They were waiting for him in front of the stand where the members of his fan club sit. His friends presented him with a huge dice. Red, of course. And when he rolled it, it came up with a six. Of course. And he burst into gales of laughter, before dancing, shouting and laughing some more. He was celebrating the championship title he had just won. As he headed of back to the pit, where his team was waiting for him, they gave him the flag. It didn’t have his number on it: the ‘93.’ But instead an enormous ‘1,’ the number of champions. It’s been four years since Marc Márquez, the motorcycle racer from Cervera (Catalonia) has flown a Spanish flag at circuits. Neither has he ever been seen with a senyera, the official flag of the northeastern Spanish region.
Márquez is Catalan, and he loves his home region. In fact he is one of the few MotoGP riders who actually lives in Spain
The now four-time MotoGP champion Marc Márquez is Catalan, and he loves his home region. In fact he is one of the few MotoGP riders who actually lives in Spain. He has made it clear that he doesn’t want to disrespect anyone, not Catalans nor the rest of the Spanish people. When he declines to speak about the Catalan issue it’s not due to a lack of interest, but rather because he has no desire to voice an opinion on the issue. That’s no doubt why, on Thursday, he had this to say: “The flag that represents me is the ‘93’,” in reference to his fan club flag. His aim was to avoid controversy, but given the tense situation in the region since the recent unilateral declaration of independence, he didn’t quite manage it.
The last time that Márquez carried the Spanish flag upon winning a championship was back in 2013, his debut year in the MotoGP category. When he crossed the line he was greeted by marshals and riders who wanted to congratulate him. He stopped on a corner, and was approached by another Spanish rider, Álvaro Bautista, who was carrying a Spanish flag. Márquez then approached the stand where his fan club was, throwing his gloves into the crowd. He then took one of the Spanish flags that were there and stuck it into his overalls but it was bothering him so he pulled it out. He grabbed it with his hand and completed a lap with it. That was the last time the Spanish flag was seen next to the most-successful Spanish motorcycling champion of all time.
That race took place in Valencia, at the Cheste circuit that saw Márquez seal his 2017 championship win on Sunday. Until 2013, he had always celebrated flying the flag: in 2010 and in 2012, for example, when he won the Moto2 championship in Australia.
Until 2013, he had always celebrated flying the flag: in 2010 and in 2012, for example, when he won the Moto2 championship in Australia
The first time was when a member of his fan club handed it over to him, after he went to greet the crowd in the stands. And at Phillip Island in Australia, it was his brother Àlex who had the flag. From one of the corners on the circuit, he handed over the standard, a t-shirt and a special crash helmet. At the time it was as natural as it was two years later, when, instead of the Spanish flag, he carried that of his fan club.
That came to pass in 2014, at the Motegi circuit in Japan. Marc Márquez cleaned up that season, having now stopped being just a mere promise to being the man to beat and a fully rounder rider. On one of the corners two friends were waiting for him, members of the Moto3 Estrella Galicia team. They congratulated him, and handed him a flag. It was red, but not yellow. It carried an enormous ‘93’ in the middle, and it was from his fan club. It was the same one that was waiting for him once more with his brother Àlex, at the end of the straight on the Motegi circuit, last year.