Mat Oxley's blog

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Covid delays Ducati’s next big redesign to 2022

Ducati is working on a major redesign of its Desmosedici MotoGP bike but can’t race the machine this season due to Covid engine-freeze regulations

Everyone knows that turning performance has been Ducati’s biggest concern for years. Whatever factory engineers have done to make the Desmosedici turn better and faster through corners hasn’t worked, so now chief engineer Gigi Dall’Igna has an all-new motorcycle on the way.

Only one problem – the new Desmosedici chassis requires an engine with a new type of mounting. This wouldn’t usually be an issue, but last April MotoGP reacted to the global Covid pandemic by announcing emergency cost-cutting regulations, including restricting manufacturers to 2020 engine specs throughout the coming season.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Will Espargaró be able to ride the Honda?

Pol Espargaró joins Repsol Honda from KTM, where he was the strongest rider on the factory’s V4. Does that mean he will be fast on the RC213V V4? And what do HRC need to do to make the bike better?

You won’t find many MotoGP riders that prefer a fire-breathing V4 to an easy-going inline-four, but Pol Espargaró is one of them.

Espargaró contested his first three seasons in MotoGP with Yamaha, but he didn’t enjoy the YZR-M1 and failed to score a single podium on the bike. In 2017 he joined KTM’s all-new MotoGP project and last year he was KTM’s top points scorer on the RC16, with five podiums

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley’s 2020 MotoGP Top Ten

Joan Mir won the 2020 MotoGP World Championship, but was he the strongest rider last season?

What’s the point of a journalist conjuring up his own MotoGP top ten when the championship does exactly that?

Not much really, but looking beyond race wins, podiums and points allows us to take into account other factors, like the quality of a rider’s machinery, the strength of his back-up crew and the depth of his experience.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP: The real reason MotoGP 2020 was so close and unpredictable

Many fans rated last season as the most entertaining in years. But who should they thank for the apparent unpredictability and super-close lap times?

There were two things that got MotoGP commentators and fans particularly excited last season: the unpredictability of the racing and the incredibly close lap times, with the fastest 15 riders often separated by less than a second.

But was the racing really any more unpredictable than it’s been in recent years?

MotoGP 2020 certainly seemed unusually unpredictable because none of the title challengers managed to score consistent results over the 14 rounds. Even world champion Joan Mir stood on the podium at only half the races, while 2020 runner-up Franco Morbidelli only made the top three at five races.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP: no one — not even Márquez — gets to ride the magic carpet for free

Marc Márquez’s injury struggles shine a light on the dangers faced by motorcycle racers and remind us of the painful journey taken by another Honda superstar

A motorcycle cartwheels down the track and into the dirt. Medics arrive on the scene. They lay the injured rider on a stretcher and load him into an ambulance. Sirens wail. The crowd’s attention returns to the racing.

“Is he hurt pretty bad?” asks a woman.

“I dunno,” her photographer husband replies. “Somebody said he broke his back.”

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - 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.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Back to the future: the story of second-hand MotoGP bikes

On Sunday Franco Morbidelli proved that an old motorcycle can sometimes be better than a new motorcycle. And he’s not the first to do that

There’s been so much talk about Yamaha’s 2019 and 2020 YZR-M1s in recent weeks that this may be a good time to look into the joys of second-hand MotoGP bikes.

Fabio Quartararo, Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales can’t revert to 2019 M1s due to MotoGP engine regulations but you can be sure they would if they could, because the 2019 M1 chassis seems to be better balanced than the 2020 version.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - ‘I wanted to spit nails and rip the handlebars off the bike’

How do racers like Joan Mir cope with pressure? Some chill out, others work themselves into a frenzy

I don’t know about you but I get pre-race butterflies whenever a MotoGP season draws towards its climax. I know it’s ridiculous, because I’m sat comfortably where no harm can come to me, but I’m nervous for what might happen, for what might go wrong.

