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.
MotoGP is cage-fighting on gasoline
Don’t be fooled by the glitz and glamour, this is a vicious sport, but there is beauty in there too
“Some people believe football is a matter of life and death,” said legendary Liverpool football manager Bill Shankly many years ago. “I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”
The same goes for motorcycle racing, especially if you’ve made your way to its summit and you’re fighting for the MotoGP title. You may have noticed things getting a bit ugly in the last few races at Brno and Red Bull Ring, but believe me, bike racing has always been vicious.
The starting point of this game is the joy of riding a motorcycle just as fast as it’ll go, and maybe a little bit faster. But if you want to win you’re going to have to fight for it and the higher you climb the harder you will have to fight.
Bike racing – especially MotoGP, where just a few seconds cover the top half dozen at the chequered flag – is about as close as you get to being in a war. There is so much going on, so much danger in the air, all of it happening so fast, that you’re just doing your best to pass a rival or avoid being passed, like a fighter is trying to kill or avoid being killed.
Many people don’t fully understand the levels of aggression involved; not only when riders are elbow to elbow on the racetrack but in their every thought and action from the moment they arrive at the circuit to the moment they leave.
When you watch football or rugby or boxing or cage-fighting you see the faces of players contorted in rage and hatred. You see them screaming insults, spitting venom and occasionally grinning in triumph. All of this goes on inside the helmets of bike racers; you just don’t get to see or hear it.
Motorcycle racing is a vicious and occasionally deadly sport, but it’s also beautiful, if you care to see the beauty.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.