Mat Oxley's blog

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Carrasco’s remarkable comeback and the sad tale of grand prix racing’s female pioneer

On Sunday Ana Carrasco won a race just nine months after breaking her back. Hers is an amazing story but no more so than the shocking story of the first woman who tried to make it in motorcycle racing

Marc Márquez’s comeback from potentially career-ending injury is a work in progress, but today we can add the name Ana Carrasco to the list of superhumans – most notably Mick Doohan, Robert Dunlop and Ian Hutchinson – that overcame the most hideous odds to keep doing what they love and win again at a high level.

In 2018 Carrasco won the Supersport 300 World Championship and last September suffered serious injuries while testing her Kawasaki Ninja 400 at Estoril. She fractured two vertebrae, luckily without damage to her spine, her luck measured in mere millimetres.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - 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.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why MotoGP riders use the rear brake 70% of every lap

The rear brake has become one of the most important tools on a MotoGP bike. Tech 3 KTM rider Danilo Petrucci explains why

Most road riders use a lot more front brake, while MotoGP riders use the rear brake much more. This is just one example of how the art and science of riding a MotoGP bike has very little to do with everyday motorcycling.

The rear brake is now one of the most important tools on a MotoGP machine, which is why riders use it through 70% of the lap, while they use the front brake half as much (but with a lot more braking force and stopping power).

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why Márquez is looking forward to the Sachsenring MotoGP round more than ever

Marc Marquez’s right arm is still weak, which is why the first anti-clockwise race of the season will be the first time we see him close to 100%

Yesterday’s French Grand Prix could’ve been a fairy-tale for Marc Márquez but it wasn’t.

That’s motorcycle racing – harsh reality nearly always wins. As Valentino Rossi said after his Valencia 2006 disaster, “Unbeatable superheroes only exist in movies, real life is different”.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The problem that could spoil Márquez’ MotoGP title hopes

The main reason KTM, Suzuki and Honda are struggling this season is Michelin’s 2021 front-tyre allocation

There’s no doubt Marc Márquez has a chance to win the 2021 MotoGP world championship. Last time out at Jerez, his second race in nine months, he finished ten seconds behind the winner, despite two huge confidence-eroding crashes during practice.

Race by race the 28-year-old will get faster and stronger, so there’s every chance he may overhaul his 50-point deficit to current leader Pecco Bagnaia. After all, he won the 2019 championship by 151 points.

However, there is something that could stop him.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Dirty money in MotoGP? It’s nothing new

For many decades the wheels of motorcycle racing have been oiled by money emanating from unsavoury sources

Now that the initial hoo-ha over VR46’s alleged multi-million pound sponsorship deal with Saudi Arabia’s state-owned Aramco oil company has calmed down, perhaps this is a good time to take a long look at motorcycle racing’s historic relationship with dirty money.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How Brembo is dealing with a half tonne MotoGP bike + rider (under braking)

MotoGP braking g-forces have reached 2g, which makes bike (and rider) effectively weigh half a tonne on the brakes. Here’s what Brembo is doing about it…

How much does a MotoGP bike weigh? The rules state that a MotoGP machine must weigh no less than 157 kilos, including oil and water, timekeeping, camera and data-logging equipment.

Add a rider at around 67 kilos (the grid average), plus riding gear at 11 kilos and 22 litres of fuel at 17 kilos. That makes a grand total approaching 260 kilos.

Now accelerate that mass to around 350kph/210mph and then decelerate it as fast as you can into Turn One at Portimao, or anywhere else where riders apply absolute maximum braking force.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Johann Zarco completes his MotoGP resurrection

A few years ago Johann Zarco climbed to the dizziest heights and then crashed and burned in 2019. Now he’s the leader of the 2021 MotoGP world championship. It’s been quite a journey…

Sunday’s race may have been a heart-pumping 220mph dogfight but my highlight of the night was watching winner Fabio Quartararo giggling atop the podium, while runner-up Johann Zarco sang along to La Marseillaise.

Modern motor sport podiums can be humdrum affairs, as riders and drivers crunch the numbers through their brains, preparing for lengthy debriefs with armies of technical staff. They’ve had their fun, now the real work begins.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The 225mph MotoGP bike: how fast is too fast?

