Mat Oxley's blog

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP: no one — not even Márquez — gets to ride the magic carpet for free

Marc Márquez’s injury struggles shine a light on the dangers faced by motorcycle racers and remind us of the painful journey taken by another Honda superstar

A motorcycle cartwheels down the track and into the dirt. Medics arrive on the scene. They lay the injured rider on a stretcher and load him into an ambulance. Sirens wail. The crowd’s attention returns to the racing.

“Is he hurt pretty bad?” asks a woman.

“I dunno,” her photographer husband replies. “Somebody said he broke his back.”

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - 2020 was Rossi’s worst-ever season, and so what?

Valentino Rossi scored an average of 4.7 points per race last season but still loves the challenge of racing, so why should he retire from MotoGP?

Valentino Rossi probably doesn’t want to know this – although he probably already knows it in his gut – but 2020 was his worst season since he joined the grand prix circus in 1996. By a long way.

His 25th year in the world championships was even poorer than his two barren seasons at Ducati and his rookie 125cc grand prix campaign, when he was 16-years-old.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Back to the future: the story of second-hand MotoGP bikes

On Sunday Franco Morbidelli proved that an old motorcycle can sometimes be better than a new motorcycle. And he’s not the first to do that

There’s been so much talk about Yamaha’s 2019 and 2020 YZR-M1s in recent weeks that this may be a good time to look into the joys of second-hand MotoGP bikes.

Fabio Quartararo, Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales can’t revert to 2019 M1s due to MotoGP engine regulations but you can be sure they would if they could, because the 2019 M1 chassis seems to be better balanced than the 2020 version.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - ‘I wanted to spit nails and rip the handlebars off the bike’

How do racers like Joan Mir cope with pressure? Some chill out, others work themselves into a frenzy

I don’t know about you but I get pre-race butterflies whenever a MotoGP season draws towards its climax. I know it’s ridiculous, because I’m sat comfortably where no harm can come to me, but I’m nervous for what might happen, for what might go wrong.

Perhaps it’s some kind of nervy leftover from racing all those decades ago. For those that haven’t raced it’s probably difficult to imagine what racers feel like on Sunday mornings. There’s so much adrenaline pumping around your body that you sometimes feel sick and faint, so you’re just dying for the race to start, so you can stop feeling so rank.

Different riders have different ways of dealing with those feelings, but I can’t even begin to imagine how MotoGP riders cope with the stress and pressure of battling for the championship. That’s another level altogether.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP title fight: who will run out of engines first?

Several top MotoGP title contenders are already way past the usual lifespan with their engines, so how will they cope at the last three races?

Three of 14 races remain in the 2020 MotoGP World Championship, Covid permitting. The second wave of the pandemic is racing through Europe as riders prepare for the triple-header finale on the Iberian Peninsula, starting with Sunday’s European GP at Valencia and ending with the Portuguese GP at Portimao on November 22.

Literally no one knows if the championship will go full distance, but the back-to-back races at Valencia – the European and then the Valencia GP – are currently set to go ahead despite a night-time curfew in the region.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Is a winless MotoGP champion a worthy champion?

Joan Mir could become the first premier-class world champion to take the crown without winning a race. Does that make him any less of a MotoGP champion than Marc Márquez or Valentino Rossi?

This maddest of mad MotoGP seasons reaches its climax next month, with back-to-back races at Valencia and the season-finale at Portimao.

So far Fabio Quartararo has won the most races, with three victories from 11 races. Next is Franco Morbidelli with two victories. Then there’s Brad Binder, Andrea Dovizioso, Miguel Oliveira, Danilo Petrucci, Álex Rins and Maverick Viñales, all on one win each.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Is this the weirdest MotoGP season ever?

Ten rounds done, four to go, and this is the worst-scoring world championship since 1952. So what’s going on and why is the racing so unprecedently unpredictable?

Surely, this is the weirdest MotoGP season ever.

I’ve been in the paddock for roughly half the 72 seasons since the world championships were born and I can’t remember a season like it.

It’s abnormal for several reasons.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why Crutchlow, Lowes and Dixon are doing something special

Jake Dixon’s exit from Sunday’s Moto2 race was gut-wrenching and proved there’s no tougher road than the road to MotoGP glory

I’ve always had special respect for British riders who break out of road-bike racing to have a crack at MotoGP.

