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.
“The difference between idiot and hero is very small”
Decisions, decisions, decisions… racers make tens of thousands of them every race, and each and every one of them can make the difference between victory and defeat, even between life and death.
With hindsight, there’s no doubt that Marc Márquez made the wrong decision to stay out on slicks as the rain in Spain swept across the Aragon plain on Sunday. But what if he hadn’t crashed and had crossed the line in front of his rivals equipped with rain tyres? We would be in awe of his ability to find grip where no else can. The headlines, no doubt, would’ve suggested he can walk on water.
In racing, especially when there’s only a narrowing dry line, there’s a narrow line between hero and idiot. We know this, but Ralf Waldmann reminded us of it so beautifully during the British 250 GP at Donington Park in 2000. That race started with intermittent rain falling. After much panic on the grid, wheels and spanners flying in all directions, most riders chose wet fronts and intermediate rears. Racers, like everyone, are like sheep: if a few riders go one way, most will follow.
Waldmann, however, was sat on the second row wearing wets front and rear. At this point he was the idiot. When the race started the track dried and Waldmann went backwards, until he was almost a full lap behind leader Olivier Jacque. What a fool.
Then it started raining again and pretty soon Waldmann was the fastest man on track. As he started the last lap he was still seven seconds down on the leader and as he exited the final hairpin he was still behind. But his wets gave him so much more drive that he rocketed past Jacque to win by three tenths.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.