Mat Oxley's blog

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Happy 24th MotoGP birthday to Valentino Rossi!

Valentino Rossi contested his first GP 24 years ago today, so we’re looking back at his first race and wondering when he will ride his last

Today is Valentino Rossi’s 24th grand prix birthday, marking the anniversary of his world championship debut on 31 March 1996.

On that day he finished sixth in his debut world-class outing, at Shah Alam, Malaysia’s first grand prix circuit. Winner of the 125cc race was countryman Stefano Perugini.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why Ducati’s GP20 is the opposite of a smart phone

How Ducati’s free-thinking engineers have substituted MotoGP’s lower-tech spec electronics with an array of mechanical gadgets. Also, why holeshot devices should eventually be banned

A smart phone is a small box of electronics that replaces any number of physical and mechanical gadgets. It takes the place of a camera, a videorecorder, an alarm clock, a typewriter, a compass, a tape recorder, a radio and so on. The best smart phones are so clever that you’d need the back seat of your car to carry around all the bits and pieces they’ve made obsolete.

Ducati’s Desmosedici GP20 works very cleverly in the opposite direction. The machine features a number of mechanical gadgets that take the place of the little black boxes of tailormade electronics that Dorna regulated into history at the end of the 2015 MotoGP season.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why Márquez rules MotoGP’s Triple M era

The master of riding by the seat of your pants: Marc Márquez's special advantage in MotoGP

Since MotoGP’s Triple M Era began in March 2016, Marc Márquez has won all four world championships and 32 of the 73 races. This is not by chance.

The 27-year-old dominates for various reasons. Mostly because his talent (part nature, part nurture) is the strongest on the grid, so he gets the absolute maximum, and more, from his Honda RC213V.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Postcard from the Coronavirus Grand Prix

The Qatar GP has been MotoGP’s strangest weekend since 2004 – last weekend it got even weirder

The Qatar Grand Prix has always felt a bit unreal. The first time MotoGP visited in October 2004 the newly built track was a 20-minute drive out of Doha into the desert – the Arabian Gulf shimmering in the east, a few caravans of camels ambling along in the distance, but nothing else.

Nothing else at all. There we were, marooned in a sea of sand, watched over by at least a dozen spectators, wondering what the hell was going on.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - War, politics and coronavirus: When the real world catches up with MotoGP

The Qatar and Thai MotoGP Grands Prix have been cancelled due to the Coronavirus outbreak but this isn't the first time when MotoGP has been affected by world events

Motorcycle racing and other sports are bubbles – microcosms of life that allow competitors and fans to invest themselves in something wonderful but ultimately trivial.

When working in the paddock during a MotoGP weekend it’s possible to forget that the rest of the world exists. All that matters is who steps onto the box and pops the prosecco at 3pm on Sunday afternoon.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The story behind Ducati’s new MotoGP shapeshifter

Adjustable geometry is a bike racing holy grail – Ducati’s new shapeshifting device is the latest stab at achieving it, and probably more top speed as well

Gigi ‘Gadget’ Dall’Igna is up to his tricks again. Ducati’s chief engineer – the man who gave MotoGP wings, holeshot devices, wheel fairings, ‘swinglets’ and much more about which we’ll never know – has come up with a gadget that allows his riders to unleash the Desmosedici’s mighty engine harder than ever.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Are MotoGP bikes too easy to ride?

Some people think modern electronic control systems and ever-improving mechanical performance makes MotoGP bikes undemanding. They are wrong, says Mat Oxley, and here’s why

They call it progress. This year’s 1000cc MotoGP bikes make around 280 horsepower and are good for 220mph/355km/h. These machines are the pinnacle of 125 years of development of the internal-combustion engine and motorcycle chassis and electronics technology. In some ways they are easy to ride, but in other ways they are not.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Viñales: ‘We can win races, but…’

Top Yamaha rider Maverick Viñales believes the M1 will win MotoGP races this season but winning the title will be a very different matter

After several years running along at tick-over, Yamaha’s MotoGP project is picking up revs because factory bosses have realised they need to get serious if they are to beat Honda and Ducati, just like they did when they signed Valentino Rossi back in 2003.

