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: Aleix Espargaró
One of MotoGP’s most exciting riders tells us how he gets the best out of his bikes, tyres and electronics
Aleix Espargaró is yet to win a MotoGP race but he is one of the category’s most exciting riders, with an all-attack riding technique.
The Aprilia RS-GP rider, who I interviewed halfway through last season, is one of those who is happy to go pretty deep when he’s explaining his riding technique. He offers many fascinating revelations about MotoGP riding styles, as well as the behaviour of MotoGP engines, tyres and electronics.
You’ve been in MotoGP on and off since 2009, so how much did the change from Bridgestones and factory electronics to Michelins and unified software change things?
The thing that changes the life of the rider and engineer the most is the tyres. You can have the worst bike on the grid with the best tyres and you could win the race; or you could give Marc [Márquez] the worst tyres and he would finish 15th.
So the change of tyres has changed our riding style, the way the factories need to design the bikes, and the way the engineers need to set up the bikes.
With the unified electronics we struggled at the beginning, because we had to change the way the traction control works and how the engine-braking works, but it wasn’t a big drama.
Sometimes when the track is very slippery you feel the difference in electronics, but the bike depends more on the tyres than on the electronics, so it’s still the tyres that change things the most.
In 2012 when I rode the CRT Aprilia with the soft rear Bridgestone [CRT bikes were allowed grippier tyres than full-on MotoGP prototypes] the grip was unbelievable, but it wasn’t easy to set up the bike because the rear tyre had so much grip that it pushed the front tyre.
Sometimes, when you released the front brake, the front would push and you crashed, a lot. So you had to understand and set up the bike to make time with the throttle, not with the brake. Sometimes when you fitted new tyres for qualifying you tried to brake later, but this wasn’t the right way to go fast, because although you could brake a bit later you needed to use a lot of corner speed and then a lot of throttle because there was enough grip for that.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.