Mat Oxley's blog

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Crutchlow: MotoGP’s brave heart

It’s taken him 98 races and 92 crashes but it’s all been worth it – Crutchlow has finally made it all the way to the top

Andrea Iannone one week, Cal Crutchlow the next; what a difference a week makes. It’s hard to think of two more different winners in the MotoGP paddock: Iannone, the tattooed, coiffured bad boy so in love with himself, and Crutchlow, the scruffy, amiable family man who would happily wrestle a grizzly bear if you gave him half the chance.

Crutchlow’s win at Brno was hugely popular within the paddock because he’s one of the good guys; usually joking, often a bit rude and always straight down the line. He says what he thinks and damn the consequences. Within the shiny MotoGP bubble, where pretence and smoke and mirrors dazzle way too many people, Crutchlow stands out like a greasy-haired rocker in a bunch of preening, perfumed mods. What you see is what you get.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Maniac by name…

…maniac by nature. What’s the beef with Austrian GP winner Andrea Iannone?

I like Andrea Iannone. There, I said it. I like him because he is MotoGP’s pantomime villain, a bit like Captain Hook in Peter Pan.

He fitted the role particularly well after he secured pole position on Saturday, strutting and pouting his way around parc fermé like he owned the place, which he kind of did.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Will MotoGP go radio gaga?

Some people want pit-to-rider radios introduced to MotoGP. Please, no… please, no…

So, Valentino Rossi wants to discuss the introduction of pit-to-rider radios in MotoGP’s Safety Commission.

This is weird, because radios are currently banned from MotoGP, partly for safety reasons, after various riders and teams tested the technology some years ago. Radios certainly won’t improve safety in any great way; they will merely be a tool that might have saved Rossi the woeful embarrassment of disregarding his pit-board in Germany a few weeks ago.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Sheene conquers the world – 40 years ago today

Barry Sheene’s first world title looked like a walkover but his title-winning weekend was anything but

This is the day. Forty years ago, during the afternoon of Sunday July 25, 1976, Barry Sheene rode over the finish line at Anderstorp, both hands aloft waving V-for-victory signs, to collect his first 500cc World Championship.

The Cockney whizz-kid had utterly dominated the 1976 season, winning five of the six races he contested and taking second place in the other. His final score of 87 points was 33 more than championship runner-up Tepi Lansivuori. In other words, it was a walkover.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Marquez’s greatest escape

Marc Marquez’s Houdini-like escape during Assen practice was one of the greatest saves in MotoGP history

Over the past three decades I’ve seen many amazing riders do many amazing things. All kinds of moments jump out, from before Kevin Schwantz to after Casey Stoner – way too many to go into now, but here are three.

It’s September 1985, the season-ending San Marino GP at Misano, way before anyone had even dreamed of traction control. Randy Mamola is chasing Ron Haslam during practice, both of them aboard Honda’s superbly rider-friendly NS500 triple. The American is accelerating out of a left-hander when his rear tyre smears sideways and then grips. Suddenly the bike isn’t so rider-friendly and flicks him skywards like an ejector seat. When Mamola re-enters orbit his head just about thumps the front mudguard and both his legs land to the right of the bike as he runs off the track. He is now skating through the grass with both feet, his hands hanging onto the handlebars for dear life, while he waits for the bike to slow, because he knows he will crash if he tries to use the front brake.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The million-euro gamble

How much does it cost to get into Grand Prix racing? If you need to ask, you probably can’t afford it

I assume Jack Miller’s post-Assen party is just about over now and that he’s back down the gym, pumping iron like a good lad.

Miller, like many other Aussie battlers before him, has the knack of burning the candle at both ends: working hard and playing hard. And you may have noticed that whenever he has a good day at work he likes to thank his parents for what they’ve done for him.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - A Jackass joins the Aussie pantheon!

Jack Miller’s win was hugely popular and richly deserved, but do MotoGP’s interrupted-race regulations need rewriting?

As I wrote last week, stuff happens at Assen.

