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.
The ‘unreal feeling’ that makes Márquez king
What makes Marc Márquez great? He has achieved a title hit rate better than anyone since Giacomo Agostini half a century ago by doing things the others can’t do
You know that feeling when you ride into a corner on your favourite road a wee bit too fast, so you hold your breath, relax your grip on the handlebars and seek forgiveness for all your sins? Then you make it out the other side and your heart rate spikes and your stomach does a loop the loop? Scary but uplifting – what riding bikes is all about.
I imagine that’s how Marc Márquez feels every time he attacks a corner: front tyre squirming and painting the asphalt black, handlebars tipping several degrees into the turn, elbows for outriggers, then up, up and away, hard on the throttle, an explosion of exhaust noise, a shudder of wheelspin and he’s gone.
The six-times MotoGP king is the only man who can enter corners like this. How come? This is what an anonymous rival factory engineer told me a while back…
“The holy grail of motorcycle racing has always been to come up with a device that can save front-end slides, and now Honda have one; he’s called Marc Márquez.”
It’s as simple as that. Well, pretty much. The one thing Márquez can do that no one else can do is consistently override the motorcycle, specifically the front tyre’s traction limit.
It’s this unique skill that gives him his biggest advantage over his rivals. This is confirmed by top MotoGP tyre and suspension technicians who watch all the riders out on track and examine all their data in the pits.
“For me, there is no one like Marc in the way he controls the front,” says Michelin MotoGP chief Piero Taramasso.
“Marc’s riding style is quite unique – no one else can ride a front slide for so long,” adds Öhlins race engineer Thomas Alatalo. “He has some kind of unreal feeling for how hard he can be on the brakes into the corner and in the trail-braking area, so he makes up most of his time in the final part of corner entry.”
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.