Michel Turco / Manuel Pecino … Photos courtesy 2snap / JM Salido
With seven races to go and 50 points over his closest follower—Valentino Rossi—in the championship standing and more than 70 points over the two Ducati factory riders, everything looks to be in favor of Marc Marquez claiming another MotoGP title at the end of the season.
This would be his fifth title in his six years in the major class. But the Spaniard considers the job far from done. “Of course I can lose this championship! You can lose over many circumstances, for many different situations. How? For example by thinking that you can’t lose. If you think “it’s OK, it’s done” … This is the way to lose. You need to keep the same mentality and attack the same way you have been doing so far, because this keeps the same energy.”
It seems that in the last few years you found a good balance between riding at the limit and accepting defeat the days when winning isn’t possible. It sounds logical, but it wasn’t always the case with you!
“Well, I have tried to improve over the years. Something a human being needs to do is analyze his mistakes and try to improve; To use his experience. In the past I crashed many, many times, also in the races. Then I started to crash less in the races, but crashed the same in the practice sessions. Now I also try to manage the risk in the practice sessions.”
In the past I crashed many times, also in the races. Then I started to crash less in the races, but crashed the same in the practice sessions. Now I try to manage the risk in the practice sessions.”
So behind you in the championship standing are Rossi, Lorenzo and Dovizioso. Who do you think is the most dangerous?
“Honestly speaking, I don’t know. Because every time I say one name, another one appears! But at this moment I would say Jorge. Now he’s riding the Ducati really well. He’s riding very, very fast and doing it in his way, using the style he feels comfortable with. Dovi also is very fast. In the case of Valentino, of course he has a lot of experience but at this moment he doesn’t have the same speed as the two Ducati riders.”
Last year Dovi fought with you for the title until the last race; this year he’s less consistent. Do you think that he has reached his limit?
“In my opinion, this year Dovi is faster than last year but less consistent. He committed two mistakes, which is not normal for Dovi: one at Le Mans and one at Montmelo. Normally Dovi always is there, attacking only at the correct moment. Yes, this year Dovi is definitely faster but less consistent.”
“This year Dovi is faster than last year but less consistent; he has committed two mistakes -Jerez and Le Mans-, which is not normal for him”.
But do you think that he’s less consistent because he’s riding at the limit more?
“Maybe. If you are faster, the risk is higher. But the two errors he did were strange. In practice he is smooth and he analyzes really well what goes on, but in the race for some reason…”
Are you surprised with Jorge’s improvement on the Ducati?
“Yes and no. I expected Jorge being fast from the beginning. Remember how last year he finished in a very good way. He ended the season fighting and leading races. He didn’t win, but was very close. Then at the first test in Malaysia this year he rode in the ’58s, which is a lap record in Malaysia… So I cannot say that it has been a surprise for me.”
Do you understand Ducati’s decision to let him go to Honda?
“No. This is the consequence of announcing or signing contracts in February, March, April, when there is basically still a full season remaining. Personally, I don’t like it because throughout the year you can see riders’ progression or the progression of the bikes.”
So Honda made a good move. How do you see the future sharing the garage with Jorge?
“For me, Honda has done very well, because with one move they have hired a very good rider and weakened a strong rival team. The Ducati will miss the good rider they let go. Because it was Jorge who came to Honda; Honda didn’t approach Jorge.”
“It was Jorge who came to Honda; Honda didn’t approach Jorge.”
Don’t you think the both of you on the same team could experience, not problems but could impact the good atmosphere you have now in the team?
“I don’t think so. Yes, we will be in the same garage, but there are basically two teams. It will be normal that the atmosphere will be not like being good friends, but I’m sure there will be respect and each will work on his side of the box.”
But Jorge has a stronger character than Dani. So I imagine the rivalry will be stronger than what you had with Dani.
“Yeah, but for me this isn’t a problem. Again, inside the box there are two sides, but everything is shared. It will be a professional relationship. Jorge will be another opponent I will fight against. The difference with the others is that he will be on the same team. But the relation will be the same as now. ‘Hi, hello, how was it? Good? Okay, great. Good luck.’”
Do you think he will adapt well to the Honda?
“Honestly speaking …I hope not! …seriously though, I think he will because he’s a good rider.”
“Alberto Puig’ arrival has changed things a lot. Now the communication between the circuit and Japan is really good; this is important”.
Last winter there was a big change in the team: Alberto Puig took the place of Livio. Alberto is a former rider while Livio was a marketing guy. What has this changed for the team?
“A lot of things. First of all, the man in charge of everything, Nakamoto, left. Livio was his person of confidence. Nakamoto was replaced by Kuwata-san and when everything was settled he decided to change Livio too. Alberto’s arrival has changed things a lot because he’s another type of person and because he has another role. As you said, Livio was more a marketing profile. Alberto understands much more about the rider needs and about the technicians. He controls the relationship between rider and technicians, and technicians with Japan. He’s really good on that area.”
So do you think the team is working better now, in terms of performance, technically?
“It’s working differently. Before, there was nobody who did the job Alberto is doing now. This role didn’t exist.”
Do you think this structure has changed the way the bike is developed?
“No. But I’m happy because now the communication between the circuit and Japan is really good; this is important. Now they are starting to change many people inside too. There are many young engineers with new ideas. Some of these ideas are working very well, some ideas are not working… But it’s good for the riders’ motivation to have new things coming.”
Yamaha hasn’t won for over a year. What do you think of this situation? …
“In 2016 Lin Jarvis said to us that the Marquez family cannot ride for Yamaha, so I assume that I will never be a Yamaha rider”.