Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - 2020 was Rossi’s worst-ever season, and so what?

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.


2020 was Rossi’s worst-ever season, and so what?

Valentino Rossi scored an average of 4.7 points per race last season but still loves the challenge of racing, so why should he retire from MotoGP?

Valentino Rossi probably doesn’t want to know this – although he probably already knows it in his gut – but 2020 was his worst season since he joined the grand prix circus in 1996. By a long way.

His 25th year in the world championships was even poorer than his two barren seasons at Ducati and his rookie 125cc grand prix campaign, when he was 16-years-old.

Everything that could go wrong for the nine-times world champion in 2020 did go wrong.

Yes, Rossi is 41-years old, almost twice the age of the 2020 MotoGP champion, so he’s not as fast as he used to be (of which he’s fully aware), but he was laid lower than ever by a below-par motorcycle, broken engines, crashes and finally Covid-19.

Rossi’s average points score per race – from the maximum 25 points – was just 4.7. Compare that to his second lowest-scoring campaign, his 1996 season, during which he averaged 7.4 points per race.

Even if we discount the two races he missed while at home with Covid, his average score stands at 5.5 points per race. Compare that to his years of pomp – the strongest seasons were 2002, 2003 and 2005 – when he raked in an average around 22 points each weekend.

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

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Comments

Vale is STILL a great racer. And it is sunset. Nothing to struggle with there, right?

Unlike those that have come before, Rossi will be resurrected as VR46. With lots of bread to break, and cup that runeth over with WHAT drink inside? The most compelling thing in view now is the pivot, and how the Yamaha bike being soured at his twilight, his experience of being set aside by the Factory team (which I thought a good idea btw), shaping of grid spots and what bike/project to run. Something special is in store.

As recent as 18 months ago it was a foregone conclusion that he would run Yamahas. Then came fantastic Petronas/SIC success (can we please keep praising this? Wow!) at a critical time. Has Yamaha made overtures at a future w VR46? Not in any noticable fashion. Have they fallen back into their woeful gutter? Yes. Does he appear in any way happy with and connected to the bike they gave him the last 4 yrs (aside from the post Tsunami hari-kari 2019 blip) or their future as we have seen in 2020? No. As soon as the 2020 engine appeared so anemic at the Winter Test, writing began on the wall. Then, serious reliability issues and maddeningly inconsistent chassis with woeful rear grip. In hindsight Yamaha will wish they inked a VR46 3rd Team before letting Vale go, even though Petronas was there. It would have been a dynasty for several eras. They will do fine, they don't NEED Valentino. Who does?

Marini needs a MotoGP seat. VR46 buys the only one out there. Italian bike Vale is distinctly not aligned with, Spanish team. VERY Spanish team. Pramac isn't going anywhere. Ducati has bikes 5 and 6 as a customer leftover of mild consequence. Young Vale was preoccupied with all things Japanese and had all his success with their bikes. Why think VR46 is going Red? 

Aprilia? No. Not now. Just no.

Valentino Rossi is a friend of Dorna. He enjoys a new challenge. Natural helper for and with his friends. As Italian as pasta. What would Carmelo love to see more than anything? Two more of what bike? Which team could REALLY use the help of Yellow? Who runs it (nudge, Davide)? Which team manager is the last of the people (Burgess, Furusawa) in the circus dear to Vale from that golden moment? What is the atmosphere/culture of that program? What is the best bike on the grid now? Which MotoGP bike is the best to adapt from Moto2 on/put your progeny on and team around? What energy drink just signed on with them, and I betcha won't renew with Yamaha?

What VR46 rider has shown excellence in MotoGP lately? Are they on a Factory team? Where does their allegiance lay? (Ahem, #21). Who was Valentino's favorite growing up, poster by his bed? Schwantz. Light Blue, Yellow, touch of bright green claws.

-- 2022 VR46 Monster Suzuki, Morbidelli and Marini --

Full Factory bikes, setting the pace re what it can mean to be a Satellite/Independent/Jr Team. "Which is the Factory Team?" Well, both I guess. Suzuki was barely one before VR46 and Monster got there. Where is everyone going to want to visit in the paddock? Welcome to VR46 Monster Suzuki Island. Where the Factory brass, celebrities and dignitaries dine. 

Yellow bike upper with light blue please. It has been a while (the old Camel Honda's and retro special Yamahas were gorgeous! Black schmack, except for Aprilia which wears it well). Yamaha, Honda, get ready to groan and blink. Again. Suzuki Blue plus Vale Yellow literally makes Monster Green. There is a new kid in town. You read it here first.