Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Inside a MotoGP rider/crew chief marriage

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.


Inside a MotoGP rider/crew chief marriage

Maverick Viñales has changed crew chiefs for the second time in less than three seasons. So what’s so important about a crew chief? We spoke to ‘King’ Kenny Roberts, Kel Carruthers and Jeremy Burgess to find out

Maverick Viñales recently got married and became a dad for the first time. Hearty congratulations to him, Raquel and baby Nina!

However, the 26-year-old Spaniard is already on his third pitlane marriage, because many riders and crew chiefs will tell you that their relationship is like a marriage.

To make a rider/crew chief union successful requires many of the same attributes that make a marriage: good communication, understanding, honesty, empathy, forgiveness, management of emotions and so on.

So why has Viñales already divorced two crew chiefs? And who is to blame for the collapse of his previous two pitlane relationships: him or Ramon Forcada, him or Esteban Garcia? And will new garage partner Silvano Galbusera be able to give the 26-year-old what he needs to harness his undoubted talent?

In other words, do Viñales’ problems come from inside or outside?

To understand the bigger picture perhaps we should look back at some of the great rider/crew chief relationships; most famously Valentino Rossi and Jeremy Burgess, who had previously won world titles with Mick Doohan and before that with Wayne Gardner.

During 23 seasons JB won a remarkable 13 500cc and MotoGP titles and he never divorced anyone. Honda first assigned him to Gardner, then Doohan and finally Rossi, who unceremoniously sacked him in favour of Galbusera at the end of 2013

As always JB’s assessment of that event was frank and accurate.

“I’ve read enough sporting biographies to know that sportsmen change their coaches towards the end of their careers,” he told me a while back. “It can give them a spike in results but it doesn’t change the overall story.”

All good MotoGP crew chiefs understand that they must perform two very different functions: they must be psychologists as well as engineers, which are very different jobs.

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

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