Johann Zarco’s jaw-dropping top speed during last weekend’s Qatar grand prix raised inevitable questions…

Britain’s first motorcycle race was staged in the grounds of a stately home in Richmond, Surrey, on November 29, 1897. The winning machine reached a top speed of “somewhere about 27mph”, which aroused the spectators into “a state of wild excitement because anything approaching the speed we attained had never before been witnessed”.

In other words, all things are relative.

When Johann Zarco attained 225.2mph/362.6kmh during last Saturday’s FP2 session at Losail some MotoGP commentators and fans were aroused into a state of wild excitement, although the riders seemed less impressed.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Dovizioso joining Aprilia would be like a KGB agent joining the CIA

Aprilia is ready to do great things in MotoGP and will do even better if it can acquire Andrea Dovizioso’s priceless 90-degree V4 intelligence

Aprilia has been the butt of many a MotoGP fan’s joke in recent years because the Noale factory has finished last in the MotoGP constructors champion every year since the launch of the RS-GP in 2015.

The RS-GP is the perennial underperformer. Even last year’s all-new bike with all-new 90-degree V4 engine didn’t seem to change much – the 2020 RS-GP’s best finish was an eighth place at the season-ending Portuguese GP

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Who will be 2021 MotoGP world champion?

Testing is done and the racing starts next week, so who are the contenders and who are the outsiders for the 20th four-stroke MotoGP world championship?

Asking someone to predict the outcome of MotoGP 2021 after just four days of preseason testing – and all of it around a track which has little relevance to the rest of the championship – is like asking them to predict which Michelin tyre will work best at the next racetrack.

Losail is an unusual circuit and conditions are unique, which is why only five times since the inaugural 2004 Qatar GP has the race winner gone on to take the MotoGP title.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Is Ducati using ground effect for more grip in MotoGP?

Ducati unveiled its latest aero at the Qatar tests – is the Italian factory using downforce to increase cornering grip, a new area of MotoGP aerodynamics performance?

Ten years ago I interviewed revered Formula 1 engineer John Barnard about what he would do to MotoGP design, given a big, fat, F1-style budget. The man who introduced the carbon-fibre composite chassis and semi-automatic gearbox to F1 had recently completed several years working on ‘King’ Kenny Roberts’ MotoGP project, where he never had the resources to explore the areas of performance he wanted to explore.

MotoGP aerodynamics was an area that particularly fascinated him because the science was so advanced in F1 but at that time had hardly been touched upon in bikes.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Suzuki’s GSX-RR: don’t touch a thing!

Suzuki won last year’s MotoGP championship with the GSX-RR, so what should the factory do to help the bike retain the crown in 2021?

Imagine you’re sat around a table with half a dozen Suzuki engineers in the factory’s race department, discussing what needs to be done to the GSX-RR MotoGP bike for 2021.

If I was there I’d be screaming: “Don’t touch a thing!”.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - What does Brexit mean for British teams and riders?

UK teams and riders face new regulations for working in Europe, including carnets, limited stays and possible work visas and permits

This year British riders, teams and race staff go racing in Europe as non-EU members for the first time in decades, so will they face any challenges and, if so, what will they be?

There are only two major British teams competing in world championship racing, both of them in World Superbike: the factory BMW squad of Shaun Muir Racing and the factory Yamaha outfit of Crescent Racing.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The MotoGP brains race: HRC takes data engineer from KTM

But no one knows more about headhunting engineers than KTM, which nabbed the co-inventor of MotoGP’s seamless gearbox from Honda and a top suspension technician from Öhlins

All’s fair in love and war. Motorcycle manufacturers have been stealing talented riders from rival brands since people first raced bikes around in circles more than a century ago. So much so that the MotoGP rider merry-go-round is considered a central part of the racing game.

The MotoGP engineer merry-go-round is less of a thing, but it’s getting bigger and spinning faster, because as the racing gets closer the worth of every technical detail increases.

The most important thing to take from this is that no matter how hi-tech racing becomes it’s the human that makes the difference. And if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then so too is one factory robbing another of its brightest brains.

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