Mat Oxley's blog

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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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Dovizioso and Giribuola: MotoGP’s best pitlane partnership?

In conversation with the man behind Andrea Dovizioso’s late title push, crew chief and mechatronics expert Alberto Giribuola

Since the summer break Andrea Dovizioso has been the strongest rider in MotoGP, with two wins and one third place finish. His Misano victory moved him into second overall. The title is a long shot but not entirely out of range for the Italian and his crew chief Andrea Giribuola (above with Ducati general manager Gigi Dall’Igna). Andrea and Alberto, who have worked together since 2016, comprise arguably the cleverest pitlane partnership in MotoGP. They challenged for last year’s title by understanding the bike/tyre combination better than most. This year it has taken them longer to build their challenge because a slight change in Michelin’s rear slick had them confused for the first half of the season.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Could a V4 M1 be Valentino Rossi’s silver bullet?

Ducati and Honda V4s have won the last 22 MotoGP races, so is it time for Yamaha to ditch its faithful inline-four engine?

Valentino Rossi finally said it. After finishing a miserable seventh on Sunday in front of his adoring fans, the seven-time MotoGP champion wondered aloud: “Ducati and Honda have V4 engines; we have an inline four – maybe this is the problem…”

But would a V4 M1 really get Rossi and Yamaha back to their winning ways? In other words, is a V4 engine better than an inline-four engine?

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Rainey and Misano: 25 years on

This weekend’s San Marino Grand Prix marks a sad anniversary – a quarter of a century since one of the sport’s all-time greats ended his career

I don’t remember where I was when I heard that Elvis Presley had died, or when John Lennon was shot, but I do remember where I was when Wayne Rainey suffered his career-ending accident, 25 years ago.

At the time I was writing press releases for Marlboro Team Roberts and Chesterfield Aprilia, so I was sat in the Marlboro media bus behind the Team Roberts pit at Misano, writing a release celebrating Jean-Phillipe Ruggia’s 250cc win on his factory Aprilia, while watching the 500cc race unfold.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Is MotoGP’s tail wagging the dog?

Should the riders have raced on Sunday? Do they have too much say in their own safety?

MotoGP has always existed on a knife edge, which is why we love it. And despite safer tracks, better riding gear and everything else, the riders exist on that knife edge more now than in many a year, because getting them and their 220mph motorcycles around a racetrack with no major injuries or fatalities is quite a feat, even on a sunny day. This miracle occurs almost every race, which fools some people into thinking that MotoGP can’t be that dangerous. But believe me, Race Direction leaves the track most Sunday evenings with a huge sigh of relief: we got away with it again!

However, sometimes things do go wrong.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Rossi’s solemn Silverstone mission

Can the arrival of a new electronics engineer help Valentino Rossi save Yamaha from equalling its longest victory drought since the 1990s?

Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales have a solemn mission to perform this weekend at Silverstone. The pair needs to win Sunday’s race or the next one at Misano to prevent a sad new chapter being written in the annals of the Yamaha Motor Company.

If it fails to achieve victory at Silverstone, Yamaha will have gone 22 races without a premier-class win, equalling its worst victory drought since the 1990s, between Loris Capirossi winning the 1996 Australian Grand Prix and Simon Crafar winning the 1998 British GP.

And if Rossi and Viñales fail again at Misano next month, Yamaha will suffer its worst racing crisis since the company first entered the class of kings in 1973.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Lorenzo: ‘We will win every race!’

That’s Jorge Lorenzo's MotoGP prediction – IF Ducati can fix the Desmosedici’s last big problem

On the eve of his epic Austrian Grand Prix victory Jorge Lorenzo and several other top MotoGP riders were asked to design their ideal racetracks.

Lorenzo was the only one who drew two different layouts: the first for this season, the second for next year when he will ride a Repsol Honda RC213V.

This year’s design was a square: four 90-degree corners. The inference was straightforward – this is the kind of corner preferred by Ducati’s Desmosedici GP18.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The magic of the Michelin mystery

MotoGP is in a great place at the moment – brilliant racing and unpredictable results – thanks partly to the work of one company

Motorcycle racing is all about grip and traction. That’s all that really matters, because everything is worth zilch unless you can transfer it to the racetrack. You may have the fastest engine, the best brakes or the sweetest-handling chassis, but none of these things mean much unless you have the grip to exploit them.

This is the reality in MotoGP now more than ever. And this is one reason why MotoGP is so unpredictable.

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