Guest Blog: Mat Oxley: There’s no doubt: Rossi is a contender 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.

Qatar is a dry state so there’s no fun to be had with booze on the podium, but I bet the Yamaha crew more than made up for that when they got back to their hotel on Sunday night. Doha’s international hotels are the only places you can imbibe alcohol in the country, so their terrifyingly expensive bars are an unlikely mix of ex-pat financiers and oil/gas engineers and a few naughty locals. Throw in a rowdy bunch of racers and mechanics and you’ve a pretty weird scene.

I’ll also bet that Valentino Rossi stayed up longer than Jorge Lorenzo, if he could persuade the barman to keep popping the champagne corks. Rossi may be hurtling towards middle age but he still has his old rock and roll attitude, he’s never subscribed to Lorenzo’s beliefs in Spartan self-denial or quasi-Buddhism.

Everyone at Yamaha had every right to have a few drinks on Sunday night because even in their wildest dreams they can hardly have expected to thrash Honda so mightily in the first race of the year. HRC’s post-race debriefs can’t have been pleasant affairs: how come both their factory riders were so soundly beaten by both factory Yamahas and how come Cal Crutchlow was able to run with Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez while riding last year’s M1?

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

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"He was a man in a hurry, happily prepared to take a few wild swipes at his rivals, rather than settle into that turgid old game of follow my leader that’s become the norm in MotoGP over the last few years."

One of the reasons why he is so revered. He goes for it. 7.3 to 5.9 points to him having a go without his early mistakes. I look forward to when he doesn't make a mistake in the early part of the race and we get battles for the top step. Win or lose, he is revered because he tries instead of settling.

Can't help but wonder if this race was a missed opportunity for DORNA. While the die-hards had been waiting for the season to start because it is the start of the MotoGP season, there were plenty lining up to see VR throw his leg over the Yam again. Knowing this, why wouldn't DORNA drop the pay wall and hype the you-know-what out of this race.
Give them some milk for free and make them come back to buy the cow. Crazy.

why not lower the subscription fee (or drop it) and get a lot of traffic to the site?

unlreated, but not sure if others had their "live" feed continuously interrupted from the site, but something was wacky and when I went to try and catch up, I got fast-forwarded to a still shot of VR putting a pass on MM so I knew he had caught up. Spoiler. sucks.

I experienced the luxury of trying to load one of the other cameras only to find a totally different Valentino Rossi wearing red leathers.

My live watching was up to lap 2, then nothing but motogp music and logos until 9 laps to go. Very frustrated. I though I escaped the torture of SPEED ESPN.

The baseline is Yamaha have a superlative package for this and any season past. They have a baseline of factory riders that need no introduction. HRC do not have a champion at top level available to them,unlike last year. Its almost 2011 revisited...Back then it was a case of which Honda will win. Right now its a case of which Yamaha will win ? There exists only one spanner stuck in the M1 cog and that is Marquez. But,you all knew that anyway.
Bologna side. From an afficianado perspective, it was not too shabby from all 4.
This 3 or four tier title chase does not sit well with me,but thats the way it is for 2013.
Has the GPC ever considered adressing current disparities ? I guess not. HRC and Yamaha reserve and support factory kit against their basic sat kit and attended riders.
They need a wake up call. Both outfits,whether M1 or RC213 L (deliberate,that one).
No doubt about it, Rossi is by no means done and dusted. By contrast, Ducati are. I don't hear too much about Aprilia,Suzuki,Kawasaki and BMW joining the fray.
VW/AUDI/DUCATI. From where I sit,brand marketing is the issue for them within the current economic climate. The GP slugfest is a Nippon afair betwixt Yamaha and HRC. HRC domination at the end of days play,sans Dorna interference.
Anyway,the Qatar battle for 2nd was surely entertaining. The race itself for the win was as boring as ever. George cleared out. Superlative.

No doubt that Yamaha needs to step up their kit supply and even rethink their rationing of bits for factory vs. Tech 3 riders, but Yamaha is putting some good stuff out there at the Tech 3 level as evidenced by Dovi's success in 2012 and Crutchlow's 4th places finishes, his handful of podiums and his speed this season in testing and Qatar. That said, Cal just suffered from keeping his bike upright - he had DNFs at Indy, Misano, Japan and Malisa. You can't win or challenge if you don't finish. He is fast but last year he seemed to ride that bike "rough" whereas he seems to be much more gentle with his inputs this year.

Also, I also think Cal said a lot during his interviews post-race in Qatar, that he learned from watching VR that you need to put the pass on someone right away and not be so patient and laying in wait. Who knows, maybe had he come to this revelation last year, some of those 3rd places would be 2nds. I don't think he was going to beat JL last year (or this year). To that end, David's write up regarding inch-perfect racing vs. passing is hopefully spot on. I do think things are going to change and also agree that JL will not participate (I seem to remember him starting a few instances on track in 2010 that he couldn't handle and then calling for team orders so early in either 2011 or 12, I forget).

As for multiple tiers, while I am thrilled at the start of 2013, I can't wait to see how the Honda and Yamaha customer packages are going to run in 2014. I don't give Dorna much credit for anything, in fact I generally see them as "successful" in spite of all their efforts, but getting VR back to Yamaha and the changes for 2014 should see a better series. At least I hope. and pray. and pray again.

One race doesn't make a season, but the Quater round was a great story and a great start to the season. The Honda team and their resources will figure it out and they have two excellent riders. Initially, I thought it would be Dani's season given his consistent riding last year. Now, will he be over shadowed by a young and very talented Marquez. At te end of the day DORNA needs Rossi, he is the most colorful rider on the grid, and is arguebly the greatest ever, but does he still have the skills to ride up front.

Has returned after two years of letting some actor fill in for him at Ducati.

Now, other matters - what is the story about David Goldman being arrested and thrown in gaol at Qatar?

You know, I've never been that much fan of Dani and all, but he kinda grew in me during these last two years. He was riding decently, and he was more proper or likable than Stoner or definitely than Lorenzo when it comes to hear what he has to say. Before the Qatar race though, I felt absolutely sorry for the guy when he was asked if he was comfortable with a strong and more favorite teammate; poor Pedro answered with a smile almost instantly "well, I'm used to it, eh"... He should be in a mental vortex. When it matters, I believe he'd adapt to VR and MM style more than JL in fighting, though.

I wish Cal had a factory equipment in Tech3. He is a joy to watch and would be awesome if could join the alien-fight.

Bradl... He is a great fella. But somewhat limited. Or rather slow in progressing. He is riding factory Honda, I would expect him to be more close to the front. If Ianone (Doesn't he sound like a character from Murakami novels? ) had a factory Honda, it might have been different story. Ianone has the spirit. Similar to Espargaro.

I've watched the race multiple times now. I couldn't think if every race delivers at least this much of thrill. I'm so enjoying the season so far!

Yes, the racing is back. Best Moto GP race I've seen since Motegi 2010. Me and the missus were out of our sofa (as Brits though, sorry to see Cal run off and Bradley bin it)!

Really pleased that the series now has MM93 and VR46 to provide a show!

I agree with MSS 58 (I miss him too). Dorna could have brought on a boatload of paying customers if they had offered that race for free. I have in the past paid their 99 euro fee, awakened very early on many occaisions to watch it live, struggled through the frustration of lost feeds and other infuriating glitches. Greed runs the corporate world.