Marc Márquez has his head well and truly in the clouds. By winning the MotoGP world championship in his very first year competing in the series, he has made his dream come true. But at the age of just 20, it’s all happened a bit earlier than he expected.
He was ready to take the riders’ crown, he explains, but the 30-lap race felt like it was going to last an eternity, and he had to keep a cool head despite seeing the glory on the horizon. By finishing third in the Valencia Grand Prix at the Cheste circuit on Sunday (fellow Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo won the race), he has become the youngest person to ever win the MotoGP championship.
In this interview Márquez, who always seems to be smiling, reflects on his personality, his style on the track and his rivals.
Question. Which of your competitors do you think you are most similar to?
Answer. If we’re talking about riding style, it’s hard to say, although on the track perhaps I’m most like [Australian former world champion Casey] Stoner. With regard to Valentino [Rossi], his Yamaha requires a very different style. And when it comes to [Márquez’s team] Honda, [teammate Dani] Pedrosa handles the bike in a very different way.
Q. Stoner used to label the bike’s controls, but you got rid of them the first day you got on it...
A. Yes, I took them off. Casey used to use these stickers to label which button did what, but having them there just confused me more, so I decided to keep it all in my head.
Q. Your driving style has changed a lot since the first race. What has been the most difficult part?
A. One of the things I found most difficult was being consistent with my braking into corners: sometimes I would brake when I should, and other times I would brake too early... That’s why I had trouble in the first few races when I was riding alone, or in the practice sessions. But then once I could follow other riders during the race it all went better, mostly due to the fact that I had a point of reference in terms of where to brake. [...] I’ve improved that now, which allows me to be constant and quick, and at the same time be precise.
Q. Are you always searching for the limits on the track?
If you have the mentality of wanting to improve, you’ll find something else”
A. Yes, always. And in particular during the early part of the season, in an attempt to always be positioned near to Lorenzo and Pedrosa. That’s why I had so many falls. Later I saw that I could push the limits in the free-practice sessions and then control the situation in the race. I hope that I never find what my limits are. If you go in with the mentality of wanting to improve, you’ll always find something else.
Q. Were you planning on showing up Rossi by putting that pass on him at the “corkscrew” turns at the US MotoGP at Laguna Seca?
A. No, no. I wasn’t even thinking about doing it at the time. The truth is that on the Thursday [before the race] I went to have a look at it with the scooter because I thought it would be funny to see where Valentino had passed Stoner. And I thought, there’s no way you could overtake here. But then during the free practice sessions I ran wide at one point and went through there. The bike moved all over the place, and they warned me not to take that route. But then when it came to the race...
Q. What do all the records that you have broken this year tell you about this season?
A. They tell me that I am on the right track, and that I have to carry on like this, which is the hardest part: staying at this level.
Q. How has success changed Marc Márquez?
A. It hasn’t changed anything about me. I am exactly the same. I do notice that I am a bit busier, particularly when I am at the circuit. MotoGP is a bit more tiring than the other series. Not on the track, but in terms of what’s going on around you. As soon as I relax, I feel like myself again.