Posted: 22 May 2013
He is the sensation of this year’s MotoGP championship, bringing a breath of fresh air and excitement to a series that had become somewhat stereotyped and predictable. Marc Marquez is a happy smiling figure around the paddock while on track his enthusiasm, drive and skill are bringing many comparisons to his own sporting idol, the nine times champion of the World Valentino Rossi.
Marquez is taking his “rookie” term among the sport’s elite by storm, chalking up a victory amid four podium finishes from the four rounds held so far to be only six points down in the title stakes on his more experienced Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa, the overall runner-up of last season.
He is calculating, a fast learner who made the step into World Championship racing at the tender age of 15 years and 56 days, racing in the Portuguese round of 2008 – ten weeks later he was standing on the Silverstone podium and with his performances catching the eyes of the power-brokers he was a factory KTM rider in 2009, winning the World 125cc crown in 2010.
That brought graduation for him into the frenetic world of Moto2 action, but he was soon settled into the groove and was heading towards the title with strong performances, one of which came after he had been penalised for “irresponsible riding” in qualifying for the Australian round which he started from the back of the pack but came through to finish third. But, his drive for the crown was halted by a tumble in Malaysia in the aftermath of which he suffered vision problems.
Marquez made up for lost ground in 2012 as he took the Moto2 title in a season that saw him confirmed as the replacement for the retiring MotoGP champion Casey Stoner and with a two-year deal to ride for the Repsol Honda team. It was a surprise move that provided plenty of talking points in the paddock at the time, but it has proved a shrewd winning by them.
He was up for the challenge in his first race in the big-time, stunning Pedrosa under the floodlights of Losail in the Qatar round as he eased ahead of him to take third place, crossing the line adrift of the Yamaha duo of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi. Was it a “flash in the pan?” Marquez responded in the only way he knew. The rider who had turned 20 years of age a couple of months earlier flew into the Circuit of the Americas in Texas and took it by storm. Pole position followed by the race victory, and with it the joint lead in the championship.
By now, no-one needed convincing that he was the “special one.” Come Jerez and he packed a punch at the last corner of the last lap, pulling of an audacious, harsh move to snatch second place away from an angry Lorenzo. Pedrosa won the race, but Marquez led the standings.
And so to last weekend’s race in the wet at Le Mans. The first time Marquez had raced the bike in those conditions. He had pole start but dropped back to eighth, made a couple of mistakes, but fought back coming through to third just adrift of Cal Crutchlow as Pedrosa won.
Marquez slipped to second in the standings, six points down on his team-mate, but he is proving himself worthy of the tag of being the next Rossi.