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.
Ducati’s double-barrelled MotoGP strategy
How Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci are working together to give Ducati the edge in wheel-to-wheel battles. And why this new strategy might add fuel to the aerodynamics fire
Team-mates have always been a big deal in motorcycle racing. Or team-hates, as some people call them.
The old saying goes that your team-mate is the first guy you have to beat because he’s the only rider on the grid with the exact same equipment. So, if he beats you, you’re in as much trouble as your ongoing contract negotiations.
Internecine garage wars have been waged so many times over the decades that we don’t have time to even scratch the surface of all the tales of skulduggery and downright hatred. But here are a few words from Wayne Rainey, who in 1991 prepared to defend his first 500cc world title from reigning 250cc world champion and new Marlboro Team Roberts Yamaha 500 team-mate John Kocinski.
“There’s nothing worse in life than having your team-mate kick your ass, because who do you blame?” Rainey recalls. “John was thinking he was going to kick everybody’s ass. I didn’t know if he was going to do that or not, but he was going to have to go through me to do it. I started working on him the very first lap of the very first test. I always made sure that at the end of the day I was quicker than him. I didn’t care what it took for that to happen. I knew if I could do that enough to John, it would be enough for him to stop thinking about me and start blaming everything else.”
And that’s exactly what happened. Take the 1991 French Grand Prix as an example: Rainey dominated, while Kocinski crashed out and was so embarrassed by his exit that he played unconscious. After the race he told me, “I could’ve done more with the turd that was floating in my toilet bowl this morning than I could’ve done with that motorcycle.”
Kocinski lost his Team Roberts ride at the end of the following season.
These days it’s nothing unusual to see team-mates circulating together in practice, so they can learn from each other, compare settings and so on. But this year the factory Ducati team is taking garage cooperation to a whole new level with Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci riding side by side to fine tune the Desmosedici GP19 for elbow-to-elbow combat.
What happened during 2017 and 2018 convinced Ducati that it must think of a better way of beating Marc Márquez than simply running two huge talents. Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo ended up fighting each other harder than they fought just about anyone else; more team-hates than team-mates.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.