They say that Marc Marquez is good, very good. Some, that he is fast and creates a perfect line. Others, that he is aggressive and a fighter. He has won five races in a row in the Motorcycle World Championships – something that no-one has done since Valentino Rossi in 1997 – and he remains very composed.
Márquez is a young man of 17, polite and calm, who likes to ride his Repsol Honda motorcycle, take a dip in the pool and pack away a big plate of spaghetti carbonara, finished off by a good handful of ripe cherries.
Marc Márquez is the leader of the 125cc World Championships, having performed in spectacular style during the first half of the season.
Q. After so many weeks of races one after the other, are you looking forward to slowing the pace down a bit?
Marc Marquez says: “It’s true that racing every week can be hard but, in my case, where I have been winning and things came easily, I’ve been very motivated weekend after weekend. The holidays are always good though, even more when you’ve done your work well beforehand.”
Q. Does interrupting such a good run bother you?
MM:“Yes. When you have everything going well, you’re riding comfortably, with confidence and, on top of that the wins are coming, you would race every weekend, but it’s also good to disconnect and come back to the second half of the championships stronger”.
Q. With so much racing, so much travelling and so many days away from home, do you get worn out?
MM: “No, because if you manage it well, when you finish a race you can do some light exercise which helps you to recover well. Also, in winter we do an intensive preparation which has to keep us going all season.”
Q. Which win has been the most exciting for you?
MM: “The one at the Catalunya Grand Prix because I was at home, in front of the fans, of my fan club and at the circuit closest to my house. To race in front of your fans and win, do the lap of honour in front of your people, even more after a near-perfect race, leading from start to finish, is very special. It’s every rider’s dream: to win in your country and, in this case, at Montmeló, which is the one we have closest and is a circuit where since I was little I went to see my idols.”
Q. Which has been the most difficult?
MM: “A very hard-fought win was the one at Mugello because I made a bad start and had to come back up from behind. The bike was fast there and that helped me a lot. Also, the win at Silverstone – it was for sure a great race for the spectator – but for those in it, it was the riskiest. When you finish and things have gone well, it’s fun.”
Q. During the pre-season, your potential for this year was already evident. Was having a fall like in Jerez, in the second race of the year, a hard blow?
MM: “Not really hard but yes, it was a difficult time because we were racing at home, at the exact circuit where we had done all the pre-season testing and that we knew was fast. Also, I started from ‘pole’ and we knew that we could fight at least for the podium, but also for the win. To fall on the first lap because of a mistake which wasn’t mine was hard. We lost quite a few points and I also dislocated my shoulder. I spent three weeks in recovery and couldn’t start Le Mans fully recovered. That was the hardest thing, but the people around you help you a lot to get through it.”
Q. In March you smashed the circuit record, you were strong in testing, you started from ‘pole’. Did you think you would win the race?
MM: “Well, I made it onto the podium the year before and Jerez has always been good for me. In the pre-season I was first in all the testing we did and always rode easily and with the ability to set very good times. Yes I was confident I could win but you always know that anything can happen, such as your rivals making a step forward and moving ahead, but it’s true that I believed that we were ready to fight for the win.”
Q. We are just in the middle of the championship and you are leading the World Championships with an advantage of 26 and 39 points over Pol Espagaró and Nico Terol. Did you think that could happen?
MM: “The objective and hope that we had from the beginning was to get to the mid-point of the championship close to the front, fighting for the top positions. The truth is that I didn’t expect to get here with this margin and, even less after Jerez, but we have been able to win five races in a row which has allowed us to make up the 32 point disadvantage we had at Le Mans. Also, Pol and Nico have made mistakes now too and they have equalled my number of ‘zeros’, although Nico had even worse luck to get injured and miss the German race. In any case, the reality is that we have this advantage which reflects the good work we’ve been doing, but we have to be very conscious of the fact that there is still half the championship left to go.”
Q. You have been in the World Championships two and a half years and have had five wins but they have all come at once. Did you think they would come sooner?
MM: “That always depends on a lot of factors, in the same way that winning five times in a row also depends on whether the circuits are good for you or not, on the form of your rivals etc. Yes it’s true that last year I would have liked to get a win, but it wasn’t to be for different reasons, as much for my mistakes as problems with a bike which didn’t end up being as competitive as that of my rivals.”
Q. One of the secrets of this season is the strong relationships within your team. What is special about the group of people you are working with?
MM: “It’s a team with a very family-feeling, very friendly, there aren’t many of us in it but all are very good at their work and the most important thing is that we have formed a very good relationship.”
“The moment I go into the garage with the bike, when I tell them my thoughts, they quickly know what I need. I think that part of the success is the experience they have, as well as the great atmosphere between everyone and this gives the team even more strength.”
Q. What has it been like to work with Aki Ajo?
MM: “He’s a person who had already been pointed out to me for his good skills in working on a two-stroke motorbike, those we are using in 125cc, and that’s why I decided to race with him. He’s got lots of experience and has worked with a lot of manufacturers such as Derbi, Malagutti and Honda and, at the end of last season I was watching his way of working, how fast Cortese’s bike always was or when Di Meglio won the World Championships. He’s a team boss with experience, clear ideas and with great aptitude when it comes to setting-up both the engine and the chassis. The performance of the bike is always very consistent, that’s the most important thing and it’s never failed me in any test.”
Q. It was said that the RSA, both Derbi and Aprilia, was a very sensitive and difficult motorbike, but on the other hand, from the beginning, it has always been very fast. What is the most difficult thing about this bike?
MM: “It’s all relative because, coming from the KTM, everything that I have experienced, both in the chassis and the engine, is better. The chassis is the most critical but I quickly got a good feeling with it and a good set-up.”
Q. Aside from you, Nico Terol and Pol Espagaró have also won races this season. Do you think any other rider could match your performance in the second half of the season?
MM: “To fight for the title I think would be difficult. I think that a small gap has been made between third and fourth. In any race you can be sure that Bradley Smith will be up there and Cortese, Krummenacher or Rabat could also make an appearance.”
Q. You’ve been on the track with Pol Espargaró for many years. Can you remember the first time?
MM: “I must have been five and we started to compete in the ‘Enduro for children’ which were races held across Catalunya, although they race one at a time. At eight, when I started with speed in the Conti Cup, we competed more often, although he is nearly two years older than me and always went up to the next category first.”
Q. Now, the next meeting is in the Czech Republic. What is the Brno Circuit like?
MM: “It’s a complicated track, especially the last part, on the uphill, which is where you can set a good time and for which we need to be well-prepared. With the KTM I found it quite tricky but this season it’s all different and I hope to be able to make progress throughout the weekend.”
Q. Is it possible to extend the run of wins?
MM:“It’s not an obsession but obviously, if we have the chance to win, we will go for it. The important thing is to think about the Championship and always add points.”
Q. Where is the limit for Marc Márquez?
MM: “Who knows because, alongside Pol and Nico, we are raising the bar race after race, beating records at almost all the circuits and, with the team, we are only thinking about continuing to make progress. In qualifying and in the races we always give it our all although we try not to lose control and to ride feeling the reactions of the motorbike at all times. Yes it’s true that sometimes we have done a lap where you force it a bit more still and gain 3 or 4 more tenths which seemed impossible.”
Q. At home there has always been a great passion for motorbikes. Did your father race?
MM: “No, race no, but he’s always been a big fan and has travelled to Jerez on his own bike, and to Assen too. He also collaborated with the Moto Club Segre as race controller, so since I was little I’ve always been around bikes.”
Q. On the other hand, you’re not the only motorcyclist in your house. Is your brother as good as you?
MM:“Alex is still training and it’s not possible to say whether he will be a phenomenon but he has got skill. He knows how to ride a bike and to ride fast which is the important thing.”
Q. Will he catch you one day on the track?
MM: “I hope so! I hope that one day you’ll see us together fighting for the win if that could be, but he’s still doing the Spanish Championship, he’s young and needs to take it step by step and keep working hard. Let’s hope so, it might happen.”
Q. In your third World Championship, you’ve now had a few wins. Do you get noticed in the street?
MM: “I’m starting to be recognised not just at the circuits now, both in Lleida and Barcelona, you always hear someone whispering ‘it’s Marc Márquez’. I’m aware of it but I keep my feet on the ground and I take it with a lot of humility.”
Q. Are you aware of how much people follow you on the internet, through the fan club, facebook etc.?
MM: “Of course, because without all of them, this scene wouldn’t be anything and it’s one of the most important things for a rider. You know at any moment they are going to be by your side and that is one of the biggest pleasures you can have.”