We suspected that Marc Márquez was something special when he came into MotoGP. The young Spaniard was fresh off his Moto2 title, having racked up the wins in the junior classes. He adapted even more quickly to MotoGP than he had to Moto2, getting on the podium in his first MotoGP race, and winning the second, becoming the youngest ever rider to win a race in the premier class. By the end of the year, he had added the distinction of being the youngest ever rider to win a premier class title.
From that point on, Márquez' appetite for victory has been voracious. Adding his win at Assen, he has accumulated a grand total of 65 Grand Prix wins, of which 39 in MotoGP. When he can't win, he will settle for second or third, finishing on the podium in 70.4% of the MotoGP races he starts. He also has four titles from his five season in MotoGP.
How does he do it? And what motivates him to keep up this level of competitiveness? At Assen, I sat down with Marc Márquez to try to understand what makes him tick. We covered a lot of ground in our conversation, starting with the pleasure of winning, and how he handled the pressure of a year without success in 2015 to improve his approach to racing. He discusses how he learned to manage risk better by keeping his eye on the prize at the end of the year, rather than just trying to win every Sunday.
Márquez also discusses why he keeps on getting suckered in to trying to beat Andrea Dovizioso in the last corner, and coming off second best. We talked about the parallels between his career and Valentino Rossi's, and how to handle it when a younger and faster rider enters the class. And we talk about exploring the limits of the front tire, and how that comes at the price of crashing sometimes. And we talk about fear, and the role it can play in the subconscious.
Q: You've won a lot, over a third of the races you start you have won, 36.6%. You have won 39.2% of your MotoGP races. [Note: this was before his win at Assen. After his win there, those percentages are 36.9% and 39.8%]. Basically, of every 10 races you win four and when you're not winning you're on the podium. What is so good about winning, what motivates you, because you take so many risks so often to be more than second?
Marc Márquez: I don't know, it's a feeling, because victory means that you were the fastest or you were the best. Sometimes you win and you are not the fastest on the track but you manage in a good way, and then the feeling when you finish the Sunday is "whoa, I was the best on the track", then it is different. But for example in Montmeló, it was a really good race for me but I didn't win, and the feeling is that something is missing. This was something that in the past I did not understand, but now I have started to understand. I mean I started to understand that the feeling is much better if you win at the end of the season, if you are leading the championship.
Q: I remember in 2015 you could see the frustration, you were always trying to win even when you couldn't and it cost you at the end of the season?
MM: It was a really hard season but I learned many things, maybe it was the season that I learned the most, even more than 2014 and 2013.
Q: 2014 was almost as if you could not learn anything because you got on the bike, you raced, you won, that was it?
MM: From the first race to the second race maybe we touched 3 clicks on the suspension. The bike was always going well, and then you don't learn anything. But when you are coming from a season when you won 13 races, winning the championship a lot of races before the end of the season, then when you start the season and then for some reason you struggle from the beginning, it's so difficult to accept in your mind. You say "why did I win 13 races and this year I'm struggling to be on the podium?" Then I said to myself, "it's not possible, it's my mistake" and then I pushed more and then I created the mistake.
Q: Did that start a little bit at the end of 2014? You won 10 races in a row and then in the last 8 races you only won 3?
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