Guest Blog: Mat Oxley: CRT bikes - some perspective 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 will be featuring sections of Oxley's blogs, posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website, over the coming months.

The question is: are CRT bikes too slow? It depends on your viewpoint. If you are Jorge Lorenzo, under pressure from Dani Pedrosa as you come upon a backmarker at a crucial corner, then, yes, they probably are too slow. But if you are able to stand back and look at CRT bikes from a historical perspective then, no, they are not too slow.

The fact is that during six decades of Grand Prix racing the sport has never been rich enough to afford a grid full of machines of similar performance. Well, that did happen once, in those heady few years between 2002 and 2006 when the new MotoGP class was bankrolled by the tobacco industry – anxious to spend, spend, spend before the advertising ban kicked in – and a motorcycle industry that hadn’t yet worked out that it couldn’t afford four-stroke GP bikes and hadn’t yet been be knocked flat by the global economic crisis. Once the factory accountants had taken a good look at the books, most of them made a swift exit: Kawasaki, Aprilia, KTM, Suzuki and others.

At all other times, from the birth of GP racing in 1949 until now, grids have consisted of a dramatically contrasting mix of cutting-edge factory machines at the front and budget-priced bitzas at the back. That’s just the way it is.

Qualifying times reveal all. If we take a random selection of grid times from history – comparing pole position to 15th fastest – you will see that CRT bikes aren’t very slow at all.

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

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It's not that the CRT's are bad, it's just that the Japanese factory bikes are amazing!
Good article!

Thanks Mr Ox for the insightful overview. Within the tension amongst yesterday's funding and tomorrow's funding there is friction that can 'generate heat in the tires' of the GP. Between the self interest of a factory and the collective interest of Motorcycle Racing and The Sport. Amongst immediately evident practicalities and principled ideals. Process over content. Evolution with a dance of struggle/yield into what is becoming. All is on a trajectory unfolding 'forward' as a helix of multiple perspectives/forces/entities. We are moving through a time that requires much of Dorna. The last song stopped, and indeed it was a 'mixed CD' made 10 yrs ago. The melody came from Honda. Various entities have been leaving the dance, pooped out, for a while...even though there are free energy drinks for all. Attempts for a 'smoke break' outside found a smoke-free environment. Rossi is enjoying a Nastro Azzurro with David Brivio and aren't interested in any sake, thank you. Inside the promoter brought out 'pandora' on a smart phone to continue the music, and Dorna has Yamaha, Honda, and Ducati trying to decide who's phone to use. Honda has a GREAT playlist of danceable stuff on theirs, but it would be better still to not use MP3's at ALL and go instead for the cloud-sourced music that is not controlled in the room. Do we use an iPhone or Droid? It doesnt matter! Should we bust out the vinyl if it is used for DJ samples too? Good lord. Fine. That hiss does sound warm, and the beat of this whole gig just pumps on and on anyway, right? Pandora can start a playlist from ONE genre or artist, and we can evolve it as we go! What will it be? Oh, hang on, it has advertisements of we can't come up with funds to pay for a premium upgrade. Anyone? Anyone?!
(Dorna quickly sticks on the CD closest to them..."we are family - come on everybody SING!"

Nice to see some historical perspective on the sport that shows that "The Show" ain't a lot different than it always has been. Motorcycle road racing hasn't changed; I think the media entertainment environment around it has.

Most CRTs qualified within the cut off and only on the odd occasion did they get lapped.

The reality is that the Motogp championship and most podiums alwyas have been and always will be fought out between 3-4 factory riders.

If you finish 15 seconds off the podium (Satelitte Teams) or 50 seconds (CRT Teams) it doesn't really matter. As long as it's hard fought close racing, I for one am happy.

And the CRTs give new teams and riders the chance to compete at the top level.

Not sure the production RCV/M1 road makes much "economic sense", seems more like Honda and Yamaha wanting own the championship?

Great article. It was great to see all the information on past times and gaps between qualifying. Also to see that Agostini had lapped everyone in a race, (which would get no end complaints now). I had completely forgotten that even in the 80s where people were getting lapped quite often. Not up to 2nd place, but there was no lack of people being lapped.

Now that is rare to see even for the CRTs which are clearly down on acceleration and power. Some of them seem to hang from beginning to mid corner. But once the prototypes accelerate they leave the CRTs in the dust.

Ezpeleta seems to be following and trying to emulate Formula 1. Which makes some sense since Motogp is the Formula 1 of the motorcycle racing world. In Formula 1, many of the teams really are chassis builders that put engines from the factory in their chassis. That is very simplified explanation, I know, but CRTs seem to be a step in that direction. In that class factories like Ferrari and Mercedes, are not always the fastest. Mclaren (Mercedes engine), and Red Bull (Renault I think), are not Factory designed chassis. They make their own chassis. I think Ezpeleta is trying to get Motogp there to take away the power of the factories, and not be so reliant on them.

That is just my humble opinion.