Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP has turned upside down

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.


MotoGP has turned upside down

Britons winning MotoGP races, Suzuki beating Honda and Yamaha – what’s behind all these upsets?

What the hell is going on? The MotoGP World Championship seems to have shifted on its axis and nothing seems to be quite the same anymore.

There have been seven different winners in the last seven races (the first time that’s happened since GP racing started shortly after the Second World War), there have been four first-time winners (the first time that’s happened since 1982) and there have been four different winning manufacturers (for the first time in a decade), with Suzuki scoring its first dry-weather victory since 2000. It’s the same throughout the paddock: this year there have been 21 different race winners across three classes, that’s the greatest number since 1982, when there were five classes: 50cc, 125cc, 250cc, 350cc and 500cc.

And then there’s been the Brits covering themselves in glory, at last. There have two British winners and two British pole men in the last two races. The last time two Britons won Grands Prix on the same day was at COTA last year, with Sam Lowes and Danny Kent, the time before that was at Anderstorp in 1977, with Barry Sheene and Mick Grant. Cal Crutchlow, John McPhee, Lowes and Kent weren’t even born.

MotoGP’s record books aren’t just being rewritten this year, they’re being thrown on the bonfire. So, what exactly is behind this convulsion? It cannot be mere coincidence, can it?

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

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Total votes: 107
Total votes: 107

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Comments

I'm being super picky here, but that's what the Internet is for, right?...

Nick Harris, during live MotoGP broadcasts, is constantly saying people are "rewriting the history books".  You don't rewrite history (or at least you shouldn't, assuming it was written about correctly the first time), you add to it.  

I guess saying record books are being rewritten (as Oxley does here) is a bit different, but I had to get that off my chest before the next race, where I may make a drinking game out of how many times it's said again :)

Total votes: 116

If Barry Sheene is no longer the last Brit to win a premier class GP then how is history NOT changed?

If we played a game of Grand Prix Trivial Pursuit and in the History cards was a question "Who was the last Briton to win a premier class Grand Prix?" The answer would have changed a couple of weeks ago would it not?  

You might not like the expression but it is entirely valid.

Total votes: 87

"how is history NOT changed?

The history hasn't changed but new historical events are continually being documented. A history book saying Mr.Sheene was the last GB rider to win a premier class GP would now be out of date & as such would need rewriting to be correct & up-to-date.

Total votes: 104

As motocanuck discribed is the way it should be, you don't rewrite its just a new part of newer history, cheers motocanuck if its to much to drink for you alone, send me a message ;-)

Total votes: 98

Simple: in my opinion in the world a i know it it is not possible to change history, you can make a change in the current moment. Ofcourse this moment will become new history in the future

In your example you just have to buy a an updated GP trivial Pursuit from motomatters.com. Or request to rewrite the questions to more specific once so the answers remain truth no matters what the future will bring

Total votes: 97

I guess my previous comment was a poor attempt at light humour.  Whether we're rewriting history or not I'm not really that bothered by it, and Oxley's article was very informative and appreciated, as is this site in general. 

I still say that making a drinking game out of the number of times Nick Harris says "rewriting history" would be interesting though. We could add other phrases like "9 times world champion" and "Master Class" to the list, but I don't think I'd last long :)

Total votes: 96

I hate to say it, but I am definitely not a fan of Mat Oxley style of journalism and his point of views and the word he choose to draw attention to it.

Ofcourse it is not possible to rewrite history with an event today. Such a stupid expression.

"Motogp really turns around and nothing is like it is as before"  Only because a race is won by an unexpected winner? Thank god this things do happen since it is supposed to happen. thats why they all line up and that's why racing is interesting for us.

Also I don't like to see other riders bashed with sentences like:

Twice WSB champ James Toseland stayed in World Superbikes too long before switching to MotoGP, so he never quite got the hang of a MotoGP bike. Crutchlow, on the other hand, was incredibly brave.....

I think James did an incredible job, but was quite unlucky or the competition was just fierce. And i bet that if Cruchlow would be written off this year or next year (in motogp terms) it seemed a logical move in the eyes of almost everyone. 

Further, personally I do not understand why (if you mention the trend reverseal) you choose to focus on the nationality of the riders instead of the more obvious change to notice:  recent wins by other manufacturers (Ducati and Suzuki) and the good results of specific non-works bikes (which is really quite special)

"Also, the unified software is much less sophisticated than the previous tailor-made factory kit, so riders have to work much harder to control the bikes, using their talent and throttle control, rather than the factory-made rider aids doing much of the work for them"

Factoy made rider aids.. this seems like they are easily handed for the privilaged. I think the reality is that they do not come that easy, but it requires hard work, good understanding and special riding skills to sort them out and to integrate them in such a way that they make you faster.

