Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Is Marquez already champion?

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 are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.


Is Marquez already champion?

Marc Marquez looks like he’s cruising to title number three, but is it really that simple?

MotoGP 2016 reaches two-thirds distance at Silverstone this weekend: round 12 of 18.

Marc Marquez goes into the race, which last year he failed to finish, holding a 53-point lead over Valentino Rossi. It would appear to be game over: even if Rossi or Jorge Lorenzo win the last seven races, Marquez can afford to finish second or third at every race and still take home the title.

But, in case you hadn’t already realised, this is motorcycle racing, so anything can happen. Marquez’s practice tumble at the Red Bull Ring – where he fell heavily trying to avoid a cruising Dani Pedrosa – showed how easy it is for riders and championships to be turned on their heads. Marquez went down like a sack of potatoes and was lucky to avoid the kind of injury that could have put him out of action for the Austrian and Czech GPs. And that was free practice, he wasn’t riding the edge, he just got caught up in a bit of a freak accident at a low-speed corner. In bike racing, it’s never over until it’s over.

That crash very nearly brought him undone, even though Marquez is a different man this year – no longer the win-or-bin-it, rostrum-or-hospital rider he used to be. Even during preseason testing he announced that he would approach 2016 differently.

“At the end of last season I analysed my championship a lot – I crashed in six races, so I made too many mistakes,” he said at Sepang in February. “OK, so now I know I have to finish these races to finish the season in a good way, I have to avoid mistakes.”

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

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Total votes: 76
Total votes: 89

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Comments

Perhaps he is finally maturing to the point where he's no longer the almost run you over with a scooter, (me) while hauling ass in the COTA pit area kind of guy? ;)

Total votes: 87

 If he holds serve in the next 11 days, yes. If he loses 20 points in the back to back to weekends coming up, i say it goes down to Valencia. I look for Marquez to try and deliver a demoralizing blow this weekend if its dry. Temps are good for the Honda and the bike itself is much better on the flowing tracks this year which were decidedly in Yamaha's favor in the past. now, Honda's weakness [slow corner acceleration] used to be its strength and one of its strengths [fast flowing corners] used to be a weakness. Strange how much things can change in just a couple of years

Total votes: 84

What is interesting is the turnaround from last year, with similar circumstances. 2015 saw Marquez fast but inconsistent, Rossi not always fast but very consistent.

Now we have the opposite, I don't think that Marc is counting his chickens as 2015 proved that if you aren't fastest it is very difficult to protect a lead, and if Rossi can put together a few consistent performances with his speed like at Jerez, Mugello and Catalunya then things can change very quickly.

For me, the electronics and tires have finally provided the spice we've been waiting for. The riders that are now suffering, particulalry the spectacular falls from grace by Lorenzo and Pedrosa this season highlights their reliance on the better electronics/fuel computer and tyres that seemingly were built for their strengths and never really 'went off'. I can't remember the last time we have seen a reigning world champion finish so poorly on four seperate occasions-even considering the weather. 

And we all remember the last time we had a satelite bike win a race a decade a go, now we have two in one season, plus a third new race winner and Ducati's first in six years. And it was 2006 that Rossi had a 50 odd point deficit to a Repsol Honda around this stage of the season also... 

Total votes: 90

that had a 50 point deficit to a Repsol Honda. No offense to my favorite rider, but making up 50 plus points on Marquez is an entirely different task than making up 50 points on a rider who was still being forced to test the next years Pedrocycle parts in the midst of a championship run. On top of that, Marquez is just better than Rossi

Total votes: 88

your opinion. I have read many others exactly the same who share your favorite rider, and I disagree with them too.

Marquez has a long way to go before he can be considered better than Rossi-we can start comparing when Marc is 37 and still winning races, finishing top 2 in the championship and beating riders like himself who are 15 years younger.

Total votes: 96

has nothing to do with Rossi's wins or championships before Marquez came on the scene.  I didnt say Marquez had as many title or wins, but he does have a lot more titles and wins since they have shared a track together.   

