Author: Bike Social Sports Reporter Posted: 11 Jul 2014
Valentino Rossi is the most successful Grand Prix motorcycle racer of the modern era. He’s won 106 races across all three classes, finished on the podium 188 times accumulating a whopping 4986 points in MotoGP over a career that spans eighteen years.
In his heyday, Rossi was literally unbeatable and even if he was beaten to a championship, he’d come back fighting the following season. His achievements led to him being dubbed the ‘GOAT’, Greatest of all time. It was difficult to see how anybody in our lifetime would better his achievements. Until now.
Now there’s a new record breaking, golden boy in the form of a cheeky, young Spaniard named Marc Marquez. A rider who came along and stunned the world, taking three world championships, nearly four, before he turned twenty-one and he’s currently well on-track to another. Breaking one record after another, Marquez never fails to surprise and should he continue to race in the manner in which he’s begun his career, Rossi’s ‘GOAT’ title could be change hands sooner rather than later.
Both Rossi and Marquez achieved success very early in their careers, but who started out the best? We thought we’d take a look.
It can be quite hard to compare the same point in two riders’ careers when they are from entirely different eras, with all sorts of variables hindering any chance of a fair comparison. For example, Rossi started his career on the proven, 125cc championship dominating RS125 whereas Marquez started out on the very much unproven, uncompetitive KTM in the 125cc class and Rossi’s debut in the premier class was aboard two-stroke 500cc machinery, whereas Marquez started out on the four-stroke 1000cc Honda.
Rossi perhaps has the edge on Marquez in the 125cc class thanks to Marquez’ tough debut year with KTM, but after that initial year Marquez began to find his form. Rossi took his debut Grand Prix victory in his very first year while it took Marquez until his third season to clinch victory, but when you account for the fact Marquez was on a KTM you have to allow him the concession. As soon as he got on a decent bike, he won within four races.
Both Marquez and Rossi dominated their 125cc championship winning seasons. Rossi took a record eleven victories on his way to the 125 Grand Prix title whereas Marquez took ten victories thirteen years later on the way to his debut title.
The pair had a similar start to their intermediate class careers. Rossi and Marquez’ respective debuts in the 250cc and Moto2 categories both governed by the rule of finish on the podium or finish out of the points with no middle-ground! Because of these inconsistencies (and a rather nasty crash in Malaysia for Marquez) both riders were forced to settle for second in the championship, before returning the year after to storm to their second world titles.
Both riders stepped up to the premier class with 26 Grand Prix victories and two world titles to their names. Marquez has the upper hand when it comes to age, however. The Spaniard was just 20 years old when he graduated to the premier class whereas Rossi was one year older at 21. Marquez won his first premier class title in his debut year at the age of 20 whereas Rossi didn’t manage it until he was 22.
You don’t need statistics to show that Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez are outstanding riders, but they do help to show that Marc Marquez is following a very similar trajectory in the world of Grand Prix motorcycle racing to that of his childhood idol. Marquez already has 40 Grand Prix victories to his name and he’s still 21 years old, so there should be many more to come. Will he become the next GOAT? Only time will tell but if current trends are anything to go by, Marc Marquez could well catch and surpass Rossi’s accolades.