Guest Blog: Mat Oxley: Marc Márquez: talent and aggression

MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We will be featuring sections of Oxley's blogs, posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website, over the coming months.


It’s not often these days that one is moved to thank those in charge, but MotoGP’s Race Direction need a big thank you for their unanimous decision not to sanction Marc Márquez for his last-corner move on Jorge Lorenzo at Jerez.

If they had dragged him into their office and punished him, I think I might have given up on motorcycle racing and got into something different. I note that the BBC’s MotoGP show was preceded by a gardening programme. If tough overtaking manoeuvres are to be banned in MotoGP then gardening might make a pleasant alternative for Sunday afternoon entertainment.

Márquez didn’t do anything illegal on Sunday. He didn’t take aim at Lorenzo, he didn’t try to knock him off, he simply stole his line and the pair collided because they both needed the same piece of racetrack. In fact Lorenzo might have beaten him if he had hung back, let Márquez go a bit wide (as he was sure to do) and snuck inside him. Easy for me to say, of course, but that’s what a clever rider does when someone comes charging up the inside, slightly out of control.

Lorenzo said he was caught unawares, because he thought that Márquez’s similar move at the Dry Sack hairpin halfway through the final lap was the youngster’s last hurrah. If he was telling the truth, then he’s not been studying Márquez very closely over the last few years. Surely he knows that the kid never gives up, that he’s like a dog with a bone. Márquez never even considered settling for third place after running wide at Dry Sack, because he knew damn well that the best opportunity for a pass still lay ahead.

Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

Total votes: 203
Total votes: 84

Back to top

Comments

I agree with that appraisal of the situation, and would add that I almost felt that Jorge deliberately ran into Marc for dramatic effect!

Total votes: 227

It seems we all see what we want to see. From my viewings of the various videos it looked like JL leaned into MM after he realized he'd been out-witted - but then I've never particularly cared for Jorge.
I diagnose he had a flare-up of his old 250cc red mist condition - perhaps Dr Pedrosa should be asked for a second opinion.

Total votes: 201

Or perhaps, and it's only perhaps because of the nanosecond of time for any decision, Lorenzo was letting Marquez know that he will not be intimidated. Lorenzo was processing a lot at the time of the coming-together, his failure to know that Marquez was there and trying to pass and the likelyhood of altering his line as Oxley suggested to retake Marquez on the exit. He chose to make a statement of intent. He spoke of learning from this experience and I'm sure he will, will Marquez? Rossi must have giggled!

Total votes: 203

I was a bit 'doubtful' about the pass as I saw it on TV but on some internet videos from an angle in line with the apex it didn't look like MM was out of control and JL looked as if he was just wide - also agree it looked like he cut back to/leaned on MM once he realised he had messed up his own corner.
I still have some doubts about MM's approach to safety, but he sure is one talented and determined racer and I agree wholeheartedly with MO in that respect too. He is exciting to watch.
I am just hoping we see some more Rossi/Marquez battles or the like this year -Qatar was a good start!

Total votes: 222

(1) the whole incident was over in a matter of a few seconds or so. We armchair racers have the luxury of dissecting it frame by frame.
(2) Lorenzo actually picked his bike up to try to avoid Marquez when he saw Marquez was coming at him hard.
Just to stir the pot, here's a link to a photo on the MotoGP website that appears to show Marquez throwing an elbow, ala Biaggi vs. Rossi. Make of it what you will. :)
http://www.motogp.com/en/news/2013/Riders+react+to+dramatic+final+turn+i...

Total votes: 221

JL is leaning to his left (appears to be pushing MM off) while MM (and his elbow) are also leaning left. Who is elbowing who?

Total votes: 211

Lorenzo has picked his bike up trying to avoid Marquez (the M1 is pretty much vertical at this point), and his left arm is pretty much against his side, with his left knee also in, against the bike.
Normally you don't want to make wholesale position shifts right in the middle of a corner, so Lorenzo's center of gravity is still somewhat in the hang off mode, although his left arm and leg are retracted in trying to avoid impact. Plus I'm thinking it all came as a bit of a surprise.
But sorry, that whole "stirring the pot" comment was a bit foolish. This is a single photo frame of the entire incident, and who knows what a different angle of this moment might show.

