MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Which MotoGP bike will win the title?
Ducati, Honda and Yamaha all have a chance of lifting the MotoGP crown – so which factory has the technical advantage?
Five races to go, the top three riders on three different machines separated by 16 points, the top two equal. So what’s going to happen, who’s going to win?
MotoGP isn’t only about riders, it’s also about motorcycles, so it’s worth looking at where Ducati, Honda and Yamaha are by comparing their records since MotoGP changed so dramatically at the start of last season.
Since the arrival of control software and Michelin tyres, Yamaha has suffered worst. The brand has won 10 of the 31 races since the start of 2016, compared to the 15 victories it took in the preceding 31 races. That’s a disastrous drop of 33 per cent.
Ducati, of course, has moved in the opposite direction; the marque’s turnaround so dramatic it can’t be expressed in percentage terms: Ducati didn’t win a single victory in the 31 races between Mugello 2014 and Valencia 2015, but has won six since.
Honda is in the middle, slipping from 16 wins to 14, a drop of 12 per cent.
Yamaha’s recent struggles have been the biggest surprise. The factory’s YZR-M1 was once the most neutral motorcycle on the grid, so it adapted well between different tracks, different riders and different conditions. During the Bridgestone control-tyre era the M1 took more riders' titles than any other bike, so most people expected it to handle the switch to Michelin without real trouble.
In fact, the opposite has happened. The super-adaptable YZR-M1 is no longer so. The M1 has become a very fussy motorcycle – on the pace one weekend, way off the pace the next, so Movistar Yamaha riders and engineers rush around in ever-decreasing circles looking for solutions to their problems; so far without success.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.