Further, is a matter of debate, and I don't know if I am on the right side here. I feel that the spec unified software is indeed leveling the playing field. But the most important for the race is that it is not possible to make adjustment automatically. Not being spot on for a whole racedistance means also more tyrewear and with the spinning... more fuelconsumption....This means you have to have a strategy and decide in which part of the race to be weak and which part to be strong. I think a fight between two riders can be heavily influenced by this. 

 

 

Total votes: 126

...but not all expressions are to be taken verbatim. For me, this article was very interesting and filled in a few of the gaping holes in my knowledge of the history of this sport. Whatever the reasons, and it's very interesting to debate, it's fabulous to be enjoying a season that is turning out to be fascinating to watch, and not just at the top of the results!

 

 

Total votes: 119

Oxley's writings are opinion peices. They should be taken as such. I think some folks get too literal about it all.

Total votes: 105

Harris has probably also said that "it's raining cats and dogs" at some point. 

As to the history books: most probably say something along the lines of, "The most recent British winner in the premiere class was Barry Sheene, in 1981." Revision necessary, wouldn't you say? 

 

Total votes: 97

I for the life of me can't think of any reason to be anything but grateful for intelligent people who work for my entertainment in a passion that I love.    Mat does what he does which is bring color and perspective to our fun little corner of the internet.   I frankly don't care if i agree or not with anything he or any other writer or commentor, has to say.  This is all done for our entertainment, and entertain us it does.  whether we agree, disagree, whatever, we're all choosing to participate in this leisure activity.  I log on here because i want to escape the day to day and be taken to my fantasy island which is where shiny, loud two wheeled things zip around.  So thanks Mat and David and commentors, regardless of any words you choose to use.  

Total votes: 117

Cheers to this!!

Total votes: 94

I do agree with your comment. I appreciate that different point of views and styles of journalism complement each other at this site. There is a lot of passion where we all take benefit of. I do not say of even intend to say that the Mat blog sare out of place here. Not at all, I appreciate them and both styles complement each other. Thanks for all of you

But again, still...  I can have comments or remarks, which I can choose to adress or not

Total votes: 101

The difference in MotoGP is the black round things spooned onto the wheels. I'd like to believe they are offering a wide variety of tires which the refer to as Hard, Medium, and Soft to avoid confusing TV executives. However, I suspect they are rotating the selection based upon the teams' preferrences during testing. I think this is what Pirelli does in World Superbike to reduce the advantage of developing the bike to the tires, while also providing a more entertaining motorsport experience for the fans. The tire strategies have probably been temporarily hampered in WSBK by the new technical regulations.

Whatever Michelin is doing in MGP, the end result is predictably unpredictable. Many of the manufacturers can build race-winning bikes when the rider is comfortable and tires are working with the bike. My only gripe is the lack of grip at the front, which manifest during preseason testing, and which has probably spawned these exaggerated front aero appendages. Hopefully, Michelin will get the front sorted, and the hideous front wings can be banned for eternity.

Long term, GP should use rev limits or another technical regime to liberalize engine design. If Suzuki can clear off against a field of Hondas, no reason to fret about a one tenth advantage derived from using a non-90-degree V-engine or a bore measurement above 81mm. 

Total votes: 93

have had Rule Britannia on autoplay on this article link ;) !!

I really admire Cal's recent form in tricky conditions, but he has had 5 years in the class, factory bikes, factory support bikes etc. So its not exactly setting the world alight overnight.

And we have 4 UK representatives in the current field. (5 including Lowes last weekend) With not too much to show for it. In fact the UK's has equal representation with Italy (1 more if you include Lowes), and are only outnumbered by Spain. So the results are far from impressive.

I'm more concerned with the lack of a single American in the field, and only 1 Australian. These two countries have such an incredible history of performance in the sport without much to talk about let alone cheer about of late. This also goes for WSBK, once again heavily packed full of UK riders, one American and one Aussie in the field. I'd say the feelers need to go out to the US and AUS breeding grounds again, for that is where the man to beat Marquez in the future will probably come from.   

 

Total votes: 96

Britain also has a thriving national superbike competition with a range of classes to cover stock/non-stock and various engine sizes (250, 600 and 1000). Also whilst there are some 'mickey mouse' tracks on the calendar, there are some international standard circuits too eg Donington, Brands (once), Silverstone etc.

Lowes twins came up through BSB as did Sykes, Rea, Cruchlow, Camier, Haslem......

Total votes: 94

And new Michelins on wet/dry tracks have played a big part in the variety of winners. Normal service will resume at warm, dry tracks

Total votes: 95

...and just a couple of months ago many posters were bemoaning the poor racing...

you can please some of the peiople some of the time but you can't please all of the people all the time!!!

Total votes: 113