Total votes: 209

was a huge stretch, both were fighting for their balance after contract.

Total votes: 192

Balancing act. Cheap shot.

Total votes: 193

First let me state, I agree with the decision not to penalize Marquez, as it was not intentional, and nobody crashed out..

However, I'm sorry to be inflammatory but to state the below shows a lack of track experience in such a situation.

"In fact Lorenzo might have beaten him if he had hung back, let Márquez go a bit wide (as he was sure to do) and snuck inside him. Easy for me to say, of course, but that’s what a clever rider does when someone comes charging up the inside, slightly out of control."

I'm not Lorenzo or Marquez, but someone with race experience, and looking at the pass Marquez made, there was simply no time/space to act (brake and take a tighter line). Lorenzo was committed to his line, essentially at the apex with his forks loaded up, and could not just get on the brakes more for risk of tucking the front.

Remember this is a track where many crashed on Sunday due to low grip/high temperature.

Lorenzo, however made the mistake of assuming... and you can never assume you are safe in racing, let alone with an aggressive rider behind you. He left it open, and took a sweeping line, when all he had to do was turn in earlier and call it a day.

I do not think Lorenzo will make the same mistake twice.

Total votes: 199

Mat Oxley has some small experience racing. He has won races at the Isle of Man TT and ended up third in the World Endurance Championship. To accuse him of a 'lack of track experience' is to be ignorant of his background. 

Total votes: 237

Don't know how I blindly missed the obvious statement about the author at the top.. I thought it was by a photographer for some reason.. Jumping to conclusions brashly, I suppose.

My apologies.

Total votes: 218

Moreover the comment is spot on. I think it was at Sepang that Capirossi (on the Duc) tried the same manoeuvre on Rossi as Rossi had on Gibernau, in the final hairpin. The difference was that Rossi saw it coming, let Capi slither past on his way to the far edge of the track, then turned inside and beat him to the line. Text book.

Total votes: 195

I wouldn't call the move that Marquez made unintentional... something like that seems to me like a fairly high level of commitment and a firm decision to follow through with it!

Anyway, like you I was a bit surprised to read that the solution would be for Lorenzo to hang back a bit. Now I'm no racer, but I agree with what you say - Lorenzo was already in the corner, you can't just hit the brakes and slow up a bit. Lorenzo already ran wide trying to avoid Marquez and probably decided he was out far enough and had to try to turn eventually otherwise be pushed right off the track.

Of course it's easy to say that Lorenzo could have won if he just hung back a bit and kept clear of Marquez, but to say that is to make a redundant statement. If Lorenzo had not assumed that Marques would not have a go, then the conversation now would probably be much different anyway.

Total votes: 187

Pre-empting the attack he deliberatly ran wide (Good Idea) but then looped in on to the no compromise Marquez's line (bad Idea) and collided [See the reverse angle shot]. If he stayed wide and ran it on he would have been in front of the accident spot and Marques behind (Bad idea... hes gona draft you anyway)!
Hey ho....

Total votes: 216

After watching it over and over, it seems that short of crashing, Marquez was going to beat Lorenzo to the line. The radius of the corner and the fact that the move was unexpected make it improbable that Lorenzo could have reacted fast enough to slow down just enough to let Marquez by and carry enough speed to outdrag him to the line. He could have pulled it off if he knew Marquez was coming. He pretty much got caught with his pants down.

Total votes: 189

And the long and short of it is that us forum jockeys should take notice of:
1) people who have done it like Matt and Parrish on the BBC,
2) the fact that no other rider on the Moto GP grid has made a statement saying Marc should be penalised.

Now I suspect there will be incidents this season which will make that one pale into insignificance; lets wait to see what race direction have to say on a case by case basis, and just move on and welcome the fact that we have a really talented racer on the grid who us going to upset the status quo.

Total votes: 209

Does anyone really want sanctions in this sport? What we do need is consistency. From now on, we now know, if you crash into someone, no matter how reckless, if no one falls off, then the result stands. Case closed. As long as that is the standard from now on, what do we have to complain about?

I don't have a lot of fondness for Marquez, something to do with him inflicting what could have been a life changing accident on a rider in Phillip Island and the total lack of contrition at the accident and what could have been. He's a precocious talent who will be multiple world champion.

Total votes: 198

Only time will tell over the rest of the year. We will see how much Marquez will push that limit of "Racing Incidents" to "Reckless Abandonment".

Total votes: 204

Marc is living a dream. As a newcomer, he is leading the championship and looks back at his two idols (Valentino and Dani). He´s got arguably the top bike and a yearning for winning, aside from an irrefutable skill to speed when straddling a two-wheeled device. Moreover, he´s twenty and his drive to climb the Motogp world has taken him to the edge of disaster since he hit the headlines after becoming 125cc world champion. There`s nothing censurable in trying to overtake in order to gain one step in the race, there´s nothing wrong in attempting to pass when you stand a clear chance and that´s what makes this sport so appealing and thrilling, either to riders or viewers.
But, if we take into account how the race developed, especially between Marc and Jorge, with some three occasions when Marc almost butted Jorge at the end of the straights –one of them running wide- we will come to the conclusion that Marc knew –and so did Jorge- he stood no chance to pass in the corners after the back and finish straights without running a high risk of him, Jorge or both ending up on the ground. Marc knew the manoeuvre he was going to chance in the last turn was a highly perilous one and clearly unfair to Jorge –as the latter was on the receiving end and had no time to avoid the clash-, because Marc would have had to ram Jorge in order to remain vertical after having braking so late, which made him lose his line and invade Jorge´s –who had been racing over the same corner spot throughout the whole race- and nearly push him off track.
The fact that Marc rushed to seek Jorge´s approval after the race proves that the hothead Honda rider knew he had done something wrong, angered the Yamaha pilot and almost elicited a grave crash. Marc needs to work on his impulsiveness and to acknowledge that there is a lot more than fun and thrill in racing: physical integrity and respect for the others´work.
Excuse this wordy opening post.

Total votes: 214

"Hey, a gap! But if I dive into it, Jorge can't keep his prefered line. I'll just take third." Sure.

For what I have seen from different camera angles, Marc was at least one meter past Jorge but Jorge was too stubborn to change his line. Jorge tried to cut back and hit Marc, not the opposite way. Sure, Marc overcooked the corner but does that mean you can just run into someone? I will even state that by hitting Marc, Jorge made him run wider than otherwise would have been the case. You can clearly see Marc had to sit up for a second, meaning he had to alter his cornering.

Regardless what we think of this: Marquez will learn and grow, but ofcourse his attitude will not change. Thank God.

Total votes: 210

Agreed that Marc had stuck half his bike past Jorge in the middle of the corner, but Marc appeared to be no longer in control of his Honda, while Jorge was calmly lining his way around the turn. When he realised Marc’s audacious budge all Jorge did was an instinctive defensive sit-up as he was in a vulnerable leaning stance, something anybody would have done in order not to be knocked over or pushed off track.
No doubt Marc is an exciting rider to see: he’s got aptitude, longing and a major motorcycle and I trust he will give us plenty of amusement.

Total votes: 185

If you watch the race, you will see multiple episodes of brake checking by Jorge... that is going to make the trailing bike look out of sorts and on the ragged edge because he is looking to avoid a collision.

Total votes: 202

There was no brake checking. Everyone I asked said it was just a slipstreaming mistake by Marquez, getting caught out by greater speed and braking too late, and nearly clipping the back of Lorenzo. That was Marquez' error, not Lorenzo's braking. His braking is always at the same point.

Total votes: 192

Also, it's been said here (from the on-board data) and elsewhere that JL brakes early/carries more speed, whilst the Honda is trying to brake heavily, late, and turn. With the M1's tyres suffering too, MM was going to have to find a way around JL that was a lot different to the expected JL smooth lines. The controversial approach worked.....
It looked messy, but that was the race on the day. I too think it was MM being too fast too late, not JL using 'tactics'. Good to watch though.

Total votes: 196

Hello everybody.
Prior to the last corner incident, Marc learned at least four times he stood no chance to pass Jorge in those turns by plunging inside without making a hazardous mistake. It is true that he got to the end of the straight faster than Jorge and braked later, but that implied Marc had to rearrange his riding in order to regain the racing line. He had done this twice almost brushing Jorge’s back tyre and once again when he braked late past Jorge and had to turn on the very edge of the track, while Jorge retook second place easily by keeping his line. Marc’s decision to do it harder and bolder was sparked by being the last turn of the last corner and he knew he’d have to bump Jorge in order to achieve it.

