RideFast November 2019

RobRidefast

SA's best selling sportbike magazine

Even then, the rehabilitation

took longer than either Márquez

or Honda had hoped. At the

Sepang test, he was at only 50%

readiness, rather than the 80%

Honda had expected.

It was Jerez before he

recovered the strength he lost

over the winter, and the summer

break before he was completely

without pain.

To do all this – dominate the

season on a bike only he could

ride, while still weak and in pain

from major surgery, and never

finishing lower than second – is

as near to perfection as it is

possible to get for a MotoGP rider.

Early this year, I asked

Márquez if he believed he could

ride a truly perfect season,

winning every race. “Nothing

is impossible, but it’s very, very

difficult,” he replied.

“Now I would say ‘it’s nearly

impossible’. Because the way

that the championship is,

everything is very equal, and if

you just slip a little bit in FP3 you

are not in the QP2 directly. In

Montmelo for example I finished

ninth in FP3.”

“Everything is very equal,

and to be very strong in all the

races and to have the perfect

bike is impossible. And now

that everything is very equal,

one manufacturer will be

faster in this racetrack, another

manufacturer in another

racetrack.”

“The most important thing

is find the compromise for all

racetracks and try to be on

the podium. Trying to be on

the podium in all the races is

possible. But win all the races?

Mmmm, very difficult.”

Kindling the Fire

So where does Márquez

go from here? The biggest

question for the Repsol

Honda rider is whether he can

maintain his level of ambition

to keep on winning races and

championships. The past is a

poor guide here.

In 2005, when Valentino Rossi

seemed able to win at will on the

Yamaha M1, a sweet-handling

bike which was obviously

inferior to the Honda RC211V, he

started toying with the idea of

a switch to F1, and lost focus on

development for 2006, going on

to lose that title to Nicky Hayden.

Mick Doohan, on the other

hand, went on to dominate

1998 nearly as completely as he

“To do all this – dominate the

season on a bike only he could

ride, while still weak and in pain

from major surgery, and never

finishing lower than second – is as

near to perfection as it is possible

to get for a MotoGP rider.”

had in 1997. Only serious injury

stopped him in 1999, a huge

smash in Jerez effectively ending

his career.

Where does Marc Márquez

fall between these two

extremes? Márquez is more

Doohan than Rossi, always

taking the win rather than

risking losing out by engaging

in battle. Márquez has a hunger

for victory that outdoes even

Doohan, and it does not look like

being sated any time soon.

So he will have to find new

targets to chase. In Thailand,

after winning the title, he already

named a couple of targets. His

aim was to try and finish on the

podium or win in both `Japan and

Australia, he did just that.

In past seasons, he has

managed to crash out of races

after wrapping up the title

(though sometimes, like last

year, through no fault of his own).

The next aim is to wrap up the

constructor’s and team’s titles.

The constructor’s should

be easy enough, but the fact

that the Repsol Honda team is

only a few points behind the

factory Ducati squad in the team

standings is remarkable.

The standings are determined

by the combined points of both

riders in each team: Márquez has

scored 375 of the Repsol Honda

team’s 398 points.

Unstoppable?

Can he repeat again next

year? Right now, it doesn’t

look like anyone is capable of

stopping Marc Márquez from

winning another title. Andrea

Dovizioso came closest in 2017,

but that was when the Ducati

Desmosedici had a serious

horsepower advantage over the

Honda RC213V.

This year has seen a new

generation of challengers rise,

with Alex Rins, Fabio Quartararo,

and Maverick Viñales taking

the fight to him. But Rins and

Viñales seem flawed, lacking the

consistency that Márquez has

worked so diligently on in 2019.

That leaves Fabio Quartararo.

Talk to people inside Honda, and

they will tell you Quartararo is

the only rider Márquez is truly

afraid of, because Quartararo is

not afraid of him.

The Frenchman has been

quick since the beginning of the

season, but in the last few races,

he has really taken the fight to

Márquez. If Yamaha can find a

RIDEFAST MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 2019 47

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines