11 months ago

RideFast Nov 2019

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A QUALITY RIDER USING A QUALITY HELMET Where Does He Go From Here? At the tender age of 25 this motorcycle racing genius is set to break ever record ever set in the history of MotoGP and after wrapping up his 8th title the question now is where to from here? Words by David Emmett What was impressive about Marc Márquez wrapping up his sixth MotoGP title in seven years was not so much that he took the title with a win (as outstanding as it was), but how he got there in the first place. Márquez’s record after Thailand is almost unparalleled in the MotoGP era: 9 wins, 5 second places, and a single DNF. Márquez’s sole DNF came when he crashed out of the lead in Austin, a result of the engine braking problems the 2019 Honda RC213V suffered early in the season. The only rider to have done anything like this before was Valentino Rossi in 2002. Then, in the first year of the 990cc four strokes, Rossi won 11 of the 16 races, and took 4 second places, with one DNF, caused by a problem with his rear tyre. It was Rossi’s third season in the premier class, a year after winning his first title aboard the 500cc two stroke Honda NSR500. To find other parallels, you have to go back further in time. In 1997, Mick Doohan won 12 races out of 15, finishing second in two more and not finishing in the last race of the year, his home Grand Prix at Phillip Island. Before that, there was Freddie Spencer, who won 7 races in 1985, finishing second in 3 more, crashing in Assen and choosing to skip the final race in Misano. To find greater dominance, you would have to go even further back, to the days of Giacomo Agostini on the MV Agusta, who either won or retired in every race he started in during the period from 1968 to 1971. Closer than ever Márquez’s 2019 season stands above all of those, however, for the sheer level of competitiveness of the current era. When Agostini was racing, the MV was in a league of its own, the Italian regularly lapping the rest of the field. In 1985, Spencer’s only real opposition came from Eddie Lawson, and from his own successful attempt to secure the 500cc and 250cc titles in the same season. Mick Doohan faced little competition beyond his teammates Tady Okada and Alex Crivillé in 1997, racing against a handful of riders on non-factory Honda NSR500s, underpowered Yamahas and Honda V-twins. The gap between the podium was huge in that era. The difference between first and third was under 10 seconds in only 5 of the 15 races that year. And it was over 20 seconds in 6 of the 15. The advent of the four strokes helped shrink that gap, as did Valentino Rossi’s instinct for showmanship. But even then, the Honda RC211V was head and shoulders above the competition – indeed, a case could be made that the RC211V is the best racing motorcycle ever made. 44 RIDEFAST MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 2019 RIDEFAST MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 2019 45