It’s not often these days that one is moved to thank those in charge, but MotoGP’s Race Direction need a big thank you for their unanimous decision not to sanction Marc Márquez for his last-corner move on Jorge Lorenzo at Jerez.
If they had dragged him into their office and punished him, I think I might have given up on motorcycle racing and got into something different. I note that the BBC’s MotoGP show was preceded by a gardening programme. If tough overtaking manoeuvres are to be banned in MotoGP then gardening might make a pleasant alternative for Sunday afternoon entertainment.
Márquez didn’t do anything illegal on Sunday. He didn’t take aim at Lorenzo, he didn’t try to knock him off, he simply stole his line and the pair collided because they both needed the same piece of racetrack. In fact Lorenzo might have beaten him if he had hung back, let Márquez go a bit wide (as he was sure to do) and snuck inside him. Easy for me to say, of course, but that’s what a clever rider does when someone comes charging up the inside, slightly out of control.
Lorenzo said he was caught unawares, because he thought that Márquez’s similar move at the Dry Sack hairpin halfway through the final lap was the youngster’s last hurrah. If he was telling the truth, then he’s not been studying Márquez very closely over the last few years. Surely he knows that the kid never gives up, that he’s like a dog with a bone. Márquez never even considered settling for third place after running wide at Dry Sack, because he knew damn well that the best opportunity for a pass still lay ahead.
Poor Lorenzo – the official naming ceremony for Jerez’s final corner had only taken place the previous day. The reigning world champ was rightly proud to have a corner named after him, but one suspects that he now wishes the circuit owners had chosen somewhere else.
Márquez’s move at the Lorenzo hairpin was a very tough block pass, as practiced many thousands of times before in all forms of motorcycle racing. Lorenzo was enraged, even though he did exactly the same thing to Joan Olivé during an Aprilia cup race at Jerez, way back in 1997. The thing about racers is that they are like most of us when we’re out on the road. You know how it goes: you complain about someone else doing something and then half an hour later you find yourself doing exactly the same thing. Most of us usually think we are right because in the heat of the moment you only see things from you own perspective.
Márquez isn’t just fast and aggressive; he is also very, very bright. So in parc fermé he acknowledged Lorenzo’s anger and told us that he too would be angry if he had been the vanquished, not the victor. He wanted us to see that Lorenzo was angry because he had been beaten, not because Márquez had done something wrong. He also reminded us that we had seen similar episodes at this corner many times before, which made us think of Valentino Rossi’s block pass on Sete Gibernau in 2005. Was Rossi sanctioned for that? No, he wasn’t. In other words, such passing manoeuvres are normal and don’t deserve punishment. Like I say: clever!
But let’s not just think about the final corner because Márquez was astonishing to behold throughout the race, even if team-mate and winner Dani Pedrosa was even better. The 20-year-old rides his Repsol Honda RC213V like it’s a 500 – the thing is shaking and wobbling, bucking and weaving because he’s asking more from the machine than it’s prepared to give.
At Jerez (as usual) he was dancing on the edge of disaster, making up his own lines, turning the bike tight and running it across the inside kerb. And his various moves on Lorenzo at Dry Sack – rear wheel off the road, front end tucking – made one feel slightly queasy.
Not sure why, but he reminds me more of Mick Doohan than of Casey Stoner. Or how about this equation: Stoner’s talent + Marco Simoncelli’s aggression = Marc Márquez.
We are often told that the only way to ride a Bridgestone-equipped and electronically massaged MotoGP bike is nice and smooth. Marquez has already torn that theory to shreds. Usually, this is a sign of a new breed of rider moving things forward. He’s only done three MotoGP races, but perhaps it’s time for the others to start learning from him.