Marc Marquez: Love Him or Hate Him

Events at Aragon this past weekend have re-ignited the firestorm that has surrounded Marc Marquez since he rode in the 125cc class back in 2008 (the year I started covering MotoGP). The eight-time world champion, his boyish good looks having been displaced by a steely persona, has as many fans as detractors. Let’s see what’s at the root of this split.

First, whenever we see a rider win his first grand prix or his first championship, there is almost always an outpouring of emotion, often tears; such celebrations have obviously come at a cost to the rider and his family. The winnowing process in motorcycle racing is as brutal as it is in pretty much everything that calls itself a sport. For every first-time winner, at any age, there are hundreds of boys and young men who’ve had their hearts broken. The thought crossed my mind at one time that these dramatic, emotional reactions were put on for the cameras. But, in truth, these riders would probably prefer their fans not to see them in tears. So the emotions and the drive to win we see in every rider, including Marquez, is to be expected. (By the way, the process also occurs in golf, which calls itself a sport despite the fact that you can smoke and drink while playing.)

A number of Kool-Aid drinkers, who have the number 46 tattooed on their asses, hate Marquez for having allegedly cost Rossi the title in 2015. It seems to be an unwritten law of the universe that haters are going to hate. There have always been fans who despised Rossi for one reason or another; the same is true for Marquez. And, to be fair, pretty much all the great riders going back to 1949. Along with the emotion and drive to win, the great riders learned that to win in grand prix racing a rider will have to be, on occasion, ruthless. There will be charged moments in races in which it becomes him or me. One of us is going down, and it’s not going to be me. Is such thinking less than charitable? Undoubtedly. Is it necessary if one aspires to champion status? Absolutely. The same people who call Marquez a bully were the ones cheering Rossi as he put Stoner’s dick in the dirt at Laguna Seca in 2008, cutting a corner through a sand trap in the process, not bothering to rake afterwards.

One thing Marquez supporters can always say to his critics: Scoreboard. See below.

All that yellow. His first seven seasons in the premier class were incomparable. Of course, the eye is drawn to the single disqualification at Phillip Island in 2013 which came his way because, having clinched the title by then, it didn’t matter and he therefore didn’t care. (Like skipping high school classes after being accepted to college: Who wouldn’t?) People also need to recall 2014, when he won the first ten races of the season, then loafed to an inexplicable P4 at Brno before winning again at Silverstone.

One last point from me before you guys get your teeth into this. Let’s assemble a list of MotoGP riders one would be well-advised to give wide berth, in addition to Marquez who, at age 30, is witnessing a deterioration in his reflexes and, one suspects, a heightened sense of self-preservation, having entertained the prospect, now several times, of becoming blind in at least one eye. Here’s ten off the top of my head:

Barry Sheene Kenny Roberts

Freddie Spencer Eddie Lawson

Mick Doohan Kenny Roberts Jr.

Wayne Rainey Kevin Schwantz

Valentino Rossi Casey Stoner

The fact is all these guys won MotoGP titles, most of them more than one. Given the fact that a collision on track provides both riders an opportunity to get seriously injured, or worse, and is, under normal circumstances, to be avoided if possible, none of these guys went out to deliberately cause a crash. Shit happens at 250 kph. Unless the intended victim were a teammate, none of these guys would back down from a fight, if only to keep their reputations. Marquez, with his massive presence, is another of these tough guys who welcomes contact and who has initiated it in the past. What occurred on Sunday last was not Marquez initiating either contact, but Marquez trying to bully his way through the pack–all the way through the pack from P15–on the first lap. His comportment on Lap 1 at Aragon was not his finest moment. If, as is possible, he comes back to chalk up a few wins at season’s end, I think most of the moto racing world will welcome him back.

Marquez makes the riders around him better at taking evasive action. That’s the most charitable thing I can think of to say at this moment. It’s like hating the sin, loving the sinner. It’s like hating what a fellow citizen says but defending his right to speak freely. Marquez, despite his movie star good looks, with never a whisker out of place, has been bred to race this way. He has experienced unmatched levels of accomplishment. He has been disqualified exactly once and that was arguably intentional. As Kevin Hart says, “It’s what I do.”

Love him or hate him, Marc Marquez has been an incandescent talent in this sport, just the guy to make people stop mourning the loss of Valentino. Will one of the young guns at Ducati take the reins of the premier class in the next season or two and peel off 10 wins to start a season, maybe collect six or eight titles?

Unlikely.

Tags: , , , ,

10 Responses to “Marc Marquez: Love Him or Hate Him”

  1. Allison Sullivan Says:

    I’m just gonna fry up some popcorn. Be right back.

