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The Charge of Marquez Through the Pack at Qatar … Some Perspective

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After running off the track at the first corner on Sunday, Defending champ Marc Marquez re-joined the race at the back of the pack. His subsequent charge all the way up to 5th place was impressive, but it did involve some extremely aggressive riding, including a pass of Aprilia-mounted Alvaro Bautista on the first lap that damaged Bautista’s front brake, and forced him out of the race. After the race, Marquez did apologize to Bautista, but here is Bautista’s take on what happened.

“Unfortunately the race test that we had planned ended straight away: Marquez got off to a bad start and he wanted to make up positions quickly, but without considering the fact that there were other riders on the track. In turn 6 he squeezed between Barbera and me, I have no idea how, hitting me and ruining the front brake area, lines and sensors. It was impossible to continue. I’m sorry because Marc is a good guy, but he has been too aggressive in the past in these types of situations. I think it is only right to point it out to him because it’s risky. Today I was lucky because I didn’t crash, but it doesn’t take much to get hurt out there. So, like I said, we weren’t able to complete our test today but we must not forget this episode and we need to be thinking about the next round in Austin already.”

It should also be noted that Marquez’ speed, although impressive, was not superior to the four riders who finished in front of him.  The four fastest laps in the race were recorded, in order, by Rossi, Lorenzo, Dovizioso and Ianonne. The fastest lap recorded by Marquez was lap 11, but his was only the fifth fastest of the riders participating.

45 Comments

  1. DB says:

    Really enjoy the website, very interesting to read the comments concerning who should have won, who could have won, etc. What makes it interesting to me is some of the things that come up from the reader’s, I had not even thought about, and I have been watching racing for many years. Nice to see more manufacturers involved, this is important for this series to survive. It is a long season, we will see how it turns out….no predictions, I am playing it safe!

  2. mickey says:

    Provalona said ” So declaring him the best all time racer today is unimaginably premature.”

    and that’s the truth. The kid has a looong way to go to earn that title, for there are some stellar racers that preceded,and in fact one still racing against him, that have a record that puts them in contention for that title, long before bestowing on the pup.

  3. DaveA says:

    This is all a whole helmetful of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Marquez has clearly demonstrated that he is the fastest guy in MotoGP, and by a considerable margin. He is not out of control, he is not destined to fail, and he is not ‘feeling the heat,’ as there is not yet any heat to be felt. When somebody demonstrates that they have a chance at keeping up with him over a period of several races, then we can talk about heat. I think this is possible this year for sure, but it hasn’t actually happened yet.

    Yes, he stuffed in there pretty hard, and yes the move was probably a little over the top. He probably wishes he’d chosen better. Or maybe he doesn’t. he isn’t a menace to society, and he isn’t any less likely to win the title again.

    • Dave says:

      *THUMP* (drops the mic..)

    • Provologna says:

      Some apparently confuse 2013 and 2014 season with 2015 season. Thus far, one race into the 2015 season, MMs fastest lap places him fifth. I’m confused on two points:
      1. How has someone who placed fifth in lap times “clearly demonstrated…he is the fastest guy in MotoGP?” “Is” is a present tense verb of being. What definition of “fast” applies in this claim?
      2. How is it that someone who posted the fastest lap times throughout most of the last two seasons, and now placed only #5, feels “no heat” from the competition? How low would MM need to place to “feel the heat?”

      Just sayin…

      • DaveA says:

        Jules: “Allow me to retort!” 🙂

        1. One race does not constitute a trend. The only recent demonstration of domination more complete than Marquez’s rookie season was his utter decimation of the field in 2014. You’ll note that he didn’t lead every lap, set every fastest lap, nor win every race of the season by 30 seconds. None of that changes the fact that he comprehensively trounced all comers last year.

        2. See number 1.

        All of that said, I did mention that it was possible that MM will have stiff competition this year, but it hasn’t happened yet. To use his times and result last weekend as a barometer here is to ignore some realities of racing, and that race in particular. Qatar is a track known for abusing tires, and nothing says ‘so much for conserving my tires’ like going from 3rd on the grid to 25th 30 seconds into a race. So, this means that while his tires were still in their prime, Marc was knifing through traffic, and doing so at a rapid pace. By the time he got clear and in sight of the leaders, it is highly doubtful that he had the tires under him that would be needed to continue to lap faster than the leaders (and without the benefit of drafting at that), catch them, then fight for the lead. None of that gives any indication whatsoever of his nominal race pace relative to the riders who finished ahead of him.

        On a side note, I went back and watched the move on Bautista a few times over, and I hereby retract my ‘probably a little over the top’ characterization in my original post. I would like to re-characterize it as ‘a little tight.’ Nothing to see here.

        • Doug says:

          I don’t get where you think the article is signifying nothing & requires you to defend MM’s overall abilities against the field. One race doesn’t constitute a trend as you say, but that’s true in either direction, so why so much fanboy defensiveness?

          Did he or did he not have the 5th fastest lap in THIS race? Racing through the pack had an impact on his ability to achieve the fastest capable lap for this race, but that situation was brought on by his own mistake. Its all part of racing, track by track.

          • Provologna says:

            Very true, all.

            MM owns two Championships, consecutive no less. Good for him. But one poster here declared him the “greatest of all time.” Anyone can declare anything or anyone the greatest. Invent your own yardstick, “and there it is” as my dear departed Aunt Celia used to say, “Greatest all time X”. (A recent example of this is Tom Brady > Joe Montana: 275 lb LBs would be ejected today for punishment Joe took weekly, plus Joe’s rushing highlight reel is mind boggling while Tom doesn’t even have one.)

            I wish no bad luck for MM. But nobody gets out of this alive. The survival rate for everyone is eventually zero. MM might not even be around for the next race. So declaring him the best all time racer today is unimaginably premature.

