Marc Marquez Interview: How He Helped Shape Honda To Make Winning Easier

Marc Marquez, speaking at Assen

Marc Márquez is well on the way to winning his sixth MotoGP title in seven seasons, dominating the class almost as completely as he did in 2014. He is making winning look easy again, despite the fact that other Honda riders will tell you that the 2019 RC213V is more difficult to ride, albeit more powerful.

How has Márquez managed to return to such dominant form? At Assen, I sat down with the reigning world champion to try to find that out. We talked about the strategy behind winning races, how to analyze how strong the competition is, and how not to get fooled by the data.

We also talked about what Márquez learned from 2015, and how he has managed to shape Honda, to try to create some continuity and improve the communication process inside the factory. And to wrap up, I asked Márquez whether he thought a perfect season, winning every race could be possible.

Q: I want to talk about winning. I find it really interesting, because you win so much. Is it easy to win a MotoGP race for you? It looks like it sometimes.

Marc Marquez: No, it's never easy, because when you think that it's easy or it will be easy, or before you start the weekend you say sometimes, this circuit is good and it will be easy, then it becomes more difficult. So in the end, the way to prepare the weekend, the way to do the meetings, all these things, every weekend you have to do it in the same way. Sometimes it gets more difficult, sometimes easier, some years it’s easier, some years it’s more difficult. But in the end sometimes you go out and for some reason on Sunday in the race you feel really good, really smooth and then it becomes easy, like for example in Argentina this year. But then some days you go out, and then you are pushing, pushing, pushing and for some reason the distance is there and you cannot open a gap.

Q: The Barcelona race was interesting because it didn’t feel to me like you were comfortable all weekend. You did not seem like the normal comfortable Marc. But then something happens in the race, you get a little bit of a gap and that’s enough for you to manage. It becomes easier than it might have been if you had had Maverick, Valentino, Jorge, Dovizioso, or anyone else there?

MM: It’s true that Montmelo was a strange weekend, but it was all related to the tires. When you manage the tires in one way or another way. In Montmelo we managed them in a different way, but for that reason in the press conference, in everything, I was quiet. On Friday for example I was far behind on the timesheets, but I knew that I was there. And for that reason sometimes I say, yes, we are far behind, but we are not far. And sometimes we are there, and I say, we are far behind. Because you know how you did the lap or how you were pushing. But in Montmelo I was riding in a good way and I knew, OK, on Sunday we can fight for the victory.

Q: Is it easy for you to tell how strong the competition is as well? Because I look at the timesheets and I can see who’s got how many laps in low 1:40s and someone else has got high 1:40s. But then when you come to the race, it turns around.

MM: In MotoGP you need to analyze only FP2 and FP4. FP1 and FP3, it's like you can forget for the rhythm, because you will not find this temperature in the race. And then when you have low temperature, the grip is unbelievable and the bikes are working well. It’s like in the test on Monday in Montmelo, everybody was fast at the end of the day because there was a lot of rubber on track. Sometimes you need to analyze these first two runs of FP2 and FP4. The first two runs are the real conditions you will find in the race.

Q: That’s where you understand and get an idea of who’s competitive?

MM: Who will be fast and who will be slow.

Q: They say about Valentino Rossi that on Sunday morning he would always find something. It seems to me it's much more difficult, because warm up on Sunday is so much colder, conditions are very different. Can you really learn anything in a warm up session?

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Total votes: 40

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Comments

Thanks for a closer inspection of MM and Honda, David.  i find it fascinating that Honda was transitioning their MotoGP project personnel just like they transition other personnel (like a conventional Japanese company) until MM raised (lack of) continuity as an issue.  At least, I think they recognized this as an issue.

Total votes: 8

Let's just take a moment to recognize that David went from a guy writing his thoughts down on an unrelated forum to sitting down with the current world champion, racing for HRC no less. 

Total votes: 28

Yes, I remember when David had to fight to get press credentials, because he didn't represent print media.

Total votes: 10

Thank you for a great interview David!

For the past several years, many have foreboded a Marquez that would grow into an insightful, thinking, realistic, patient (almost) racer, with his speed, talent, determination, and now deviousness, he is literally becoming unbeatable. He has taken care of the physical and mental components, and with this new found wisdom his competitors will need to be innovative to find an edge.

 

Total votes: 15

I agree with Jdangerously’s comment - congrats and thank you to David for persevering and developing such a great site; i found you 11 or so years ago and have depended on you for my ‘fix’ ever since. I hope you are able to reflect back on what’ve you built.

i truly respect Marc for his almost supernatural talent and am amazed/awed by his ability to win in any and all circumstances and save crashes that would end the careers of others. Having seen him come up through the support classes watching his race craft develop before my eyes i should relish the opportunity to watch what is likely to be the greatest of all time.

That said, i cannot. His dirty fighting in moto2 and his early premier class antics were a permanent turn-off for me. He just doesn’t pass my ‘beer in the driveway test’ - as in I wouldn’t want to have a beer with him. That is too bad. (I am sure he is broken up by this all, mind you!) 

