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.
How do you solve a problem like Andrea?
Suzuki is having a nightmare MotoGP season; who to blame: the riders, the factory or the team?
I’ve already said it, but I’ll say it again, I like Andrea Iannone, mostly because he’s funny. MotoGP is lucky at the moment, not least because the grid includes a full rainbow of characters, from angelic assassins and gritty little boxers to scary old men and (pantomime) gangsters.
It’s not me suggesting Iannone is a wannabe gangster. A journalist recently asked the Italian what he would do for a living if he didn’t race bikes and he immediately replied he would be a gangster.
Meanwhile Iannone still races bikes and right now he’s got a problem. His performances with Suzuki have plotted a steadily downward path since he first got on the GSX-RR last November: from quietly promising to loudly disappointing.
This isn’t for want of trying on Suzuki’s part. When it signed Iannone they allowed him to bring his crew chief from Ducati, but it rightly baulked at his request to import his entire crew.
It has worked hard to make him feel at home because as everyone knows, a happy rider is a fast rider. “In this game it’s 80 per cent in the rider’s head and 20 per cent in the machine,” superstar crew-chief Jeremy Burgess once told me. “So if your rider wants gold handlebars, you give him gold handlebars.”
Which, come to think of it, might be the way to go with Iannone, because he likes a bit of bling.
Iannone is taking a lot of criticism at the moment. He can’t make the Suzuki work for him and he’s fed up with crashing, so he’s hit the cruise control. On the one hand, this is understandable because why risk your neck when the bike isn’t right? On the other hand, the bike will never be right unless you do risk your neck. And he is well paid to do just that.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.