Marc versus Marc | Columns | Gassit Garage
Now Marquez is nudging his record. He has already equalled his tally of premier-class titles, although not all consecutive; but he adds two more in the smaller classes. The fellow Repsol Honda rider hasn’t yet matched Mick’s 54 premier-class race wins. Marquez has 45, and another 26 in Moto2 and 125. Interestingly, the percentage of wins to starts is very close: 39.4 for Mick, 40.9 for Marc.
Along the way, Marquez has had many, many more crashes than the generally safer Doohan, but nothing like the severity of injuries (touches wood here, hoping the weekend doesn’t prove otherwise). This is largely down to luck, but also a tribute to generally safer tracks, tyres and electronics; and better riding gear.
For example, while the corner where Mick crashed at Jerez is essentially the same, the formulation of the paint on the trackside white lines has been revised so they don’t retain water as the track dries. Mick’s crash would be hard to replicate today.
All the same, given that equalising modern technology and a raft of dumb-down rules have made racing closer than ever, Marquez’s string of dominant wins and championships is all the more impressive. It’s been obvious for a while that this is his era, just as the one before belonged to Rossi, and Doohan’s belonged to him.
Will it be any different this year? Three races so far, and three different winners. Marquez only one of them.
This is only thanks to a lapse from his usual superhuman self in Texas. Marc hits the deck more than most, but generally in practice, as a way of finding the exact point of the outer limits. To do so in a race was entirely out of character.
So too, somewhat, was galloping away in Doohan style, taking such a large early lead that with much less than half the race gone the pursuit could hardly see which way he went.
The rest of the year stretches ahead, and some of his rivals might have been given some inklings of hope by this lapse. They will have to be superhuman themselves, however, to be able to take advantage of it over the 16 races to come.
The closest to this would be either Rossi or Dovizioso. But both had several lapses last year … Rossi crashed out of the lead in Malaysia, when his usually more level head should have dictated that he let Marquez past and accept a valuable second place. Dovi messed up his 2018 chances with two completely unforced errors, at Le Mans and Catalunya. Quite out of character, but at least one lapse too many.
Rins? An unproven runner at best, on a Suzuki that is good, but still questionable. He might even win again at Jerez … but it’s a long shot to expect him to carry on all year with making some slips of his own.
Can anybody beat Marquez? Of course there is one person who can: Marquez himself. He sails so close to the wind that he’s always at risk of getting blown away. But will he falter again this year?
I guess that’s what we’ll all be turning up to see.
By Michael Scott