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

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.


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.

The 32-year-old is the only rider in 70 years of Grand Prix racing to have won at least one race a year over 16 consecutive seasons. That’s quite a record, achieved on non-factory Honda RS125s and RS250s and on factory RCVs. And no other Honda rider has won more races. He’s currently on 54 wins, which puts him equal with ‘Mighty’ Mick Doohan and well ahead of Honda’s other greatest performer, Jim Redman, who won 45 GPs during the 1960s, when riders were lucky to survive 45 races, let alone win them.

So what makes Pedrosa remarkable, apart from the fact that he’s won more premier-class races than Kevin Schwantz and ridden a factory Honda for 13 seasons without winning the title? It’s so obvious that it’s a cliché: the man is tiny, more like a schoolboy than a big, bad bike racer.

The little samurai won the 125 crown in 2003 and the 250 title over the next two years. He is one of the all-time greatest 250 riders: small, light, glass-smooth and inch-perfect.

Then he was promoted to MotoGP. During his premier-class career he has won 31 races and finished championship runner-up on three occasions; making him the sport’s most successful failure, inheriting that unwelcome mantle from that other so-near-but-so-far hero Randy Mamola.

People who criticise him for his failures don’t understand how his gilded path to the pinnacle of racing has been steep and serpentine, strewn with rocky hairpins and precipices.

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

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Total votes: 37
Total votes: 38

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Comments

It's debatable, but I think it'd help if the support classes have a minimum rider weight requirement so that if they're under the min,  then teams would have to add ballast.  It might help small riders that are successful in support classes have less of a step-up shock when they graduate to MotoGP.   The logic being that you take away their advantage on the smaller/lighter bikes so that small riders wouldn't be so specialized.

Total votes: 35

There was a young Catalonian who was struggling due to his relatively small size in the junior classes due to ballasting, but he did catch the eye of Emilio Alzamora who got him into a racing class without that handicap where he did better.  Name was Marc Márquez* - wonder how he ended up? ;)

*He looks tiny on the 2008 British GP podium beside Scott Redding and Mike Di Meglio, but much larger on the 2009 Spanish GP podium next to Bradley Smith and Sergio Gadea.

Total votes: 22

You're basically talking about a combined weight limit, which is already clearly stated in the rule book:

"The following are the minimum weights permitted:

Moto2 motorcycle + rider: 217 kg

Moto3: motorcycle + rider 152 kg"

Source: http://www.fim-live.com/en/library/download/71066/

You can even read about it in the "Insight to MotoGP" section on motogp.com: http://www.motogp.com/en/Inside+MotoGP/bikes

"The teams may add ballast to their bikes to achieve the minimum weights and the weight may be checked at the initial technical control, but the main control of weight is done at the end of practice sessions or at the end of the race. For the Moto2™ and Moto3™ classes, the weight checked is the total of the rider with full protective clothing plus the weight of the motorcycle."

On the official video feed you can sometimes see riders being ushered off to technical control for a weigh-in before the podium ceremony. After very hot races this can be a crucial moment as they can lose several kilos of weight due to heavy sweating, so they usually gulp down water like a parched camel.

On another note, in the myriad of discussions over the years regarding this topic, it's been rightfully mentioned by mechanics and riders alike that artificial ballast on the bike actually makes it harder to ride than "simply" having the weight naturally on your body and being able to move it around on the bike as needed. Basically, the smaller and comparatively less strong rider has to throw an even heavier bike around the corners, with ballast added in inconvenient places, causing a different behaviour of the bike. Since a race track doesn't just consist of advantageous straight lines (unless it's in Austria), it's my personal opinion that if you can still win with that disadvantage, you are even more deserving of the crown.

Total votes: 23

Yeah the combined weight does effectively the same thing.   I was thinking that might not be necessarily true if the teams are not hitting the minimum limit,  but probably they're all at the minimum. 

Total votes: 18

Really enjoyed that Mat. Such a shame, he’s had a lot of bad luck and reading through it is quite sad!

all the best Dani!

Total votes: 21

All this hand wringing... Really? If you win the title you deserve it. If you do not win the title, you didn't deserve it. That doesn't take away from Dani's record, but to state that he was deserving of a title takes away from those that 'got er done'.

Total votes: 27