David - not sure if you can or will answer this - but what kind of ‘person’ do you find MM93 to be and am i looking at this wrong?

 

 

Total votes: 30

I wouldn't be surprised that there are elements to his personality that would 'run afoul' to most of us.  But I'd figure the same could be said about the likes of Rossi as well.  And Lorenzo (who isn't even AS successful [if we're splitting hairs] as either of them).  In the end, how many good friends of ours are motorcycle multi-world champions?

Total votes: 11

I hear you. Funny, to each his own, as he is at the top of my "beer in the driveway" list for current MotoGP riders. I like this kid. His aggression has overstepped limits at times on track - yes, and this is not unforgivable in my book. It is congruent with his driven makeup. It makes me whince, and I criticize him, but don't end up disliking the guy. I remember well watching Marquez start at the back of the Moto2 grid and run the whole field to win. I knew then that he knew he was a great. I enjoy his riding, aggression and all. The saves. So talented!

Glad we are well past Italian - Spanish personalized attacks and fanboy shite of a few years back. THAT turned me off more than anything on track.

I cheered like I was released from prison when he crashed out of the lead in Austin, if that also says something. I hate having boring dominance. But Marc? Likeable! Particularly given the context a MotoGP champion is functioning within, it feeds base aspects of a person and tries the good developed ones. Biting my tongue now about poor opinions of the words and actions of others, not needed.

Crutchlow, Rins are high on the beer in the drive list as well. Dovisioso I would trust with a key to the house. Brivio too. We have some good and interesting folks about.

Total votes: 16

for me is Jack.  OK so I am an pom/aussie/yank/kiwi but since I grew up in Oz, when Jack speaks I "hear" him.  I'm thinking that dovi would be fun and Rossi (now that he has nothing to prove) but Marc is still ready to "justify" his moves whereas the older riders (Roberts/Gardner/Lawson et al) kind of smile and say "well I was young and we were racing".  Marc seems to have enough humility nowadays that I suspect he will say pretty much the same.

Total votes: 5

I seriously doubt I'd like to have a beer with any of these guys, and let's not forget it's unlikely any of them drink beer anyhow. They're way too focused, too driven, and too much separated from what we know of as normal life.

Holding former perceived misdemeanors against him now is to me somewhat spoiling the enjoyment of watching him race now. Sure, he did some boneheaded moves in Moto2, but for example the wilariot incident was not malicious, just forgetting he was surrounded by other mortals. It showed ap again in Argentina last year, he was just riding thinking "why the hell are these guys riding so damn SLOW?", not appreciating he was the only one on track who could ride as he was.

There's also another angle. Instead of focussing on his shortcomings, think of what he has overcome. The crash in Sepang - through no fault of his own - cost him a world title and nearly ended his career. He had to have very sensitive optic nerve surgery and it took months to recover, but he came back even stronger. Ditto the shoulder last year, held on to win the title with it popping out all the time, then a full rebuild required and he comes back and basically dominates the early season.

I prefer to take the good with bad and appreciate the racer. Ok, he is ruthless, and has at times made errors of judgement, but so have all the other greats. To me it's not about liking then or not, all of them are probably somewhere on the sociopath index. They are racers, they race. Enjoy! 😁

Total votes: 17

thanks David.  Sadly for his opposition, MM has worked out how to get the most out of what is around him and seems to just kept building on it.  Quite refreshing to hear him say "But in the end your skills are your skills and your talent is your talent, and you will not improve a lot." so he refines what he can do and seemingly works tirelessly with the whole team.

MSS 58 I hear where you are coming from and no you are not coming at it wrong other than I read this as an interview about how to get the most out of what you have got and not about MM as a sportsperson which meant I managed to leave that dislike at the door.

Total votes: 7

...in hindsight, it was mildly humorous, then, that he essentially dodged your question about how inexplicably lucky he is with the bad fortunes of his competitors. He clearly has enough class not to gloat, but he didn't even appear to grant the premise. I think I would have appreciated it more if he'd said, "I know... right? Sometimes I can't believe it either. I would rather race against these guys than see them fall down..."

Total votes: 6

Marquez' only crash (and thus non-point scoring race) this season was at Austin which he was deadset to win; in Catalunya, his chief rivals were taken out unexpectedly.  Is there really much gain in discussing luck and chance (or the lack thereof) in earnest?

Total votes: 9

When he hit the scene I was a Lorenzo fan, and didn't want to jump on the fan bandwagon, it would have been too easy. He was too good, with the looks, what he says and of course riding. After Argentina last year when he (justifiably) got hung with the bad boy rep, I said, OK, now you can be a fan. Fandom is totally subjective, and really doesn't need to be justified. I could never be a Rossi fan, his talent, undeniable, his mugging for the camera, a total turn off for me.

Total votes: 11

"But in the end your skills are your skills and your talent is your talent, and you will not improve a lot."

Recently Marquez stated that there is no room at Honda for Alex Marquez and that it was important that Alex moves to MotoGP on the right bike for his style. Is it safe to assume that Marc is on the best bike in MotoGP for his style? Through experience he has been improving everything else within his control. The end result is a winning combination.

Total votes: 3