Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Bike racers were never choirboys

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.


Bike racers were never choirboys

Just in case you think motorcycle racers used to be different, here’s something I wrote back in 2003

“This is bike racing, not classical music,” opined former 250cc world champion Max Biaggi after Doriano Romboni accused him of dirty tricks on the last lap of the 1994 250cc German Grand Prix.

Pretty obvious, really, because there’s not a half-successful racer in the world who doesn’t get up to some kind of mischief in his quest for glory.

Interestingly, while researching this story I quickly realised that it’s only retired riders who will talk openly about this kind of stuff – the guys who are still racing don’t want to admit what they get up to.

There are many dirty tricks of the track, starting with the standard stuff that everyone does – like gently moving a rival off line when braking into a corner, or easing an opponent away from the grippy line mid-turn. Then there’s the rougher tactics – like shutting the throttle halfway through a corner to force someone into taking drastic avoiding action, thus losing them vital time. And then there’s the serious stuff – like running a rival onto the grass at high speed, or deliberately colliding with them, or hitting their kill switch, or shutting their throttle or punching or kicking them.

Even legends like ‘King’ Kenny Roberts and Mick Doohan happily admit to getting dirty. It’s just what goes on – it’s a war out there. Like it or not, bike racing is a ferocious game of testosterone-charged heavyweight boxing with high-powered engines attached. Maybe it would be cool if it was nice and gentlemanly but that’s not how it works. Even back in the so-called chivalrous days of the 1950s and 1960s there were tales of nefarious happenings, like racers in their pudding-basin helmets spitting at each other during races. And if these revelations make you watch bike racing with a more cynical eye, so be it. If you want peace and love, you’d better go elsewhere.

Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

Total votes: 22
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Bold Mat!

Or should we say Bold past long ago Mat!

Now me likes past you. Present you, he is just ok.
;)

Future me will regret such snottiness. But then again, rubbing is racing.

Total votes: 11

disagree with this as if appears to be in reference to Marquez and somehow in defense of his actions. Marquez is in an entirely different ballpark all mentioned here, Matt is not being paid by Repsol these days is he.....

Total votes: 5

All of that is true, but has nothing to do with Argentina. I agree entirely with the post above.

Riding around 4 seconds a lap quicker than anyone else and biffing them out of the way at best, making rookie errors of judgement at worst, is a long way from any of the examples you have alluded to in that piece. Those examples, as you have said, are just part of racing. Zarco up the inside of Dani, and Petrruci and co tripping each other up into the back of Espargaro, those fit your example. The four at the front dicing and diving around, also fit the example given.

Outstanding talent ? Definately.
 

"Races"without due thought or consideration to the welfare of others "In his way"when the red mist is down ? Equally so.

"A more cynical eye" ? Well, those dives down the inside on the last corner of the last lap...... The comment from a "rider" regarding his aiming point in such moments carries a bit more weight with a cynical eye and hindsight. Dovi has done well to make him miss on both occasions.
 

There is no justifying, or excusing what we saw. Most of the world champions you refer to have stated quite a different opinion on the matter.

Also, to quote Dennis Noyes in his reply to Davids article, A three times world 500cc champion said to me..."If this keeps up, someday somebody may not get up."

I'll leave you to guess which of the two three time champs that might be. I think either of them would be more than qualified to have their opinions on the matter.
There is a third, but I figure he would have been too busy with thoughts of wings, performance, pay deals and contracts to be shooting the breeze on the subject with Mr Noyes. ;-) 

Look forward to more of your usual work.
 

Total votes: 8

With Mr. Oxley. 

In the 800's era, there were four 'aliens':  Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Rossi, Stoner ( listed alphabetically, not as a measure of success).

Of those, go back and research the history.

Lorenzo had a turbulent history BEFORE graduating to the premier class, but I do not recall him being held to blame for any combative incidents since then.

Pedrosa, of course, laboured for years under the stigma of the infamous charge on Hayden in 2006 - but again, AFAICR, has not been cast as the villian in any on-track incident since.

Stoner.. can be remembered for dropping it in front of Gibernau - who crashed over Stoner's bike - in 2006.  In the 800's, Stoner has - please correct me if I am wrong - an unblemished record for fair play.   And anybody who watches Laguna Seca 2008 or Phillip Island 2009 and who has any decent appreciation of racing, can see how he did not take advantage of position on Rossi to ride Rossi off-track when it would have been oh, so easy to do..

That leaves Rossi. 

Rossi has never - AFAICR - bunted Pedrosa; Pedrosa has never beaten Rossi to a WC. However, I leave it to others to adjudicate Rossi's catalogued on-track antics re both Lorenzo and Stoner.

 

 

Total votes: 4

what maneuver does it remind us?  Little suggestion: it went on during the 2015 Argentine GP...

Total votes: 4