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Rossi v Marquez: a study in braking styles

Since the inception of MotoGP in 2002, two riders have stood out more than all the rest: Valentino Rossi with six world championship titles and Marc Marquez with four - a total of 62.5% of the World Championship titles assigned in this category.

Both Rossi and Marquez have also earned all of their World Championship Titles, including the ones in the lower classes (125, 250 and Moto2, not to mention the defunct 500), always using Brembo braking components (and often clutch master cylinders too).

Their 15 world championship titles (nine for Valentino and six for Marc) represent a starting point to talk about how they brake.


Rossi is old school and still prefers to use the front brake, squeezing the lever on the right side of the handlebar with three fingers - index, middle and ring. Just like Casey Stoner did, Marc Marquez also usually brakes with just one finger - the index. Maverick Viñales and Jorge Lorenzo use an intermediate solution: they squeeze the lever with the index and middle fingers.

None of this solutions is necessarily better than the others, but it is a matter of each rider's habits in terms of grip on the handlebar, as well as any injuries to the upper limbs that may have been suffered. On the other hand, there were riders like Scott Russell and Kenny Roberts Jr who often used only one finger, but on the more difficult corners, they would up it to two fingers.

The TV images rarely show Valentino's Yamaha with the rear wheel off the asphalt in braking: this is a sign that, despite squeezing the brake lever with 3 fingers, he is able to modulate the front brake perfectly, without arriving at the point of losing rear grip. The reason for this is his sensibility that has been refined throughout his long career: he is in his 23rd World Championship season, all astride bikes with Brembo brakes.

Marquez, on the other hand, like Dani Pedrosa, is often immortalized with the rear tire off the ground: this is the effect of an exaggerated use of the front brake, at least with respect to the amount that would be needed in that specific moment. When the rear wheel loses contact with the ground in those seconds, the rider cannot act on the lean angle of the bike which is touching the ground only with the front wheel.

Rear brake use also has Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez at opposite ends of the spectrum: the Italian has a cleaner style and, despite often braking a few yards later than his rivals, he rarely makes the rear wheel slide. The Spaniard, on the other hand, loves to make his Honda go sideways through the braking sections, pushing the pedal all the way down specifically so the rear wheel will drift.


Rossi won his first GP on 18 August 1996: astride his Aprilia RS 125 managed by team AGV Aprilia, he won the GP of the Czech Republic at Brno, beating Jorge Martinez by just 245 thousandths of a second.

His bike weighed just 71 kg and was powered by a single-cylinder 124.8 cc 2-stroke engine that ensured 47 HP of power.
The front braking system was made up of a two-piece, axial mounted caliper with 4 pistons and a 273 mm diameter carbon disc with standard brake band, both made by Brembo.

Marc Marquez won his first GP on 6 June 2010: astride his Red Bull Ajo Motorsport Derbi RSA 125, he won the GP of Italy at Mugello, snatching victory from Nicolas Terol by just 39 thousandths in a final sprint.
His bike, rider included, weighed just 136 kg and was powered by a single-cylinder 124.8 cc 2-stroke engine that ensured about fifty horsepower.


The front braking system was made up of two one-piece, axial mounted calipers with 2 pistons each and a 218 mm diameter steel disc with standard brake band, both made by Brembo.

Moving up to 250 at the end of 1997, Valentino was one of the first to test the radial mount calipers that Brembo had made based on input from Aprilia: the manufacturer from Noale was constantly looking for technical solutions that would give them an advantage over their adversaries.
The success of the radial calipers (Loris Capirossi 250 world champion in 1998) led to it being used in 500 as well, where Rossi arrived in 2000 after having won the World Championship. Already familiar with them from his Aprilia days, he had no trouble adapting and within a few months he began to dominate.

Marc Marquez began using radial calipers from the start, at least on the front, because in 125 and Moto2, the rear calipers were axial. Speaking of front calipers, however, Marquez has won in MotoGP with both aluminum-lithium calipers, used until 2015, and with aluminum-only calipers, mandatory in recent years.

However, Marquez was the first rider to win a MotoGP race using carbon (Brembo) discs in the wet: the Spaniard accomplished the feat at the GP of San Marino on 10 September 2017, finishing ahead of the Ducatis ridden by Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci that mounted steel discs.

Thanks to Brembo for their information

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