Jack Miller’s win was a fairy-tale: a young man who rides it like he stole it and made the next-to-impossible happen at a tricky track in tricky conditions. Since last year the 21-year-old Aussie has often been criticised for riding over his head – “I do get a little too excited sometimes” – but his ride on Sunday was inch-perfect at a slippery track with conditions changing on every lap and at every corner.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Assen: where stuff happens

MotoGP’s most historic venue has a habit of dramatically affecting the title chase, but never more so than in 1992

The Dutch TT (it’s the only non-Manx motorcycle race licenced to use the Tourist Trophy moniker) has a long habit of throwing a spanner in the works of ambitious racers.

Just ask reigning MotoGP champ Jorge Lorenzo. Assen helped derail both his previous title defences – in 2011 he was taken out by Marco Simoncelli and in 2013 he fell in practice and broke a collarbone. Hopefully he’s not the superstitious kind who believes that bad luck comes in threes.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Next: the Rossi Museum!

It had to happen: VR is building his own museum in Italy

Knock down the Leaning Tower of Pisa and turn the Grand Canal into a car park, because Italy will soon have a tourist attraction to eclipse them all: Il Museo Rossi.

Work is already well advanced outside Tavullia (where else?) to create a museum that will house all manner of artefacts to trace Rossi’s career all the way from minimoto to MotoGP.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - What will be Salom’s legacy?

Hopefully the creation of some kind of system that delivers the right kind of run-off for both MotoGP and Formula 1

Sadly, it is a reality of racing that safety improvements are sometimes only made after a rider gets killed or badly hurt.

So what will be the legacy of Luis Salom’s untimely death?

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The Isle of Man TT…

… a wild, crazy anachronism in an even wilder, crazier world

On Saturday afternoon when Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi, Marc Marquez and the rest are about to qualify for the Catalan GP, there’ll be another gang of racers hurtling their superbikes down leafy country lanes on a small island off the English coast.

Some fans of the Isle of Man TT have a habit of calling the world’s top MotoGP riders pampered prima donnas. They’re obviously not. They may be much better paid, but when the engines start up and the visors click down, they go out to risk it all.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Could 2017 be Rossi’s year?

The 2016 season has only just started, but 2017 is already looking good for VR

So silly season is over. And it’s not even June. Now that all the major title players (with one exception) have inked their contracts for next year, it seems like the right time to write a 2017 preview. In May 2016.

Next year MotoGP’s balance of power will shift more dramatically than it has done since the arrival of Marc Marquez four years ago. What this means is that 2017 could be Valentino Rossi’s best shot at the title since his 2010 effort went west at Mugello; though obviously I’m not suggesting he’s already out of the 2016 hunt.

Jorge Lorenzo’s move to Ducati is the biggest factor in the 2017 scenario. Lorenzo’s sweet, neutral riding technique goes together with the sweet, neutral handling of Yamaha’s M1 like fish goes with chips, so it’s a huge deal that the reigning champion and current championship leader won’t be riding the bike that has brought him so much success.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP’s dark side: the twits and the trolls

Valentino Rossi talks about rider bullying on social media: “it’s very bad”

Technology is usually amoral – it can be used for good or for ill. Nuclear fission can be used to power the world, or to destroy it. The internet can be used to spread love, or hate.

In the world of MotoGP, social media is being used for too much of the latter. I regularly receive tweets, also addressed to the two riders in question, wishing them dead or in wheelchairs. You don’t need me to name the riders.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Predicting the unpredictable

Looking back at Le Mans and forward to the greatest race of the year

Was Jorge Lorenzo’s runaway victory at Le Mans the sign of many more to come or just the latest twist of a new technical era in which the only thing worth predicting is the unpredictability of the racing?

Who knows, except the man himself and crew chief Ramon Forcada. But what is a known-known is that while fans love watching racing when they don’t know what’s going to happen, the factories and riders hate dealing with curve balls from the left field. They spend many millions and work endless hours to know what’s what – all the way from suspension clicks to software algorithms – and during the Bridgestone era they pretty much knew what was what. Right now, at the dawn of a new Michelin era, most of them don’t. Great for us; not so great for them.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP tyre disasters: a history

MotoGP is going through a tough time with tyres, but how long has this been going on?

It is Michelin’s home MotoGP round this weekend; in theory a time for celebration, even though the French company hasn’t had the easiest of returns to a class of racing that it ruled almost continuously from 1974 to 2006.

First came Scott Redding’s delaminating tyre in Argentina; which had Michelin hurriedly deploying stiffer rear casings that had riders battling wheelspin in sixth gear at a dry and sunny Jerez.

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