Mat Oxley's blog

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - ‘I tell Cal that with a Honda MotoGP bike you have to fight and that’s why we pay you!’

Everyone knows Honda’s RC213V is no armchair ride. But why? Best man to ask is Takeo Yokoyama, HRC’s technical manager who works with Marc Márquez, Cal Crutchlow and now Alex Márquez

What engineering concepts went into building the 2019 RC213V which dominated last season in the hands of Marc Márquez but sometimes made life difficult for Cal Crutchlow and Jorge Lorenzo? And what kind of a bike is Honda building for the 2020 MotoGP championship?

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Should Rossi retire?

The nine-time world champ just had his worst season outside of his Ducati years. Many people think it’s time for Valentino Rossi to say goodbye to MotoGP. But why should he?

Ten years ago, when Valentino Rossi was already the old man of the MotoGP grid, he was worried about keen youngsters like Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner coming to get him.

“They are like sharks circling around me,” he told journalists during the 2009 Mugello GP. “If I am not strong, I know that they will eat me in one bite. They look at me with a little bit of blood flowing and maybe they think, ‘okay, now is the time’.”

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - ‘Marc is causing a lot of problems for everyone!’: Ducati's MotoGP challenge for 2020

On the eve of MotoGP’s Valencia finale Davide Tardozzi discusses Ducati’s 2019 season and the main problems the factory faces

Andrea Dovizioso has finished second in the MotoGP riders' championship for the past three years, while Ducati is fighting to be runner-up in the MotoGP constructors' championship for the second consecutive year; currently just one point in front of Yamaha. We asked factory team manager and former World Superbike rider Davide Tardozzi about what the Bolognese are doing to beat the Japanese in 2020.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Lorenzo's battle back from injury - against his subconscious

What’s wrong with Jorge Lorenzo? Has he lost it or is he merely waiting till his back is fully fixed? And why HRC’s plans for its 2020 RC213V should give cause for optimism

The MotoGP paddock and fans around the world are agog with talk of Jorge Lorenzo. What’s up with the three-times MotoGP world champion? Has he lost it? Why doesn’t he retire? Why hasn’t he been sacked? Why don’t they put Johann Zarco on his bikes?

It must be said that the three-times MotoGP king is in a hole. A very deep hole. At Phillip Island two weeks ago he finished more than a minute (one minute!) behind winning team-mate Marc Márquez.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How will Johann Zarco go on the Honda as he returns to MotoGP?

The Frenchman is on his way to Phillip Island with his brand-new Alpinestars LCR Honda leathers. So is this judgement day for Johann Zarco?

Johann Zarco expected to watch MotoGP’s final few races from the comfort of his sofa in the south of France. Now, thanks to Takaaki Nakagami’s troublesome right shoulder injury – sustained at Assen when he got sideswiped by Valentino Rossi – he will spend the last three races sat somewhat less comfortably on the Japanese rider’s 2018-spec LCR Honda.

Before we wonder how Zarco will fare on the RC213V, we should ask why this is necessary. Why is Nakagami going under the knife when the 2019 championship isn’t over?

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How I rode - Mick Doohan

The teak-tough Aussie was the most successful 500 two-stroke rider of all time. This is how Mick Doohan did it

Mick Doohan raced 500 GPs from 1989 to 1999, during which time the 500 two-strokes evolved from truly malevolent machines to mostly rider-friendly missiles.

His debut season, aboard Honda’s vicious 1989 NSR500, was marred by injury. So too was what should’ve been his first championship-winning season, in 1992. Doohan nearly lost his right leg following an accident at that year’s Dutch TT, but fought back from that to win five consecutive 500 titles from 1994 to 1998. He retired injured, during the 1999 season, just like rivals Wayne Rainey and Kevin Schwantz before him. As Doohan says, “I didn’t crash much, but when I did I did it properly”.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The ‘unreal feeling’ that makes Márquez king

What makes Marc Márquez great? He has achieved a title hit rate better than anyone since Giacomo Agostini half a century ago by doing things the others can’t do

You know that feeling when you ride into a corner on your favourite road a wee bit too fast, so you hold your breath, relax your grip on the handlebars and seek forgiveness for all your sins? Then you make it out the other side and your heart rate spikes and your stomach does a loop the loop? Scary but uplifting – what riding bikes is all about.

I imagine that’s how Marc Márquez feels every time he attacks a corner: front tyre squirming and painting the asphalt black, handlebars tipping several degrees into the turn, elbows for outriggers, then up, up and away, hard on the throttle, an explosion of exhaust noise, a shudder of wheelspin and he’s gone.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Are track limits MotoGP’s new tyranny?

