Mat Oxley's blog

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How Brembo is dealing with a half tonne MotoGP bike + rider (under braking)

MotoGP braking g-forces have reached 2g, which makes bike (and rider) effectively weigh half a tonne on the brakes. Here’s what Brembo is doing about it…

How much does a MotoGP bike weigh? The rules state that a MotoGP machine must weigh no less than 157 kilos, including oil and water, timekeeping, camera and data-logging equipment.

Add a rider at around 67 kilos (the grid average), plus riding gear at 11 kilos and 22 litres of fuel at 17 kilos. That makes a grand total approaching 260 kilos.

Now accelerate that mass to around 350kph/210mph and then decelerate it as fast as you can into Turn One at Portimao, or anywhere else where riders apply absolute maximum braking force.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Johann Zarco completes his MotoGP resurrection

A few years ago Johann Zarco climbed to the dizziest heights and then crashed and burned in 2019. Now he’s the leader of the 2021 MotoGP world championship. It’s been quite a journey…

Sunday’s race may have been a heart-pumping 220mph dogfight but my highlight of the night was watching winner Fabio Quartararo giggling atop the podium, while runner-up Johann Zarco sang along to La Marseillaise.

Modern motor sport podiums can be humdrum affairs, as riders and drivers crunch the numbers through their brains, preparing for lengthy debriefs with armies of technical staff. They’ve had their fun, now the real work begins.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The 225mph MotoGP bike: how fast is too fast?

Johann Zarco’s jaw-dropping top speed during last weekend’s Qatar grand prix raised inevitable questions…

Britain’s first motorcycle race was staged in the grounds of a stately home in Richmond, Surrey, on November 29, 1897. The winning machine reached a top speed of “somewhere about 27mph”, which aroused the spectators into “a state of wild excitement because anything approaching the speed we attained had never before been witnessed”.

In other words, all things are relative.

When Johann Zarco attained 225.2mph/362.6kmh during last Saturday’s FP2 session at Losail some MotoGP commentators and fans were aroused into a state of wild excitement, although the riders seemed less impressed.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Dovizioso joining Aprilia would be like a KGB agent joining the CIA

Aprilia is ready to do great things in MotoGP and will do even better if it can acquire Andrea Dovizioso’s priceless 90-degree V4 intelligence

Aprilia has been the butt of many a MotoGP fan’s joke in recent years because the Noale factory has finished last in the MotoGP constructors champion every year since the launch of the RS-GP in 2015.

The RS-GP is the perennial underperformer. Even last year’s all-new bike with all-new 90-degree V4 engine didn’t seem to change much – the 2020 RS-GP’s best finish was an eighth place at the season-ending Portuguese GP

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Who will be 2021 MotoGP world champion?

Testing is done and the racing starts next week, so who are the contenders and who are the outsiders for the 20th four-stroke MotoGP world championship?

Asking someone to predict the outcome of MotoGP 2021 after just four days of preseason testing – and all of it around a track which has little relevance to the rest of the championship – is like asking them to predict which Michelin tyre will work best at the next racetrack.

Losail is an unusual circuit and conditions are unique, which is why only five times since the inaugural 2004 Qatar GP has the race winner gone on to take the MotoGP title.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Is Ducati using ground effect for more grip in MotoGP?

Ducati unveiled its latest aero at the Qatar tests – is the Italian factory using downforce to increase cornering grip, a new area of MotoGP aerodynamics performance?

Ten years ago I interviewed revered Formula 1 engineer John Barnard about what he would do to MotoGP design, given a big, fat, F1-style budget. The man who introduced the carbon-fibre composite chassis and semi-automatic gearbox to F1 had recently completed several years working on ‘King’ Kenny Roberts’ MotoGP project, where he never had the resources to explore the areas of performance he wanted to explore.

MotoGP aerodynamics was an area that particularly fascinated him because the science was so advanced in F1 but at that time had hardly been touched upon in bikes.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Suzuki’s GSX-RR: don’t touch a thing!

Suzuki won last year’s MotoGP championship with the GSX-RR, so what should the factory do to help the bike retain the crown in 2021?

Imagine you’re sat around a table with half a dozen Suzuki engineers in the factory’s race department, discussing what needs to be done to the GSX-RR MotoGP bike for 2021.

If I was there I’d be screaming: “Don’t touch a thing!”.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - What does Brexit mean for British teams and riders?

