Mat Oxley's blog

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Is a winless MotoGP champion a worthy champion?

Joan Mir could become the first premier-class world champion to take the crown without winning a race. Does that make him any less of a MotoGP champion than Marc Márquez or Valentino Rossi?

This maddest of mad MotoGP seasons reaches its climax next month, with back-to-back races at Valencia and the season-finale at Portimao.

So far Fabio Quartararo has won the most races, with three victories from 11 races. Next is Franco Morbidelli with two victories. Then there’s Brad Binder, Andrea Dovizioso, Miguel Oliveira, Danilo Petrucci, Álex Rins and Maverick Viñales, all on one win each.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Is this the weirdest MotoGP season ever?

Ten rounds done, four to go, and this is the worst-scoring world championship since 1952. So what’s going on and why is the racing so unprecedently unpredictable?

Surely, this is the weirdest MotoGP season ever.

I’ve been in the paddock for roughly half the 72 seasons since the world championships were born and I can’t remember a season like it.

It’s abnormal for several reasons.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why Crutchlow, Lowes and Dixon are doing something special

Jake Dixon’s exit from Sunday’s Moto2 race was gut-wrenching and proved there’s no tougher road than the road to MotoGP glory

I’ve always had special respect for British riders who break out of road-bike racing to have a crack at MotoGP.

Since the mid-1980s, most Britons start out racing road bikes and keep racing road bikes to the end of their careers, ending up in World Superbikes if they’re fast enough.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Missing Marc

It’s been months since we’ve seen Marc Márquez, the greatest rider of his generation – perhaps the greatest of all time – in action. I’m starting to get withdrawal symptoms

It’s been strange not writing about Marc Márquez these last few months. Ever since the middle of 2012, when he signed his first MotoGP contract, he’s stolen most of the headlines, certainly most of my headlines, just like Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi before him.

I have to admit that I was getting jaded with MotoGP before Márquez turned up. The hated 800s – which created follow-my-leader racing so boring that I nearly broke my jaw by yawning – were mostly to blame.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - ‘Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’ — the bare, lone MotoGP paddock

The MotoGP world championship goes on despite the Covid mechanics, but after attending two of the last three races I’ve seen how much has really changed

In just a few months the global Covid pandemic has taken grand prix racing back to where it was half a century ago. Now the paddock is what it used to be: a bunch of blokes (almost exclusively) tinkering with motorbikes and riding them around in circles as fast as they can.

Thus the MotoGP world championship is in its purest, most unalloyed state – those people who pine for the ‘good old days’ should be delighted.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why Ducati needs Bagnaia

Ducati’s Desmosedici has struggled with turning for years. Now Ducati thinks it’s found the answer to the problem – 2018 Moto2 world champion Pecco Bagnaia

If Ducati doesn’t announce Pecco Bagnaia’s promotion to its factory team at Barcelona this weekend I promise to shin up the Sagrada Família naked.

Ducati needs Bagnaia because he is a huge talent and because MotoGP has changed. You only need to look at Andrea Dovizioso’s recent results to understand there is a new way of going fast in 2020.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why MotoGP records don’t get smashed any more

Back in the day, MotoGP records used to get destroyed at pretty much every grand prix, but not these days

Michelin is in its fifth season as MotoGP’s sole tyre supplier and yet only holds just over half the comparable race records. The rest belong to Bridgestone, which supplied the grid from 2009 to 2015.

Michelin has race records at Jerez, Le Mans, Losail, Misano, Mugello, Sachsenring, Sepang and Valencia. Bridgestone holds race records at Aragon, Assen, Brno, COTA, Motegi, Phillip Island and Termas.

Five years is a long time in MotoGP, so how can this be? Two main reasons…

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP is cage-fighting on gasoline

Don’t be fooled by the glitz and glamour, this is a vicious sport, but there is beauty in there too

“Some people believe football is a matter of life and death,” said legendary Liverpool football manager Bill Shankly many years ago. “I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”

The same goes for motorcycle racing, especially if you’ve made your way to its summit and you’re fighting for the MotoGP title. You may have noticed things getting a bit ugly in the last few races at Brno and Red Bull Ring, but believe me, bike racing has always been vicious.

The starting point of this game is the joy of riding a motorcycle just as fast as it’ll go, and maybe a little bit faster. But if you want to win you’re going to have to fight for it and the higher you climb the harder you will have to fight.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - 900 MotoGP races – a quick history of the class of kings

Sunday’s Styrian Grand Prix was motorcycle racing’s 900th premier-class world championship GP. Time for a little history and a few memories

I wasn’t around for the first premier-class GP, which took place on the Isle of Man in June 1949. The winner of that race was bespectacled Londoner Harold Daniell, who had been turned down for military service during the war because his eyesight was too poor.

