Motorcyclist Of The Year
The Next Greatest Of All Time?
It might feel like old news now, but at this time last year, very few people outside of the Moto2 circle even knew the name Marc Marquez. If the then-teenager's name came up at all, it was usually in the form of a muted muttering about some rule-bending conspiracy between Spanish-based Dorna (MotoGP's sanctioning body) and Spanish-based series sponsor Repsol to put Spanish-born GP rookie Marquez on a factory MotoGP machine—a three-way match made in Iberian heaven. When all was said and done, the so-called "rookie rule" was lifted and Marquez eventually entered MotoGP astride Casey Stoner's factory Honda RC213V, resplendent in its Repsol livery. Wielding Excalibur placed great expectations on the Prince of MotoGP, regardless of Honda's gentle words about 2013 being a "learning year" for Marquez. But when the 20-year-old Marquez dazzled the MotoGP paddock at his official debut during preseason testing at Sepang, Malaysia, ending the session just 0.044 seconds off the leader's pace, he conclusively proved that it wasn't just nepotism that got him on the MotoGP grid. There was serious talent backing up serious hype.
After a podium finish in his first MotoGP race in Doha, Qatar, Marquez traveled to Circuit Of The Americas in Austin, Texas, and broke not one but two of Freddie Spencer's Grand Prix records, becoming the youngest in history to both start from pole and to win a race. At press time, he led the World Championship and had only missed the podium once in 2013.
Achieving all of this in less than 12 months in the MotoGP big league has fans and journalists alike percolating with excitement, but it's not just his fearless, elbow-dragging riding style that has Marquez winning hearts. He's got a good sense of humor, too. When we asked Marquez during preseason testing at Austin if he had any superstitions, he replied thoughtfully, "No, just, in practice I use blue underpants, and in the race, red underpants!"
Thus far Marquez has faced superstardom with the same beaming smile and jovial, adolescent spirit that can only come from a true love of the sport. His attitude gloriously defies the mold of the stone-faced champion whose brilliant riding is followed by a podium celebration with all of the enthusiasm of a fence post.
Marc Marquez has reinvigorated the fans' interest in the MotoGP series in a way not seen since the rise of Valentino Rossi. Indeed, Rossi himself has referred to Marquez as a newer model of himself. High praise and, as far as we can tell, well deserved.