Crunching The Numbers: Rider Of The Decade 2010-2019

Who is the greatest MotoGP rider of the past decade? Followers of the sport will all have their own answers to this question, based on their own criteria. One way of trying to answer the question objectively is by using numbers to quantify performance. Sure, the numbers may overlook certain factors. But going over the numbers from 180 races held over the space of 10 years helps eliminate outliers, and separate the signal from the noise.

To qualify for consideration, you have to win races. The 180 races held between 2010 and 2019 have seen 13 different winners: Cal Crutchlow, Andrea Dovizioso, Andrea Iannone, Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Márquez, Jack Miller, Dani Pedrosa, Danilo Petrucci, Alex Rins, Valentino Rossi, Ben Spies, Casey Stoner, and Maverick Viñales. Of that group, Iannone, Miller, Petrucci, and Spies have all won only a single race, ruling them out of contention. Alex Rins has won two races, but the Suzuki rider has only been active for three seasons, meaning he made little impact over the full decade.

That left eight riders who have won multiple races this decade: Crutchlow, Dovizioso, Lorenzo, Márquez, Pedrosa, Rossi, Stoner, and Viñales. Of those eight, Andrea Dovizioso is the only rider to have started in all 180 races (he actually started 181 races, but the 2011 race in Sepang was red-flagged after Marco Simoncelli's tragic death, and would have started in Silverstone last year, had the race not been canceled due to the weather). Two other riders have started every MotoGP race held while they were in the class: Marc Márquez has competed in all 127 races held since 2013, and Maverick Viñales has started all 91 races held since 2015.

Clear Victor

Whichever way you run the numbers, one rider stands head and shoulders above the rest. Marc Márquez leads the pack in terms of wins, podium percentage, and poles. On his way to six championships in seven seasons, Márquez racked up a grand total of 56 wins from 127 races, an average of just over 44%. Second in terms of victories is Jorge Lorenzo who amassed 42 wins from 169 starts, a rate of 24.85%.

In percentage terms, however, it is Casey Stoner who is the second most successful rider of the decade. The Australian won 36% of the races he competed in during his three seasons this decade, between 2010 and 2012. But because he only raced for three seasons, he finishes fourth overall in terms of absolute number of wins with 18. But that puts him just 5 wins behind Dani Pedrosa, who amassed 23 victories between 2010 and 2018, and ahead of Andrea Dovizioso and Valentino Rossi who competed for the entire decade.

When you look at podiums, it is Jorge Lorenzo who is most successful. Between his time in the Yamaha and Ducati factory teams, Lorenzo stood on the podium a total of 96 times, compared to Marc Márquez' 95. Dani Pedrosa has the third most podiums, with 74, just ahead of Valentino Rossi with 70.

View the numbers in terms of percentages, and it is Marc Márquez who leads the way again, standing on the podium in nearly 75% of the races he starts. Second is Casey Stoner, once again, with 70%, while Lorenzo was on the podium in 56.8% of his races. Dani Pedrosa was on the podium in exactly half of the 148 races he started, while Valentino Rossi has been on the podium in 40% of his races this decade.

Points mean prizes

That podium score is also reflected in the points haul. In the course of his 127 race starts, Marc Márquez has amassed a total of 2275 points, from a maximum of 3175. That is an average points haul of 17.9, or a little better than the 16 points awarded for third place, and 71.7% of the theoretical maximum, had he won every race.

Márquez is second again in absolute total points to Jorge Lorenzo, who scored 2448 points over the last decade, though in percentage terms, that is just third best, 54.4% to Casey Stoner's 62.6%. Valentino Rossi has the third highest points haul this decade with 2221, while Andrea Dovizioso is fourth.

An armful of Tissots

It is not just the races which Márquez has dominated. Nobody is able to match Marc Márquez in qualifying, the Repsol Honda rider starting from pole in just under half of the races since he joined the class in 2013. Casey Stoner is second in percentage terms once again, starting from pole 42% of the time, to Márquez 48.8%. In absolute terms, Jorge Lorenzo is second, starting from pole 34 times compared to Márquez' 62 poles. Dani Pedrosa is the only other rider in real contention, with 18 starts from pole.