Perhaps it’s some kind of nervy leftover from racing all those decades ago. For those that haven’t raced it’s probably difficult to imagine what racers feel like on Sunday mornings. There’s so much adrenaline pumping around your body that you sometimes feel sick and faint, so you’re just dying for the race to start, so you can stop feeling so rank.

Different riders have different ways of dealing with those feelings, but I can’t even begin to imagine how MotoGP riders cope with the stress and pressure of battling for the championship. That’s another level altogether.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP title fight: who will run out of engines first?

Several top MotoGP title contenders are already way past the usual lifespan with their engines, so how will they cope at the last three races?

Three of 14 races remain in the 2020 MotoGP World Championship, Covid permitting. The second wave of the pandemic is racing through Europe as riders prepare for the triple-header finale on the Iberian Peninsula, starting with Sunday’s European GP at Valencia and ending with the Portuguese GP at Portimao on November 22.

Literally no one knows if the championship will go full distance, but the back-to-back races at Valencia – the European and then the Valencia GP – are currently set to go ahead despite a night-time curfew in the region.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Is a winless MotoGP champion a worthy champion?

Joan Mir could become the first premier-class world champion to take the crown without winning a race. Does that make him any less of a MotoGP champion than Marc Márquez or Valentino Rossi?

This maddest of mad MotoGP seasons reaches its climax next month, with back-to-back races at Valencia and the season-finale at Portimao.

So far Fabio Quartararo has won the most races, with three victories from 11 races. Next is Franco Morbidelli with two victories. Then there’s Brad Binder, Andrea Dovizioso, Miguel Oliveira, Danilo Petrucci, Álex Rins and Maverick Viñales, all on one win each.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Is this the weirdest MotoGP season ever?

Ten rounds done, four to go, and this is the worst-scoring world championship since 1952. So what’s going on and why is the racing so unprecedently unpredictable?

Surely, this is the weirdest MotoGP season ever.

I’ve been in the paddock for roughly half the 72 seasons since the world championships were born and I can’t remember a season like it.

It’s abnormal for several reasons.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why Crutchlow, Lowes and Dixon are doing something special

Jake Dixon’s exit from Sunday’s Moto2 race was gut-wrenching and proved there’s no tougher road than the road to MotoGP glory

I’ve always had special respect for British riders who break out of road-bike racing to have a crack at MotoGP.

Since the mid-1980s, most Britons start out racing road bikes and keep racing road bikes to the end of their careers, ending up in World Superbikes if they’re fast enough.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Missing Marc

It’s been months since we’ve seen Marc Márquez, the greatest rider of his generation – perhaps the greatest of all time – in action. I’m starting to get withdrawal symptoms

It’s been strange not writing about Marc Márquez these last few months. Ever since the middle of 2012, when he signed his first MotoGP contract, he’s stolen most of the headlines, certainly most of my headlines, just like Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi before him.

I have to admit that I was getting jaded with MotoGP before Márquez turned up. The hated 800s – which created follow-my-leader racing so boring that I nearly broke my jaw by yawning – were mostly to blame.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - ‘Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’ — the bare, lone MotoGP paddock

The MotoGP world championship goes on despite the Covid mechanics, but after attending two of the last three races I’ve seen how much has really changed

In just a few months the global Covid pandemic has taken grand prix racing back to where it was half a century ago. Now the paddock is what it used to be: a bunch of blokes (almost exclusively) tinkering with motorbikes and riding them around in circles as fast as they can.

Thus the MotoGP world championship is in its purest, most unalloyed state – those people who pine for the ‘good old days’ should be delighted.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why Ducati needs Bagnaia

Ducati’s Desmosedici has struggled with turning for years. Now Ducati thinks it’s found the answer to the problem – 2018 Moto2 world champion Pecco Bagnaia

If Ducati doesn’t announce Pecco Bagnaia’s promotion to its factory team at Barcelona this weekend I promise to shin up the Sagrada Família naked.

Ducati needs Bagnaia because he is a huge talent and because MotoGP has changed. You only need to look at Andrea Dovizioso’s recent results to understand there is a new way of going fast in 2020.

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