On October 21st, 2018, at Motegi, Marc Márquez wrapped up his fifth MotoGP title in six seasons, with three races to spare. He did so despite having suffered his 18th crash of the season so far during FP4, the front washing out as he released the brakes in Turn 7. He led the MotoGP class in crashes at Motegi, and would continue to do so through the final race in Valencia, amassing a grand total of 23 crashes at official events throughout the 2018 season.
He had gone one better in 2018 than he had the year before, finishing second to Sam Lowes in 2017, ending up with 27 crashes to Lowes' 31. In 2016, he was a lowly third in the crash rankings, ending the season with 17 falls, behind Cal Crutchlow and Jack Miller with 26 and 25 crashes respectively.
That propensity to crash has caused many people to question just how long Márquez can keep taking the risks that he does. Former triple world champion Wayne Rainey, in a recent interview with Motorsport.com's Gerald Dirnbeck, voices a concern felt by many. "If Marquez falls down over 20 times again next year, maybe Marquez beats himself," Rainey said. "When you are off your bike, sliding across the grass at 200km/h, maybe you're OK for the first two meters, but then if you start flipping across the track, anything can happen. I'm hoping Marquez can find a way to be more consistent. He needs to stay on his bike more. It's not very healthy to make mistakes like that."
Valentino Rossi's Yamaha M1
David Emmett: The Yamaha M1 barely seems to change from year to year. In recent seasons, even the livery has remained almost identical. Yamaha's philosophy is one of evolution and refinement, and that is not always obvious from the outside. Despite the lack of outward change, there are some major changes to the 2019 Yamaha M1. Yamaha is continuing along the path of moving weight to the rear of the bike, and the bike has new chassis parts (including a new frame) to help with tire life. The biggest changes have been on the electronics side, optimizing the Magneti Marelli spec ECU software.
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It has been a long and eventful career for Dani Pedrosa, which draws to a close at Valencia. The Spaniard has been enormously successful: three world championships in 125s and 250s, 54 Grand Prix victories, 31 in the premier class, putting him seventh and eighth respectively all time. On Thursday, he will be made officially a MotoGP Legend by Dorna, to mark his achievements in the series.
Yet Pedrosa has always been an intensely private man. Like Casey Stoner, Pedrosa loved the racing passionately, but everything in between climbing off the bike after the latest race, and climbing back aboard for the next, that he could do without. He was always friendly to fans, and polite to reporters, but it was obvious from his media appearances that this was the one thing which interested him least of all.
At Aragon, I got a chance to take a look back at MotoGP with Pedrosa, and talk about how he had experienced it. It was a personal view of his life, and his approach to racing, rather than a dry look at his stats. Pedrosa talked about how he saw the series, about the things he loved and the things he hated, and about the difference between racing now, and racing in previous eras. He was open about himself as a human, and how his view of the world had changed through the years, and how, in a way, that played into his decision to stop racing.
Q: MotoGP has changed a lot in the time that you've been in it. How do you see the championship? What state is it in? What is going well, and what is going wrong? What were the good changes? What were the bad changes? What would you change if you were Carmelo?