These numbers make a solid benchmark against which to measure Fabio Quartararo's performance. Though the Petronas Yamaha rider did not manage to win a race in 2019, his numbers in his rookie season are very strong indeed. Quartararo's 5 second places and 2 thirds meant he was on the podium for 36.8% of the 19 MotoGP races he has competed, a better podium rate than either Andrea Dovizioso or Maverick Viñales. His 6 pole positions represent a rate of 31.6%, putting him third overall in percentage terms, behind only Marc Márquez and Casey Stoner. Quartararo scored 10.1 points per race on average, which would put him just behind Viñales and well ahead of Cal Crutchlow in this group.

To win titles, first win races

The numbers also make plain the difference between winning championships and merely being successful. There have been three different MotoGP champions this decade – Jorge Lorenzo in 2010, 2012, and 2015, Casey Stoner in 2011, and Marc Márquez in the other six years – and all three of them have a higher rate of wins than of second or third places. Wins are truly what makes the difference when it comes to winning titles, a fact made clearest by Marc Márquez' numbers. The Repsol Honda rider wins 44.1% of races, finishes 2nd in 22.8%, and third in 7.9%.

Jorge Lorenzo's numbers show a similar pattern: 24.9% of wins, 21.3% of second places, 10.7% of thirds. Casey Stoner is something of an anomaly here, having 36% of wins, only 8% of seconds and 26% of thirds. The fact that Stoner's numbers are from just three seasons may explain the unusual pattern, a smaller sample size of races (50, compared to 127 by Márquez and 169 by Lorenzo) making variation more likely.

The pattern is also repeated in riders who have failed to win a championship. Dani Pedrosa came closest, the Spaniard pushing Jorge Lorenzo for much of the 2012 season, and his relative percentage of podium places is strongest: 15.5% wins, 18.2% seconds, 16.2% thirds. Andrea Dovizioso has finished second to Marc Márquez for the last three years, and his results show a similar pattern, 7.2% wins, 11.7% seconds, 13.3% thirds.

Ducati vs Yamaha

Dovizioso's results are also a good barometer for the fortunes of Ducati. Compare the Italian's results in the past three seasons, when the Desmosedici has been far more competitive, and his relative podium rates are very different, 47.3% to 32.2% over the whole decade. His win rate skews closer to the kind of balance show by Lorenzo as well, 21.8% of wins between 2017-2019, 12.7% of seconds, and the same 12.7% of thirds.

Yamaha's decline, on the other hand, is also visible in Valentino Rossi's results. The Italian finished second in the championship between 2014 and 2016, but has slipped well below that in the last three seasons. Rossi was on the podium 70.4% of the time between 2014-2016, a rate which slipped to 24% between 2017-2019. In those middle years of the decade, Rossi was scoring on average 16.1 points per race. Between 2017 and 2019, he was down to 10.7 points.

The pattern is similar for the other factory Yamaha riders, though Rossi had different teammates during that period. Between 2014 and 2016, Jorge Lorenzo was on the podium 61.1% of the time, and scored an average of 15.3 points per race. After Maverick Viñales joined Yamaha in 2017, his podium rate was 34.6%, and he was averaging 11.5 points per race.

This decade vs last decade

All these numbers leave no room for doubt that Marc Márquez is the rider of the decade between 2010 and 2019. In terms of wins, podiums, poles, points per race, nobody has been able to get close. But how does he compare to the previous decade? In the first decade of this century, it was Valentino Rossi who ruled the roost.

Rossi dominated the period from 2000-2009 very much as Márquez has dominated the ten years since then. Between 2000 and 2009, Rossi won the championship seven times, only missing out to Kenny Roberts Jr in 2000, Nicky Hayden in 2006, and Casey Stoner in 2007.

From 2000-2009 Rossi won 77 of the 167 races held in the premier class, starting in all of them. That is more than Márquez' 56 races, though Rossi's advantage is smaller in percentage terms, 46.1% to Márquez' 44.1%. Rossi was on the podium 76.7% of the time, compared to Márquez 74.8%, and he averaged more points per race. Between 2000-2009, Rossi averaged 18.5 points per race, whereas Márquez was scoring 17.9 points per race between 2013-2019.

