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.
How I ride: Danilo Petrucci
Petrucci has yet to win a MotoGP race, but Ducati’s latest factory rider is super-fast and few are better at describing what they do on a bike
You’ve been through some big technical changes in MotoGP: starting out on a CRT bike with a streetbike engine, then changing bikes, tyres and electronics
In reality, I had a Superstock bike during my first three years in MotoGP! So I only really started racing in MotoGP when I joined Pramac Ducati in 2015 and got my first real MotoGP bike.
Riding technique has changed a lot because we now have different tyres and different electronics. The way you use the throttle now is very, very different to how it was when we had the factory software before 2016. In 2015 it was easier to open the throttle out of a corner because the electronics were better. Now the rider has to manage the throttle much more, mostly because of the electronics, but also because the tyres are different.
For sure you remember the long slides we had with the Bridgestones. With those tyres you simply picked up the bike in the middle of the corner and let the bike slide out of the corner, no problem. With the Michelins the situation is different. The tyres are very good, but because they are different and because the electronics aren’t so good, you have to manage the tyres very, very well and you have to be very careful.
For example, from one corner to another it’s sometimes better not to fully open the throttle and try to manage the slide. That’s one of the things Andrea Dovizioso learned in 2017 and I think he is the best at managing slides out of corners. He tries to let the bike slide as little as possible, so towards the end of the race he has more tyre than the others. For me this was one of most difficult things to learn, because I really enjoy sliding the bike!
If you follow your instinct you always try to open the throttle as fast as possible out of the corner and I think I’m one of the best at doing this. I brake really hard and I open the throttle very early. This was good with the Bridgestones and the factory electronics but not so much now. Yes, you can open the throttle, but you have to be very, very smooth; a bit like it was with the 500 two-strokes.
Last winter I worked a lot on this and I learned a lot from looking at the data of Ducati’s fastest riders: Andrea and Jorge [Lorenzo]. Your data guys show you a lap from your last run and you look at how Andrea and Jorge rode the same lap with the same tyres in the same condition. Then you make comparisons: okay, I used full throttle before them, but I had a bigger slide and my exit speed was less.
It’s not so much about wheelspin as it is about sliding. If you let the bike slide very early in the exit phase you won’t be able to regain traction, even if you pick up the bike and don’t use full throttle. This is very difficult, especially when you are in a time attack in qualifying or during the race, so you have to think a lot. Now it’s more difficult to be fast all through the race. It’s quite easy to be fast for a few laps, but after 10 laps you have no tyre left. You have to save your tyres as much as possible during the race, but this isn’t easy because you also have to be as fast as possible.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.