Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Rossi is a poet, Márquez is Hendrix

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.


Rossi is a poet, Márquez is Hendrix

As MotoGP heads to Jerez for the first classic event of the year, the red and yellow fans will be out in force. Let’s hope for a good-natured weekend

MotoGP is in a great place right now. Every other weekend we get to watch arguably the two greatest riders of all time and now we go to Jerez, where the febrile crowd sends goose-bumps down your spine.

It’s a brilliant era. I look forward to going to races now as much as I did when we rocked up to watch the Schwantz versus Rainey show, which included some great battles at Jerez, both on and off the racetrack.

Kevin Schwantz and Wayne Rainey didn’t get on, but at least their teams made sure they always had a good time after races. “We weren’t all friends but on Sunday nights everybody went out and had team dinners,” Schwantz recalls. “So the teams would end up bumping into each other and the boys would end up at the bar, having beers, telling war stories: ‘I’m gonna kick your ass next weekend!’ and ‘well, whatever, you kick my ass if you think you can!’

“Jerez was a classic example – there’s a little restaurant near the track [the Mesón la Cueva], so Honda is in there having a party, my team are downstairs eating dinner and so are Rainey’s Yamaha team, so after we go talk to the Yamaha guys and we’re saying, hey, let’s go and screw with the Honda guys. Next thing you know we’re throwing shit at them – it’s a full-on food fight, drinks being thrown, trash cans being thrown. Racing has lost that now…”

Too right. Racing has changed in so many ways in the last quarter of a century: it’s more competitive, more aggressive, more lucrative, more corporate, more everything. Some of the changes have been good, others not so good.

The only really bad development is a minority of fans booing riders: Casey Stoner, Marco Simoncelli, Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Márquez, once again at COTA last week. Twenty-five years ago Schwantz fans didn’t boo Rainey and Rainey fans didn’t boo Schwantz. Everyone gazed in wonder and went home with memories that will stay with them forever.

I just don’t get the booing. In fact, it makes me sick. And it makes the whole of pit lane sick, all the way from the Aprilia garage to the Suzuki garage. The teams work hard to put on a show and can’t wait for the race, just like the rest of us. The booing sours their weekend.

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

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Total votes: 47
Total votes: 51

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Comments

One thing that irks me every time... when racers (VR46/MM93/CC35) use the word "show" as in: "we put up a great show today".
I get too much of a sense there is a script being written/followed and the racers intentionally make it more exciting than it really is.

On the one hand I hate processional races, on the other hand I don't want to be misled. I "just want great races"... however contradictory that may sound. But just the word "show" gets under my skin.

Total votes: 52

That the choice of words 'shows' just their ability to see where it is all about in the end: nice races for the public. In my opinion a lot of topsporters fail to see that is is not only their desire to win that makes the world go round. I think Rossi en and MM, CC express that they are aware that in the end it is just a game in which we - as  public and sponsors -allow them to play. I think this just shows respect and a nice atitude. I do not think they are playing games/follow a script at all. There is too much at stake and you can clearly see they are on the edge all the time. Because they have to

Total votes: 51

If I were interested in a show, I'd go to a concert instead. Considering how often racers use 'show', I get the feeling that it goes further than their realization that (our) money makes the(ir) world go 'round.

Playing with your opponents has been done in the past, so I don't think it's too far-fetched. Well, time will tell. From Mat's article:

His runaway victory at Austin was his reaction to the Termas furore. For the first time since 2014 Márquez has a bike that does what he wants it to do. He loves a battle, but I think he may give that a rest for a while and show us exactly how good he is.

Total votes: 38

Motogp riders are playing around. If they could afford to lose some seconds during the race, Suzuki, Aprilia and KTM would be on the tail of the leaders. Since it is incredibly risky to overtake someone that is already going round at a very high pace, no body want to risk something like this, just for "the show".

If some riders might have playing around for a wihile it could to be Rossi, Biaggi, Doohan and Jonathan Rea. Since they were dominating the series, they were free to go for a racestrategy that is not based on pushing to the limit all the time. But can that be called playing around? It is racing imo

 

Personally I wouldnt take Matt's words of choice litterally and as a reference for what's really going on

Total votes: 37

I have to question how many of those booing (especially boos directed at MM) ride, ride more than 1K a year or have ever done a track day (or equivalent.)  We've increasingly become a spectator society (here in America) versus a participatory society: Much easier and safer to sit there and map our insecurities, whims and fantasies onto heroes and villains (and to boo the latter.)  I don't get it.

I would say MM is Gary Clark, Jr. compared to VR's Bill Frisell.

Total votes: 48

I once heard Bob Moses introduce Bill Frisell as "Dagwood Bumstead on acid".
Truer words were never spoken.

Total votes: 39

I never saw a correlation between making a lot of km's on a bike and being more respectful or intelligent before :-)

Total votes: 41

I think he was alluding to the fact that as a participant in the sport (vs. spectactor) you have a deeper understanding of the intricacies and dangers that the make up the sport. Having this understanding could give you the insight needed to realize that booing people who are risking their lives for the love of the sport and their fans is a silly thing to do. Not a guarantee mind you, but I believe there is some truth in it.

Total votes: 33

Since Jimi Hendrix name was mentioned I will add that the "boos" have a correlation. Hendrix was scheduled to play in Germany at the Isle of Fehmarn festival, but cancelled the performance due to wind and rain. He played the next day to make up for it. There were some in the crowd that "booed" him when he first came onto the stage because he had cancelled. He looked at them and yelled into the microphone, " I don't give a f__k if you boo, as long as you boo in key"! They settled down and enjoyed the show. True story! The moral is just ignore the ones that boo, they are the unhappy ones.

Total votes: 50

@Dawg - "show" is used because that's what it is, it's an entertainment product.  Like all (near as I can tell) professional sports, what we as fans see is not the ultimate contest derived to determine who is the "best", but rather a show comprised of a group of top-tier performers plying their craft.  There are too many confounding factors (mostly involving money) that prevent one from saying that this series actually crowns "the best" rider/team as champions at the end of the season.  The correct way to interpret results from MotoGP is that the champion is the rider/team who best played the hand they were dealt this year.

Dorna knows this, which is why they're always tweaking the rules to try to somewhat level the playing field.  MotoGP exists in its current form as a balance between entertainment and contest.  If you want pure contest and no entertainment (no "producing" or string-pulling behind the scenes) you need to look elsewhere, in spec- series or amateur events. 

Ayrton Senna stated something to this effect once which can be heard in the the Senna documentary here

Total votes: 46