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.
Do MotoGP riders get depressed?
Riders quitting, riders getting sacked, riders getting hurt; what really goes on in the mind of a MotoGP rider when all his dreams turn to dust?
Sometimes you go looking for an engineer in the paddock. At the end of a practice session you walk into the back of his team’s garage, hoping to find him there, so you can ask him a few questions.
“He’s in the back of the truck,” shouts one of the team’s mechanics. So you leave the garage, climb the steps at the back of the truck, knock on the door and quietly go inside. Unfortunately, the engineer isn’t there, but someone else is.
Deep inside the truck, where the rider has established his own little changing area, the rider sits alone on a chair, half out of his leathers, head in his hands, sobbing his heart out.
You quietly shut the door and retreat, somewhat disturbed by what you’ve just seen. The sobs and tears were undoubtedly genuine, the sign of a rider who finds himself at the end of the road, unsure of which way to turn – whether to keep banging his head against the wall, hoping to smash his way through, or to admit defeat and retreat, waving goodbye to the dreams that have driven him since he was a kid.
Someone is now paying him loads of money to perform, but he’s not performing. Factories, sponsors and engineers try to help but their capabilities are limited, although not as limited as their patience. The pressure is unbearable: it’s not only his wages that demand he performs, there are also the many millions the factory spends on building his motorcycles and hiring the engineers and staff who turn up at races for the sole purpose of making him go fast. He owes a lot of people.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.