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.
How to fire up a MotoGP star
You would think that gold and glory would be enough to get them fired up, but a little extra always helps…
Journalists sit very low in the feeding chain in MotoGP. We have little or no use to the riders and teams, or at least that’s what they tell us.
But occasionally we do have our uses, because the pen can be a mighty thing.
During the winter of 1987/1988 Wayne Rainey was getting ready to contest his debut 500 Grand Prix season when a British journalist (I won’t name names) wrote the following about the future world champion.
“Wayne Rainey is a good rider; he may even become a great rider but he will never be a Randy Mamola.”
Rainey was so enraged that he cut out the offending story and placed it in his desk drawer. The words stayed there for a long time, but not as long as they stayed inside his head.
“I kept what he said in my head for years,” says Rainey, who went on to win three 500 world titles, three more than Mamola. “I remember it for lots of reasons, partly because it was Randy who I was replacing at Team Roberts. I was trying to do my best and I didn’t need anything to be fired up about racing, but riders are strange birds, they’ll use anything to motivate themselves. When I started out in 500s in 1988 I was a nobody, trying to find my way, but I found out pretty quick that this guy didn’t know what he was talking about.”
Indeed, Rainey won his first 500 GP at his 12th attempt and came within one crash of winning the title in his second season, before scoring a championship hat-trick, starting in 1990.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.