UK teams and riders face new regulations for working in Europe, including carnets, limited stays and possible work visas and permits

This year British riders, teams and race staff go racing in Europe as non-EU members for the first time in decades, so will they face any challenges and, if so, what will they be?

There are only two major British teams competing in world championship racing, both of them in World Superbike: the factory BMW squad of Shaun Muir Racing and the factory Yamaha outfit of Crescent Racing.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The MotoGP brains race: HRC takes data engineer from KTM

But no one knows more about headhunting engineers than KTM, which nabbed the co-inventor of MotoGP’s seamless gearbox from Honda and a top suspension technician from Öhlins

All’s fair in love and war. Motorcycle manufacturers have been stealing talented riders from rival brands since people first raced bikes around in circles more than a century ago. So much so that the MotoGP rider merry-go-round is considered a central part of the racing game.

The MotoGP engineer merry-go-round is less of a thing, but it’s getting bigger and spinning faster, because as the racing gets closer the worth of every technical detail increases.

The most important thing to take from this is that no matter how hi-tech racing becomes it’s the human that makes the difference. And if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then so too is one factory robbing another of its brightest brains.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Can Yamaha dig itself out of its hole?

Yamaha’s 2020 YZR-M1 was a disaster, so what chance has the company of fixing its problems after five years out of the title fight? And is Yamaha’s best bet for the 2021 title a two-year-old motorcycle?

Yamaha won its last MotoGP championship in 2015. It’s no coincidence that 2015 was the last year of Bridgestone tyres, because since then Yamaha engineers have been unable to make the YZR-M1 work consistently with MotoGP’s current tyres, made by Michelin.

Yamaha’s problem is as simple as that, although fixing the problem is anything but simple.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP’s biggest winners: Rossi and Honda

MotoGP’s four-stroke era enters its 20th season in 2021, so here are the biggest winners, plus why MotoGP technical rules will remain unchanged till 2026

The 2021 MotoGP season will be the 73rd season of motorcycle grand prix racing and, more significantly, the 20th year of the four-stroke MotoGP world championship.

In 2002 the premier-class engine size was changed for the first time since 1949, with 990cc four-strokes introduced to eliminate the 500cc two-strokes.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Covid delays Ducati’s next big redesign to 2022

Ducati is working on a major redesign of its Desmosedici MotoGP bike but can’t race the machine this season due to Covid engine-freeze regulations

Everyone knows that turning performance has been Ducati’s biggest concern for years. Whatever factory engineers have done to make the Desmosedici turn better and faster through corners hasn’t worked, so now chief engineer Gigi Dall’Igna has an all-new motorcycle on the way.

Only one problem – the new Desmosedici chassis requires an engine with a new type of mounting. This wouldn’t usually be an issue, but last April MotoGP reacted to the global Covid pandemic by announcing emergency cost-cutting regulations, including restricting manufacturers to 2020 engine specs throughout the coming season.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Will Espargaró be able to ride the Honda?

Pol Espargaró joins Repsol Honda from KTM, where he was the strongest rider on the factory’s V4. Does that mean he will be fast on the RC213V V4? And what do HRC need to do to make the bike better?

You won’t find many MotoGP riders that prefer a fire-breathing V4 to an easy-going inline-four, but Pol Espargaró is one of them.

Espargaró contested his first three seasons in MotoGP with Yamaha, but he didn’t enjoy the YZR-M1 and failed to score a single podium on the bike. In 2017 he joined KTM’s all-new MotoGP project and last year he was KTM’s top points scorer on the RC16, with five podiums

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley’s 2020 MotoGP Top Ten

Joan Mir won the 2020 MotoGP World Championship, but was he the strongest rider last season?

What’s the point of a journalist conjuring up his own MotoGP top ten when the championship does exactly that?

Not much really, but looking beyond race wins, podiums and points allows us to take into account other factors, like the quality of a rider’s machinery, the strength of his back-up crew and the depth of his experience.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP: The real reason MotoGP 2020 was so close and unpredictable

Many fans rated last season as the most entertaining in years. But who should they thank for the apparent unpredictability and super-close lap times?

There were two things that got MotoGP commentators and fans particularly excited last season: the unpredictability of the racing and the incredibly close lap times, with the fastest 15 riders often separated by less than a second.

But was the racing really any more unpredictable than it’s been in recent years?

MotoGP 2020 certainly seemed unusually unpredictable because none of the title challengers managed to score consistent results over the 14 rounds. Even world champion Joan Mir stood on the podium at only half the races, while 2020 runner-up Franco Morbidelli only made the top three at five races.

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