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.
‘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.
On the other hand, I’m reminded of the wise words of Australian cricketer and wartime pilot Keith Miller, who was asked by famed broadcaster Michael Parkinson how he dealt with the stresses and pressures of playing for his country.
“Listen, mate, a Messerschmitt up your arse is stress, this is just a f***ing game,” replied Miller, who had flown Mosquito fighter-bombers during the Second World War.
Of course, motorcycle racing is much more dangerous than cricket. The stresses and fears are very real, so it’s like going into battle when you engage first gear and charge towards the first corner.
In recent weeks many people have commented on the chilled demeanour of MotoGP title leader Joan Mir. The 23-year-old seems entirely untroubled by carrying the weight of the world championship on his shoulders. After scoring his first MotoGP victory at Valencia he was very eloquent and humble in explaining how he sees the situation.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.