Editor's Blog

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Team spirit, not team orders

The dust has settled on Sunday’s frantic season finale at Valencia; so it’s time to decide: was Jorge Lorenzo right or wrong to refuse assistance to his team-mate?

Team orders suck, right? Yes, they do. But team orders aren’t always what you think they are. If you are a professional racer and you race for a factory team in MotoGP you will have at least a hundred colleagues. You may be the star man, the best-paid employee, the worker who’s on the telly, the guy who gets chased by the ladies, but you go racing on the backs of everyone else. Without them, you are nothing. There is not a rider on the MotoGP grid who doesn’t know this.

On Sunday, Ducati had a chance to win the MotoGP world championship. A tiny chance, but a chance nonetheless. For several months Jorge Lorenzo had told us that he would happily help team-mate Andrea Dovizioso at the last two races. He made all the right noises and at Sepang last month he did indeed make way for Dovizioso. Everyone assumed he would do the same at Valencia.

But he didn’t. Lap after lap, he rode around behind Johann Zarco, Marc Márquez and Dani Pedrosa, with Dovizioso right behind him. The sense of dismay in the Ducati garage was palpable. Lorenzo knew exactly what was up, but he failed to do what any reasonable team-mate would do – team orders or not – move aside and let the world-title hopeful decide his own fate.

Back to top

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - ‘He was already world champion!’

Maverick Viñales started this season as MotoGP title favourite. But he’s not won a race since May. What went wrong?

It’s been a strange year for Maverick Viñales. He has lived his first season in the shadow of the sport’s brightest sun – Valentino Rossi – and has become a shadow of his former self.

Since Qatar his gait has changed entirely, so much so that he looks a different man. Back in March he was all relaxed smiles, now he looks worried, haunted, defeated.

And with good reason. Preseason was a dream: Viñales and his Yamaha YZR-M1 topped all three tests, then he comfortably won the first race in Qatar and ran away with round two in Argentina. “He was already world champion!” recalls Marc Marquez, who had amassed just one quarter of Viñales’ points haul after the first two races.

Back to top

Guest Video Blog: Freddie Spencer's Rider Insights On Sepang, Rider Mental Attitude, And Championships

MotoMatters.com, in association with Motor Sport Magazine, is proud to feature the rider insights of 1983 and 1985 500cc world champion Freddie Spencer. Every week after each MotoGP race, Fast Freddie will share what he saw and learned from the race.

Back to top

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP: they think it’s all over…

…and it probably is, but even if Andrea Dovizioso fails to climb the cliff at Valencia, he can still be satisfied with a near-perfect 2017

The odds will not be stacked in Andrea Dovizioso’s favour when he gets to Valencia next week. But there’s a tired old saying we’ve been regurgitating in the MotoGP media centre for the past three decades or so: anything can happen in motorcycle racing, and usually does.

Or as the late, great Nicky Hayden put it: “That’s why we line up on Sunday – you never know what’s going to happen."

Back to top

Guest Video Blog: Freddie Spencer's Rider Insights On Phillip Island, Fast Corners, And The Penguin Parade

MotoMatters.com, in association with Motor Sport Magazine, is proud to feature the rider insights of 1983 and 1985 500cc world champion Freddie Spencer. Every week after each MotoGP race, Fast Freddie will share what he saw and learned from the race.

In the latest episode of his video blog, Fast Freddie Spencer casts an eye over the events of a thrilling Phillip Island MotoGP race. Spencer shares his memories of riding at the Island, and his abiding memories of his first visit there, and being in the odd situation of testing during the day and then popping down to watch the Penguin Parade after he was done.

Back to top

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How Márquez checked out in Australia

Marc Márquez's Phillip Island victory was arguably his best so far; surviving that vicious six-rider brawl, then going on to win by almost two seconds.

There must’ve been times in the early stages of that race when Marc Márquez must’ve thought he was waking up from a nightmare.

The previous weekend at Motegi he had fought wheel to wheel with Andrea Dovizioso, both men walking the line for five extra points. Situation normal: two rivals risking everything for the crown, each of them with as much to lose or gain as the other.

Phillip Island was the total opposite. For much of the race, Márquez found himself in the nightmarish position of being the only rider in the lead group with everything to lose, surrounded by rivals who mostly had nothing to lose. There’s no worse place to be if you’re chasing a title.

Back to top

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - “You release the brakes and believe”

Dovizioso and Márquez could hardly see where they were going at Motegi, yet their duel was reminiscent of one of the greatest of all time

It's been a generation since I have been so overawed about a motorcycle race: since Sunday May 26, 1991, to be precise. That’s the last time I recall witnessing such a heart-in-the-mouth finish to a premier-class Grand Prix that held a world championship in its hands: big speed, big risk, big heartbeat.

Of course, there have been numerous classic encounters over the years. We could argue about them forever.

But there was something different about Sunday’s race, something that reminded me of Hockenheim 1991, when Kevin Schwantz and Wayne Rainey were fighting for the 500cc world title at one of the fastest, scariest circuits of them all. Motegi isn’t particularly fast or frightening, but it’s terrifying in a torrential downpour, when riders can hardly see where they’re going, blinded by spray from the rain and by steam from the engine. Unless you’ve been there, it’s pretty much impossible to imagine what it’s like to be hauling along at 185 miles an hour, peering through the murk for your braking marker, then slithering the front tyre all the way into the corner.

Back to top

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Riders: behave yourselves!

MotoGP has got its work cut out dealing with Moto3 maniacs hunting for slipstreams and by riders in all classes who get greedy with the asphalt runoff

If MotoGP was a high school, Moto3 would be the class of misbehaving young bad boys and girls that sends its teachers home each evening sobbing into their hankies.

There is no naughtier class in MotoGP than Moto3. The smallest category causes head teacher more of a headache than the other two classes combined. That’s right, Race Direction spends more time policing Moto3 than it does MotoGP and Moto2.

Back to top

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - What is Bradley Smith’s problem?

Bradley Smith has struggled since the start of 2016 – this is what has wrongfooted the Briton

Changing tyre brands can make or break bike racers. There’s a long history of top riders riding the crest of a wave, changing tyre brands, then disappearing without trace.

In 1998 Simon Crafar was riding high on 500s. This was the New Zealander’s rookie 500 season and yet by Assen he was already hassling Mick Doohan, then at the peak of his towering career. Next time out at Donington Park, Crafar left Doohan trailing, beating the reigning champion by 11 seconds. It was probably the biggest defeat ever inflicted on Mighty Mick.

Crafar nearly did it again at Phillip Island, Doohan’s home race, breaking the lap record and crossing the line eight-tenths behind the Aussie hero. No doubt about it, Crafar was the Next Big Thing. His Red Bull Yamaha team believed it could challenge for the title in 1999, so long as it changed to Michelin, then the dominant force in 500 GPs. Michelin also wanted Crafar on its side, so the team switched from Dunlop.

Back to top

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Minor and major miracles at Arágon

Márquez’s win, Rossi’s Lazarus-style comeback and the performance of Aprilia and KTM made Arágon a special MotoGP weekend

Motorcycle racing is all about winning: at every race you get one winner and 20 or 30 losers.

However, every now and again you look down the finishing order and there are major and minor miracles everywhere. Sunday’s Arágon Grand Prix was like that.

Firstly, to finish first, first you must finish. So congratulations to MotoGP’s king risk-taker Marc Márquez, who won at Arágon to become Honda’s second most successful rider premier-class rider after Mighty Mick Doohan.

Back to top

Guest Video Blog: Freddie Spencer's Rider Insights On Aragon, Tires As A Factor, And Rossi

MotoMatters.com, in association with Motor Sport Magazine, is proud to feature the rider insights of 1983 and 1985 500cc world champion Freddie Spencer. Every week after each MotoGP race, Fast Freddie will share what he saw and learned from the race.

The latest episode of Freddie Spencer's video blog focuses on an eventful weekend at the Motorland Aragon circuit. Fast Freddie starts off with a note on Joan Mir, and the incident with Fabio Di Giannantonio down the back straight at Aragon. He then moves on to talk about the Michelin tires, and the role they played on Sunday's race, and how they affected the fortunes of both Marc Marquez and Maverick Viñales.

Back to top

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - 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.

Back to top

Editor's Blog: Experimenting With Instagram Stories - A Weekend At Aragon

Inspiration comes from strange places. I was arguing – sorry, "discussing" – with the ridiculously talented MotoGP photographer Cormac Ryan Meenan about the relative value of various Social Media outlets. I am, as you may know, a big Twitter fan, and a fairly prolific tweeter. Twitter allows me to quickly post updates and respond to questions from racing fans. As I have little affinity with the graphic arts (a euphemism for saying I take rubbish pictures), I have no real time for Instagram. My primary method of communication is words, not pictures.

Cormac disagreed. He strongly believes in the value of Instagram as a means of communication, and especially in the power of Instagram Stories. Cormac, together with others like top photographer Tony Goldsmith and On Track Off Road kingpin Adam Wheeler, persuaded me that plenty of people would be interested in an Instagram story telling the tale of what an ordinary race weekend looks like for a MotoGP journalist. When I asked people on Twitter if they would be interested in such a thing, the response was overwhelmingly positive.

Back to top

Guest Video Blog: Freddie Spencer's Rider Insights On Misano, Rossi's Absence, And Mastering The Conditions

MotoMatters.com, in association with Motor Sport Magazine, is proud to feature the rider insights of 1983 and 1985 500cc world champion Freddie Spencer. Every week after each MotoGP race, Fast Freddie will share what he saw and learned from the race.

Once again, Freddie Spencer gives his insights into the weekend goings on after the latest round of MotoGP. This time it's Misano, and Fast Freddie first turns his attention to the track, and of course the absence of Valentino Rossi, who lives just a few km away from the track. Rossi was out due to an injury sustained riding enduro, and Freddie Spencer then discusses the benefits which riding off road, and especially riding dirt track can bring.

Back to top

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How Magic Marc walks the line

Eighty-five riders raced at rain-lashed San Marino GP on Sunday, and there were 80 crashes. How does Márquez stay on, let alone win, in such conditions?

It was difficult to watch Sunday’s race without imagining a kind of Gollum conversation taking place inside Marc Márquez’s head between his risk-taking self and his risk-averse self (if he has such a thing).

However tiny Márquez’s risk-averse self might be, it was in charge for most of the 28 laps. He wisely decided to let Jorge Lorenzo go about his business and then just as wisely decided to stay behind Danilo Petrucci, allowing the Italian to set the pace. All this while his risk-taking inner beast was surely fighting to get out…

Back to top

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - blogs