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: they think it’s all over…
…and it probably is, but even if Andrea Dovizioso fails to climb the cliff at Valencia, he can still be satisfied with a near-perfect 2017
The odds will not be stacked in Andrea Dovizioso’s favour when he gets to Valencia next week. But there’s a tired old saying we’ve been regurgitating in the MotoGP media centre for the past three decades or so: anything can happen in motorcycle racing, and usually does.
Or as the late, great Nicky Hayden put it: “That’s why we line up on Sunday – you never know what’s going to happen."
Because neither were the odds stacked in Hayden’s favour when he travelled to Valencia in November 2006. That year everyone thought the title was already as good as done. Valentino Rossi went into the final race eight points ahead of Hayden, having won five races to Hayden’s two. But Hayden made it happen. While Rossi seemed strangely overawed by that momentous day, the American risked everything. “All In” proclaimed the logo on the backside of his leathers – he put all his chips on the table and it worked.
It’s kind of nice that this year’s season finale will be a minor redux of 2006, less than six months after Hayden lost his life following a cycling accident.
This year is very different to 2006, of course. The gap between Dovizioso and Marc Márquez isn’t a tricky eight-point gap, but a nigh-on-impossible 21 points, despite Dovizioso’s near-perfect season. There are only two results he must be lamenting, and neither of them his fault: in Argentina, he was skittled by Aleix Espargaró (his only no-score) and in Australia, he was nobbled by his Ducati’s dislike of Phillip Island’s long, sweeping corners.
The riders are different too. Certainly, Dovizioso is a very different racer to Hayden. I’ve never known a MotoGP rider put so much heart and (good-natured) emotion into his racing as Hayden did. Dovizioso is all about the head. While Hayden made his name manhandling dirt-track bikes and superbikes with big handfuls of throttle, Dovizioso climbed the ladder on 125s and 250s, using precision and momentum all the way.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.