    Like

  2. SomeRandomPerson Says:

    Not his biggest fan. But his talent and results are undeniable.
    I don’t think we will see the likes of him for another generation. Pedro Acosta looks to be another very good rider. But, he may not be the next Rossi/Marquez.
    I think his reign is coming to an end. I see him fighting for a win. But I don’t see him dominating the likes of Pecco, Fabio and Enea seeing that he still has to sort out the RC213V. May be the addition of Suzuki factory riders will help.
    May be he can wrestle another championship from them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Starmag Says:

    Credit where due.

    He won his rookie season on a bike designed for Stoner. Check out how many riders have won Motogp/500 championships their rookie season. There was quite a controversy at the time that he went right to MotoGp. Lol.

    The next year he *Dominated* the very talented field.

    The next year he crashed too much in a win it or bin it bid to match 2014. He admitted that was foolish and vowed to take what was available the next year. Given that he was a very young man and what he accomplished in 2013 and 14, his aggressiveness was understandable. For the Yellow Horde who love to assuage themselves with “2015!”, there is no comeback for the fact that it was Rossi who got penalized to the back of the grid for the next race, not Antman.

    The next three years he took his own advice about taking what was available and was champ three more times.

    The next year, 2019, may be the greatest dominance against closely matched machinery and riders ever seen. Jaw dropping for MotoGp and Antman fans, boring for haters. Never finished lower than 2nd. I know, Ago, but he was riding an DOHC MV 4 against single cylinder Guzzis a lot of the time. Not the same.

    During all this, he made the most unbelievable saves ever seen.

    To say that being a MotoGP rider is difficult is a huge understatement. Apart from the insane talent required. Most of these guys start out very young and have huge fame and pressure applied to them immediately. Very few have not made impetuous and immature mistakes in this environment, and this includes Antman.

    To say nothing of the fact that the worst back marker in MotoGP would smoke us all down a back road.

    I don’t own a stitch of anything with a 93 on it.

    Credit where due.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Starmag Says:

      Since there is no edit function, the above should read, “There was quite a controversy at the time that he went right to a factory seat.”

      I blame the mistake on my age and the Jack and Cokes. not wanting to take personal responsibility, of course.

      Like

      • Starmag Says:

        One more thing

        Antman did all of this on spec tires.

        Which he is certainly the GOAT of. Neither Rossi or Ago had spec tire rules for their championships.

        Like

  4. Allison Sullivan Says:

    93 is one of the riders I’m decidedly neutral on (and I tend to have strong views on most of the field). On one hand, as you say, insanely talented and dominant in a way we might never see again. On the other, aggressive to recklessness, especially (as my friend pointed out) when he has to start from the back. Argentina in 2018 as Exhibit A – where he stalled his bike and missed the start, and then wreaked havoc as he charged through the field, taking out Aleix Espargaro and Rossi on the way. Friend is not wrong when he points out that any time MM is down the grid, it usually turns s*** side up for somebody.

    Haters definitely like to hate, but Rossi fans aside, they have cause.

    I have to say that the racing didn’t miss him, when he was gone. His title years tended to be pretty processional and boring, truth be told.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. vassilg Says:

    When I was young and playing tennis there was assumption that what Pete Samprass accomplished with fourteen Grand slams would never be challenged. Then Roger Federed arrived and broke all imposible records. On top of that there are another two players who pass him and still counting.

    Marc Marquez got talent. Even people who hate him agree with that. But in those days being sixt times MotoGP champion, pure talent and determination are not enough to win championship. He should start to improve and check what young guys are doing. He should look at Fabio and what he is doing with slow bike and under pressure. Even Aleix should be his starting point. For two years Marquez does not learn his lessons. If he does not change mentality, he will continue to entertain us with great saves and spectacular crashes.

    Like

  6. Starmag Says:

    Antman is a good example of the fact that no matter how great you are at anything, some people will still find a way to dismiss you or even hate you and that one should never expect universal praise.

    An example? A friend’s wife told me she HATES the Beatles. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion of course, but being a musician, I was curious as to why she couldn’t stand them. They made a stylistically wide variety of songs in the short time they were a band. She couldn’t tell me. “I just don’t like them”. Lol.

    Like

  7. Bryan B Townsend Says:

    Marquez is definitely an outanding GP rider, I simply don’t route for him as he made MotoGP championships boring for so long. It’s hard to follow or stay interested in a sport when the outcome is a foregone conclusion. It’s even harder to get others interested. I hope Marquez becomes competitive, I also hope that Pecco, Enea and Aleix are fast enough to keep things interesting.

    Like

  8. Starmag Says:

    Pow. Pole position at Motegi. Mr. Burns won’t be happy. He expects a multi champion not to try hard, because he doesn’t have a shot at the title this year. The people who matter don’t feel the same.

    El Diablo is picking him for the win, but I’m skeptical of his endurance at this point. If he does, it would unbelievable and would add to his legacy.

    As for his arm, he’s only worked out for two weeks and ridden a CBR600 a couple times. Also, keep in mind that he won 3 times with his arm 30 degrees off!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: