Mat Oxley's blog

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - 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.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - ‘Factories shouldn’t have the possibility to lock young riders for five years’

Red Bull KTM’s hugely successful rider programme has got other factories worried – is that a problem or not?

The tighter and more competitive MotoGP becomes the more everything matters.

MotoGP’s current technical regulations guarantee that all the bikes have similar performance. Thus the rider becomes an ever-more important part of the equation because he or she is the surest way of making that vital difference.

So how do you find the best riders? You open your wallet, of course. But what if someone else has flashed the cash before you and locked a talented youngster into a long-term deal?

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Will F1 tyre-cooling wheel rims soon feature on MotoGP bikes?

Controlling tyre temperature and pressure is vital to winning MotoGP races, so how long before F1’s special tyre-cooling wheel rims arrive in MotoGP?

Tyre temperature and pressure are everything in motor sport – and not only in MotoGP. In Formula 1, or any other category where the stakes are high and the lap times are close, half a degree here or half a psi there can make the difference between victory and defeat.

Formula 1 engineers fuss over their tyres as much as MotoGP engineers do. The only difference is they have more money to spend on fussing about with temperature and pressure.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - A tale of two 170mph crashes – 46 years apart

Marc Márquez walked away from his 170mph tumble at Silverstone, while Barry Sheene spent weeks in hospital after his 170mph accident at Daytona in 1975. The big difference? Huge advances in riding kit

In March 1975 British youngster Barry Sheene was in Florida, USA, trying to conquer the Daytona 200, at that time the biggest motorcycle race of them all.

Sheene was a factory Suzuki rider, equipped with XR11 two-stroke triples, powered by heavily tuned 115-horsepower GT750 road-bike engines. These big two-strokes represented a seismic and overnight shift in performance, from 155mph British four-stroke 750s to 175mph Japanese two-stroke 750s.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - ‘We build our MotoGP engine so the electronics have to do as little work as possible’

Kurt Trieb designed the engine of KTM’s RC16, which has won as many races as Ducati’s Desmosedici over the past season and a half. Trieb tells us about his design philosophies and reveals that the RC16 isn’t a 90-degree V4

KTM entered MotoGP four years ago and is already battling with rival manufacturers who have been racing in the premier class for decades. Only Yamaha has won more races since the start of 2020, with KTM’s five victories equalling Ducati’s win rate and bettering that of Aprilia, Honda and Suzuki.

At the heart of KTM’s RC16 is its engine, the same 1000cc 90-degree V4 configuration used in Ducati’s Desmosedici, Honda’s RC213V and Aprilia’s RS-GP. At least, that’s what we always thought. Except that our recent chat with KTM’s Head of Engine Development Road Racing Kurt Trieb revealed that the RC16 isn’t a 90-degree V4, after all.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Happy 50th MotoGP birthday to Ducati and two-stroke 500s!

MotoGP has two big 50th anniversaries coming up: the first two-stroke 500cc GP win and Ducati’s MotoGP debut

This Friday, August 14, it will be 50 years since the two-stroke’s first MotoGP victory. And four weeks later, on September 12, it will be 50 years since Ducati entered its first MotoGP race.

Both these anniversaries are significant landmarks in the history of motorcycle grand prix racing, signalling a generational change in technology, just as we are currently seeing a generational change of riders in MotoGP.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP’s greatest paradox: why isn’t Moto2 racing closer?

Moto2 riders use the same engine, tyres, software, fuel, oil and gearbox, so why is the racing more spread out than MotoGP and Moto3?

Dorna’s big push over the past decade has been writing technical regulations that shrink the gap between the best and worst motorcycles, thereby creating thrilling racing that gets hundreds of millions of people turning on their televisions

The premier MotoGP class features many such rules – 81mm bore limit, spec tyres, spec electronics, a relatively high minimum weight limit and so on.

Moto3 is even stricter, with the same tyres, same electronics and engines randomly allocated to riders to prevent factory teams gaining an advantage.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Kevin Schwantz: How I Rode Part 2

Kevin Schwantz, the hugely popular 1993 500cc world champion tells us about some of his scariest moments, some of his nastiest crashes and his greatest victories

Kevin Schwantz won 25 500cc grands prix and one world title between March 1988 and July 1994 but his impact on the sport of motorcycle racing was much greater than that.

