Mat Oxley

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Current page

173

Current page

174

Current page

175

Current page

176

Current page

177

Current page

178

Current page

179

Rossi’s last chance

The MotoGP world championship has lacked its most important component over the past two seasons: Valentino Rossi running at the sharp end. No one knows exactly how many MotoGP fans support the Italian, but let’s just say his followers on Twitter almost outnumber the rest of the grid combined.

Now, after two agonising seasons at Ducati, Rossi will line up for the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix on April 7 aboard a Yamaha YZR-M1, the latest version of the bike he rode to four world titles between 2004 and 2009.

Still smarting from his inglorious recent past, Rossi has stayed humble during the winter, predicting that this year’s World Championship (motorcycle racing’s 65th) will be fought out by new/old team-mate Jorge Lorenzo and Honda’s Dani Pedrosa. But is that really what he thinks?

Rossi is once again exuding confidence — laughing and joking in the pits, instead of sitting slumped in his chair, overcome with a sense of foreboding. And he is overjoyed to be back on a motorcycle that actually responds to his inputs. “It’s like another world… like another sport!”

Yamaha’s M1 might not be the fastest bike on the grid, but it is the best tool for winning a World Championship. Honda’s RC213V is quicker on its day, but the M1 is a more benign machine that works well at more tracks. So Rossi has no worries about equipment, nor his own capabilities, because test pace proves he hasn’t lost his talent, nor the will to use it.

The most fascinating challenge for the nine-time world champ will be his team-mate. So far Rossi and Lorenzo are doing an excellent job of pretending that all is sweetness and light at Yamaha: painting on their best smiles for PR shoots while keeping up a steady flow of compliments and back slaps. It’s a comical dialogue, however, considering the world knows full well that they really don’t like each other.

Last time they were together at Yamaha, Rossi insisted — rather childishly, it must be said — that the team divide the garage with a wall. The wall was very real — seven feet tall and decorated with the requisite logos — yet it was also a psychological barrier, designed to split the team down the middle. It worked, though not in the way Rossi had intended. During 2010 Yamaha let it be known that they considered Lorenzo to be their main man, so Rossi walked out, unable to face being number two in a team that had once been all his own. He paid a heavy price for allowing his ego to dictate his actions.

Now he’s back, as team number two, and with a burning determination to prove he’s as fast as he ever was.

The dark climax of Rossi’s and Lorenzo’s first three years at Yamaha came at Motegi near the end of 2010, when Lorenzo was on the verge of securing his first crown and Rossi was going for his first podium since he broke a leg. The pair had a heated argument over third place, at one point tangling knees and elbows. After the race Yamaha bosses gave Rossi a good talking-to, suggesting he had put their title in jeopardy.

Rossi faked remorse for the benefit of his employers, then told the press: “Yamaha asked me to race with more attention. So, next time I will try to beat him again.., with more attention!”.

The 34-year-old knows this is his last chance to win again in MotoGP and exact revenge on the man who stole his team. He won’t waste the chance, but bettering Lorenzo’s metronomic consistency over a season is a huge challenge.

Rossi is no fool and always knew this time would come. Four years ago he said this about Lorenzo and MotoGP’s other rising stars. “They are like sharks circling around me. If I am not strong, I know they will eat me in one bite. They look at me with a little bit of blood flowing and maybe they think, ‘OK, now is the time’.”

Related articles

Related products