The one place where Márquez outperforms Rossi in their two decades is in pole positions. Márquez has been dominant in qualifying, taking 48.8% of poles, while Rossi's rate from 2000-2009 was just 24.6%. That is better than Jorge Lorenzo's pole rate between 2010-2019, but less than Fabio Quartararo's rate this year.

Comparing eras

Is it fair to compare Rossi's performance from 2000-2009 to Márquez' from 2013-2019? There are a lot of confounding factors, for sure. Rossi's first two seasons were spent on two-stroke 500cc machines, after which he spend two years on the Honda RC211V, clearly the best machine of the period. But after that, Rossi switched to Yamaha, taking a bike which had previously been uncompetitive to two more championships in 2004 and 2005, then two more in 2008 and 2009.

It is equally clear that Rossi didn't face the same level of competition in his first few years in the championship. The riders Rossi had to beat in his early years are much lower on the all-time premier class winners list (PDF) than the competition Márquez faced when he came to MotoGP. Between 2000-2005, when Rossi took 53 of his 77 victories of that decade, he faced Alex Crivillé, 18th on the all-time list, Max Biaggi (20th), Loris Capirossi (23rd), Sete Gibernau (24th), Kenny Roberts Jr (26th).

A new generation which would go on to be far more successful joined MotoGP after 2005, Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa arriving in 2006, Jorge Lorenzo in 2008. In that period, Rossi won just 24 races. His win rate suffered too: it was at 68% in 2001 and 2002, 65% in 2005, 56% in 2003 and 2004. The only time Rossi's win rate rose above 30% after 2005 was in his championship years, rising to 50% in 2008 and 35% in 2009. In 2006 and 2007, the years Rossi failed to win the title, his win rate was below 30%.

Golden age

Contrast this with the level of competition Marc Márquez faced when he came to MotoGP. Márquez had to race against Valentino Rossi, who tops the list of most successful riders in the premier class. But he also had to beat Jorge Lorenzo, who is 5th overall, Dani Pedrosa (8th), and Andrea Dovizioso (19th). Comparisons between eras are hard, and circumstances are different, but the fact that Márquez has faced some of greatest premier class riders of all time speaks to just how good the Spaniard is.

It also demonstrates just how good a decade this has been for MotoGP fans. Between 2010 and 2019, five of the eight most successful riders in premier class history have lined up on the grid. The switch back to 1000cc bikes with spec electronics and Michelin tires has made the racing much closer and more exciting. In 2019, 7 of the 19 races were decided by less than a second. This has truly been a golden age for MotoGP. And Marc Márquez is its current king.

MotoMatters.com subscribers can download the full spreadsheet containing the statistics this article is based on below. Use the following link to sign up to become a MotoMatters.com site supporter by taking out a subscription. You can find out more about subscribing to MotoMatters.com here.

Tables

Number of wins 

Rider Seasons Races Starts 1st 2nd 3rd
Márquez 2013-2019 127 127 56 29 10
Lorenzo 2010-2019 180 169 42 36 18
Pedrosa 2010-2018 161 148 23 27 24
Stoner 2010-2012 53 50 18 4 13
Dovizioso 2010-2019 180 180 13 21 24
Rossi 2010-2019 180 175 12 26 32
Viñales 2015-2019 91 91 7 4 12
Crutchlow 2011-2019 162 157 3 6 10
             
Rossi 2000-2009 167 167 77 35 16

Win and podium position percentages 

Rider Seasons Races Starts 1st % 2nd % 3rd %
Márquez 2013-2019 127 127 44.09% 22.83% 7.87%
Stoner 2010-2012 53 50 36% 8.00% 26%
Lorenzo 2010-2019 180 169 24.85% 21.30% 10.65%
Pedrosa 2010-2018 161 148 15.54% 18.24% 16.22%
Viñales 2015-2019 91 91 7.69% 4.40% 13.19%
Dovizioso 2010-2019 180 180 7.22% 11.67% 13.33%
Rossi 2010-2019 180 175 6.86% 14.86% 18.29%
Crutchlow 2011-2019 162 157 1.91% 3.82% 6.37%
             
