Mat Oxley's blog

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Danilo Petrucci, “I don’t want Ducati to put me against Dovizioso”

The rumour that Jack Miller will join the factory Ducati team in 2021 puts Danilo Petrucci and Andrea Dovizioso in competition for the second factory Ducati seat. Petrucci tells us about his hopes for the 2020 season, his 2019 Mugello victory and his plans to do the Dakar

The MotoGP rumour mill usually does its work in the darker corners of the paddock, where journalists, rider managers and team managers arrange secret assignations under cover of team artics, during which they whisper the latest news (and lies).

This year is different: FaceTime, WhatsApp and Zoom is where it’s all happening.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why inline-four MotoGP bikes handle better than V4 MotoGP bikes

V4 MotoGP bikes make more power, inline-fours handle better. That’s why Johann Zarco, Jorge Lorenzo and others struggle when they switch from inline-fours to V4s

Speak to most MotoGP engineers and they will tell you that the two most important words in race-bike engineering are balance and compromise.

Pretty much whatever you do to improve one area of performance impairs another: you make the bike turn quicker and it becomes less stable, you increase peak power and you lose midrange and so on.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP season opener to be confirmed this month

Dorna hopes 2020 championship will start in Spain in July, with strict medical protocols and quarantine rules in place

MotoGP rights-holder Dorna hopes to announce the start of the 2020 MotoGP world championship in the next few weeks. The Spanish-based company is aiming to get the racing underway in Spain in July, with ten or 11 races in Europe, possibly followed by several more outside Europe.

Currently, these races are expected to be viewed only on TV, with no trackside fans allowed, due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP 2020: Plans for an August start... and the doomsday scenario

Optimists hope the MotoGP season will start in August, while pessimists think that a single-class, three-race championship at one circuit is more likely

The 2020 MotoGP world championship could get underway at Red Bull Ring in August.

Following the cancellation or postponement of the first ten rounds of the 20-round series there is now the hope that the Austrian circuit will host the season-opening race on August 16.

The Formula 1 championship is aiming to start its season at the same venue, on July 5, with no fans allowed and COVID-19 testing required for all team staff. If that event goes off well, with no regional spike in COVID-19 cases, then MotoGP could follow six weeks later, using the same format.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - What do Márquez and Viñales have in common with 1930s GP stars Meier and Serafini?

Eighty years apart, Márquez, Viñales and the rest of the MotoGP grid find their careers stalled - as did Georg Meier and Dorino Serafini in 1939

The last time grand prix racing was properly interrupted was in September 1939, when Nazi Germany invaded Poland, triggering the Second World War. Those circumstances and the circumstances of the coronavirus crisis may be very different, but the effect on racers is the same: young men in the prime of their lives having their careers stalled through no fault of their own.

Who knows when Marc Márquez, Maverick Viñales and the rest of the MotoGP grid (and every other grid, for that matter) will go racing again, and who knows what racing will look like? Teams and manufacturers are facing an unprecedented crisis, which mirrors the larger crisis that’s unfolding all around us. Even if race teams survive the pandemic, what about airlines and all the other industries that racing relies upon?

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How I ride: Franco Morbidelli

The 2017 Moto2 world champion has spent the last 12 years working with Valentino Rossi, so how does Franco Morbidelli ride a MotoGP bike?

Franco Morbidelli became Valentino Rossi’s first protégé when he moved from Rome to Tavullia in 2008, at the age of 13. And when Rossi established the VR46 Riders Academy in 2013 he became its first member. In 2017 Morbidelli became the first VR46 rider to win a world title, in 2018 the first to race in MotoGP and last year the first to ride the same bike as Rossi. In other words, no one else has learned as much from Rossi.

Last year Morbidelli joined the new Petronas SIC Yamaha squad, alongside rookie Fabio Quartararo, and quickly found himself eclipsed by the rookie sensation. However, his results weren’t at all bad for a relative beginner riding a new bike.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Happy 24th MotoGP birthday to Valentino Rossi!

Valentino Rossi contested his first GP 24 years ago today, so we’re looking back at his first race and wondering when he will ride his last

Today is Valentino Rossi’s 24th grand prix birthday, marking the anniversary of his world championship debut on 31 March 1996.