Some people hate MotoGP’s rules over track-limits, but to understand why they are there we need to look at racing safety over the years

It’s a funny old world. Here we are in 2019 arguing about MotoGP riders exceeding track limits when motorcycle racing already had the best punishment for this crime more than a hundred years ago.

Great big stone walls did the job just fine – the ultimate deterrent to riders who sought to better their lap times by taking faster, wider lines.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Ducati defection the latest move in MotoGP’s brains war

Will Yamaha fix its software woes by signing Ducati electronics engineer Marco Frigerio for 2020?

Knowledge is power, they say. In MotoGP it is also handling, braking, traction, tyre life and everything else.

When you sit down to watch a MotoGP race what you are really witnessing is hundreds and hundreds of the best brains in motorcycling working at full speed. Usually, the best brains win because they build the best bikes, set up the bikes in the best way and ride the bikes in the best way. So in fact it’s more of a brains race than a motorcycle race.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - In MotoGP, all the world championship’s a stage

The news that Andrea Iannone will manage Romano Fenati had the paddock agog at Misano. So what to expect from MotoGP’s latest soap opera?

To slightly misquote William Shakespeare: “all the world championship’s a stage”.

Or to directly quote Jeremy Burgess, the occasionally cantankerous crew chief to Valentino Rossi and Mick Doohan: “I get pissed off that the people making the rules are quite happy to put on a pantomime or soap opera at two o’clock every other Sunday.”

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Enjoy Cal while you can: Crutchlow retirement looms

Cal Crutchlow looks likely to retire at the end of next season because he’s in a lot of pain, which is no big surprise for someone who’s had more than 150 MotoGP crashes

Cal Crutchlow most likely has another 27 races to go before he hangs up his lid and leathers.

If he does retire at the end of next season it will be a significant moment for British motorcycle racing, because the Coventry-born rider is the greatest British grand prix rider of the last generation or two and the seventh most successful Briton in grand prix history.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Carbon-fibre MotoGP: it’s a long story

It’s almost 40 years since MotoGP’s first carbon-fibre chassis, so with Honda’s and Suzuki’s latest carbon-fibre frame coatings, how long before we see the next fully carbon MotoGP bike?

Back in the early 1990s when Kenny Roberts’ Marlboro-moneyed Yamaha 500cc and 250cc team bestrode motorcycle racing the ‘King’ walked into the paddock each morning carrying a shiny carbon-fibre briefcase.

The briefcase – paired with Ray-Ban Aviators and a big, fat Rolex – was the ultimate statement of racing intent: a man at the cutting edge of motorsport technology and with money to burn.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Do MotoGP riders get depressed?

Riders quitting, riders getting sacked, riders getting hurt; what really goes on in the mind of a MotoGP rider when all his dreams turn to dust?

Sometimes you go looking for an engineer in the paddock. At the end of a practice session you walk into the back of his team’s garage, hoping to find him there, so you can ask him a few questions.

“He’s in the back of the truck,” shouts one of the team’s mechanics. So you leave the garage, climb the steps at the back of the truck, knock on the door and quietly go inside. Unfortunately, the engineer isn’t there, but someone else is.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Sheene versus Roberts at Silverstone: 40 years on

Barry Sheene and ‘King’ Kenny Roberts fought a breath-taking duel for victory at the 1979 British GP, notorious for Sheene’s cheeky hand signal

On August 12 1979, Barry Sheene and ‘King’ Kenny Roberts fought one of the greatest and most important Grand Prix duels of all time. Their battle for British GP victory was unforgettable for all kinds of reasons.

First, the pair were two of motorcycle racing’s all-time greats. Roberts was the prototype Marc Márquez, who changed bike racing with a new way of riding that left everyone struggling to catch up. Sheene was the prototype Valentino Rossi, whose rock-star persona broke him into the mainstream.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Ducati’s man-management disaster could cost it MotoGP glory

Ducati won its first MotoGP race in five months on Sunday, but the weekend proved that the Italian factory has forgotten how to look after its riders

MotoGP wasn’t supposed to have a silly season this summer, because all the big names have two-year contracts to the end of 2020 or one-plus-one deals that seemed certain to roll into next year. Then all of a sudden MotoGP is having a stupid season.

At Sachsenring last month Jack Miller announced that his 2020 contract renewal with Pramac Ducati was all but signed. “We’re just sorting out the pennies,” he said.

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