Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why did MotoGP’s crash rate drop by almost a third in 2019?

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.


Why did MotoGP’s crash rate drop by almost a third in 2019?

No surprise that Johann Zarco was MotoGP’s biggest crasher last season. The revelation of the 2019 crash report is that the accident rate tumbled by 27 per cent

Regular readers of this blog will know I’m a big fan of MotoGP’s annual crash report. Not because I’m ghoulish, but because the crash statistics tell you more than just who’s crashed the most.

The numbers can indicate more than pain and suffering – they can tell you who is having the roughest time with their motorcycle and what’s happening with general development of bikes, tyres and riding technique.

It’s no great surprise that the MotoGP rider who crashed the most during 2019 was Johann Zarco, who fell on 17 occasions.

Zarco crashed an average of once a weekend when he was riding the factory Red Bull KTM, which more than doubled his crash rate of 2018, when he rode a Yamaha YZR-M1. Valentino Rossi experienced a similarly rude awakening when he switched from an easy-riding M1 to Ducati’s fiery Desmosedici – more than doubling his crash rate, from five tumbles in 2010 to 12 in 2011. This is the kind of story that the crash report can tell.

The general MotoGP trend is the opposite to Zarco’s, because the 2019 MotoGP season featured a big decline in crashes. During the first three years of Michelin-spec tyres, there was a peak average of 301 crashes per season, while during 2019 the number dropped to 220, even though there was one more race. What are the reasons for this?

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

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Comments

The whole circus is settling in w the Michelins, re the general rate. The rear isn't pushing the front anymore like a few yrs ago.

Our big crashers Marc and Cal eased up pressing limits tipping it in this yr, bringing them way down. Note that one of them made it work. Cal slowed down a bit and is California Dreamin. More saves, less tumbles for Marc.

New bike KTM took over from Honda as a gravel trap tosser. But it has come good this yr, and arrived as a proper race bike.

Interesting how light crashes in FP are more common as strategy has shifted towards limit pliability before the Q and race. Lean angles are elbows now. Plus, we have had lots of mixed condition weekends in which riders chase fast laps in FP for position, without as well set up a bike yet. Then the mixed conditions themselves bring crashes up. Perhaps an interesting harbinger of the times, we now have some incidents in which racers crash themselves or each other out during Q, playing games of intimidation or grabbing/preventing a tow.

It is part of the game now to have a bit more crashes. It wasn't just a Polite Era, it was tidy too. This one? The Gladiator Era.