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What Marquez learned from 2015
Repsol Honda Team's Marc Marquez had a more difficult 2015 than the previous two years in which he'd been proclaimed MotoGP™ world champion. Pushing to the limit and too often over it, Marquez had spectacular podium finishes and wins throughout the year - but found his points haul dented by too many DNFs. Learning how to find that difficult balance between pushing for the title and pushing for the race win, the Spaniard's off-season reflections have seen him come back in stunning style to prove both able to duel for the win - like in Mugello - and take the points - like Misano. The balance, so far, sees Marquez 43 points clear at the top of the table with only five races remaining.
“Last year I was pushing all the time," explains the two time MotoGP™ World Champion. "Some people said to me that that wasn’t the way, but I was pushing and pushing and in the end? It was not the way. Then, in the winter time you have more time…you are at home relaxed, thinking about all the races, watching the videos… and then I realized we must start the season in a different way. What I learned last year is that in the first part of the season you cannot win the championship, but you can lose the championship. Especially in the beginning of the season it was a hard battle inside my head. The new Marc of course is one year older, and in the end it looks like I have a lot of experience, but I’m 23 years old."
The most recent result that saw the rider from Cervera rein in his natural instinct to attack was at Misano World Circuit, where he crossed the line in fourth after a solid ride avoiding risks. Silverstone, the race before, was also a fourth place finish for the Championship leader - but in very different circumstances as he battled past Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) and then went wide trying to take P2 from Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda).
"Already before the race in Misano Nakamoto said to me 'Please finish the race'. But my mentality was this one, because my team maybe said to me forty times this morning 'Please finish the race, please finish the race, please finish the race'. And I said 'Okay, I understand!' They must say it because for example in Austria or in Brno I was already a little bit calmer on the track and then they didn’t say this to me before the Silverstone race - and then it looks like I forgot! This old Marc came back again in the last laps and I finished fourth and the people said 'why did you take that risk, you lost some points and already you were in front of Valentino!' But in that case if I'd finished second? 'Marc is the king because he took the risk, he took a lot of points…'"
Measuring reputation versus the 'new' Marquez judgment was a nail biting experience at the British GP, but it was also another good haul of points and some incredible track action.
"People liked Silverstone, and I’m always racing not only for me, also for the show, because I like to see that people enjoy," says the points leader. "But in the end you have one priority and that is the championship, and for the championship it’s much better to go a different way in some races. It’s like a dream, because we started the season not so well, we were struggling a lot. But yeah, during the season we improved a lot, especially on the electronics side; we were really far, and we improved step by step and it looks like now we have a competitive bike. The only problem is that it's very critical. If conditions change a little bit they change the set up completely; we are working hard to get the best feeling with the bike, but also to try to improve this feeling. In some weekends we are trying new parts during the race weekend, and this is not the best way."
The man closest in the standings is also not who the Repsol Honda rider expected it to be as the paddock rolls into MotorLand Aragon either, with reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) currently a few points back on teammate Valentino Rossi.
"At the beginning of the season I thought that the fastest guy would be Jorge but, you know, in the end for a championship the most important is the consistency," says Marquez. "So the most constant guy in the Yamaha garage is Valentino this season. At the moment looks like we are there, we are really constant. Maybe I’m not the strongest guy but we are strongest in all situations, because I've made only one mistake - that was in Le Mans. But even then I took three points and have something there for the end of the championship. Winning is always special but, you know, it’s something that, for example, in 2014 I lost a little bit that feeling of the adrenaline when you win. And last year it was a really hard year, and I think winning again would be really nice, but there are still many races remaining. At the moment we are enjoying week by week, we are enjoying Sunday by Sunday that feeling on the podium, that feeling of victory…and then we will see at the end of the season."
The next hurdle for Marquez' title campaign sees the yellow smoke of Misano clear as the paddock hits the road to MotorLand Aragon, with his fan club ready to see some redemption for 2015 - but as always, now, with an eye on the trophy, not just the victory.
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