Total votes: 90

I think you nailed it.     Last year was an awesome championship battle and kept me riveted. This year, the cream is rising and I'm enjoying it more. I hate to say this but Dorna was right on the software. 

 

Total votes: 79

...and it breaks my heart to say it. Not just because I'm "team VR" also because it would be more exciting to have a tighter championship until the end. I disagree on the similarities with last year "VR very consistent and now MM very consistent"
Rossi has never been a win it or bin it rider as opposed to the very nature of MM. The mistakes he made are a direct consequence of the engine break in Mugello.
Moreover - and I want to stress that this in no way is meant to diminish MM amazing skills- VR never had any stroke of luck in 2015. Whereas MM seems to be right now the favorite child of the goddess of good fortune. I mean even when he crashed during the race the bike started again and he managed to score some points. No matter how you look at it the stars are indeed aligned for his victory. Of course you make your own luck... but I think that in this case the luck factor did objectively play a big part. Now he just needs to cruise in 4th place until the end of the season and still win. I'm not saying boring... but slightly frustrating.

Total votes: 90

"The mistakes he made are a direct consequence of the engine break in Mugello."

 

 

Total votes: 74

I agree with much of what you have to say, although I believe you might be selling Messieurs Lorenzo and Pedrosa short.

Total votes: 87

but I think Bridgestone edge treated rubber and bespoke, highly expensive software combined with a 20 litre fuel limit flattered their talent and hindered others, as we are now seeing. 

Total votes: 76

I'd love to see Rossi make a late charge, but remember that we're entering the time of the season where JL often dominates--although luck hasn't really been on his side, either. 

Total votes: 81

Very interesting this year compared to last.  Rossi was in similar circumstances last year.  He was consistently painted as not the fastest, lucky, and not deserving of being the points leader throughout the season.  

Marquez is doing that same thing this year and is being treated as tactful, matured, and isn't being ridiculed as slower, not the fastest guy, etc.  A bit hypocritical, either Rossi in 2015, or Marquez in 2016, whichever way you want to look at it.  Two similar approaches yet two different treatments of the championship leaders.  

Total votes: 85

At this point last year, Lorenzo had 5 wins to Rossi's 3 and i think they were tied in points which gave the championship lead to Lorenzo. With them being on the same bike, it was easy to conclude that Lorenzo was the faster of the two riders. This year, Marquez is leading the points and is tied for most wins on a vastly inferior bike. What he is doing is matured and tactical. What should have been a Yamaha 1-2 runaway has imploded on rider mistakes.

Total votes: 67

Rossi was compared to his teammate on the same bike.  With Marquez his lack of speed (when it occurs) is touted as being due to the bike.  And I'd say Rossi WAS touted for his consistancy last year.  Perhaps when you heard 'not the fastest, he's leading due to his consistancy' you're hearing the first statement as a criticisms and not the second as a compliment.  When discussing the championship situation last year and where it was headed the speed of Lorenzo seemed to point towards him being likely to overhaul Rossi because 'Rossi's only leading due to his consistancy' and expecting Lorenzos run of inconsistancy(whether his own fault or otherwise) to come to an end.

Also Marquez is being especially complimented because of his change of attitude which is a marked change on last year.  There was no change there with Rossi.  He'd already matured in that respect.

Total votes: 79

And Marc has only won one 'dry' race, yet no one is saying he is 'praying' for rain each weekend as they were for Rossi last season.

Total votes: 86

Completely different scenarios if you ask me.
Not that I think anyone worth listening too actually ridiculed Rossi over his speed last year, (sepang press conference and onwards not included, but that's a whole different discussion which needs to be consigned to history)but the facts don't lie, Rossi was slower overall than his teammate in 2015. It doesn't have to be popular, it doesn't have to be something you like, is simply the way it was.

This year Marquez is way faster than his team mate and anyone riding a similar bike in 'normal' conditions. Pretty hard to argue that he should have pushed more after a finish outside the podium when he's 30sec in front of the next Honda.
On the flip side Rossi has so far found the speed this year to beat Lorenzo on pure speed at any given track in all conditions. He's just made a couple of mistakes and has had some horrible luck.

Total votes: 89