one way"?  the rider can send messages to his crew for tyres or set up changes and the crew would purely just execute the riders commands.

that way no engineers in the riders ears distracting them and the choices are still left up to the rider.  We also as the viewing public get to hear what a rider is requesting or saying and it adds a little to the drama.

Hey, if the mic were left on permanently and the rider was the type of person prone to chatting to themselves, wouldnt it make it great for us watching to hear one rider yelling in his helmet to another rider "Move out the effing way!!!". You could have it as an uncensored feed as part of the subscription package.

Well said, Funny how not having a radio is a serious "Safety" issue now that VR has had a awful couple of races.

Why not limit them to the front straight were their pitboard is only. Breaking the rule is stop and go. Of course that means more stewarts to monitor like NASCAR. Pitboards are from the stoneage. It was what they had. It also allows race direction to break into all freqs and make track wide announcement if necessary. 

Motorcycles are also from the Stone Age which is one part of what I love about them. Mat put it very well when he said that if they were invented today they wouldn't be allowed on the road. If safety is the real reason is then install a red stop light on all bikes be it on the dashboard or a heads up display for the riders which Race Direction controls which means stop racing now!.

People are also from the Stone Age maybe we should get rid off them and have a "ninetendo" controlled bike robot race on the track. Safe for everyone and the manufactures can still gather data about thier bikes, via downloads from the bike , robot, engine strip downs etc and at the same time develop self driving motorcycles and robots. 

MotoGP is in a priviledged position, as it can learn form F1's several mistakes all the way between adopting technology to tyring to expand its fanbase by simply holding races in no man's land.

Teams will stop at nothing to neuter a driver/rider and transform him into a radio controled gadget part of racing. MotoGP should not allow it. It's that simple.

What we need is for a dry run of races for this radio chat to be firmly put back on the shelf and forgotten about again. Having two wet effected races in the most spread out part of the reason has meant it's been spoken about far more than normal, just simply to the long break.

Once the racing is on again, something else will come to the fore and radio chatter will get moved down the list.

We tried a 2 way radio when sidecar racing in the 90's, that soon went into the spares bin!

You try anything to get an an advantage but somethings are not right for bike racers although the swearing of the riders would be amusing