Rossi 2000-2009 167 167 46.11% 20.96% 9.58%

Podium and pole percentages 

Rider Seasons Races Starts Podiums Podium % Poles Pole %
Márquez 2013-2019 127 127 95 74.8% 62 48.82%
Stoner 2010-2012 53 50 35 70% 21 42%
Lorenzo 2010-2019 180 169 96 56.8% 34 20.12%
Pedrosa 2010-2018 161 148 74 50% 18 12.16%
Rossi 2010-2019 180 175 70 40% 7 4%
Dovizioso 2010-2019 180 180 58 32.22% 7 3.89%
Viñales 2015-2019 91 91 23 25.27% 9 9.89%
Crutchlow 2011-2019 162 157 19 12.1% 4 2.55%
               
Rossi 2000-2009 167 167 128 76.65% 41 24.55%

Points totals and points per race 

Rider Seasons Races Starts Points Max points 
available
Points
per race
% of
max points
Márquez 2013-2019 127 127 2275 3175 17.9 71.65%
Stoner 2010-2012 53 50 829 1325 16.6 62.57%
Lorenzo 2010-2019 180 169 2448 4500 14.5 54.4%
Pedrosa 2010-2018 161 148 2030 4025 13.7 50.43%
Rossi 2010-2019 180 175 2221 4500 12.7 49.36%
Dovizioso 2010-2019 180 180 2087 4500 11.6 46.38%
Viñales 2015-2019 91 91 933 2275 10.3 41.01%
Crutchlow 2011-2019 162 157 1142 4050 7.3 28.2%
               
Rossi 2000-2009 167 167 3084 4175 18.5 73.87%

Andrea Doviziosio 2017-2019 

Season Starts 1st 2nd 3rd Tot. Poles Points Pos.
2019 19 2 3 4 9 0 269 2
2018 18 4 3 2 9 2 245 2
2017 18 6 1 1 8 0 261 2
  55 12 7 7 26 2 775  
Avg.   21.82% 12.73% 12.73% 47.27% 3.64% 14.1  

Valentino Rossi 2014-2016 vs 2017-2019 

Season Starts 1st 2nd 3rd Tot. Poles Points Pos.
2016 18 2 6 2 10 3 249 2
2015 18 4 3 8 15 1 325 2
2014 18 2 6 5 13 1 295 2
  54 8 15 15 38 5 869  
Avg.   14.81% 27.78% 27.78% 70.37% 9.26% 16.1  
                 
2019 19 0 2 0 2 0 174 7
2018 18 0 1 4 5 1 198 3
2017 17 1 3 2 6 0 208 5
  54 1 6 6 13 1 580  
Avg.   1.85% 11.11% 11.11% 24.07% 1.85% 10.7  

Yamaha 2014-2016 vs 2017-2019 

Season Starts 1st 2nd 3rd Tot. Poles Points Pos.
Lorenzo            
2016 18 4 3 3 10 4 233 3
2015 18 7 3 2 12 5 330 1
2014 18 2 6 3 11 1 263 3
  54 13 12 8 33 10 826  
Avg.   24.07% 22.22% 14.81% 61.11% 18.52% 15.3  
Viñales            
2019 19 2 1 4 7 3 211 3
2018 18 1 1 3 5 1 193 4
2017 18 3 2 2 7 5 230 3
  55 6 4 9 19 9 634  
Avg.   10.91% 7.27% 16.36% 34.55% 16.36% 11.5  

Fabio Quartararo 

Season Starts 1st 2nd 3rd Tot. Poles Points
2019 19 0 5 2 7 6 192
Avg.   0% 26.32% 10.53% 36.84% 31.58% 10.1
Source: 
year: 
2019
Total votes: 26
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Total votes: 23

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Comments

Very interesting indeed. Strangely, it's easy to forget just how good Rossi was in the 00s. Although it's taken for granted that he's the GOAT, those numbers back him up. Likewise, it can't be too long until there is no doubt that Marquez is the new GOAT! Maybe 2 or 3 years?

It's been an absolute privilage to watch him and Marquez these last two decades, we've really been spoilt this century, and as is so often the case, we may not appreciate it fully until they're gone. I wonder what the next 10 years will bring?

Total votes: 55

For me the motorcycle racing GOAT is Giacomo Agostini. 2 stroke and 4 stroke champion. Roadracing and cirquit racer. He really did it all. Winner of 15 Championchips! 

