Mat Oxley's highlight of the year


The best MotoGP racers have a habit of doing extraordinary things. Only occasionally do they do things that leave you dumbstruck.

It’s the start of the Japanese round of the madcap Moto2 championship at Motegi. Series leader Marc Marquez has qualified in the middle of the front row and we’re watching the start of the race from his onboard camera. The blazered Japanese gent holding the red flag exits stage right, the lights blink off and the race starts. At least it does for everyone else. Marquez has failed to properly engage first gear and remains stationery while most of the grid flies past either side. He’s very, very lucky that none of them have shunted him at 90mph.

Marquez is 29th by the time he gets to the first corner where he rides inside three or four rivals and then gets on the gas, hard. He’s obviously angry, because he’s too greedy with the throttle, the engine overcomes the rear tyre and the engine revs peak wildly as the tyre spins and steps out sideways. And yet he’s carrying so much more speed than the midfielders that he rockets past several of them on the exit, then weaves his way past another seven or eight on the straight towards the next corner, a double apex left-hander.

There he gets past one more on the inside, then accelerates hard, which brings him right behind another rider who is already using all the track and more, drifting wide onto the kerb on the right of the track. Most riders would back off at this point, because there seems to be no room to get round the outside. Marquez doesn’t back off at all, he goes right round the outside, up onto the kerb, his left elbow just about scuffing the rival’s right elbow and maybe just an inch or two between his tyres and the outside edge of the kerb. As ever, he flirts with disaster and gets away with it, because he’s that good.

Down the short straight to the next slow right-hander where Marquez passes two on the brakes, then goes inside another as he takes the corner.

In three corners and 50 seconds Marquez has made it from 29th position to tenth. He goes on to win the race. That was quite a moment.

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