Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP 2018: peak silly season

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 2018: peak silly season

Where will Joan Mir, Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Iannone end up next year? MotoGP’s silly season is about to reach its climax

Many MotoGP journalists spend a lot of time chasing contract stories. I gave up years ago, even though I know that you lot love wheeler-dealing tales from the paddock.

I gave up partly, mostly because when journalists put contract questions to riders, personal managers, team managers and factory bigwigs, they are answered with forked tongues. And how could it be otherwise? There’s a lot at stake – the careers of riders, the reputations of manufacturers and many millions of Euros – so why would anyone in their right minds tell a journalist the truth?

But sometimes it’s impossible to run away from writing about deals rather than wheels, so here goes…

The big deal in MotoGP deals right now is the 2019 whereabouts of Joan Mir, the reigning Moto3 world champion who scored his first Moto2 podium last time out at Le Mans. Depending on what you read and where you read it, the 20-year-old Spaniard from Mallorca has already signed for Suzuki Ecstar, is set to take his place alongside Marc Márquez at HRC (with whom he signed a pre-contract some time ago), is considering a move to Ducati, or all three.

This feeding frenzy is reminiscent of the race to sign Mick Doohan at the end of 1988, when the 23-year-old Aussie was making a name for himself riding a Yamaha FZR750 in Australian and Japanese superbike events. Doohan had Suzuki, Honda and Yamaha after him, but in fact was already committed to Suzuki, because the factory’s first 500cc world champion Barry Sheene had convinced him to sign a letter of intent with the brand.

Then fellow Aussie Wayne Gardner called up Doohan and told him Honda wanted him. Then Yamaha took him to its test track and let him have his first go on a 500 GP bike (which he crashed). On the same trip he met up with reigning 500 champ Eddie Lawson, who advised him to forget the others and go with Honda.

“That night we went out and got pretty drunk,” Doohan recalled. “We ended up breaking into a go-kart circuit and driving around holding torches.”

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

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Comments

With Lin Jarvis saying it's a theory Lorenzo could get a satellite Yamaha and Vinales lobbying to change his crew chief, Ramon Forcada, Lorenzo's former crew chief at Yamaha could we see a plan coming together?  Yamaha and Monster sign a deal to stabilize Marc VDS in MotoGP with Lorenzo and Forcada as number one rider/crew chief and who knows who as second rider.  Stranger things have happened!

Total votes: 104

All this discussion of Lorenzo back on a Yamaha skips the most important fact. Lorenzo hasn't ridden the Yamaha on the current Michelins. His move to Ducati coincided with the switch away from 'Stones.

Total votes: 58

2017 was not the first year of the Michelin tyres, they came in 2016 - when Lorenzo was still riding the Yamaha.

Total votes: 61

oops

Total votes: 40

  It seems Lorenzo still values himself quite highly. And you certainly can't blame him. To truly compete at the highest level, you have to believe in yourself most of all. It’s why Crutchlow still thinks he would be challenging for the race win/podium all the time if he got a composite swingarm (I love you Cal, but let’s not lie to ourselves too hard).

  I don’t know Lorenzo personally but he doesn’t seem like the type to be willing to take the pay cut that Suzuki would require, or play on a second-fiddle Yamaha team when he was on their factory effort a scant year and a half ago. So where does that leave him? Ducati’s rather pointed comments as of late definitely lend credence to him getting booted from the team. And if he won’t take the “downgrade”… then I guess pride comes before the fall. And I honestly think that would be a shame for the championship, because he has proven that he can challenge Marc when he has a bike he enjoys.

Total votes: 53

If nothing else, i think Lorenzo needs to remember that a large part of his job is to sell motorcycles.

Be charming, don’t badmouth the bike, and people might even want a Lorenzo replica bike.

Be surly, blame the bike your team-mate is winning races on, etc. and that’s a lot less likely.

I’d TOTALLY buy an Edwards replica R1.  Or a Rossi replica.  Or a Crutchlow replica fireblade.

A bike or gear with #99 on it?  Not so much.  I’m sure much is lost in translation, and he has moments of humour from time to time, but most of the time he comes across as an arrogant hypocritical douchebag...

Total votes: 59