Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - A petrol-head soap opera? 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.

A petrol-head soap opera?

After Misano, let’s hope the off-track chatter at Aragon doesn’t once again eclipse the on-track action

Right now the world’s MotoGP media is all agog, counting down the minutes and seconds to 17.00 hours on Thursday. The reason: a live edition of the latest episode of the MotoGP pantomime, a kind of petrol-head’s soap opera, during which Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo will be encouraged to say nasty things about each other by journalists hungry for Friday morning newspaper headlines, or Thursday afternoon clickbait.

All the world is a stage and MotoGP is just one tiny corner of it. The human interaction between racers is always fascinating, but when we shift into that other dimension where the off-track bullshit overshadows the on-track action, I started to feel jaded, like I’ve been watching too much rubbish TV. We’ve been here before, of course. Very recently. Perhaps this is MotoGP’s new reality and I’m just not X-Factor enough to get it.

Back in bike racing’s dim and distant past, Kevin Schwantz and Wayne Rainey happily tripped each other up whenever they felt the need. At that time the pair shared a mutual hatred way ahead of Rossi’s and Lorenzo’s, but they never moaned about what went on, because they expected nothing less. The way they saw it, revenge is a dish best served cold, usually two weeks later at Sunday lunchtime.

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


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Lorenzo can't be blamed for being interrupted while tyring to answer a question. And even if the move was crystal clear, he still has his right to give his opinion whether people agree with it or not.

This was just Rossi meddling in and using the press to create a stage. Nothing really new.

So what reality does Lorenzo's opinion contradict and what is this 'evident facts' you mention.

Facts are irrefutable and in terms of the incident the fact is that Rossi overtook Lorenzo into and throughout a right hand turn at Misano ............... whether it was necessary, dangerous, aggressive, hard, fair etc is pure opinion and as such, none forms a basis to call Lorenzo's opinion incorrect as, just like Lorenzo it is opinion that differs from his.

There are no written rules that define the status of a pass as all of the adjudication (ie. was it aggressive, fair etc) is based upon subjective opinion from people not based on a hard/fast written rule as to the clarification of a defined rule (to write such a rule owuld be fraught with danger and inconsitent application).

Lorenzo's opinion was voiced just as was Rossi's that there was nothin in the move - each has their opinion and each is fully entitled to voice it

i looked at the video again. it seems to me that lorenzo create the stage.

JL : "maybe it's his style. other rider overtake more clean"

VR : *little laugh while looking at the paper his holding* (do not have interest to argue)

JL : *looking at rossi* its true.. (wait for rossi to counter his argument)

and then rossi just trying to defend himself. because at that time lorenzo looked like he's blame rossi for that move rather than just stated his opinion. its looked to me that lorenzo himself who is trying to drag rossi to conversation. 

and for rossi's defend, lorenzo is basically say that rossi is the dirtiest rider on the grid. of course everyone will trying to defend himself when someone declared that kind of statement towards them in front of media

What riders say about other riders has close to zero of my attention. Unfortunately "journalists" are quite the opposite, and I hold them primarily responsible for the shite we have to wade through.

I liked what Lorenzo had to say right after the race when he got off the bike.

This isn't primarily an interaction between two riders! It is one from opportunistic leeches with press passes at the riders. And it sucks.

That is all the energy I am putting into it for the year right there. Someone go ask Smith or Herve about something technical, and I will start paying attention again.

Watching it again, it looks awfully like that famous last corner overtake at catalunya. Can't see the problem with it myself.

The journalist asked a perfectly normal question not controversial and very clear. So no blame on him. Then Lorenzo twisted the nature of the question to start brooding about something that did not happen. And Rossi laughed. The bickering was embarrassing for all but I don't see how could rossi keep a straight face listening to Lorenzo. And probably would not have started talking if Lorenzo had not addressed him.... he was just shooking his head.
What I find absolutely ridiculous is that afterwards Lorenzo was explaining to the Spanish press that Rossi has no manners and that at his age he should have learnt not to interrupt when people are speaking..... this sort of lesson on etiquette coming from the guy who in Parc ferme in front of cameras does the zip it and copying gestures is very funny.

I agree I think Matt has got it wrong. Lorenzo just said it was an aggressive pass. I agree. Nothing wrong with it. Just aggressive. Also considering it was lap 1. And when Jorge says, "didn't need to make this overtake" surely matt must know that Lorenzo was talking about the point in time as opposed to overtaking at all. Sorry that's just too much Rossi fanboi from Matt

...reading, writing or commenting on Jorge Lorenzo, here or anywhere else in the world, can ride a grand prix motorcycle better than Jorge Lorenzo. Full stop.

