Mat Oxley's blog

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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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Making Márquez faster

The first in an occasional series of chats with MotoGP’s top crew chiefs – this week it’s Santi Hernández, right-hand man to Marc Márquez

How did you get into 'bikes?

My father was a race-'bike mechanic and my brother raced in the Spanish championship at the same time as Alex Crivillé, in the early 1980s. At that time I was very young, so we’d go to the circuits, with me sleeping in the van, between the 'bikes. There were always 'bikes around the house, but I didn’t like 'bikes, I was focused on soccer.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - ‘Now the proud cockerel is a bit upset’

Some experts tipped Johann Zarco to challenge for this year’s MotoGP crown. So what has become of him? Best ask Tech 3 boss Hervé Poncharal…

It’s time to examine the strange case of Johann Zarco. Last year the French rookie bulldozed his way into our hearts by bruising egos, ruffling leathers and almost sawing Marc Márquez’s seat unit in half at Phillip Island. And all this on a second-hand motorcycle that wasn’t particularly adored by its previous owners.

No wonder the Frenchman was tipped to challenge for the 2018 MotoGP title. And he did, at least for the first few races. The 27-year-old qualified on pole in Qatar and led the race until he ran out of front grip. Two weeks later, he missed out on his first MotoGP victory by two-tenths of a second and another two weeks later he finished on the podium at Jerez. France was agog with excitement. More than 100,000 fans turned up at Le Mans to see him win. And he might have done if he hadn’t crashed out.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Dani's golden, uphill career

Pedrosa's MotoGP career may have been blessed with the HRC golden ticket, but racing, regulations and broken bones have (mostly) conspired against him

Dani Pedrosa was once king of the Sachsenring. He won the 250 race in 2004 and 2005, then a hat-trick of MotoGP victories in 2010, 2011 and 2012, before Marc Márquez came along.

But that’s another story. Today we are talking about Pedrosa, MotoGP’s pint-sized perennial performer who, last Thursday, announced his retirement.

Pedrosa has broken a few records and many more bones during a long career during which he’s never quite lifted the MotoGP crown. But if you think he’s just been unlucky, you don’t know the half of it.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The end of Márquez's happiest hunting ground?

Marc Márquez better make sure he enjoys this weekend at his favourite racetrack, because he may never race there ever again

The last time Marc Márquez left the Sachsenring without a winner’s trophy was during his second season in the world championship way back in 2009. Every July since 2010, the Spaniard has climbed to the top step of the podium at the German venue. That’s eight consecutive victories, across the 125cc, Moto2 and MotoGP classes. In other words, the track is as close as it’s possible to get to a dead-cert 25-point haul for the reigning MotoGP world champion.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP Assen: thrilling… scary… boring?

There may never have been a more thrilling Grand Prix race than Sunday’s spectacular at Assen, so why does Rossi say racing is more boring than it used to be?

Wow. Epic MotoGP race. One of the best ever. More overtakes than in a decade of Formula 1. Closest top 15 in 70 years of Grand Prix racing. Hugely entertaining. And scary as hell.

Of course, motorcycle racing is supposed to be scary. It’s almost half the fun, whether you’re actually racing or just watching. I enjoyed every millisecond of Sunday’s race, but sometimes I could hardly hear what was going on for the ringing of alarm bells.

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