Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Márquez is the man with no off switch

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.


Márquez is the man with no off switch

The Spaniard has won all three titles in MotoGP’s new era of make-it-up-as-you-go-along riding technique. Next comes MotoGP’s Senna/Prost moment

No motorcycle racer is unbeatable. Mick Doohan ruled the 1990s with an iron fist, dominating five consecutive 500cc world championships and leaving everyone waking up on Sunday mornings wondering who would finish second. Then, in a millisecond, his reign was over when he momentarily strayed onto a damp white line at Jerez in May 1999.

Marc Márquez isn’t unbeatable. Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa, Valentino Rossi and others have already proved that. But, right now, he is about as invincible as it gets.

His psyche is like a fortress and his talent is like a troop of ridiculously brave elite cavalry that sallies forth, laying waste to anyone who comes close. If you’ll excuse the analogy, he is a 21st century El Cid, the famous 11th century Spanish warrior who conquered Valencia in the 1090s and was mostly loved by his subjects.

Márquez didn’t conquer Valencia last weekend. His trophy cabinet may have ended 2018 full of silverware but he ended the season with a face full of gravel, the victim of the biblical downpour that turned the last race of GP racing’s 70th season into a demolition derby.

The whole weekend was miserable – a gloomy end to a dazzling season – and Márquez could have been forgiven for taking things easy. He had already won the riders' world title, helped Honda win the constructors’ world title and needed only to cruise around to claim a few points to give Repsol Honda the teams crown. Especially considering his super-weak left shoulder, which he had already dislocated on numerous occasions, most recently when it popped out while celebrating with Scott Redding at Motegi.

But Márquez has no off switch – no cruise control – like all the true greats. As soon as they contemplate easing off a bit, shifting down a gear, maybe looking at the view, they are finished.

This is why I think the truly momentous moments of Márquez’s sixth season in MotoGP weren’t his race wins at COTA, Jerez, Le Mans, Assen, Sachsenring, Aragón, Buriram, Motegi and Sepang, but his qualifying crashes at Misano and Valencia.

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

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Total votes: 11
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Comments

Hopefully it will be epic. But as you pointed out MotoGP riders are never more than a moment from disaster. I see Puig as sage in that he knows Marquez could leave him high and dry at any moment. Lorenzo is an insurance policy. Lorenzo will also steer the Honda (figuratively) to be a more well rounded bike. This should increase the pool of potential winners on it.

Total votes: 9

Yes I’m an Aussie. And yes I can’t remember  the last time i genuinely thought Mr Oxley had written total rubbish. As a rule I love his work. But the statement that Rossi conquered Stoner beggars belief. Stoner had a winning record Rossi and was anything but intimidated by the mind games. Incredibly puzzling statement.

Total votes: 21

I've been trying to tell all and sundry for ages that Lorenzo was really the first rider to beat the Rossi psychological warfare, but Stoner and Marquez did it too. Lorenzo round the outside at Motegi I think, (and when the garage wall went up), Stoner with the ambition outweighing talent comment, and Marquez in Sepang 2015. Barring injury, Marquez will soon be the new GOAT. Or will Lorenzo break the mould and learn a 3rd different riding style? Surely the Ducati education will speed up the process at Honda. Or will Honda revert to type and think that its their bike doing the winning, not the riders. Surely the lesson of 2018 for the factories is 'listen to the rider' no matter what the data says. After all, isn't this why bike racing is so much better than car racing?

 

Total votes: 6

although I might argue the time frame of when Lorenzo and Stoner broke free of the mental oppression and who did it first. It was possibly a somewhat gradual process? Think for Stoner, it started to gel with that 2007 Championship. For the Marquez/Alzamora consortium, of course you're right, but it started long before 2015 Sepang.

I wish I could say that Max "it was a mosquito" Biaggi did it too, but sadly I don't think that was the case. At least he has a WSBK title, something that 46 doesn't.

And being a JL99 fan, I also believe those unfruitful early times on the Ducati will have nicely paved the way for JL on the HRC machine. Time will tell how quickly he adapts, though I think it's safe to say it won't be 1-1/2 seasons! I think the big shame is that he starts time on it being injured. How much of the 'problem' is the bike and how much is rider?

Total votes: 3