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.
When MotoGP riders strike!
Talk of a riders’ strike didn’t last long at crazy-bumpy COTA, so when did MotoGP riders last go on strike and how did it happen?
How close did MotoGP riders come to going on strike at COTA last weekend?
Not very. Not very, at all.
Only a few riders suggested that the grid should withhold its labour because working conditions at the Texan circuit were unacceptable. Chief among these was Aprilia rider Aleix Espargaró, who’s never afraid to speak his mind.
“For me it’s a joke to be here,” said Espargaró, complaining about the circuit’s ridiculously bumpy surface. “We cannot race. If I had to vote in the safety commission I would say I will not race. For me, no way. It’s very, very dangerous. Very, very dangerous.”
More surprising was Ducati’s quietly spoken title contender Pecco Bagnaia, who announced he would happily refuse to race, never mind the fact that this would effectively end his chances of fighting for the 2021 MotoGP championship.
This was a surprise – and if push came to shove would he really have gone on strike? – which reminded older members of the MotoGP travelling circus of their trip to Brazil in 1992, for the penultimate round of that year’s 500cc world championship, starring Mick Doohan and Wayne Rainey.
Funnily enough, this was Dorna’s first season working in GPs, owning only the TV rights, not the championship itself.
The 1992 Brazilian grand prix was staged at the Interlagos Formula 1 circuit which featured a sixth-gear kink on the start/finish, lined by a concrete wall. Zero runoff. When riders arrived they couldn’t believe what they saw.
“How are we supposed to race here,” they asked. “It’s impossible!”
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.