Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Mighty Marc: life on the knife edge

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.


Mighty Marc: life on the knife edge

How does Marquez ride the way he does – apparently always over the limit – and get away with it?

All of racing – if you are anywhere near the front – is a knife edge. And the closer you get to the front, the sharper that knife edge becomes. MotoGP is a razor edge, sharpened to the point where any normal person will bleed if they even dare touch the blade. MotoGP is not a forgiving environment, no matter how easy it looks through the lens of the television cameras. Despite all the smiles, the sponsor meet-and-greets, the armies of PR people marching this way and that, it is a mean, vicious and pitiless sport. Like cage fighting, but at 200 miles an hour.

I am not a great follower of Formula 1 car racing, but I was glad to find out a few weeks ago that Nigel Roebuck, doyen of F1 reporting over the past few decades, is a big fan of MotoGP. It reminds him of how F1 was many years ago: men putting themselves out there in a wild world of risk, walking the line, because that’s what excites them.

“I never miss watching a race,” he told me when we met at a Motor Sport magazine do a few weeks ago.

Inevitably, we soon got to talking about Marc Marquez, both of us shaking our head in wonderment at the stuff the youngster gets away with, especially this season when Honda’s RC213V has been slower than most of the other bikes.

“Marquez really reminds me of Gilles Villeneuve,” said Roebuck, alluding to the swashbuckling F1 hero who won six Grands Prix for Ferrari before losing his life in a practice accident at Zolder in 1982.

So why Villeneuve? “Because Gilles had that incredible ability to take a car way beyond its limit and still make it work,” added Roebuck. “Marquez looks like that on a bike – he seems to go way beyond the limit and does things no one else can do.”

I never tire of watching Marquez. I’ll even dare to venture that I’d find MotoGP a little boring without him around. I love watching Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and Maverick Viñales do their stuff; but there’s nothing like standing at the entry to a slow corner and watching Marquez arrive, back tyre several inches in the air, the rear of the bike sashaying this way and that, the front slick squashed into the asphalt like a marshmallow.

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

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