Greatest Motorsport Champion ever? John Surtees. Motorcycle AND F1 Champion...  for real! 

Rossi and Hamilton on each others tools for racing? Nothing but a PR event. 

Total votes: 15

The main thing I take from that is it's a tragedy we never got to see Casey vs Marc around Phillip Island.

Total votes: 36

It hurts to have never seen them battle, but Casey's recent interview on.... Rusty's Garage?.... has given me closure on never seeing Casey race again. MotoGP is a brutal sport, even when you're at the top.

Total votes: 23

Or anywhere else. Stoner is the only guy I've seen who has the talent to compare with Marc, and fully fit he would have been a title threat on any of the top 3 bikes. 

Total votes: 29

Personally I think if you put any of the major champions side by side with all at their peak it'd be anyone's guess who came out on top. People talk about there having been less competition in this or that era or having a bike that was head and shoulders faster, but in my view they were simply a cut above in their heyday.

Vale was indeed very, very good in the noughties and entertaining to boot. A bit like Márquez these days, but painted differently. Doohan was simply dominant, but the races were a bit boring to watch, a bit like Jorge. To be honest I've never seen Stoner in the same light, for me he's in the same category as Freddie Spencer, a light that shone very brightly but only for a relatively short time, plus he always seemed more beatable. Or maybe it was that he never had that swagger, that total conviction you see in the others, that he was clearly the best. Which is probably to his credit. Sorry, I know this is a little inflammatory under yours, but isn't this what we always do as winter sets in!

Total votes: 18

Stoner is clearly one of the very best riders to have raced in MotoGP. Not one of the greatest, as the time wasted on the woeful 800 Ducati and his health issues meant he didn't win as many by titles as he might have had he spent all of his premier class career on a factory Honda like Marquez or Doohan. And it's no coincidence Rossi's best era was on the Factory Honda. Stoner still doesn't get the credit he deserves for the miracles he performed on that Ducati. 

Total votes: 17

I wouldn't disagree that he was one of the very best - who would - though I would kind of debate two points. For me Vale was at his best during Yamaha part 1. He probably should have won at least one more title in the noughties, in the sense that luck was against him one or two years. And Caseys bad years at Ducati we're mirrored by Vale's. Even though Jorge and Casey were huge rivals, if he'd stayed at Yamaha I think there's a fair chance he'd have nicked at least another one in the early tens, looking at how close he came in 15 (or was it 14 or 16) in so far that he would have had more opportunities rather than wasted years and was still clearly capable. The same of course is true of Casey, he might well have dominated for the next 3 or 4 years - but I think that might have needed a different kind of Casey, one who wasn't bothered or distracted by the noise and politics.

All of which is meaningless really, since those mentioned took different paths.

I also think many if not most people define Ducati's comeback or at least entirely associate it, rightly in my view, with Caseys championship, so I don't think he's been sold short there. If he hadn't won in 07 they would even now still be the "nearly" team they were up to then. Until 07 I really didn't think a duc was capable of seeing off both Yamaha and Honda, so dominant where they up to then.  Less credit is given for the Honda win, oddly enough, given he did that in his first year back on a Honda.

Total votes: 12

The Ducati wasn't capable of winning a title, or hardly even a race, in any hands but Stoners. People fondly recall races like Rossi's famous win over Casey at Laguna, without acknowledging that it was an incredible effort for Stoner to battling for the lead at all on that bike. Capieossi, Melandri and Hayden were all world champions in their own right before riding with Ducati and they weren't on the same planet. Who knows what Stoner may have done with Factory Honda backing from 06 onwards.

You might argue Rossi was better at Yamaha but on a win percentage basis he was more dominant on the factory Honda. With good reason. At one point he was riding a bike with more cylinders, better tyres, higher capacity and more electronics than most of the field. 

Total votes: 14

That race at Laguna is such an overlooked ride by Stoner.  As if smashing the pole record and gapping the field wasn't enough, he was clearly the fastest rider on Sunday.  Every time I've watched that race, it looks like Rossi cutting the Corkscrew saved his win; had Stoner led through Rainey curve and over the finish, I don't know if Rossi could've kept him behind.  Speculation aside, the fact he did that on a vastly inferior motorcycle against the GOAT makes it one of the standout rides for me, even if he did finish second.  Stoner worked miracles on that Ducati every weekend.

