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Marquez 2.0: How the MotoGP champion-elect has re-programmed himself

Marc Marquez has grown up. MotoGP is seeing version 2.0, a re-programmed, re-mapped rider who has learned that winning championships comes from consistency and points gathering rather than trying to win every sessions. The Spaniard is no longer rostrum-or-hospital, taking podiums and fourth when has to on a bike that is still proving difficult.

In 13 races, Marquez has only won three but has finished every single one in the points – even at Le Mans when he lobbed it in the race, he still got back up to finish in 13th place. He still likes a crash and has been in the kitty litter at every race, give or take but that comes from wrestling an RC213V that it still reticent to do what he wants it to.

Yesterday at Misano is a case in point. Unable to stay with the Yamahas, Marquez had to watch as they went away and team-mate Dani Pedrosa came through the field to win. He opted for a different tyre setup but said it was the right one for him.


“Today we can say that about the tyres I chose the best option for me. Okay, it was a completely different choice to the others, but the main problem during the weekend - and the race – is with the new tyre Michelin bring here for me I was not able to use. I was struggling a lot. I didn’t find the best feeling during all weekend so the tyre was the correct option for me,” he said after the race.

“But for some reason my rhythm was really similar to FP4 but the others were able to be even faster, especially Dani. So yeah we didn’t make the best race.

“In one part of the race I was very strong. I caught Jorge and was closer to Valentino. But then I start to feel that if I continue in this way, with this riding style, there was more possibility to crash than finish on the podium. “

And it is that change in attitude that sees him with a very healthy margin at the top of the table. Marquez leads Rossi by 43 points with only 125 left to fight over…

“I haven’t been the fastest rider or the one who won more races but I have been the most consistent. Yes, the winning key has been the consistency”, stressed the Honda rider, “and we couldn’t expect such a result if we look back at the winter test and how much we struggled. Also in the German GP, I was struggling too much and taking too many risks and I decided to enter the pits to change bike as soon as the conditions permitted it.

“We had planned carefully with the team what to do in case of a flag-to flag race and as soon as it became possible I switched to the slicks. It entered a bit too soon, in fact Pol (Espargaro), who has changed bike with me, crashed. Three corners were completely wet and I had to be more prudent”.

Prudence is a word that previously wouldn’t have been associated with the Repsol Honda man but even from the first round, Marquez has shown a new approach.

“I always give the maximum and try to push as hard as possible. But when there are not the conditions, I race to get as many points as possible”. In Qatar, for example, he finished third and took everyone by surprise when he declared: “I had to finish the race. This is what Shuhei Nakamoto told me. In the last laps there were two voices in me: one that was telling me to be more conservative and to be pleased with the third position, that was the voice of Emilio Alzamora, my manager, and the other one that urged me to push for the victory. I finally decided to follow the first voice and settle for the third place”

What surprises more is his capacity of analysis, his race strategy and a bigger picture of the race that allows him to gain as many points as possible, ditching the fight for the win if he knows it will more than likely end in tears. With this maturity, which in racing means consistency, Marc Marquez is not only the leader but also the strongest contender for the 2016 MotoGP title although – especially at the beginning of the season – the RC213V wasn’t as competitive and complete as the Yamaha.


Marquez admitted: “You learn from the mistakes and I usually learn quite quickly”. This has been the key to his step forward. The Spaniard learned a lot from what happened last year on and off track when he scored six DNFs but despite that, finished third in the championship. With the championship over, Marquez analysed the 2015 season, the races and all the hectic final parts, controversy with Rossi and learned that if you settle for points instead of risking everything, you can fight for the title. Lesson learned. Now it will be a difficult task for the Yamaha duo to beat him.

“In Jerez I had no alternative because on Sunday the temperature raised a lot and I couldn’t do more. We knew it was going to be a difficult battle but I had to finish the race,” he said and you can only imagine how much it burned to lose by five seconds to his new worst enemy.

“When I was informed from the box that Lorenzo was out, my mentality changed”, said the Spaniard after the great duel with Valentino Rossi in Montmelo, “I pushed hard but when I realized that I was risking too much I preferred to go for the 20 points of the second place”. Livio Suppo, the Team Honda HRC Principal, commented on that occasion: “Marc tried hard but maybe in the last laps he did some scary moves and preferred to settle for the podium. He is more mature.”

Of course risks are part of racing and Mugello and Catalunya where maybe the races where he pushed harder and took more risks. Is the 2016 title already secure? “Such an important gap on Lorenzo and Valentino gives me confidence but it is important that it doesn’t give me too much.”

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