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.
Is Yamaha out of the woods thanks to Viñales?
Maverick Viñales dominated Phillip Island, so has Yamaha made a big step or does MotoGP’s greatest racetrack camouflage the M1’s weak points?
Maverick Viñales ended Yamaha’s 25-race losing streak on Sunday, but how did he do it? After the race he told us: “the team worked in the way I wanted, and that’s unbelievably good”.
I could be wrong, but I don’t think this is the reality, because it suggests his team doesn’t usually work in the way he wants.
Despite ructions within the Viñales garage, there’s no doubt that his crew and Yamaha have his back and they are always trying to help him get the best results. It’s idiocy to suggest otherwise – why would a company invest tens of millions of Euros in a rider to make sure he fails? Regardless of who his team-mate might be…
Yamaha has just got a bit lost, that’s all. “It’s cyclical, like football, like Barcelona and Real Madrid,” says Jorge Lorenzo, the company’s most recent MotoGP champion. And Lorenzo is correct – it’s easy to forget that Honda went 18 races without a win in 2008 and 2009, while Ducati didn’t pick up a single winner’s trophy between November 2010 and July 2016.
So why did Viñales win at Phillip Island? For starters, the mind-numbingly fast seaside circuit is easily his favourite and the 23-year-old’s record there is something else. In 2013 he finished 0.003 seconds off the Moto3 win. The following year he won the Moto2 race, at his first attempt. In 2015 – Suzuki’s first season in MotoGP following a three-year break – he finished six seconds off the win, despite a mammoth horsepower handicap. The next year he was on the podium aboard the GSX-RR and again last year on the Yamaha.
This time he left the pack behind, taking the lead soon after the horrific Márquez/Zarco collision, having decided that the safest place to be was as far away from everyone else as possible. After that his progress was Lorenzo-style: butter smooth and hammer hard. No one else stood a chance.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.