Guest Blog: Mat Oxley: A changing of the guard in MotoGP
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.
A changing of the guard in MotoGP
That was quite a weekend in all kinds of ways. But most of all it was a changing of the guard. As Marc Márquez rode his victory lap at Valencia, cheered all the way by the frenzied Spanish crowd, Valentino Rossi rode back to his pit for the last time to be greeted by Jeremy Burgess. When JB and VR started working together at Jerez in December 1999, kid genius Márquez was six years old and had just started motocross.
You can imagine the atmosphere in both pits was somewhat different: complete joy at Repsol Honda, sad goodbyes on one side of the Yamaha garage, the inexorable rise of the young warrior and the gradual, inevitable demise of an old warhorse.
A history of success
I found myself getting a bit emotional about JB’s departure. During my rookie season as a GP journo – 1988 – JB was working with defending champ Wayne Gardner. WG was having a horrible year: every race looked like a fight to the death with his Honda NSR500. The previous year’s NSR had been a sweet-handling (ish) rocketship – good enough to take Gardner to the title ahead of Eddie Lawson’s Yamaha.
But, as was the tradition in those days, HRC changed their whole 500 GP engineering group for the following season and the new engineers created a horrible piece of machinery, which tried to kill Gardner every time he got on it.
Finally JB got out the hacksaw and the welding kit, cut and shut the frame and the swingarm and all of a sudden Gardner was on a roll. He won three straight races and was leading a humdinger of a race at Circuit Paul Ricard (arguably the greatest premier-class confrontation of all time) when his engine ate itself. The title returned to Lawson and Yamaha.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.