Guest Blog: Mat Oxley: Bike racing’s long and winding road 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 will be featuring sections of Oxley's blogs, posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website, over the coming months.

Sunday’s opening superbike round at Phillip Island was interesting in all kinds of ways, but what struck me was where the riders doing the winning had come from.

They certainly weren’t men steeped in the ways of four-stroke production racing from their earliest days. Factory Aprilia riders Eugene Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli – who won a race each on Sunday – did their World Championship apprenticeships on struggle-street in 250 GPs, battling against the odds on ancient machinery.

It’s never much fun seeking out the dispossessed in the GP paddock – you take a long walk to find them, past the gleaming factory team juggernauts, past the glittering hospitality units and there they are at the poor end of pit lane, nursing their bruised talent and looking miserable because they know they are fighting an impossible battle. In fact both Laverty and Guintoli wore brave faces during their early days on the world scene, but that never hid the fact that they worried their talent might never be rewarded with the right machinery.

Laverty did 250 GPs in 2008 and 2009, and it was hard not to feel sorry for him throughout those two seasons when even a top 10 finish was just a crazy dream. In 2008 the Irishman rode an old Aprilia RS250, and when I say old, I don’t mean last year’s, or even the year before that, or the year before that. The Aprilia that Laverty raced against the box-fresh factory bikes of Marco Simoncelli and Alvaro Bautista wasn’t that far off being considered eligible for classic racing. It had been manufactured in 2002!

Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

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Thanks Mr Oxley! Hey David, is there a possibility of posting the full of Mat's pieces here? I can't get over to them easily for various reasons and they are great. Thanks a ton for your work, both of you. Wonderful stuff.

I'm afraid that under the terms of the agreement I have with Motor Sport Magazine I can only post the first few paragraphs. Hopefully, it's sufficient to make you want to read the rest over on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

It does make you wonder why the 250s were killed off.
You can add Troy Bayliss, Gary McCoy, Chris Vermeulen, Andrew Pitt and many others to those who started in 250s.

Will riders get the same start to their careers on Moto3 or Moto2 style bikes?

How can a team, like Marquez', gain an advantage (now closed) from the EFI and Quick Shifter?

The first line of the rule book is, "If it isn't expressly authorized, you can't do it".
Get caught - Lose points - Get banned.

Also, if it is meant to be a "controlled" series, with some user variation, let the teams have the variation for one event, then make the settings available to everyone.

250s died off because no manufacturer made them, and no one wanted to pour money into something that wasn't remotely similar to something they made. It would be like Honda entering into the World Blender championship. I knew 250s were gone when I visited Japan in 2008, expecting to see the seas of two-strokes that I'd seen on prior visits outside of the States, and I counted four in a week. There were virtually none in the parking lot at Motegi for the MotoGP race.

Besides, if you weren't a factory-supplied rider in 250s, you had pretty much the same chance of a podium as you had in any other class - slim and none.

And, this from MotoMatters, Nov. 5:

"As to the quickshifter strategy Marquez' team is accused of employing, (MotoGP Race Director Mike) Webb said that it was not necessary to hack the ECU to achieve this. "Quick-shifters are 'free' [not defined as a spec part in the regulations - MM], they are deliberately not included in the official definition of the Moto2 engine, so the team is free to choose their own solution. Whether they choose to use the quick-shift strategies included in the ECU is up to them," Webb said. "In fact no manipulation of ECU software is necessary in order to use a non-Honda quick-shifter, which may or may not use the fuel cut strategies available in the ECU." The quickshifter used by Marquez' team had been submitted for approval to the Technical Director, HRC and engine supplier Geo Tech for inspection at the beginning of the season, as had the systems used by all the other teams. No irregularities had been found in any of the systems."