Editor's Blog

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Homage to Catalunya

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.


Homage to Catalunya

In September Scotland will decide whether it wants to split from Great Britain, after three centuries together. Two months later the Catalan people will vote in a referendum to decide whether Catalunya will split from Spain, also after 300 years together, following the conquest of the region by the Bourbon kings.

This is a huge political issue, much bigger than anything to do with motorcycling, but if Catalunya does gain the independence it craves it will become the greatest bike racing nation on earth, even greater than Spain.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Putting the brakes on

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.


Putting the brakes on

Many years ago I asked Wayne Rainey what’s the fastest he had been on a motorcycle. He told me 201mph at Yamaha’s Fukuroi test track. How did that feel? “It felt like it needed another tooth off the rear,” he replied. In other words, the speed itself meant zilch; his only concern was gaining more speed by raising the gearing a fraction. Not even a hint of a buzz or of fear. “It doesn’t matter if you’re doing 150 or 205,” he added. “You don’t feel the sensation.”

On the correct gearing a 2014 YZR-M1 would surpass 220mph at Fukuroi, which is why many MotoGP riders are now asking for top speeds to be reduced. MotoGP bosses agree on this one because they are terrified of the consequences of a 200mph-plus accident.

“We have the first signals that something may happen on the straight, so this is what we must address now, says Dorna’s Director of Technology Corrado Cecchinelli. “We have to do something.”

Editor's Blog: Mugello Road Trip - Day 3, Why High Hills Are Better Than Big Mountains

I'm here at last. After three days, 1497 kms and 18 hours in the saddle, I have checked in to my hotel on the outskirts of Florence. The last day was definitely the best day, except perhaps for the last few miles, but that's a whole different story.

Starting from Lake Garda, I headed down the western shore of the lake. The downside of the Italian lakes is that they are so very steep sided, meaning you find yourself spending a lot of time in tunnels. This is the case for Garda's western shore, the mountain rising almost sheer from the side of the lake. The upside of the Italian lakes is that when you're not in a tunnel, the scenery is stunning: the blue water of the lake, the snow-capped peaks of the mountains at either side, the sheer limestone cliffs, and the many palaces and villas built here by rich Italian nobility in the 18th and 19th century. A beautiful, if somewhat surreal part of the world.


Looking out over Lake Garda

Editor's Blog: Mugello Road Trip - Day 2: The Rain In Austria Falls Mainly On Me

Day two of my trek to Mugello was the highlight of the trip, when seen from the comfort of the desk in my office. From southern Germany through Austria, taking in a pass or two, then on into Italy and a choice of options, depending on my mood and the time I would need to find lodgings.

Unfortunately, I had not reckoned with two things: the first was the weather; the second was my own stupidity. I had drawn up a back up route in case of poor weather, but it was different in only one aspect. I had intended on riding the Hahntennjoch in Austria, a slightly less well-known pass, but one with a reputation for being a great ride. After reading that the pass is infamous for mud and rock slides, I added a back up route in case it rained. And boy did it rain.


Rain
. There was a lot of it

Editor's Blog: Mugello Road Trip - Day 1, Into Bavaria

Day 1 is in the books, and it was a pretty decent day's riding. A little over 700kms from my home near Arnhem in the Netherlands, down to Cologne and then crossing the Rhine to follow the western route southwards via the A61. It is a far more scenic road, avoiding the heavy traffic of the Ruhrgebiet, skirting the Eifel mountains and passing just east of the Nurburgring. South of Koblenz, and the road crosses the Moselle valley. On the steep northern slopes of the Moselle, the road authorities have built a viewing point and service station, where you can admire the view.

The Moselle stop is an unusual one. As inspired as the German autobahns are, their usual choice of location for a rest stop tends to be rather dull. Hidden by trees, with no view other than trees, long distance trucks and, at the moment, plenty of bikers and vacationers all heading south for the sun. The view from the road is glorious, though stopping to take photos of the view is unwise. With traffic pelting past at very high speed, it is hard to hold your camera / phone still with Audi S8s blowing by at 200 km/h plus...

Editor's Blog: My Two-Wheeled Pilgrimage To Mugello Begins On Monday

The wonderful thing about working in MotoGP is being surrounded on all sides by motorcycles. It is therefore rather ironic that one of the downsides to working in MotoGP is that it leaves you with very little time to actually ride a motorcycle yourself. Your days are taken up with hanging around in airports, travel back and forth to race tracks, chasing news and information, managing a website, and a large amount of utterly unglamorous but exceptionally necessary administration. If talking to the greats of motorcycle racing is the high point, filling in endless spreadsheets for the tax man is surely the low point. 

From time to time, however, I do get a chance to ride. Assen, Silverstone and the Sachsenring are all races which are close enough to travel to by motorcycle (I do not own a car, and haven't for twelve years or so). Though it is a wonderful feeling to spend some real time in the saddle, the trip is too often just a single day, spent largely on highways. And as everyone knows, motorcycles are made for curves, not straights.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Mugello: Holy of Holies

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.


Mugello: Holy of Holies

The psyche of most racers is a precarious thing. Their confidence is like a magician’s conjuring trick – it can disappear in a puff of smoke. There’s something almost spiritual or hallucinatory about that inner belief: one moment it’s definitely there, though you’re not really sure why, then the next it’s gone, like you never had it in the first place and like you may never find it again.

Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo currently stand on the opposite sides of that trick of self-confidence (or self-delusion if you prefer). Confidence builds confidence which builds confidence. That’s where Rossi stands right now. Lack of confidence diminishes confidence which then further reduces confidence. That’s where Jorge Lorenzo sits huddled now.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Round, black and…

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.


Round, black and…

So, at the end of next season, MotoGP will switch from one brand of round black things to another brand of round black things. Big deal; tyrezzzzzzzzz.

Of course it’s not a big deal, it’s a huge deal. Swapping tyre brands can make or break a rider’s career. Likewise it can transform a winning motorcycle into an unrideable and vice-versa. In other words, saying goodbye to Bridgestone and hello to a different tyre manufacturer could upset the MotoGP status quo, which, depending on who you are will either be a good thing or a bad thing. A change of tyres could also have a major effect on the quality of the racing.

When Michelin ruled

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Who’s cheating now?

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.


Who’s cheating now?

So that’s the 2014 MotoGP championship dusted, best talk about something else…

We’re going to talk about rules, not MotoGP rules, World Superbike rules, and not so much the rules themselves, but the breaking of those rules. There’s been quite a lot of that going on in WSB during recent years, if paddock whispers are to be believed.

Race-winning and title-winning factory teams have been running cheater frames, trying to find an edge over their rivals. It’s got to the stage where pretty everyone is doing it, but all that’s about to change.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Marc Márquez: 'He’s playing'

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.


Marc Márquez: “He’s playing”

If you are a MotoGP rider, may I suggest you don’t read the following, but if you insist on putting yourself through the pain, might I suggest cracking open a beer and then afterwards you can arrange an appointment with your doctor who may be able to subscribe a course of anti-depressants; say 60mg of Prozac or 20mg of Citalopram, just to keep your pecker up, that’s all.

If you are a MotoGP rider who doesn’t go by the name of Marc Márquez, the deeply depressing reality is that whatever you are doing out there is no longer enough. It’s like someone has changed the rules of the game and no one bothered to tell you and now it’s too late to catch up.

Editor's Blog: MotoMatters.com Migrating To A New Server - Disruption Possible

The ongoing success of MotoMatters.com means we have to expand. Monday 31st March and Tuesday 1st April, we will be moving from one server to a new one, with more processing power, more memory, and better able to handle the demands of growing traffic. 

While this is good news in the long term, it is likely to cause some disruption to our service. Over the next couple of days, the website could become unavailable for short periods of time. As we are moving to another server, it may take a few hours for this change to register with the DNS system, the worldwide system which ensures that your computer can locate any website on the internet. The website move may also impact email, so any emails being sent to MotoMatters.com may be delayed for a few hours.

Once the move is complete, the website should be more responsive, and ready for the challenge of the next year or two. Thank you in advance for your patience, and thank you especially for reading and supporting the website over the past seven years. If you'd like to make a financial contribution towards the move - and the continuing success and existence of the site - you can take out a subscription and become a MotoMatters.com Supporter, send us a donation, buy a MotoMatters.com calendar, or just Paypal money to sales@motomatters.com.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP’s young guns and old dogs

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.


MotoGP’s young guns and old dogs

That Qatar race was pretty special and not only because it was hugely entertaining, but because one of the riders battling for victory was almost old enough to be the other’s dad.

Valentino Rossi turned 35 in February, just a few days before Marc Márquez hit 21. That’s an age difference of 14 years, which isn’t something that happens very often in professional sport; in fact, has it ever happened before in motorcycle Grand Prix racing?

Past battles

The question prompted me to trawl through my history books for evidence of a similar generation gap at the sharp end of premier-class GPs.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Moving MotoGP’s goal posts

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.


Moving MotoGP’s goal posts

And here come the players, out of the tunnel and into the stadium; just 15 minutes to go before the opening game of the 2014 World Cup, and the noise and the tension in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium are almost unbearable…

Wait, hang on a moment. There’s something very strange going on at the end of the pitch to my left. There’s a group of FIFA officials and they’re digging up the goalposts! I can’t believe it: they’re moving the goalposts! And there’s more FIFA people doing the same thing at the other end of the pitch, moving those goalposts five metres to the right…

It wouldn’t happen, would it?

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why the door was left Open for Ducati

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.


Why the door was left Open for Ducati

Dorna’s Open plan is to get all the factories using their software to make MotoGP racing closer and safer. Open this, Open that, Open the other; that was all everyone was talking about at Sepang last week.

Aleix Espargaró ended the test at the sharp end and ahead of three of the four Factory-spec Yamahas on his Open-spec YZR-M1. It will be a huge thrill to have Espargaró battling up front, putting a few factory noses out of joint.

The even bigger deal at Sepang was Ducati deciding it’s no longer a factory team but is instead an Open team. Honda and Yamaha are raging about this because the whole point of the Open regs was to give poorer privateer teams a helping hand, not to help one factory outflank the others.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The death of bike racing in the US?

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.


The death of bike racing in the US?

I’m at Sepang, where the pitlane reverberates to the sound of two dozen MotoGP bikes warming up for the second pre-season test of the year.

Despite criticism and the slings and arrows of the global economic crisis (which has now been going on longer than the Second World War), MotoGP isn’t in bad shape. There are more bikes on the grid than at any time since the glory days of the 990s, when the free-spending tobacco industry paid most of the bills. And there are more rounds than ever before; at least there were until the Brasilia race dropped off the calendar.

Contrast this to the fortunes of America’s AMA Superbike championship, which is in deep, deep crisis.

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