Since the mid-1980s, most Britons start out racing road bikes and keep racing road bikes to the end of their careers, ending up in World Superbikes if they’re fast enough.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Missing Marc

It’s been months since we’ve seen Marc Márquez, the greatest rider of his generation – perhaps the greatest of all time – in action. I’m starting to get withdrawal symptoms

It’s been strange not writing about Marc Márquez these last few months. Ever since the middle of 2012, when he signed his first MotoGP contract, he’s stolen most of the headlines, certainly most of my headlines, just like Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi before him.

I have to admit that I was getting jaded with MotoGP before Márquez turned up. The hated 800s – which created follow-my-leader racing so boring that I nearly broke my jaw by yawning – were mostly to blame.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - ‘Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’ — the bare, lone MotoGP paddock

The MotoGP world championship goes on despite the Covid mechanics, but after attending two of the last three races I’ve seen how much has really changed

In just a few months the global Covid pandemic has taken grand prix racing back to where it was half a century ago. Now the paddock is what it used to be: a bunch of blokes (almost exclusively) tinkering with motorbikes and riding them around in circles as fast as they can.

Thus the MotoGP world championship is in its purest, most unalloyed state – those people who pine for the ‘good old days’ should be delighted.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why Ducati needs Bagnaia

Ducati’s Desmosedici has struggled with turning for years. Now Ducati thinks it’s found the answer to the problem – 2018 Moto2 world champion Pecco Bagnaia

If Ducati doesn’t announce Pecco Bagnaia’s promotion to its factory team at Barcelona this weekend I promise to shin up the Sagrada Família naked.

Ducati needs Bagnaia because he is a huge talent and because MotoGP has changed. You only need to look at Andrea Dovizioso’s recent results to understand there is a new way of going fast in 2020.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why MotoGP records don’t get smashed any more

Back in the day, MotoGP records used to get destroyed at pretty much every grand prix, but not these days

Michelin is in its fifth season as MotoGP’s sole tyre supplier and yet only holds just over half the comparable race records. The rest belong to Bridgestone, which supplied the grid from 2009 to 2015.

Michelin has race records at Jerez, Le Mans, Losail, Misano, Mugello, Sachsenring, Sepang and Valencia. Bridgestone holds race records at Aragon, Assen, Brno, COTA, Motegi, Phillip Island and Termas.

Five years is a long time in MotoGP, so how can this be? Two main reasons…

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP is cage-fighting on gasoline

Don’t be fooled by the glitz and glamour, this is a vicious sport, but there is beauty in there too

“Some people believe football is a matter of life and death,” said legendary Liverpool football manager Bill Shankly many years ago. “I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”

The same goes for motorcycle racing, especially if you’ve made your way to its summit and you’re fighting for the MotoGP title. You may have noticed things getting a bit ugly in the last few races at Brno and Red Bull Ring, but believe me, bike racing has always been vicious.

The starting point of this game is the joy of riding a motorcycle just as fast as it’ll go, and maybe a little bit faster. But if you want to win you’re going to have to fight for it and the higher you climb the harder you will have to fight.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - 900 MotoGP races – a quick history of the class of kings

Sunday’s Styrian Grand Prix was motorcycle racing’s 900th premier-class world championship GP. Time for a little history and a few memories

I wasn’t around for the first premier-class GP, which took place on the Isle of Man in June 1949. The winner of that race was bespectacled Londoner Harold Daniell, who had been turned down for military service during the war because his eyesight was too poor.

Things have changed a lot since then. Daniell was overweight, smoked and drank, and took his only exercise while riding his factory Nortons or walking to the pub.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why V4 MotoGP bikes are better in battles

2020 Austrian MotoGP Insight Part 3: V4s have been the dominant force for years and not only because they make more power. Plus, has KTM built the perfect V4? And Honda’s toughest start in decades

Last weekend’s Austrian GP was the perfect illustration of the difficulties that riders of slower, better-handling inline-four MotoGP bikes face when they are fighting with rivals using faster, poorer-handling V4 machines.

V4 MotoGP bikes make more horsepower because a V4 engine has a stronger crankshaft, less vibration and fewer pumping losses, while inline-four MotoGP bikes are more user-friendly in corners because an inline-four engine has a longer crankshaft.

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