We’ve managed to secure an exclusive extract from Marc Marquez’ official biography.
You might feel that at just 21 years of age there seems little point in writing a biography: how much of a story can someone so young tell? But when you consider that some riders spend a lifetime failing to achieve what the smiling Spanish elbow dragger has managed in such a short space of time, it’s obvious that there’s a story to be told. We’ve read the book from front to back and it’s a belter. Marc’s relationship with the family that delivered him to the premier paddock is as close as the family he’s nurtured in his own garage. Gaining respect from other riders in the premier class seems to come easily when you’re this good.
The smile, the good nature, the ‘can do, will do’ attitude, the desire to please Grandad Ramon, Grandma Sole and Grandma Alvira,
his dad Julià, his mum Roser, his brother Àlex, his manager Emilio Alzamora, his coach Santi Hernández, his Honda bosses Shuhei Nakamoto and Livio Suppo, all the people at Repsol; wanting them to be excited at the prospect of the back-to-back 125cc and Moto2 champion rewriting the record books while earning unprecedented praise for a senior class rookie – it all came together at the moment when the 2012 Moto2 season reached its conclusion at Valencia’s Cheste circuit. It was a matter of getting off the Moto2 bike and on to the MotoGP Honda RC213V, which prompted a media scrum and led to an exclusive, historic, smouldering photo.
“Marc first climbed aboard the Honda on an absolute dog of a day. It was horrible: the track was all wet, it was dangerous, unpredictable. And by the third lap, he’d already broken the track record for the first section,” recalls Suppo. “The least I could do was take a photo of the monitor with my mobile phone, and get a record of the epic feat. It was a historic day for all of us, but especially for Marc. The potential many of us had seen in Marc had been fulfilled in a matter of minutes. For Marc has a gift. He’s not only quick, he’s intelligent with it. And he can handle pressure too, because that was a tough day – it was no walk in the park! Marc deals with difficult moments very calmly, with a smile, with uncommon good sense. That smile, which is a sign of his optimism, is his greatest strength, his biggest attribute. With character and determination like that, he can overcome anything, however difficult.”
That debut ride at Cheste was very special, though Marc doesn’t attach much importance to it. ‘When you move up into a new category, your first task is to put yourself in control of the situation, work out how the bike handles, understand it, ask questions of it, watch, learn. No one put any pressure on me. I had a two- year contract and Nakamoto, the boss, told me to take it easy – that’s right! – he said to take it easy, but he also immediately added that he thought I’d make the podium in the first race in Qatar,’ says Marc, before bursting into fits of laughter.
Looking back, Márquez identifies a couple of moments as being crucial stages in his apprenticeship, as he graduated from Moto2 to MotoGP. While these moments may not have been decisive in themselves, for him they were signs of the progress he was making in adapting to the new category. “The first thing was figuring out where I was and how things worked in MotoGP. I’d come from categories where, when I came into the pit, I talked to my coach and told him my impressions. And that was basically
it. Now, when I come into the workshop, a horde of engineers, repairmen and mechanics descend upon me, Santi [Hernández] among them, of course. And I have to talk to them all, about everything, and separately: engine, telemetry, suspension, stability, tyres … And all this – this new system of working – I learned in a private test with Álvaro Bautista, a test set up specifically for me to learn how to work in MotoGP. It was a vital lesson.”
The next key moment made a strong impression on the Honda bosses, who are always very encouraging, but prudent too; afterwards, they realised exactly what sort of rider they had on their hands. The moment came in the second series of private pre-season tests in Sepang, Malaysia, when Marc fell off for a third time: three accidents in three days. “At the end of every session we have a meeting in the pit where we sum up everything we’ve done,” Marc explains. “This time, Takeo Yokoyama, a Japanese engineer, leader of the RC213V project, told me to calm down, told me I didn’t need to force things so much, that I needn’t take so many risks – that he didn’t like me falling off and I should be more careful. To be honest, I guess he was telling me to slow down. Yes, that was it really, he was telling me to slow down.” Those present describe the look on Marc’s face as a mixture of perplexity, understanding and politeness. But what the rookie said was blunt. “I’m sorry, Takeo,” Marc recalls telling the project leader. “I understand you, I follow your logic perfectly, but you need to understand that this is my style, and it will go on being my style. I don’t fall off because I want to; I fall off because it’s the only way I know of finding the limits. “And if I want to win, if we want to win, there’s no other way of us progressing, of us improving and getting faster. I’m not tryingto fall off, Takeo; if I think I’m going to fall, I slow down. But just so you know, I’ll keep on pushing it, because that’s what training is for: getting to know the limits, my limits and the bike’s limits.”
Those present say the look of perplexity and understanding, or whatever it was, moved to Yokoyama’s face. They exchanged knowing smiles, before Yokoyama added: “I understand you, but you should know we’re worried about you hurting yourself. We’re not worried about the bike – you can break the bike and go through hundreds of spare parts, don’t worry about that – but we’re worried about your safety.”
You can order your copy of his book from Ebury Publishing here. It’s beautifully written, has a fantastic set of images, many of them unseen until now. Priced at £19.99 it’s one to add to the Christmas list.