MotoMatters.com 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 are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Blue on blue
Forty years ago this Saturday Jaws was released in cinemas. The film’s theme tune still reverberates in people’s minds: a spooky riff synonymous with approaching danger.
Over the past four races Jorge Lorenzo has bitten shark-sized chunks out of Valentino Rossi; 28 points, to be exact. With seven rounds done and 11 to go, he is just one point adrift of his team-mate and poised for the kill. Or is he? Perhaps Lorenzo’s momentum is unstoppable or perhaps Rossi can rally himself.
Of course, the nine-time champ has been here before. Way back in 2009 he likened Lorenzo and the other new kids on the block to sharks. “If I am not strong, I know they will eat me in one bite,” he said. “They look at me with a little bit of blood flowing and maybe they think, OK, now is the time.”
Last year Rossi reinvented himself, learning a new way of riding, more from Lorenzo than from Marc Márquez. When he returned to Yamaha the Italian studied Lorenzo’s data and worked out how to run with the youngsters. On Sunday his pace was a mere 0.03 seconds a lap off Lorenzo’s, but even that’s not enough when he’s 1.3 seconds behind after the third lap.
Lorenzo said it at Catalunya: “Valentino is a Sunday rider”. So that’s what Rossi needs to do, he needs to learn how to become a Saturday rider by learning the precarious skill of exiting the pits and attacking the first corner like it’s the last, even though the tyres aren’t up to temperature.
It is this skill – some might call it a monumental leap of faith – that has got Lorenzo where he is now. In qualifying he rides out of pitlane and explodes into action; he doesn’t work his way up to speed over a few laps. And he does the same in the race, giving himself the clear track he needs to use his unique lines.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.