The American’s wild riding technique, his ability to magic victories apparently out of nowhere and his willingness to ride way beyond the limit – sometimes with painful consequences – made him a huge favourite with fans.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Kevin Schwantz: How I Rode Part 1

Few grand prix stars are as revered as Kevin Schwantz, the 1993 500cc world champion, who rode with an ocean of natural riding talent and a tidal wave of aggression

Kevin Schwantz helped define an era of grand prix racing that’s rightly considered one of the sport’s golden ages. The American’s vicious battles with countrymen Wayne Rainey and Eddie Lawson and Australians Mick Doohan and Wayne Gardner are the stuff of legend.

Who better to explain those days than Valentino Rossi, who grew up watching these races and idolising Schwantz?

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Suzuki’s GSX-RR needs to shift its shape and fast!

Joan Mir’s MotoGP title defence has been distinctly underwhelming so far, largely thanks to Suzuki falling behind with its shapeshifter technology

Shock absorbers, low-drag bodywork, disc brakes, monoshock suspension, aluminium-alloy frames, reed-valve induction, upside-down forks, carbon brakes, big-bang firing configurations, traction control, engine-braking control, launch control, reactive electronics, seamless gearboxes and downforce aerodynamics.

These are all technologies introduced over the decades in grand prix racing by one factory or another and quickly copied by rivals because they gave such a vital advantage.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Carrasco’s remarkable comeback and the sad tale of grand prix racing’s female pioneer

On Sunday Ana Carrasco won a race just nine months after breaking her back. Hers is an amazing story but no more so than the shocking story of the first woman who tried to make it in motorcycle racing

Marc Márquez’s comeback from potentially career-ending injury is a work in progress, but today we can add the name Ana Carrasco to the list of superhumans – most notably Mick Doohan, Robert Dunlop and Ian Hutchinson – that overcame the most hideous odds to keep doing what they love and win again at a high level.

In 2018 Carrasco won the Supersport 300 World Championship and last September suffered serious injuries while testing her Kawasaki Ninja 400 at Estoril. She fractured two vertebrae, luckily without damage to her spine, her luck measured in mere millimetres.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Inside a MotoGP rider/crew chief marriage

Maverick Viñales has changed crew chiefs for the second time in less than three seasons. So what’s so important about a crew chief? We spoke to ‘King’ Kenny Roberts, Kel Carruthers and Jeremy Burgess to find out

Maverick Viñales recently got married and became a dad for the first time. Hearty congratulations to him, Raquel and baby Nina!

However, the 26-year-old Spaniard is already on his third pitlane marriage, because many riders and crew chiefs will tell you that their relationship is like a marriage.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why MotoGP riders use the rear brake 70% of every lap

The rear brake has become one of the most important tools on a MotoGP bike. Tech 3 KTM rider Danilo Petrucci explains why

Most road riders use a lot more front brake, while MotoGP riders use the rear brake much more. This is just one example of how the art and science of riding a MotoGP bike has very little to do with everyday motorcycling.

The rear brake is now one of the most important tools on a MotoGP machine, which is why riders use it through 70% of the lap, while they use the front brake half as much (but with a lot more braking force and stopping power).

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why Márquez is looking forward to the Sachsenring MotoGP round more than ever

Marc Marquez’s right arm is still weak, which is why the first anti-clockwise race of the season will be the first time we see him close to 100%

Yesterday’s French Grand Prix could’ve been a fairy-tale for Marc Márquez but it wasn’t.

That’s motorcycle racing – harsh reality nearly always wins. As Valentino Rossi said after his Valencia 2006 disaster, “Unbeatable superheroes only exist in movies, real life is different”.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The problem that could spoil Márquez’ MotoGP title hopes

The main reason KTM, Suzuki and Honda are struggling this season is Michelin’s 2021 front-tyre allocation

There’s no doubt Marc Márquez has a chance to win the 2021 MotoGP world championship. Last time out at Jerez, his second race in nine months, he finished ten seconds behind the winner, despite two huge confidence-eroding crashes during practice.

Race by race the 28-year-old will get faster and stronger, so there’s every chance he may overhaul his 50-point deficit to current leader Pecco Bagnaia. After all, he won the 2019 championship by 151 points.

However, there is something that could stop him.

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