Total votes: 16

I always felt Stoner was spectacular but probably not the best until he got on the Honda and Rossi got on the Ducati. The utter schooling Casey gave the field in 2011 made it clear how much of a difference he made to the bike he was riding. He could simply ride a motorbike better than anyone else on the grid at the time, Rossi's failure to tame the fire breathing Ducati proved it.

Total votes: 18

Since MM93 has ruled the past 10 years and VR46 the 10 prior, how do they stack up against Mick?  I would venture to crown him king of the 90s.

Total votes: 12

Off 144 500GPs from 1990 to 1999, Mick won 54 of them or 37.5%. Very definitely the best rider of the 90s.

Total votes: 18

If only we had gotten a chance to see Wayne through the nineties Mick might not seem so dominant.

Total votes: 10

... that Mick would have more than likely won the championship in 92 (and quite possibly 93 as well) were it not for the terrible medical attention he got for the leg injury.  Note, not the leg injury itself.  I feel that if that happened in this day of Xavier Mir et al, Mick would have been back in time to secure the title.  In a season of 13 races he sat out 4 and was still horribly injured for the last 2 and still only lost the title by 4 points.

Note I do not wish to diminish Wayne's win in 1992 - a well deserved and relentless fightback under pressure.  A true legend.

Total votes: 12

That's why in my mind Mick will probably always be the greatest rider I've seen. To win all those titles after injuries he had in such a brutal era of racing is an incomparable feat. And as you point out, some like to say Micks most dominant period wasn't raced against the great champions but his dominance actually started in 1992, it was just interrupted by injury. Most great champs need to have a little bit of Luck on their side throughout their careers to rack up the big stats, or at least avoid bad luck. Mick had bad luck and still walked away with 5 titles. 

Total votes: 13

Very interesting facts & figures.

No doubt about Mark Marquez or Valentino Rossi. Casey Stoner doesn't quite fit into a decade so well. 2006 till 2012.

Mighty Mick Doohan, definitely the champion of the nineties. Despite some nasty injuries.

Comparing G.O.A.T.s with goats, rather hypothetical in my opinion. Does give us something to consider during the off season.

My last track day for the year, today, fun, fun, fun!

Total votes: 9

Casey was AMAZING.

His bike was tough to set up. Inconsistent amongst tracks and conditions. Unconventional riding style demanded. His throttle sensitivity, link to the rear patch and feel for pivoting like a careening ballerina made that battleaxe a rapier.

Total votes: 7

Thanks David for running through the numbers - very interesting when you break it all down.  I work in Sports Analytics so it's awesome to see some comparison of performances using stats and metrics. 
 

With respect to Doohan, I wonder how to factor in the number of total races in a season. My understanding is in 90s it was much less than the 19+ races/season we're at. Furthermore for FQ20 over the next decade, having 20,21 or more races with points on offer could make things challenging!

Total votes: 11

How about using race starts as another comparison instead of all races?

In particular would be interesting to see how Stoner's, Rossi's, and Lorenzo's numbers in the past decade might change if this were used instead.

Othewise excellent piece David!

Total votes: 9

This is a more common analysis done in the Baseball world, where fans to try and compare who the best pitchers were across decades. I believe they use common performance stats (i.e. ERA - earned run average) and modify it to account for who they were historically picturing against. Wonder if anyone has attempted approach for MotoGP riders?

Total votes: 7

Please forgive me David, for nitpicking, but I can't resist, because it affects how I understand what you write. My reading of "between" is different from yours as you use it a dozen or so times in this precise and fact-filled piece, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

e.g., if Rossi was down to 10.7 points per race between 2017 and 2019, doesn't that mean just the one year--2018?

If I finish between 1st and 3rd, I'm 2nd. If I was born between May and July, I was born in June. Etc.

 

Total votes: 8

A fair point. By between, I mean including the first and last years. There is an incredibly useful Dutch grammatical construct, which is "tot en met" which translates roughly as "up to and including". Which is what I meant here. 

Total votes: 12

I would love to see this data layed over the success of the bike for other riders riding it for that year.  So the more successful the bike the less weight the numbers mean for the results and vice versa.  

Total votes: 9