Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The truth behind Britain, MotoGP and World Superbike 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 truth behind Britain, MotoGP and World Superbike

Many Britons wonder why British riders do so well in WSB and not so well in MotoGP. It’s a long story, says Mat Oxley…

Congratulations are due to Jonathan Rea; heaps of congratulations: his MotoGP-beating lap time at Jerez last week, his history-making third consecutive World Superbike title, his record-breaking points haul, his MBE, his BBC Sports Personality of the Year nomination and much, much more. All richly deserved by a great talent riding at his peak.

But as for all the WSB versus MotoGP talk of recent days – following last week’s combined WSB/MotoGP tests at Jerez – it’s just hypothetical barroom banter. Sam Lowes knows this better than most, having competed in WSB, MotoGP, World Supersport and Moto2. On Saturday he tweeted, “Stupid all the talk about WSB and MotoGP at Jerez. Means nothing. Lots of awesome riders on awesome bikes. Different tyres. Impossible comparison.”

Just like last November, when Rea also topped the Jerez tests, social media has been buzzing with the Northern Irishman’s performance; with many wondering why he hasn’t been signed by a MotoGP team.

Rea has remained silent throughout. With good reason. He knows he made a choice to stay in WSB and no doubt he is happy with his choice and the great successes he has achieved. Cal Crutchlow took a different career path, quitting WSB after one season to risk it all in the premier class. No doubt he too is happy with his choice and his achievements.

Would Rea win races in MotoGP? Would Crutchlow win the WSB title? Maybe, maybe not. And maybe we will or maybe we won’t find out in the future. In other words, it’s all speculation and conjecture. Which is fine, if that’s your thing, but it’s ultimately a pointless ifs-and-buts argument: if a pig had wings, it could fly.

There are many other Britons who have contested both championships. James Toseland was a two-times WSB champ who didn’t quite make it in MotoGP. Chaz Davies spent five years on GP two-strokes but never got the top ride he deserved, so he switched to WSS and WSB where he has also achieved great things.

Racing isn’t fair, just like life isn’t fair. There are dozens and dozens of factors involved in every success and failure. And there are no easy rides, no golden tickets, no guaranteed factory MotoGP rides, even if you’ve won half a dozen WSB crowns.

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


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There is also the choice of tyres. Michelin are not 'better' or 'worse' than Pirelli, but the feel & feedback and rider communication is very different. Just possibly, Johnnie Rea gets along well with the Kawasaki chassis on the Pirelli tyres, and has grave doubts about how well he would go on (say) a year-old Ducati GP bike, on Michelins... Why would you step out of the pool where you are the obvious champion and hero and dream career, into one where you know you're going to have to re-learn much of this stuff from scratch?

Another piece on the site tells us about Laverty, and testing superbikes and MotoGP bikes back to back. One of his more telling comments, was one has way too much weight on the front end and the other has way too little...

The Bstone shod GP bike was a much tougher and specialized adaptation. These Michelins are more "conventional." I would guess his choice has more to do what bike would be available to him (^ old Ducati). Plus the favorable contract and general situation he enjoys on green in WSBK. Also there is no route for Kawi to transition him of course, so he is a tad more stranded than if on the rest of the Manus' bikes. On the demand side, few seats come open and there is no lack of candidates for them, so he isn't going to get pursued much.

I think he has the goods to be midpack on a decent bike. He likely does too, but that just doesn't seem to be in the cards. Mid season I am always looking at the back of the GP grid with yearnings for a guy like him to be in the circus (poor Rabat, I have willed several riders on to his seat). Fun in my head, and thassaboutit.

Rea looks to be enjoying himself. And now has a new challenge w the parity rules.