On that day he finished sixth in his debut world-class outing, at Shah Alam, Malaysia’s first grand prix circuit. Winner of the 125cc race was countryman Stefano Perugini.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why Ducati’s GP20 is the opposite of a smart phone

How Ducati’s free-thinking engineers have substituted MotoGP’s lower-tech spec electronics with an array of mechanical gadgets. Also, why holeshot devices should eventually be banned

A smart phone is a small box of electronics that replaces any number of physical and mechanical gadgets. It takes the place of a camera, a videorecorder, an alarm clock, a typewriter, a compass, a tape recorder, a radio and so on. The best smart phones are so clever that you’d need the back seat of your car to carry around all the bits and pieces they’ve made obsolete.

Ducati’s Desmosedici GP20 works very cleverly in the opposite direction. The machine features a number of mechanical gadgets that take the place of the little black boxes of tailormade electronics that Dorna regulated into history at the end of the 2015 MotoGP season.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why Márquez rules MotoGP’s Triple M era

The master of riding by the seat of your pants: Marc Márquez's special advantage in MotoGP

Since MotoGP’s Triple M Era began in March 2016, Marc Márquez has won all four world championships and 32 of the 73 races. This is not by chance.

The 27-year-old dominates for various reasons. Mostly because his talent (part nature, part nurture) is the strongest on the grid, so he gets the absolute maximum, and more, from his Honda RC213V.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Postcard from the Coronavirus Grand Prix

The Qatar GP has been MotoGP’s strangest weekend since 2004 – last weekend it got even weirder

The Qatar Grand Prix has always felt a bit unreal. The first time MotoGP visited in October 2004 the newly built track was a 20-minute drive out of Doha into the desert – the Arabian Gulf shimmering in the east, a few caravans of camels ambling along in the distance, but nothing else.

Nothing else at all. There we were, marooned in a sea of sand, watched over by at least a dozen spectators, wondering what the hell was going on.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - War, politics and coronavirus: When the real world catches up with MotoGP

The Qatar and Thai MotoGP Grands Prix have been cancelled due to the Coronavirus outbreak but this isn't the first time when MotoGP has been affected by world events

Motorcycle racing and other sports are bubbles – microcosms of life that allow competitors and fans to invest themselves in something wonderful but ultimately trivial.

When working in the paddock during a MotoGP weekend it’s possible to forget that the rest of the world exists. All that matters is who steps onto the box and pops the prosecco at 3pm on Sunday afternoon.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The story behind Ducati’s new MotoGP shapeshifter

Adjustable geometry is a bike racing holy grail – Ducati’s new shapeshifting device is the latest stab at achieving it, and probably more top speed as well

Gigi ‘Gadget’ Dall’Igna is up to his tricks again. Ducati’s chief engineer – the man who gave MotoGP wings, holeshot devices, wheel fairings, ‘swinglets’ and much more about which we’ll never know – has come up with a gadget that allows his riders to unleash the Desmosedici’s mighty engine harder than ever.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Are MotoGP bikes too easy to ride?

Some people think modern electronic control systems and ever-improving mechanical performance makes MotoGP bikes undemanding. They are wrong, says Mat Oxley, and here’s why

They call it progress. This year’s 1000cc MotoGP bikes make around 280 horsepower and are good for 220mph/355km/h. These machines are the pinnacle of 125 years of development of the internal-combustion engine and motorcycle chassis and electronics technology. In some ways they are easy to ride, but in other ways they are not.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Viñales: ‘We can win races, but…’

Top Yamaha rider Maverick Viñales believes the M1 will win MotoGP races this season but winning the title will be a very different matter

After several years running along at tick-over, Yamaha’s MotoGP project is picking up revs because factory bosses have realised they need to get serious if they are to beat Honda and Ducati, just like they did when they signed Valentino Rossi back in 2003.

Last week the factory team announced 2021/2022 contracts with Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo, as well as a 2020 test-rider deal with its three-times MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP and the secret life of asphalt

MotoGP teams are starting to take a lot more interest in the track surface. Mat Oxley explains why - along with the reason some riders use kerbs for traction control

It’s an old racing truism that the most important part of a racing motorcycle is its tyres. Why? Because the tyres are the interface between motorcycle and race track, so whatever engineers do to the engine, chassis and electronics is for nothing if it can’t be transferred to the track.

And yet it’s an often overlooked fact that the tyres are only 50 per cent of this interface; the other half being the race track itself. This is why engineers and riders are starting to think a lot more about how increased knowledge of the track surface can help them go faster.

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