Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - 220mph and airborne - the Mugello corner that scares MotoGP riders

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.


220mph and airborne: the Mugello corner that scares MotoGP riders

Mugello’s 220mph kink is MotoGP’s fastest, scariest, riskiest corner, but for how much longer?

If you’ve been around racing long enough you mourn many things: most of all you mourn the riders who have lost their lives, but you also mourn the legendary race bikes of old and you mourn the awesome corners that have been lost in the quest for greater safety, so that we have to mourn fewer dead riders.

Here are just two corner sections that are greatly missed. First, the terrifying 180mph/290kmh Armco-lined and cliff-lined left/right flick at the top of the hill at the Salzburgring: front end shaking, back end breaking loose. “To me, riding a bike like that at those speeds is why I liked racing,” remembers Mick Doohan.

And then there was the 150mph/240kmh right/left flick at Assen, called Veenslang. Every racing connoisseur religiously watched the 500s there: the fast guys would get it just right, keeping the engine on the pipe, revs rising suddenly as they flicked the bike onto the side of the tyre, the front end fluttering wildly as the 500’s torque drove the rear tyre into the asphalt.

Both these sections made the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. But they are no longer, so how much longer before Mugello’s sixth-gear kink – the corner with no name – gets a makeover to reduce the risk of something really horrible happening.

Currently this hair-raising section of race track is MotoGP’s own little bit of the Isle of Man TT: full gas, 220mph/355kmh, swerve left over a blind brow, both wheels off the ground, then grab the brakes to scrub off 160mph/257kmh for the San Donato right-hander.

Six years ago Marc Márquez crashed there at 191mph/336kmh – he was leaning left over the hump, with minimal load on the tyres, so when he braked the front locked and down he went. Last year Michele Pirro crashed there at 165mph/265kmh after a headshake over the brow pushed his Ducati’s brake pads back into the callipers, so when he hit the brakes they didn’t work, then when he pumped the lever the brakes locked, flinging him over the front of the bike.

Neither rider was seriously hurt, both a miracle and a testimony to modern riding gear. But the next MotoGP rider to crash there might not be so lucky. Hence the talk of somehow reducing the danger of this epic section of MotoGP’s greatest track, its Holy of Holies.

Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

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Total votes: 49
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Comments

Turn 1, a blind left turn over a rise that seperated the fastest riders from the rest. Stoner owned that turn, passing on the inside or outside. Just ask Rossi or Lorenzo. Also, there is a great picture of Marquez with both tires off the ground.It can be found with a google search.

Total votes: 35

Already exists 

Total votes: 32

Rossi and a few others agree. It would not change the nature of the circuit but would make the run in to San Donato way less dangerous. On the other hand flattening it could make it worse in a wet race. Imagine hitting hitting puddles at 350+ due to lack of natural drainage. No easy fix here whilst retaining the character of the greatest 2 wheel circuit on the MGP calender. Cut engine sizes? I generally agree with that sentiment and disagree with it in the same breath. Tough nut to crack, Mugello.

Total votes: 28

There always exists the quick fix safety alternative. ..Run the race in the opposite direction like they did with Misano..front row on the crest, unsighted by the rear like at Sachsenring. The downhill run into Bocine as a right hander should be jaw dropping and engine popping!

Total votes: 34

But poggio seco would be a big problem i think, and probably some other corners as well regarding run off...

Total votes: 41

I have been to Mugello once and I love the place. We all would like to keep the most exciting circuits, I assume.

Yes it would cost a shedload of money to make Mugello less risky. Ferrari owns the autodromo and they have some resources. I don't know how Mugello works out financially for Dorna. But securing the future of Mugello should be considered an investment not just an expense.

Wiser heads than mine can work out how to do it. It ain't rocket science it's civil engineering.

Improving traffic flow around Scarperia on race weekends would be even more of a challenge.

Total votes: 44