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21 days ago

Marquez: "The only thing I could do this year was win"

Reigning MotoGP™ World Champion talks 2016, the ‘new’ Marquez – and where he goes from here

Marquez: "This is the most special title"

The end of 2015 saw Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) going home without the premier class crown for the first time since graduating from Moto2™. An incredible rookie campaign followed by an awesome 10-in-a-row at the start of 2014 to take the title saw Marquez head into 2015 as a favourite – and then suffer his most difficult season. But the rider from Cervera, despite a difficult off season and tough time in testing, had a concrete goal for 2016: take that crown back. And, after a history maker of a season, that’s exactly what he did. Easy, it wasn’t.

Marc Marquez: “In the winter following the 2015 season it was difficult, I was already training and thinking that the only thing that I could do this year is to win. So yes, in pre-season it was really hard because I arrived really motivated but the bike was not working. We were so far from the others and at that time I said: ‘Okay, it’s impossible’, especially in Malaysia. But then, you know, my mentality is always to believe and try to push.”

When the time came for the lights to go out, all was not lost.

MM93: “In Qatar, in the last hour we made a big change to the balance of the bike and we found a compromise at that circuit that in the end, was the best compromise for all season. One of the key moments was at Argentina and in Austin, because starting the season with a podium in Qatar and then two victories, the feeling is better! Then another key point was after Le Mans, that was maybe the moment I saw it was more complicated.”

After a 2015 littered with incidents and DNFs as the then-reigning Champion struggled to find the right side of the limit, the crash in Le Mans in 2016 was the only crash in a race that Marquez suffered until after the title wrapped up – a controlled year spent managing each race as it came. Quite a turnaround for a rider whose calling card has been pushing to the limit every race, every lap.

MM93: “Of course it’s the most special title because of the pressure, because many people were looking to me and what I would do. And because it’s the year that I felt I had…not the worst bike, but in some circuits the bike was not ready. And then I had to think about just finishing the race. It was difficult to accept sometimes that some riders overtook me and finished in front of me. But I started to understand that it was good for the championship. There was a bit of a fight going on inside my head!”

There emerged a winner from that fight: the ‘new’ Marquez.

MM93: “I’m a rider, not only a rider but a person, I do everything with all my passion and I give everything. Before, for me every weekend was like a final. I mean, I was going to the race like I needed to win, forgetting about the championship. But now I start to understand that every weekend is a small part to be in the final - that is the championship.”

Winning one MotoGP™ crown as a rookie, one by complete domination, and now one under pressure has seen the Marquez arsenal grow once again as pieces of the puzzle – control, patience and the long game – come together. The rider from Cervera is now the youngest rider in history to have five World Championships – but who’s counting?

MM93: “Of course, when people say: ‘You are 23 and already have 5 titles’ I think yes, but maybe I could have even more, because last year I lost the championship with some mistakes. But it’s something I don’t want to think about, to say: ‘Okay I have 5 titles, I wanted to arrive at this number’ because I think that’s a mistake. After the 5 titles, now next year we will fight for the 6th. If we achieve it, we will fight for the next one. But we can’t think about numbers or about records because in the end it’s more pressure on you. You must enjoy it. If you enjoy it, and you are focused only on the present, it will be much easier. Of course, now we have one hand, give me five, so why not another hand? But I don’t want to say we will do it or it’s my goal. We will see. We have time. The most important thing is that we have time."