Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - It's Vinales versus Marquez 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.

It’s Vinales versus Marquez

But what is Ducati up to – we reveal the secret (possibly) of the GP17’s so-called salad box

“If you want to make the gods laugh, tell them your plans.” They certainly saw us coming this time at Sepang.

The tropical skies opened on two of the three days, sending riders scurrying into the pits because they were there to work on their new bikes at the limit, not tiptoeing around on a wet track.

But the rain itself wasn’t a huge problem. In the steamy equatorial heat, Sepang used to dry very quickly. No longer, however. Ten months ago the circuit underwent a much-needed resurfacing, which also included adding cambers at some corners to improve draining and safety during torrential downpours.

The problem that had riders seething this week was that the new asphalt takes forever to dry after a downpour, robbing them of hours and hours of vital testing times. No doubt the factory teams wasted many millions of euros in lost development time.

This was the fault of the Sepang bitumen, because it doesn’t have enough porosity to allow moisture to seep between the aggregate. Sepang’s bitumen is made by Shell in Singapore. The aggregate is crushed granite from a quarry 60 miles from the track. This issue is to be fixed soon, most likely with sandblasting.

Fastest man after three days was Movistar Yamaha’s new man Maverick Viñales. I have little doubt that Viñales will fight for this year’s title with reigning world champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda), who ended up third fastest, just over a tenth off Viñales, with Andrea Iannone (Ecstar Suzuki) just between them.

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


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It looks (from the testing) like this year is going to be a tightly contested affair. It's good to see Vinales at the top of the time sheets. I hope Iannone and Bautista surprise us this year with a few wins. I also hope Pedrosa is back to top form.

Good luck Rossi on reaching the elusive 10th championship. You are going to need it.