Things have changed a lot since then. Daniell was overweight, smoked and drank, and took his only exercise while riding his factory Nortons or walking to the pub.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why V4 MotoGP bikes are better in battles

2020 Austrian MotoGP Insight Part 3: V4s have been the dominant force for years and not only because they make more power. Plus, has KTM built the perfect V4? And Honda’s toughest start in decades

Last weekend’s Austrian GP was the perfect illustration of the difficulties that riders of slower, better-handling inline-four MotoGP bikes face when they are fighting with rivals using faster, poorer-handling V4 machines.

V4 MotoGP bikes make more horsepower because a V4 engine has a stronger crankshaft, less vibration and fewer pumping losses, while inline-four MotoGP bikes are more user-friendly in corners because an inline-four engine has a longer crankshaft.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Could Quartararo be MotoGP’s first non-factory champ?

Most MotoGP titles are won by factory-team riders, so will Fabio Quartararo make history if he wins the 2020 crown for Petronas Yamaha?

Any talk of Fabio Quartararo winning the 2020 MotoGP world title is hugely premature, because things can change more instantly and more drastically in motorcycle racing than in just about any other sport. Just ask Marc Márquez, Mick Doohan, Wayne Rainey and many, many more.

Quartararo goes into this weekend’s third of (hopefully) 14 races enjoying a 10-point advantage over Maverick Viñales and a 24-point lead over Andrea Dovizioso. He is also 50 points in front of Márquez. Until yesterday this wasn’t an insurmountable disadvantage for the reigning world champion, who won last year’s title by 151 points, but yesterday’s second operation to fix his right humerus surely changes that. Then again, you can never tell with these people.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - ‘Fabio is so accurate – that’s his advantage’

Petronas Yamaha’s Johan Stigefelt reveals the secrets of championship leader Fabio Quartararo and discusses the first races of MotoGP’s weirdest season

During this period of Covid-19-affected races, during which journalists are not admitted to the paddock, we get the story of the weekend from a leading MotoGP personality. After the first races of 2020, dominated by Fabio Quartararo, it’s the turn of Petronas Yamaha SRT team director and former 250 and 500 GP rider Johan ‘Stiggy’ Stigefelt.

“It’s been tough here at Jerez with the Covid situation, but what an amazing two Sundays with Fabio! We saw his potential last weekend and today he was in another league to everyone else. Fantastic!

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Can Rossi find a way out of his nightmare?

MotoGP’s old warhorse had a dismal start to his 25th season of world championship racing, complaining of the same old rear-grip issues

Poor old Valentino Rossi. Another year and he still sounds like a broken record. At Jerez his problem was the same as it’s been for the last few seasons: too much rear-tyre temperature and therefore not enough grip or tyre life.

Michelin has heard the story so often that its MotoGP chief Piero Taramasso was moved to suggest that the problem was Rossi’s own. “Rossi has a particular style – he leans off the bike less than the others, which stresses the edge of the tyre more, so the temperature rises,” said Taramasso on Friday.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - “I’m happy I don’t race with Marc!”

Five-time World Superbike king Jonathan Rea evaluates the talent of six-time MotoGP champion Marc Márquez as the Spaniard aims to continue his march into history at Jerez on Sunday

Every year is a big year for Marc Márquez but 2020 will resonate more than most, if he can retain the MotoGP world title. So far the 27-year-old has won eight world championships – six in MotoGP, one each in Moto2 and 125s. If he does win this year’s MotoGP crown he will equal Valentino Rossi’s tally of nine world titles – seven in the premier class, one in 250s and one in 125s. That would be an important milestone.

Most racers deny any interest in records and racing history, until they grow older and become more aware of their place in the world. Mick Doohan, Honda’s most successful grand prix racer until Márquez took that record last summer, insisted records meant nothing to him, until the all-time 500cc victory record of Giacomo Agostini hove into view; then he thought seriously about trying to beat it, until serious injury stopped him in his tracks.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - ‘Anthony Gobert wanted a dancing girl in the pit!’

More gripping racing yarns from Stuart Shenton, the man who helped Kork Ballington, Freddie Spencer, Wayne Gardner and Kevin Schwantz to world title glory. And he might’ve done the same with Anthony Gobert…

In 1984 Stuart Shenton had been with Honda for 18 months when HRC engineer (and later HRC president) Satoru Horiike wandered up and asked a question.

“He said, if Honda were to build a 250, what should it be like?” says Shenton, who had already played a crucial role in Kawasaki’s domination of the 250 and 350 classes during the late 1970s and early 1980s. “So I asked him straight: are you building a 250? No, no, he said, this is just a casual question. Going back to my experience with Kawasaki, I told him a 250 must be on the minimum weight limit, it will need this much horsepower and it will need twin front discs. So at the end of 1984 I went to Japan and there was this 250, a fabulous piece of kit.”

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