Mat Oxley's blog

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How I ride: Maverick Viñales

Viñales reveals how he rode the rollercoaster of the last two seasons and why he’s planning to hire a sports psychiatrist for 2019

Viñales joined Yamaha in 2017, won three of the first five races, then didn’t win another race until October 2018. In this interview, conducted a few days after that Phillip Island victory, he covers all the bases: riding technique, tyres, bike set-up and the all-important matter of a racer’s psyche.

Unlike most top MotoGP riders you only spent one season with Bridgestone tyres and factory software, so was that an advantage when everything changed in 2016?

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP 2019's biggest battle: Ducati v Honda

The first in a series examining how each of MotoGP’s six factories is aiming to gain the advantage going into the 2019 championship

The last two seasons have been all about Ducati and Honda. Those two manufacturers have won all but five of the last 36 races, and the battle for the 2019 MotoGP title will most likely see the duel continue.

Last year the Desmosedici and RC213V were more closely matched than ever, so what are the engineers in Bologna, Italy, and Asaka, Japan, working to improve for their 2019 contest? We spoke to Andrea Dovizioso and Ducati Corse manager Gigi Dall’Igna from Ducati, and Marc Márquez and HRC director Tetsuhiro Kuwata from Honda to find out.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How I ride: Jorge Lorenzo

Just before his 2018 season went pear-shaped we talked to the three-time MotoGP king about how he transformed his riding technique from 2015 to 2018

How much did things change for you in 2016, when MotoGP switched to unified software and Michelin tyres?

A lot, a lot. When we started testing the new electronics and tyres at the end of 2015 and at the beginning of 2016 it was a huge change, because the first few times I tried the new electronics the engine-braking was always locking the rear wheel, because the software was very old-fashioned and not so sophisticated. It was difficult to ride the bike – you wasted a lot of energy and you were almost two seconds slower. Then little by little, it got better.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How I ride: Danilo Petrucci

Petrucci has yet to win a MotoGP race, but Ducati’s latest factory rider is super-fast and few are better at describing what they do on a bike

You’ve been through some big technical changes in MotoGP: starting out on a CRT bike with a streetbike engine, then changing bikes, tyres and electronics

In reality, I had a Superstock bike during my first three years in MotoGP! So I only really started racing in MotoGP when I joined Pramac Ducati in 2015 and got my first real MotoGP bike.

Riding technique has changed a lot because we now have different tyres and different electronics. The way you use the throttle now is very, very different to how it was when we had the factory software before 2016. In 2015 it was easier to open the throttle out of a corner because the electronics were better. Now the rider has to manage the throttle much more, mostly because of the electronics, but also because the tyres are different.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - ‘The prize is pride!’

There’s no prize money at Valentino Rossi’s annual 100km dirt-track race, but the racing is just as vicious as MotoGP

Perhaps one day Valentino Rossi will work out how to sit back and rest on his laurels. But he’s not there yet.

Eleven weeks before his 40th birthday and two days after MotoGP’s longest-ever season of racing and testing, he was back at it: racing motorcycles around in circles (and hurting himself), because that’s what he likes doing.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How I ride: Andrea Dovizioso

Dovizioso finished runner-up to Marc Márquez in 2017 and 2018, so how does rider counter the skills of his greatest rival and how has riding technique changed since he came to MotoGP?

How has riding technique changed since you came to MotoGP in 2008?

Riding technique has changed a lot. The bikes have changed a lot and the intensity we are able to put into the bike has changed a lot, so you need to be much fitter because to be fast for 45 minutes with such a level of intensity is impossible if you are not very, very fit. This is the first thing, the second thing is the electronics. The electronics have changed a lot: they are much better and the way we manage them is much better; this is the biggest change and it affects our riding style.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Márquez is the man with no off switch

The Spaniard has won all three titles in MotoGP’s new era of make-it-up-as-you-go-along riding technique. Next comes MotoGP’s Senna/Prost moment

No motorcycle racer is unbeatable. Mick Doohan ruled the 1990s with an iron fist, dominating five consecutive 500cc world championships and leaving everyone waking up on Sunday mornings wondering who would finish second. Then, in a millisecond, his reign was over when he momentarily strayed onto a damp white line at Jerez in May 1999.

Marc Márquez isn’t unbeatable. Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa, Valentino Rossi and others have already proved that. But, right now, he is about as invincible as it gets.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Rossi: ‘we’ve stopped thinking about performance’Does MotoGP need a combined bike/rider weight limit?

Some say current technical regulations are unfair for bigger riders like Petrucci and Rossi, so is it time to even things up a bit? Michelin and Ducati think so

Some years ago I thought MotoGP needed a combined rider/machine minimum weight. After all, I reasoned, if Formula 1 (where the car weighs around nine times more than the driver) has a combined limit, surely it would make sense in MotoGP (where the bike is a bit more than twice the weight of the rider).