Total votes: 201

In the same context, would Marc dare hit his team mate or Rossi to step higher on the podium?

Here is Dani’s statement after watching the move

(http://www.motogp.com/en/news/2013/Riders+react+to+dramatic+final+turn+i...)

“It’s the final lap, it’s an aggressive move obviously. I guess if they hadn’t touched Marc would run out of track. So it means he was a little too late on the brakes. But you know - they touched in this certain point of the corner. It was kind of similar to turn one at the start in Austin, but I had time to see him coming. Just hope it doesn’t come again in the next ones.”

here's Vale's

“It’s a hard attack for sure, and a hard overtake from Marc. He touched Jorge, but it’s the last lap, the last corner, and sure the guy behind tries something. Jorge kept the door open and Marc went inside, so I think it’s something that can happen in racing. “

Total votes: 202

If you have to use another rider as a berm to make a corner, you're out of control and it is not a clean pass.

Block passing is one thing, and I'm all for this. Hitting another rider to take the line is a completely different thing, and it's exactly what Marquez did to Lorenzo.

Just becuse "no one crashed" does not make the move excusable. Just because it added "excitement" to the race, does not make it excusable.

I realize that I am in the minority with this opinion, and I am fine with that. What bothers me is the fact that this NASCAR type of last lap desperation is considered exciting and acceptable in the motorcycle racing community.

Total votes: 201

I think you've got it wrong thinking that Marquez was using Lorenzo as a berm. I'm sure he would have made the corner if Lorenzo ran off the track. They only contacted when Lorenzo decided to complete the turn.

Marquez tried a last lap, last corner block pass - nothing wrong with that.

Lorenzo decided to complete the turn, as he would naturally have to otherwise run off track - nothing wrong with that.

If I had to make a guess I'd say that you're one of the fans affected by the recent "gentleman racing" syndrome, just wanting riders to form a line and ride nicely... (don't feel bad, I had definitely started to slip into that mindset as well... and who could blame us after the last few years of, let's be honest, boring MotoGP racing).

Hard racing or racing... there is no difference. It's all just racing!

Total votes: 175

Like a lot of people I was pretty shocked to see Marquez pull that last corner move on Lorenzo. My immediate thought was something like "Oh no, Marquez has decided to bring his Moto2 antics with him..."

But reading this article it started to dawn on me, just as Lorenzo et al may have become used to "gentelmen" style of racing, I think the same is true of viewers as well!! If I think back, there is a time when I would have been getting so excited for this kind of racing action, but now it seems a bit shocking, almost where I was wondering what's going on - wanting them to just get back in line and race nicely!

Thinking about it now, this is actually a very welcome change to the MotoGP we've been watching over the last years. Now I would actually say that I hope all the other racers raise their game to Marquez level!

Also interesting equation that Mat put together:

Stoner’s talent + Marco Simoncelli’s aggression = Marc Márquez

Perhaps Marquez will turn out to be the best thing for MotoGP since Rossi...?

I have to admit that I was not a fan of Marquez, mostly because of his many questionable moves in Moto2. But there's nothing wrong with hard racing, as long as his moves don't become questionable, I think I'm becoming a Marquez fan.

Total votes: 176

When you are gambling your life at high speed or risking a season-ruining injury or a zero-point crash you have to demand protection from the racing authorities. Marc should know because he was unfit for a while at the end of the 2011 season when he partially lost his eyesight after another anxiety gust, eventually depriving him of clinching the title. There is no need to be nasty in order to be a champion.
There are countless examples of hard moves by vehement disrespectful riders that damaged smooth pilots and in most of these instances the former were punished for their forcefulness. The shame is there is no way to make the latter retrieve what they lost in an incident for which they are not to blame. Dani comes to mind after 2011´s Le Mans. Few people will censor you for running out of track and crashing when you are trying to keep the pace or catch up as long as you do not knock anybody over.
We oughtn’t to confuse aggression and faster pace. Marc NEVER stood a chance in Jerez.
The maxim of overtaking is: if there is no room DO NOT TRY!!!

Total votes: 150