It has been very difficult to keep up with the number of records that Marc Marquez broke this season in MotoGP. Therefore we shall not talk about all of them. What is very relevant now is that he has broken Freddie Spencer’s record of becoming the youngest ever World Champion in the premier class (500 cc two strokes in Spencer’s case and MotoGP four stroke 1000 cc in Marquez’s case) at the age of 20 yrs. In doing so Marquez has achieved many milestones (forget the records) that are sure to bother and prick the egos of other riders who are still racing in MotoGP and others who have quit MotoGP. Here the allusion is to Casey Stoner, an exceptional talent on a motorcycle, but a whiner and crier who had problems relating to people in the world. Stoner left MotoGP last year after a series of complaints which involved everything in the world; how MotoGP is no longer a challenge, Rossi fans are bad, the press is horrible, the paddock has no respect for the departed (Marco Simoncelli), Ducati was diabolical, Rossi was a good for nothing, poverty prevailing in Ethiopia, too many Indians in Australia, USA electing Obama a second time…okay the last three were not his complaints but they could very well have been.
In quitting racing at a young age of 26 years (reminiscent of Bjorn Borg doing the same at the same age in tennis) Stoner was taking a calculated risk; something that was born out of his arrogance. He believed that he was teaching Dorna and its CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta a lesson and leaving a gaping hole in MotoGP which would not and could not be filled. Stoner’s exit was a God sent gift for Marquez. Suddenly there was an empty seat at Repsol Honda, the main factory team, an option that not everyone gets (it involved changing the rookie rules to put Marquez directly in the factory team) and Marquez with the help of Dorna found himself in that team. Marquez that way has been incredibly lucky; just see Pol Espargaro who despite the scrapping of the rookie rule finds himself with a ride only with the satellite Yamaha team, Tech 3 Yamaha. Stoner’s gambit failed as Marc Marquez brought with him a freshness to the MotoGP paddock both on and off the bike and accomplished all the things that Stoner could not. Its a pity Marquez did not thank Stoner after he won the World Championship at Valencia.
The knees and elbows style of Marc Marquez which made him look like he was hanging of the Honda and about to fall.
Stoner’s reputation was not the only one that was rendered obsolete. Valentino Rossi’s reputation as a rider and as a key figure in MotoGP who drew huge crowds also took a fair beating thanks to the genial and every smiling persona of Marquez. Is he really that? We don’t know, but he did warm the cockles of the heart of many a MotoGP fan. The dance that Marquez did on the podium post presentations was indicative that you did not have to be a Rossi to know how to celebrate. Marquez also destroyed Dani Pedrosa’s reputation and probably his confidence as well. Pedrosa has been with the Repsol Honda factory team for aeons now and has not yet won a world title. It can be argued that Pedrosa had his share of bad luck; fair enough. But when you are in MotoGP on the factory Honda right from the beginning and yet do not become a World Champion the picture of Pedrosa that comes through cannot be ignored. It has often been said that while Pedrosa is not lacking in talent, he certainly is in his will power. That is what differentiates Pedrosa not only from Marquez who was on equal equipment but also from Jorge Lorenzo who is supposedly on inferior equipment from Yamaha.
Another of the reputations that took a slight beating was that of Lorenzo. For a while now, commentators and journalists have sung praises about the smoothness and precision that Lorenzo brought to MotoGP and how that is perhaps the de facto style of riding that one should have to adopt in order to win races and world championships. However, Marquez has brought back the glorious tradition of past masters who set up their bike loose and preferred it wagging its tail and also use the rear while for turning the bike around corners. Marquez’s still does not have finesse perhaps, but it is far more entertaining to watch than any other rider’s style and most importantly it is effective.
Marc Marquez won the MotoGP World Championship despite a botched up pit stop strategy (by Emilio Alzamora and Santi Hernandez) which saw him being black flagged in the Australian GP at Philip Island that saw him go home without a single point. In all the races that Marquez had completed this year he has ended up on the podium. So consistency has been one of his outstanding achievements this year and he was able to do this riding most unlike Lorenzo. There is no denying that good fortune had its role in his winning the World Championship. Both Lorenzo and Pedrosa fell and broke their collarbones and had to ride at less than 100% in a few races. Marquez’s crashes this season exceeded everyone else’s in the MotoGP field but he came out unscathed. Even when he dislocated his shoulder, it somehow popped back into its socket with just a little help from the doctors.
There was only one crash that Marquez had in a race and that is the only time he did not finish on the podium apart from the time when he was black flagged. He was fortunate, no doubt, but then there must be some meaning in the adage “Fortune favours the brave”. Bravery is one quality that young Marquez seems to possess. He has never been fazed by the accidents in the practice sessions. And after winning the World Championship Marc Marquez showed another side of his personality; one which is perhaps more scary if you are his opponent. He said that he did not expect or really want to win the world championship so soon and then went on to say that this victory will make the future more difficult since he may not always be able to better what he has done. That shows that his feet are firmly on the ground and that there is no confusion in his head. Dangerous combination. It will be interesting to see how he goes in 2014.