Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Maniac by name…

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.


Maniac by name…

…maniac by nature. What’s the beef with Austrian GP winner Andrea Iannone?

I like Andrea Iannone. There, I said it. I like him because he is MotoGP’s pantomime villain, a bit like Captain Hook in Peter Pan.

He fitted the role particularly well after he secured pole position on Saturday, strutting and pouting his way around parc fermé like he owned the place, which he kind of did.

Iannone is red in tooth and claw, which is great, unless you have to share a racetrack with the guy; like Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo, who he torpedoed in Argentina and at Catalunya, and Eugene Laverty, who he very nearly took out during practice in Austria. And don’t forget the unfortunate seagull at Phillip Island last year…

The 27-year-old Italian has never had any pretensions about being the good guy. Just a few weeks ago on social media he threatened to kill anyone who causes him bother. I can only hope he was talking murder metaphorically, especially if he ends up reading this.

Iannone has always been badly behaved. He first came to the notice of many people at Misano in 2009, when he took out 125cc race-leader Pol Espargaro and himself with a maniac move (now there’s a surprise) at the final corner. When the pair fronted up to each other in the gravel trap Iannone head-butted his victim for good measure, then declared on live Italian TV, “I hate all Spanish people”. He was fined several thousand Euros for these misdemeanours.

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

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Comments

very enjoyable read, Mat. I just would like to add some background to the picture you're giving of Iannone. And context. I'll keep the riding style aside for now and concentrate on the Iannone persona. Unfortunately the bling bling style, the macho attitude, the showing off it's something that has sadly "infected" a large part of the Italian population. After all, an entire generation has been brainwashed by the lowest form of TV programs, courtesy of the Italian former prime minister, and for a long time head of the biggest political party. That kind of mentality is hard to eradicate once it's been rooted in kids growing up. To no surprise - given this kind of mentality - on some major sports newspapers and tv programs the news of Iannone's victory - Ducati victory- was always accompanied by lenghty discussions on the hot chick with Iannone - Belen - and some lousy jokes on soft/hard compounds.... So, first, it's not just iannone : many many guys and girls have the same mentality. And to be fair, he is not the only one in the paddock... when I look for examples of vulgar bling i can't help recalling that sad tour of Jorge Lorenzo's villa....

As for riding skills and dangerosity : I seem to recall that until a year ago the same could be said of Marquez....: his reckless passes, barging in and ramming other riders, just pushing aside anything that stood on his path.... ok, he did not write maniac on his leathers, but the beahviour was much the same. And maybe it's no coincidence that both MM and AI were some sort of mad dogs in 250cc... One got Honda - in 2013 the best bike on the grid (seamless anyone?) - the other a Ducati Pramac  - let's just call it NOT the best bike on the grid.  The rest is history

I strongly believe that if Ducati had nurtured him (like Honda did with MM) things might be different. 

Though  the bling bling would still be there. 

 

 

 

He's 27.  Jeez, I didn't START to grow up until about then.

Give the boy (term used advisedly) some time, and a good guiding hand, who knows what sort of citizen, and MotoGP person, he might end up being.

Look at Pedrosa, a pariah at one stage due to a foolish move on Hayden, problems with dodgy behaviour getting his Masters licence for a boat, and in recent years morphing into a respected and well-liked individual.

Look at his upbringing - locked in a room to punch it out with his brother.  Even with some possible hyperbole attached, it's still lousy parenting.  So now he's combative and aggressive, with a barely moderated SuperEgo???  And simplistic criticism of a complex personality follows.  Go figure.

If people just focused on the racing, and left all the cult of personality crap behind, I suspect the paddock would be a better place.  What an interesting season - wet races after the record-breaking summer heat of 2015 in Europe, 5 different winners, a Ducati on the top step.  It's been a season with a lot to like.

 

Sorry to go slightly off topic, but I can't agree with your attempted comparison of Iannone and Pedrosa in terms of development potential; the two people, careers and public perceptions are and have been always wildly different.

Pedrosa already had a career, a stellar one, before he moved up to the MotoGP class and was always known as an incredible talent, a hard worker and never as an unfair or dodgy character. The two incidents you mentioned are in fact the *only* incidents that ever blighted his racing career or persona (his collection of Dovi this year notwithstanding) which both occured well after he already established a massive fanbase and with at least one of them irking mainly American/Hayden fans beyond the year 2006. Additionally, the guy was always quiet, shy and very wary of the media, sometimes almost painfully so.

On the other hand, Iannone has styled himself as the wild child from the beginning, even in the smaller classes, has taken out and barged into other riders from the start, made some incredibly poor decisions on and off track, seems to love the limelight and relish controversy. No comparison in any way to Pedrosa or the person he turned into.

The one rider you actually can compare his beginnings to, minus the success, would be Lorenzo. If you do want to leave the personality crap behind (I'm all in favour of that) and make a point of people evolving into the racers and people they can be, look no further. The self-styled wild child? Check. Barging into and taking out other riders? Check. Aggressive? Check. Loud-mouthed? Check. Seeking the spotlight? Check. And then he developed into one of the fastest and most successful MotoGP riders in recent years while making a very conscious effort to change his personality and racing. Unfortunately he didn't quite succeed on both fronts, but you said yourself that the whole personality craze is complete crap, so he doesn't have to be well-liked...

Growing up? I'll be 43 at the end of the month, and I haven't seen even the first vestige of this (IMHO) depressing and overrated mythical phenomenon called "growing up". Not a soupçon, a modicum, a skosh, nor even an infinitesimal speck. :-) :-) :-)

That said, I'm not an advocate of ever unnecessarily endangering the lives of others (like Silverstone and MM coming inches from killing multiple corner workers), but it IS nice to have a colourful character in MotoGP. The antiseptic athletes that occupy virtually 99% of every sport on earth...often leave me wishing there was someone with a personality, even if their persona is that of the villain. I sometimes even miss Biaggi, strutting around with his drawn-on facial topiary, and his arrogant, self-absorbed "Roman Emperor" public image.

The one rider I met that I absolutely DID NOT like...was Toni Elias. He wasn't very nice at all, and after the race, he sat behind his pit garage on a shipping crate, one knee pulled up, fingers locked around his leg, dark sunglasses on, trying to look cool, pouting and sulking about something or other (he was actually pooching his lips out, as if in a caricature of himself, or low-budget comedy). All the while, his team/mechanics busted their butts packing up the crates and walking back and forth, mere inches from him. He could've at least gone somewhere else, but he just HAD to be there, boldly advertising that he didn't care about his crew. I didn't like that.

What's my point? I like some Tabasco in the vanilla ice cream sports world, but I'm not a fan of loose cannons or athletes who act like they don't care about anyone-crew OR fans.

OK. I'm done. As you were.