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.
One MotoGP season – more than a thousand crashes
During 2016 there were more than a thousand crashes in a MotoGP season for the first time in the sport’s history. What does this tell us about what’s going on?
There are two ways to judge how a rider and his motorcycle are working together: how many times the rider ends up on the podium and how often he ends up in the gravel.
Inevitably, the two stats tend to be diametrically opposed. And rarely more so than in 2003 when Alex Barros scored one podium from 16 races at the cost of crashing his factory Yamaha YZR-M1 14 times.
Working out the sum of that glory-versus-disaster equation was an epiphany for Yamaha’s embattled race bosses; it was the moment when they realised they better get serious and spend some proper money to build the best bike and buy the best rider, or otherwise take the M1 home to Hamamatsu and never come back.
In 2004 Masao Furusawa’s big-bang engine, Jeremy Burgess’s chassis tweaks and Valentino Rossi’s sublime riding gave Yamaha a very different sum-total: nine race wins, two further podiums and a world championship at the cost of just four tumbles. (A crash-rate nevertheless fourfold Rossi’s 2003 accident rate when he rode Honda’s brilliant RC211V.)
During his first sojourn at Yamaha, Rossi crashed his M1 on average 4.5 times each season. When he defected to Ducati he suffered much like Barros had done eight years later: Rossi dumped the Desmosedici 12 times during 2011, an almost threefold increase, for the sake of one podium.
So you see how the glory-versus-disaster equation often adds up to the truth; which underlines the value of the annual crash report published by Dorna and motogp.com.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.