Marc Marquez is already a name that transcends the mere boundaries of the MotoGP paddock and fraternity of two-wheel petrolheads. From the FIA to FIFA, if you hear whispers of the name and don’t know what it is you’re hearing, get yourself in front of the telly on Sunday morning for the Australian Grand Prix – because this 20 year-old is already a byword for sporting prowess, commitment and, yes, controversy.
Few people like a newcomer muscling in on their patch – can you imagine how painful that is for an elite sports star, competitive beyond levels never endured in the 9 ’til 5 office environment? Dani Pedrosa was THE man coming into the 2013 season, the rider par excellence, the supremo, the chosen one. 2013 was his time to shine, to finally romp to that elusive first world championship. His frosty exchanges with Marquez in the pre-Oz photoshoots to publicise the three way title ‘fight’ betray the fact to the uninitiated that the younger man has unceremoniously put the kaibosh on Dani’s designs on global domination.
Jorge Lorenzo has conducted himself as the perfect World Champion in 2013; it can’t be easy, keeping your head while a young gun fresh out of nappies starts making you look like a rank amateur. That is perhaps a little harsh – Jorge has taken five well-earned victories, none more so than his battling ‘I-refuse-to die’ Silverstone performance that reminded us all why this was the man who put an end to the Valentino Rossi years. No amount of defence, however robust, alters the fact that to retain his title Lorenzo will need a windfall of the kind rarely seen in motorsport.
Of course, Marc could go down and break an ankle (we saw how easily Stefan Bradl injured himself last weekend), but that would be no guarantee of the end of his title campaign. One bad race from Lorenzo would still offer the prize on a plate. Whose to say Marquez would stay down anyway? That hair-raising Silverstone crash mere hours before the startlights went out rendered him as dangerous as ever and, but for Lorenzo’s aforementioned heroics, would have resulted in a 5th straight win for the youngster.
Points to Prove
If Marc wins this weekend at Phillip Island, it’s as good as over. Lorenzo would have to be sure of overpowering Pedrosa for 2nd to keep his slim chance alive which, given Honda’s sometimes irresistible advantage over Yamaha, is certainly a posssibility. For Pedrosa himself, there is no choice but to beat his team-mate if he is to delay the somewhat inevitable. And that’s why this paragraph you are reading now is likely to be the shortest ever written ahead of a title fight.
If, come Sunday evening, we are celebrating Marc Marquez as the new MotoGP champion of the world, you would have to cast your mind back to debuts of future greats in all walks of sport to remember a debut season as fulfilling and full of silverware as the Spaniard’s 2013 season. Even if, by some bizarre and remote chance, he doesn’t lift the crown, it’ll be many moons before someone has quite the same impact.
Marc Marquez is the new benchmark; motorsport history will mark this year for ever.