Therefor, none of us really knows what it actually takes to do what he does. And it is precisely because he does things his way, the way he wants to do them, that he is so damn good at riding a bike fast against the best of the best anywhere in the world.

If anyone does not like the things number 99 says afterwards, then they can tune out that part. But I think you can say just about whatever the f*** you want when you are the reigning world champion, and a 5 time - FIVE TIME !!!!! - world champion GP bike racer of the caliber of Jorge Lorenzo.

He is absolutely right to believe that he can have his own opinion and express it too, regardless of who does or doesn't like it.

Anyone else out there who believes that they possess even one tenth of the mental strength and fortitude, and sheer skill, of Jorge Lorenzo is dreaming. He will be an immortalized sporting legend for all time while we will be what?

Admire and respect him for what he is ascribed to be good at, not for his innate fallible nature which we all share.

reading yours posts and truly respect them. But here I'm lost: nobody is questioning JL skills! And to be fair if we had to start a new policy where right of expression is granted only among peers ( ie: right now only DP MM VR CS and some great racers of the past can talk about JL) then it would be pretty unbearable. On the other hand, based on your reasoning, then I'm sure that a 9 NINE time!!! World champion can say even more whatever the f**k he wants (sepang press conference anyone?) But I seem to recall that you disagreed on that.
Personally I'm all in for total freedom of speech and expression. Not because you won more than others but because it's a basic right. And with that right comes the burden of having to accept that everybody else has that same right.
I think that the petty argument between the 2 Yamaha boys struck some sort of cord on us (totally unskilled) viewers: in a certain way JL was complaining about the nature of racing in its essence, questioning its hard core. It was not one of his usual rantings that no-one cares about. It was more like a crime of lese majesté, a crime against the crown..... it was so unexpected and preposterous that it was impossible not to notice. It's as if he expects that the game's rule are changed upon his needs and the way HE thinks a race should be raced and a pass made.
I hope I made myself clear.

That jl was exaggerating about what happend or rather didnt happen. Its was a clean move and vr was allready Ahead and they didnt touch. Jl didnt expected him because normaly jl can do his own laps as hes very fast from the start but now vr was a little faster and you cant complain about that. And telling the media its his(vr) style because other dont do it like that is even more rediculous. He forgot how mv rode against him? Or perhaps mm? Or this time even DP on vr and what about AI. Jl didnt just answer the question he moaning about it.

He seems to stand on the pulpit and preach about how he hates the fluff that surrounds racing, but is exploiting it for all it's worth.  This is among the least worthwhile things I've read from MO, just exploitative so-called journalism that panders to the popular.

People really fail to grasp the reality over and over again and that is for as much as people enjoy the pure aspect motorsports and racing in general, MotoGP is a business. Press driven by rider drama will always be an important aspect of the sport to draw in more viewers plain and simple even if you disagree with why those people are tuning in. The more viewers, no matter what the reason (to see great racing or personal drama unfold) is good for the bottom line.

Of course journalists stoke the fire. They are in business for profit as well. Do you really espect every weekend article update to read "The racing was great and everyone shook eachothers hands afterward, THanks for stoping by". Cry about this aspect of the sport all you want but its always been this way and its here to stay. I'd argue that is also a very important aspect to drive viewrship. Of course riders will always settle their dispute on track, but off track interaction is just as important. If it wasn't no one would care about the article discussing Moto2's engine supplier (thats not on track info) or what Livio Suppo has to say about crew cheifs (thats not on track info). You want all these extra things but expect jouranlists to ignore the words riders hurle at eachother. Grow up. This is just as much a mental competition as it is physical.

more drama for motogp are indeed good for business (except "sepang 2015" kind of drama which is bad for sport IMHO). and part of that drama is a lot of people will talk, debate, and taking sides, which drawing more people to wondering what's gonna happen next. 

are you suggesting spectator to "grow up" and not to talk about it? more people talk about it is good for business.

umm. I think we agree dont we? Feel like you misinterperated my entire point. Im suggesting Oxley grow up and stop crying about the dramatic aspect of the sport off track. Its part of what keeps the sport alive and thus gives him things to right or cry about. 

i thought you were referring to commenters here. sorry:P