Mat Oxley's blog

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoE: is it safe?

After last week’s blaze, what can MotoE learn from the hugely successful Formula E championship?

Last Thursday the entire MotoE grid was consumed by an inferno at Jerez. Riders and bikes were at the track preparing for what was supposed to be the first round of the electric-powered championship at May’s Spanish Grand Prix. Fortunately, nobody was hurt.

Electric vehicles do cause some concerns, due to the risk of electrocution and fire. Isle of Man TT marshals are equipped with special insulated rubber gloves to marshal the TT Zero race, the world’s first high-profile EV bike race. And at last year’s TT a Zero bike caught fire in the paddock and blazed for 24 hours.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Will Ducati and Dovi be axed from Qatar MotoGP results?

The FIM will soon make its decision about Ducati’s alleged aero device, but there is only one sensible way out of this mess

MotoGP’s Court of Appeal will sit at the end of this week to decide the fate of Ducati’s alleged swingarm aerodynamics device and the 25 points that Andrea Dovizioso scored in Qatar.

What is MotoGP’s court of appeal and how will it come to its decision, which will be announced before next week’s Argentine Grand Prix?

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP: from the Isle of Man to a tropical isle via the Arabian desert

Countries like Qatar and Indonesia are spending vast amounts on MotoGP. So where does that leave the rest of us?

Motorcycle Grand Prix racing celebrates its 70th birthday this year, so perhaps in some way it's fitting that a championship that began on a dank, grassy rock in the middle of the Irish Sea should commence this historic season in the middle of a burning desert.

The Qatar GP is a surreal event, mostly because it takes place at night-time around a ribbon of asphalt on the edge of the Arabian desert that's lit by vast floodlights which give the racing the hyper-reality of a videogame.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How I ride: Cal Crutchlow

Five days before the first race of 2019, Britain’s most successful rider since Barry Sheene tells us his secrets

This interview was conducted last season, before Crutchlow had his monster crash at Phillip Island, but everything still holds true…

MotoGP is three seasons into its technical new regulations, so how has your technique changed?

The biggest change for me was coming from Superbikes to MotoGP, but within that the biggest thing was the tyres, going from Pirelli to Bridgestones, which were so not what I was used to, you can’t even imagine. I still think I have a superbike style, the way I hang off the bike. I don’t put my elbow on the ground, which is the new MotoGP style. You see some idiots sticking out their elbow in the middle of the corner to get it on the floor, [Marc] Márquez style. There’s absolutely no need, it’s just because Marc does it. It’s ridiculous to watch.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP preseason testing: Ready, steady...

The MotoGP grid concluded preseason testing in Qatar yesterday, with Maverick Viñales fastest. But riders weren’t just evaluating new parts and settings…

When I was a kid I had a Scalextric car racing set that included a trackside garage. Inside the garage was a clockwork car that would reverse onto the track, drive back into the garage, reverse onto the track and so on. It was a good way of livening up the racing.

During final preseason testing in Qatar, riders tried a new long-lap penalty system, a concept that will send penalised riders down a side road on the entry to turn six, costing them a couple of seconds before they re-join the track on the corner exit. It is MotoGP’s version of the naughty step, hopefully a better way of punishing miscreant riders than telling them to drop a position, which is an inconsistent penalty and difficult to implement effectively when the racing is frantically close, which it usually is.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Rossi at 40: so many memories

Recounting memories of Valentino Rossi, who turns 40 on Saturday

Valentino Rossi celebrates his 40th birthday on Saturday, hoping against hope to become the first forty-something to win a world title since the 1950s, when grand prix racing was ruled by older riders who’d had their careers interrupted by the Second World War.

To give you some idea of Rossi’s advancing years, Britain had its first £1million footballer in February 1979, when Trevor Francis signed to Nottingham Forest. When he won his first grand prix in August 1996 the Spice Girls were number one.

The big four-oh isn’t the only major life landmark that Rossi reaches this year, because three weeks later, on 10th March, he commences his 24th world championship season. Only two riders have got close to that, Aussie great Jack Findlay, who raced 20 and a bit seasons from 1958 to 1978 and Brazilian Alex Barros, who raced 22 seasons from 1986 to 2007, having lied about his age to get his first grand prix licence to race in the 50cc class.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - KTM: ‘We are at the tip of the iceberg’

KTM has 40 years less experience than Honda in premier-class Grand Prix racing, so what does the Austrian factory need to do to get closer to the front?

KTM had an impressive rookie season in 2017, but last year the Austrian factory stalled. And when prize signing Johann Zarco first tested the RC16 in November he was shell-shocked.

The arrival of Zarco at KTM is supposed to be the factory’s next big step because he is the strongest rider to sit on the RC16. But the Frenchman’s first outings on the bike suggest the gap between KTM and the front of the pack is still huge, so what did KTM learn from 2018 – and what does it need to do in 2019?

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How I ride: Johann Zarco

The Frenchman was a revelation during his rookie MotoGP season in 2017 and finished top non-factory rider last season – so how does he do it?

During 2017 and 2018 Johann Zarco made a habit of embarrassing factory riders aboard his second-hand Monster Tech 3 Yamaha YZR-M1.

The Frenchman seemed able to overcome technical deficiencies with a new way of riding which allowed him to get more performance out of his Michelin tyres. Last year he did drift into the doldrums after scoring two podiums from the first four races, then tumbling out of his home GP at Le Mans.

But he was back up to speed at the end of the season, taking a close third-place finish at Sepang, just behind factory riders Marc Márquez and Álex Rins.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How I ride: Aleix Espargaró

One of MotoGP’s most exciting riders tells us how he gets the best out of his bikes, tyres and electronics

Aleix Espargaró is yet to win a MotoGP race but he is one of the category’s most exciting riders, with an all-attack riding technique.

The Aprilia RS-GP rider, who I interviewed halfway through last season, is one of those who is happy to go pretty deep when he’s explaining his riding technique. He offers many fascinating revelations about MotoGP riding styles, as well as the behaviour of MotoGP engines, tyres and electronics.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP’s strongest-ever team is here

Márquez and Lorenzo make the most successful team in premier-class history… shame they’re unlikely to be fully fit for the first race

Most team launches are a bit, well, meh, because the future is like looking for Eldorado: it’s easy to promise all kinds of gold and glory before the journey has even begun.

During every team launch you will hear riders explain why they are looking forward to fighting for the title because they’ve got the best bike, the best team, the best sponsors, the best team-mate, the best of everything… It’s déjà vu-inducing.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Can MotoGP's inline fours return to the fore?

Suzuki and Yamaha have struggled to keep up with Ducati and Honda in recent years, so what are their chances for 2019?

Inline-four MotoGP bikes have won two of the last 30 MotoGP races. That’s why some outsiders predict the end of the line for them.

But if you’ve been paying attention you will know that Ducati’s V4 and Honda’s V4 dominate MotoGP for reasons other than engine configuration. Both layouts have their good and bad points; end of story.

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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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