So I talked with several MotoGP engineers and technical director (now race director) Mike Webb. They were all convinced this wasn’t the way to go. They said it’s swings and roundabouts, especially in the case of soon-to-retire Dani Pedrosa whose advantages on the swings (the straights) are easily outweighed by his disadvantages on the roundabouts (the corners).

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Rossi: ‘we’ve stopped thinking about performance’

How come Valentino Rossi went from zero at Phillip Island to (fallen) hero at Sepang on Sunday?

Sunday was Rossi’s greatest ride in more than two years – 46 races since he defeated a hard-charging Marc Márquez at Barcelona in June 2016. (It was a sign!)

First of all, his speed and consistency may shut up the armchair racers who suggest he is past it. When the bike and the tyres do what he wants them to do, Rossi can be as fast as anyone, even in suffocating 34 degC heat. That is nothing short of a miracle for a 39-year-old lining up on a Grand Prix grid for the 382nd time, with the dolce vita always awaiting him at home, whenever he so chooses.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Is Yamaha out of the woods thanks to Viñales?

Maverick Viñales dominated Phillip Island, so has Yamaha made a big step or does MotoGP’s greatest racetrack camouflage the M1’s weak points?

Maverick Viñales ended Yamaha’s 25-race losing streak on Sunday, but how did he do it? After the race he told us: “the team worked in the way I wanted, and that’s unbelievably good”.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think this is the reality, because it suggests his team doesn’t usually work in the way he wants.

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Guest Blog - Mat Oxley - Márquez: his winning secret

Mat Oxley sits down with newly crowned 2018 MotoGP champion Marc Márquez

Marc Márquez is the youngest rider to win five premier-class crowns, taking the record from Valentino Rossi. And he does it with the most spectacular riding technique: sliding the front and the rear at every other corner. So what are his secrets?

It’s three years since MotoGP changed to spec software and Michelin tyres, so what has changed for you, do you have to ride the bike more sweetly?

 

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Is Yamaha’s sun rising again?

Rossi and Viñales scored their best result in a year in Thailand – so will they be even faster in Japan this weekend?

You know things are bad when a factory that once took winning for granted celebrates a third- and fourth-place finish as a ‘return to form’. That’s exactly how the Movistar Yamaha team reacted to its so-close-but-so-far result at Buriram.

Maverick Viñales finished less than three tenths of a second behind winner Marc Márquez, with Valentino Rossi just 1.2 seconds further back after very nearly ramming his team-mate at the final corner.

Remarkably, this was the closest both factory Yamahas had been to winning a race since Phillip Island, this time last year.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Are Márquez and Dovizioso the new Schwantz and Rainey?

The reigning world champion and world number two have given us much entertainment over the past year and a half, but can they ever match the thrill of watching Schwantz and Rainey?

Someone in Sunday’s post-race media conference asked Marc Márquez and Andrea Dovizioso if they are the Kevin Schwantz and Wayne Rainey of today. This was a good question, especially after that last-lap slugging match, which brought back memories of the greatest last-lap shootout between the two Americans, who had made Grand Prix racing their own in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Sure, it’s a stretch to compare the epic 4.2-mile lightning-fast blast that was Hockenheim with the mundane asphalt doodle that is Buriram, but here goes…

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Lorenzo: from one-trick pony to corner chameleon

How Jorge Lorenzo changed his race strategy and riding technique by 180 degrees, learning to steer the Ducati “like a boat”

Let’s pretend that Jorge Lorenzo didn’t get flicked to the moon at Aragón. Instead let’s pretend that he ran wide at the first corner, lost a few places, then fought back to fight for the win with Marc Márquez and Andrea Dovizioso. On the last lap he out-brakes Dovizioso into the first corner, drafts past Márquez on the back straight and uses the Ducati’s stellar drive out of the final corner to cross the finish line three-hundredths of a second in front.

Okay, so Lorenzo didn’t win at Aragón, but this a good time nonetheless to examine how the three-time MotoGP king has transformed himself since he walked out of the Yamaha garage and into the Ducati garage in November 2016.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP: gentlemanly or full of vicious passions?

Jorge Lorenzo’s Turn One exit at Aragón ended his chances of another MotoGP victory. But who is to blame for this latest controversy?

I like to think that Jorge Lorenzo has heard of George Orwell, the author of 1984, Animal Farm and other important novels. One of the Briton’s best-read creations is Homage to Catalonia (Homenaje a Cataluña in its Spanish translation), which recounts his grisly experiences of fighting in the Spanish Civil War.

Orwell joined a militia in Barcelona and fought on the Aragón front, close to where Lorenzo and Marc Márquez fought on Sunday. In May 1937 he was shot in the throat by a sniper and nearly died.

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