Mat Oxley's blog

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Can racing ever be too safe?

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.


Can racing ever be too safe?

Here are a few philosophical questions for you. Can motorcycle racing ever be too safe? Or how safe/dangerous should MotoGP be? Should MotoGP return to the Isle of Man TT and damn the consequences, or should Dorna take advantage of the trillions of dollars available from Middle Eastern oil nations keen to establish mind-bogglingly ostentatious racetracks in their kingdoms, with thousands of metres of sandy runoff at every corner?

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why the fans love Goodwood

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 fans love Goodwood

I never made it to Assen. Instead of heading north east last week I found myself running in the opposite direction, towards Goodwood.

Goodwood’s Festival of Speed is Glastonbury for petrol-heads or Ascot with engines, if you hang out around the Drivers’ Club where there’s a lot of bouffants and blazers. Most of all it’s a living, breathing, ear-shattering museum of motor sport.

That’s the main reason the Festival of Speed attracts a crowd of 150,000 (it would be bigger but they’re not allowed to sell more tickets for fear of grid-locking West Sussex). Unlike most sports, motorcycle racing and car racing have a vast material history. You wouldn’t (well, I wouldn’t) travel halfway across the country to see a hundred years of football goalposts or cricket stumps, but you would (well, I would) go many miles to check out Freddie Spencer’s 1985 Rothmans Honda NSR500 and Giacomo Agostini’s 1969 MV Agusta.

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.”

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.

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.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Open season on the factory teams

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.


Open season on the factory teams

No doubt who was the star of last week’s Sepang tests, even if Marc Márquez did stun his rivals with a ridiculously fast race simulation on the final day.

Márquez’s ominous speed on Honda’s latest RC213V wasn’t entirely unexpected, whereas the pace of Aleix Espargaró on his Open-spec Yamaha M1 had a few jaws dropping up and down pitlane. The young Spaniard’s best lap was less than half a second slower than Márquez and within a couple of tenths of factory Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo.

Espargaró’s speed suggests that the best Open-class bikes will have a chance of fighting for podiums this year, especially at thirstier tracks where their 20 per cent extra fuel may give them a real advantage over factory bikes. It also confirms that Dorna’s control software – mandatory on Open bikes – is working pretty damn well.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP: Silly season or stupid season?

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: Silly season or stupid season?

So, the silly season started early this year; in mid-January to be precise. Next year it’ll start this year, if you see what I mean.

HRC say they may try to grab Jorge Lorenzo for 2015 and other rumours have the twice MotoGP world champ negotiating with Ducati.

No surprise about Honda. First, why wouldn’t HRC try to buy the man who’s their only serious threat to world domination? It’s the oldest trick in the book: by stealing your average rival’s top player you boost your own hopes, while dismantling those of your opposition.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley: Inside the mind of Casey Stoner

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.


Inside the mind of Casey Stoner

I spent some of the festive break reading Casey Stoner’s autobiography, Pushing the Limits. It’s an enjoyable book and should be required reading for any aspiring kid racer (presuming they’ve been off the bike long enough to learn to read) and for any parents of same.

Stoner’s abilities and his success confirm the verity of the 10,000 hour rule which suggests that’s the minimum amount of time you need to spend doing any pursuit if you want to be world-beating good at it. In other words, there are no short cuts on the way to the top – it’s just work, work and more work.

The young Casey Stoner

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