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.
Making Márquez faster
The first in an occasional series of chats with MotoGP’s top crew chiefs – this week it’s Santi Hernández, right-hand man to Marc Márquez
How did you get into 'bikes?
My father was a race-'bike mechanic and my brother raced in the Spanish championship at the same time as Alex Crivillé, in the early 1980s. At that time I was very young, so we’d go to the circuits, with me sleeping in the van, between the 'bikes. There were always 'bikes around the house, but I didn’t like 'bikes, I was focused on soccer.
Then my father gave me the opportunity to ride 'bikes. I raced in the Catalunya scooter championship and went to technical college, studying mechanics. In 1996 Juan Martinez [who now works for Spanish TV] and Antonio Jimenez [now a Moto2 crew chief] got me a job with them at Showa. I started working as suspension engineer with HRC in 1999, with Crivillé, then Sete Gibernau, Colin Edwards, Marco Melandri, Valentino Rossi and Max Biaggi. When Alberto Puig created his first world championship team from the MotoGP Academy he gave me my first job as crew chief, with Bradley Smith, then I worked with Randy Krummenacher, Sete at Ducati and Jules Cluzel at Forward. When Emilio Alzamora started building his Moto2 team for Marc in 2011 he gave me the job of working with Marc.
How do you work with Marc each weekend, what’s your programme?
Everyone has their own system. When we get to the track we have a meeting with Marc on Thursday to make a global picture for the weekend. We make a summary of the last GP or test to remember what happened, to understand what we’ve analysed at home since then and to make clear the positives and negatives, always to help the rider understand.
We try to cover all the possibilities about how to manage practice: we look at the tyres, the set-ups we will use with both 'bikes and the weather situation, because things aren’t the same when you have unstable weather. You never know what will happen, so the more things you are ready for, the easier practice will be. I always like to think in a negative way, not in a positive way, because if you think in a positive way you think everything will be OK, so you just put petrol and tyres in the 'bike!
You have to ask many questions: will the problems be this or this or this? And how can we manage these situations and find the right answers? Of course, you don’t always have the answers, because problems come along that you aren’t prepared for. But at least you try to be ready. It’s important to have a plan so the rider understands. You can’t just say, we will start the weekend and see how things go. The rider needs to concentrate on his own work, so you need to give him stability across the whole weekend.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.