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.