Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why Dani Boy made everyone look slow

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.


Why Dani Boy made everyone look slow

Pedrosa has had major tyre struggles this year – finally it all came good at Misano

The first time I interviewed Dani Pedrosa, in 2002, I asked the 17-year-old (born in 1985) what kind of music he liked. 1980s pop music, he told me. Wow, I thought, his mentor Alberto Puig even tells him what music to listen to.

Therefore I’m not sure if Pedrosa has ever listened to the song That’s Entertainment sung by new-wave heroes The Jam. (The greatest band the world has ever known, in case you didn’t already know.)

The song is a paean to the simple pleasures of life: “Cuddling a warm girl and smelling stale perfume… watching the tele and thinking about your holidays… a hot summer’s day and sticky black tarmac…”

At the moment, Pedrosa has no greater love than for sticky black tarmac. Without it, he is rather lost. Sunday was his first win of the new Michelin era and his third podium of 2016, the other two also achieved on burning hot asphalt at Jerez and Catalunya. There have been only four races this year in which track temperature has exceeded 40 degrees: Jerez, Catalunya, Misano and Mugello, where Pedrosa scored his next best result in fourth, less than two-tenths of a second off the podium.

Pedrosa’s difficulties have been well documented; the Spaniard stands 1.6 metres tall and weighs 51 kilos. In an era of single-tyre racing, when one size must fit all, Pedrosa’s diminutive size is a real handicap. Many of his rivals have no doubt that he would’ve won at least one MotoGP title by now if he was a bit bigger and a bit heavier. He simply isn’t large enough to generate heat into the tyres unless the sun is shining.

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

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Total votes: 94
Total votes: 82

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Comments

Great piece. I keep wondering though: should it be that the tire manufacturer decides whether to bring tires that suit a certain rider?

Total votes: 92

"...diminutive size ...the little man ...petite arms and legs"

That a warrior with the balls the size of this man's... has to be defined over and over by his physical stature.

Yes, yes, the article is discussing why he won, and hasn't won. And I'm sure everything is accurately written and is completely correct.

But damn, this guy's a complete bad*ss, on any measurement scale. But, he is constantly defined by his height. Over and over. It's always an asterisk in any conversation about him. I just feel bad for him sometimes. Hopefully he doesn't need my sympathy and let's it roll past him like I'm sure it does.

Total votes: 139

His size is entirely relevant to his results this year, and his size is different than any MotoGP rider I've seen in 20 years. 

He certainly doesn't need sympathy from anyone.  He is well paid, and has been well paid for over a decade.  This is year 11 aboard the arguably best team in MotoGP, Repsol.  If not the best, certainly the best funded as Repsol pays handsomely for their name across the bikes.  Honda also spends more money in this sport than any other mfr.  Title or no title, he will retire a very wealthy man. 

Total votes: 98

Elias is also very diminutive, and I recall him having some dire troubles getting heat into the tyres also. Interesting that the debate about weight in GP usually revolves around how much extra fuel the heavier riders have to use, and how much extra they stress their tyres. When in fact thats probably a small price to pay compared to being completely at the mercy of track temperature for the lighter riders. There is a goldilocks at zone between Pedrosa and Redding somewhere around 65kgs that is ideal for GP. As long as you have the prerequisite extraterrestrial level of talent that is.

Total votes: 83

Just a couple of years ago people were complaining about Dani because they felt his size was an advantage. Now the B-Stones are gone, in comes Michelin and now his size is a fault. My how quickly things can change. Regardless, Dani is a great rider and I respect the success he has had in his career. Apparently They do need to figure out a way for him to get some temperature into the front when the track is colder, but they will figure it out. No one has a real firm handle on these tires yet. But they are getting better, and that is a good thing.  

Total votes: 91

I don't know for a fact, but my best guess would be that a ballast would make the bike way less agile and he would require to put in even more effort to get the bike through fast changes of direction.

Total votes: 88

would be my guess as well
adding another guess: when accelerating you want the weight forward, when braking you'd want it at the rear...

Total votes: 79

... but he's had his chances.  The first 2 years of the 800 era, Honda went all in building a mini-bike that looked like a clown-bike with Hayden on it.  And Hayden ain't exactly a giant of a man either.

Then lets not forget about Misano 2012, anyone on the Repsol crew know how to remove a tire warmer?!  Thank you very little to Abraham & Barbera in that fiasco as well.

Lot's of tough luck!  Who gets their wheel sensor wire chopped?  Dani, that's who.

You can go on and on with that stuff, but racing is crazy, Dani is fast and still "only" 30.  If he were to get his luck pendulum to swing back the other way, you never know.  He could still snatch that elusive championship.

Total votes: 93

So pleased for Dani. 2016 is one of the best seasons ever imo

Total votes: 87