Whilst the title of this post may seem a tad presumptuous, and it is with nothing certain in motorcycle racing it certainly looks a good bet!
While much of the fallout from Misano will revolve around Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Rossi, the last lap and the race run by Marc Marquez in Moto2 may go somewhat under the radar, but should not be overlooked at all.
With Marquez already firm favorite to claim the 2012 crown at a second time of asking he went into this weekend 43 points ahead of his nearest rival, fellow Spaniard Pol Espargaro. With an oil spillage in the first part of the race, it was soon red flagged, meaning there was a restart and a shorter race, 14 laps. Once the race got back away second time pole sitter Andrea Iannone soon took an early lead, meaning the fight behind commenced, Espargaro, Marquez and Espargaro’s team mate, Tito Rabat, getting his elbows out trying his best to get his team mate back into the title hunt.
I don’t want to dwell on the events of the race as much as want to put across just how well Marc Marquez rode and what he showed today, and we will see next season in the premier class with the big boys of motorcycle racing.
With the title challengers dropping Rabat, and soon catching and passing Iannone it was crucial for Espargaro to beat Marquez, for Marquez it wasn’t quite as essential to beat his challenger but would start to build a formidable lead.
Heading into the final lap it was the challenger who led, closer followed by Marquez, through the fast right left to start the lap, tight defensive lines from Espargaro meaning it was impossible to pass. Espargaro kept his tight line into the right harder at Rio, and then it was a flick left before the drag down to the querica corner. Marquez got the drive, got level and put a block pass into the right hander, good idea to wait and make it a block pass to ensure Pol couldn’t get straight back past, but the block pass wasn’t as good as initially thought as Espargaro kept it open and drove round the outside of Marquez and in turn got himself ahead at the right hander at Tramonto. Now it was the long drag down the back with the flat out curvone, no chance of a pass there this time, both riders had the throttle pinned wide open, Marquez was setting himself up for another block pass into the to bottom right hander at Carro. But this was where the race was won, Marquez got the drive and dived up the inside, but this time he made sure his block pass worked, he ran himself too deep into the corner, there was nowhere for Espargaro to go so he had to sit himself up, by which point Marquez was round the corner and heading off over the line. Race win number 7 was now sorted.
Whilst I don’t want to dwell on the fact Marc has won another Moto2 race, it was more what he did inside his helmet that impressed me. He knew how long was left, he knew where he was going to overtake and he did not panic when he found his plan get slightly disrupted when he lost the lead on the final lap. It is the unflappable nature that he has shown even from his 125cc days to be able to brush off mistakes and forget what’s happened and concentrate on what’s ahead of him. This was first shown to us with his seasonal win at Estoril back in 2010 when crashing on the sighting lap before coming through and winning in a shortened race, and this was evident again when Marc had a big tank slapping wobble coming out of the final corner.
Being fast is one thing, being fast and having the race craft and intelligence in the heat of the moment is something which differentiates between good riders and great riders. He had the presence of mind to know when to block pass, save his tyres when required and keep calm.
Marquez didn’t have to win this race, there are 5 races left and even if Marquez had settled and crossed the line in second he would’ve still had a commanding 43 point lead in the world championship, but that’s not the way he works, he wants to win, he wants to win every race he starts. As a result of his win not only has he extended his lead in the title to 53 points, it is now over 2 race wins clear, covering injury or problems in the remaining rounds, but it’s the psychological damage it will do to Espargaro and the others.
Whilst I said at the start nothing is certain and it only takes a problem or a crash and a broken collar bone to blow it all wide open again, he has kept his head, not panicked and shown the world just how good he is. Whilst there has been some trepidation regarding him getting the vacated Honda RC213V vacated by Casey Stoner at the end of this season I don’t think even the biggest haters can begrudge him the success he is getting and the opportunities he is getting.
I hope for the sake of the series and for the sport in general that next season Marquez can take this aggressive, competitive lack of respect and confidence into the premier class, and if he does this, combined with the race craft and a elite team behind him there is no reason why we can’t expect to see Marquez challenging for race wins certainly and what’s to say he won’t be still in with a chance of a maiden crown in MotoGP this time in 12 months.