Marc Marquez comes into MotoGP with a sensational reputation. Some people think that he will crash, flop and fail. Others see him as a podium finisher. I however see Marc Marquez as a title contender for 2013.
Whilst it may seem rash and I could be accused of being caught up in the moment with the hype surrounding the Spanish teenager, I will tell you why I think the history books could be ripped up next season when Marquez enters the MotoGP fray.
The first thing to note about Marquez “title challenge” next season is that he is on the best bike. The M1 may have had the early season advantage in 2012, but the Honda RC213V won eight of the last nine races, and the only race which wasn’t won by a Repsol Honda, was the Misano GP where Pedrosa was knocked off after a problem starting from pole. So Marquez will be hopping on a race winning back, of that there is no question.
As well as impressive form in the second half of the season, Repsol Honda won the constructors title, showing the title credentials the bike has. A race winning and title winning bike for the rookie.
Not only is Marquez getting onto the best bike, he is getting a factory bike. He will be given the best pieces, for the best bike as soon as they become available. He will get anything and everything custom made for him to make the bike as perfect, and comfortable as possible for the Spaniard.
The next obstacle in Marquez’s path is he will have adapt from his Suter Moto2 to the more powerful 228bhp Honda prototype. And the early indications are he is taking to the MotoGP like a duck to water.
Testing times from Valencia and Sepang show just how will Marquez has started his adaptation, he is around a second of the best times of the test, after just approximately 100 laps on his new bike.
Speaking after the test he said, “In the end I am very happy because my lap time was pretty constant and I feel a good rhythm on the bike now.
“Physically, I’m happy – for sure I need to do some work now in the winter to arrive at the next test stronger and fitter but in general I feel good, even on the longer run of 10 laps today, the lap time was consistent and I felt strong.
“It’s been a good test and I feel we have improved each day.
“We tested many things today, we knew that some wouldn’t work but it gives us an idea and direction for the testing here in February next year.”
Yes he makes good points, he will have to bulk up, and get stronger. Not a big man by any stretch of the imagination, but the professional set up around him will ensure he comes into MotoGP in the best possible shape.
As well as times, pictures and videos show Marquez hanging off the side of the bike and sliding around corners like a seasoned pro aboard a GP monster. Marquez looked confident and aggressive on his new bike.
If this progression and improvement continues Marquez will be on the pace come Qatar that’s for sure.
Right, well we have now established that Marquez will be on a race winning bike, and that he will have the pace to run at the front. But what about his race craft? Does he have the race craft to challenge?
Well in one word, yes.
The Spaniard has claimed a sensational 26 victories, and 37 podiums in his past three seasons of Grand Prix racing across the 125 and Moto2 classes. That is an average of a win every 1.88 races he starts. Quite remarkable.
Along with being a race winner, and having the know how to win races, Marquez has also shown his ability to race wheel to wheel. A Moto2 World Champion, and Moto2 runner up (many argue he would have won the title in 2011 in he didn’t get injured in Sepang practice) shows he can run and race in a ultra competitive class, and he isn’t afraid to get his elbows out when required.
If winning that many races doesn’t show his race craft, there are three races which will show it more than anything. Estoril 2010, Motegi 2012, Valencia 2012, three races in which Marquez has had cut through the field to take sensational victories.
He didn’t let it bother him, he found himself in the right part of the track at the right time. At no point did he didn’t panic when seeing a gap in front of him, or having riders around him. Composure and class helped him cut through the field on all three occasions like a hot knife through better. But arguably Marquez’s biggest strength is his overtaking ability.
Whilst many riders are tentative and wait too long to overtake riders, Marquez always does it at the earliest possible opportunity, sometimes it gets him in trouble, but more often than not it moves him closer to the front of the race.
Marquez has a killer instinct. Off the track a Marc could be mistaken for a choir boy, but Marquez is a totally different animal. An air of arrogance on the race track, supreme confidence treating on track rivals with disdain. How dare they be on the same track as him?
He isn’t afraid and knows how to overtake. An underrated skill now in GP racing.
Well, we have now established that Marquez will be on a race winning bike, with pace to run at the front of the field, with sensational race craft, and the ability to overtake and win. It all looks good for the boy from Cervera.
What about crashes I hear you say?
Well Marquez is no stranger to crashes, big ones too (Sepang 2011 practice crash tops the lot) but he hasn’t let it affect his racing.
Crashes can do one of two things for a rider, it can dent confidence, and scare a rider. Or it can help the rider. They can use it to know where the limit is, and know not to make the same mistake twice. Marquez definitely falls into the latter category.
Estoril 2010 is a perfect example of how Marquez can brush crashes off. In his penultimate 125cc race, Marquez crashed on the sighting lap to the grid, at the final corner, of a must win race. Having the bike repaired in pit lane, and as a result starting from the back of the grid. That would be enough to stop, and crush lesser riders, but it was still not enough to stop Marquez taking the victory, and that is just one many examples.
In MotoGP, especially for a rookie, crashes are inevitable, and you have to learn from them, but the signs are that Marquez will indeed do that.
Marquez also posses the impressive skill of being able to save crashes on his knee and elbow. MotoGP riders “crash” throughout every single weekend, but manage to push themselves back onto the fat part of the tyre are save the crash from their elbows and knees.
This has been a skill evident right throughout Marquez’s Grand Prix career, and a skill which will only assist him in his MotoGP quest.
One factor, out of Marquez’s control, and arguably the biggest factor stopping him from even becoming 2013 MotoGP World Champion is his rivals.
Marquez has the pace to run at the front, and to win races, but so does everybody in MotoGP. Teammate Dani Pedrosa, and Yamaha duo Valentino Rossi and 2010 & ’12 World Champion Jorge Lorenzo, will all provide stiff competition for Marquez next season.
The level of consistency displayed by compatriots Pedrosa and Lorenzo was sensational last season, with the added competition of 9-time world champion Valentino Rossi, wins won’t be as forthcoming, nor as straight forward as they have been in the past.
Marquez was able to dismiss riders in lesser classes, almost bully them. There is not a chance he will be able to do that in MotoGP.
MotoGP legend, and title rival Valentino Rossi is one of many fans of Marquez, and likes the Spaniard. “I like Marquez a lot. His style, his skill and his aggression is good to follow and he is a talented guy.
“But sometimes it is a bit too much and I hope with MotoGP it is different. With MotoGP the speed is higher and I think it is more dangerous, so I think naturally he will be more quiet.”
Being on track with people like Pedrosa and Rossi will be a dream for Marquez, but he can’t, and won’t, let himself to become star struck, but he must also show them the respect they deserve. There is a fine line Marquez will have to tread in 2013, but I think he has the mentality and ability to execute it.
Whilst I haven’t said, and don’t think that Marquez will win the 2013 MotoGP world championship, I do think, with reasons stated above, that Marquez will certainly be in the hunt.
The experience Lorenzo, Rossi and Pedrosa posses on the MotoGP machines, and they have of the class will ultimately tell in my opinion, but underestimate Marquez at your peril.
I think he will win more than three races in 2013. Yes crashes will come, but the “old head on young shoulders” will see him learn, progress and not make the same mistake twice.
With the crew around him, headed by Emilio Alzamora, and assisted by the likes of Cristian Gabbarini, and Santi Hernandez, Marquez couldn’t be surrounded with a better team for his MotoGP debut.
Marc Marquez will be a title challenger in 2013, of that I have no doubt, and with his introduction to MotoGP, the contingent of “aliens” in MotoGP, will remain at four, even with Stoner’s retirement.