Last week the factory team announced 2021/2022 contracts with Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo, as well as a 2020 test-rider deal with its three-times MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP and the secret life of asphalt

MotoGP teams are starting to take a lot more interest in the track surface. Mat Oxley explains why - along with the reason some riders use kerbs for traction control

It’s an old racing truism that the most important part of a racing motorcycle is its tyres. Why? Because the tyres are the interface between motorcycle and race track, so whatever engineers do to the engine, chassis and electronics is for nothing if it can’t be transferred to the track.

And yet it’s an often overlooked fact that the tyres are only 50 per cent of this interface; the other half being the race track itself. This is why engineers and riders are starting to think a lot more about how increased knowledge of the track surface can help them go faster.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why are MotoGP V4s faster than inline-4s?

Ducati and Honda have ruled MotoGP’s top-speed charts for years and are the dominant race winners. Here’s why

V4-powered MotoGP bikes have won 44 of the last 50 MotoGP races, a victory rate of 88 per cent, and topped the speed charts at 47 of the last 50 races, a success rate of 94 per cent.

How can this dominance be explained? Is it simply the fact that V4 engines make more horsepower? And if they do make more power, how do they do that?

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Brad Binder: KTM’s next big thing

Brad Binder is that rarest of things – a rookie factory MotoGP rider. The 24-year-old South African tells us where he’s from, why he didn’t win the 2019 Moto2 title and what he expects from his first year in the premier class

Not many riders get to be factory riders in their rookie MotoGP season. Usually this only happens to the greats, like Marc Márquez and Maverick Viñales.

This year 2016 Moto3 world champion and 2019 Moto2 runner-up Brad Binder rides an RC16 for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing. The youngster has an aggressive, manhandling riding technique, which should work well with the hard-to-handle RC16.

A lot of people expected you to win the 2019 Moto2 title. What went wrong?

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The day MotoGP nearly died

The late 1980s and early 1990s was the age of superheroes in 500cc GPs, but at the same time the premier class nearly became extinct

I did an office clear-out during the festive season and found a pile of old stories that I’d printed on rolls of perforated computer paper and faxed to editors. Yep, that old.

Among the papers was something I’d written in 1990, when the premier 500cc class was on the brink of oblivion. At April’s US GP there were just 14 starters and at June’s Yugoslav GP there were only nine finishers.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Bladder strategy on the superbike grid: Jonathan Rea

Riders discuss race, tyre and electronics tactics, but bladder strategy? Five-time World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea explains all in Mat Oxley's favourite 2019* interview

The Royal Automobile Club on London’s Pall Mall is almost certainly the grandest edifice in the world of motor sport.

The vast building – a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace – is peak British Empire, built in 1911 on the site of the country’s old War Office. Early Isle of Man TT races were organised here, amidst uniformed butlers, silverware and fine brandies.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How Yamaha is digging itself out of the doldrums and reviving Valentino Rossi

After four years of struggle, Yamaha is closing the gap on its rivals. Its new MotoGP project leader Takahiro Sumi tells us how

Yamaha only won two races during 2019 but, inch by inch, the factory began to close the gap on Honda and Ducati.

The reasons were a better engine, improved electronics and less messing around with chassis set-up, especially so that Maverick Viñales could focus more on his riding. The arrival of remarkable rookie Fabio Quartararo also helped, by putting the proverbial rocket under Viñales and Valentino Rossi.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why did MotoGP’s crash rate drop by almost a third in 2019?

No surprise that Johann Zarco was MotoGP’s biggest crasher last season. The revelation of the 2019 crash report is that the accident rate tumbled by 27 per cent

Regular readers of this blog will know I’m a big fan of MotoGP’s annual crash report. Not because I’m ghoulish, but because the crash statistics tell you more than just who’s crashed the most.

The numbers can indicate more than pain and suffering – they can tell you who is having the roughest time with their motorcycle and what’s happening with general development of bikes, tyres and riding technique.

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