            IIRC, after Rossi won several Championships on Big Red, he took umbrage at the degree to which Honda took credit, he moved to Yamaha, and Honda suffered till Hayden won. I could be wrong on this, open to correction.

          • DaveA says:

            Just to clarify I wasn’t criticizing the article. I was presenting an alternative viewpoint regarding MM and his performance last weekend.

            Also I am very far from a MM fan. I am, however, a die-hard racing fan and have been since watching in person as Dave Sadowski beat all comers on his trusty Katana 1100 against a field of new GSXR1100’s. I was simply pointing out that, in my opinion, we didn’t learn anything about how MM’s season will go based on this race.

            Mostly I love to debate pretty much anything that’s interesting, and I _really_ love motorcycle racing 🙂

  4. Provologna says:

    My fondness for this website only grows. This is a good example why: “…It should also be noted that Marquez’ speed, although impressive, was not superior to the four riders who finished in front of him. The four fastest laps in the race were recorded, in order, by Rossi, Lorenzo, Dovizioso and Ianonne. The fastest lap recorded by Marquez was lap 11, but his was only the fifth fastest of the riders participating…” Oh yes, indeed, “it should …be noted!”

    Of course, only pure joy in the first and foremost news of this race, our dearly beloved winner, “The Doctor,” who returned to school students again, after prolonged absence.

    Immediately after I read about MM’s fate in this race, I suspected exactly what Dirck reported above: that MM was obviously fast enough to pass most of the field, but not fast enough to reel in the four who finished in front of him.

    Personally, “bullocks” to speculation he ruined his tires getting to #5 and this prevented him from progressing farther up field.

    Those who speculate MM could/would have won this race if not for his first turn error do exactly that, speculate. Dirck’s reporting would appear to support the conclusion that even sans MM’s early error, at least three other racers (possibly not Jorge because of his “wardrobe”/helmet padding problem) might have still beat MM.

    I wonder if I’m the only one who thought of Ben Spies in reading about MMs error. After Spies’ rookie year in AMA SBK, he simply walked all over the AMA field. IIRC it took the last race of the WSBK season to win that Championship.

    Two things happened when he upped his ante and joined the big boys in MotoGP. First, the speed is a big jump from any SBK. Second, serious and seriously fast competition. We all know the result now, Spies’ career is apparently over.

    Of course, MMs career is anything but over. He’s going nowhere except to Austin, one of the fastest tracks, where I saw him breeze to #1 last year and he made the rest of the field look slow, including #2 Pedrosa. But I make a case that this year, entering the season, MM feels the heat. That heat could and might have been the primary reason for his early error. He desired to get a bike length or two on the field at the exit of turn one, causing him to bring too much speed into the turn, and the rest is history.

    Just sayin’…

    • mickey says:

      If you have ever raced, and although I have not road raced I raced MotoX for 10 years, if you are not one of the first 3 or 4 into the first corner or turn, then it’s a cluster batch with guys going every which way some accelerating, some braking, sometimes someone in front of you going down causing you to swerve into someone else. Most dangerous part of any race. If everyone makes it thru turns 1 and 2 ok, then things go in a pretty proper order, with normal racing and passing, guys of like ability battling eachother in their little area of the pack. If one of the truly fast guys gets held up in the first turn, trust me they are coming thru and working their way towards the front, and if you don’t have equal ability, the safest thing to do is get out of their way and let them through.

    • DaddyKoolJim says:

      Marquez has always been lousy coming off the line at the start as opposed to riders like Lorenzo who are usually very good at it. It’s Marquez’s Achilles heel and he is the first to acknowledge that he doesn’t do it as well as he could.

      • mickey says:

        Pedrosa used to be a brilliant started. Somehow he has lost his touch. Guess its a moot point with the arm pump issue

  5. skybullet says:

    Dave and Boscoe, the crowd at Laguna Seca that day would have disagreed with you. It was a spectacular, high risk move that worked perfectly. I understand Gobert fell into drugs and was delivering Pizza, that’s a tragedy.

    • Dave says:

      Re: “the crowd at Laguna Seca that day would have disagreed with you”

      That’s why one of the most watched field sport in the US is Football and why Hockey needs to allow fist-fights in order to stay relevant. Like I said, NASCAR, not racing..

  6. skybullet says:

    “extremely aggressive riding” would be high on the list of qualities that make one rider faster and more intimidating than other riders in addition more interesting to watch. I am not talking about hit-and-run but if the overtaking rider is faster better give him some room. Example: I watched Anthony Gobert pass inside the first place rider entering the last corner at Laguna Seca. He slid both wheels sideways almost running off the track and recovered while the now second place rider ran off the track but still finished second.

    • Dave says:

      Gobert’s move was stupid and reckless, like much of his career, and he should’ve been DQ’d. That isn’t what racing is about. This is motorcycle racing, not NASCAR..

  7. Boscoe says:

    It’s a dick move, no matter what level you race at. Bullcrap at a track day or in my CCS club racing.

  8. xLaYN says:

    Not even certain movie that no one should mention is as gray as this area.
    It’s my humble opinion that unless you have a clear advantage (e.g. speed) there is no way for you to climb places without risk involved but doing things in a different way (e.g. take that space on a curve and put some pressure on someone around).

  9. Vrooom says:

    Marquez is the fastest racer out there right now, regardless of trailing Rossi and company in this event. However there should be a point lost or a starting penalty in the next race for that kind of pass.

  10. Craig says:

    Marc is the fastest rider because he takes risks that others will not and he is good enough to get away with and most others are not.

    Let him decide how hard he wants to push, but if you saw some of the footage, like the pass on Cal… he simply rides his bike like a big MOto2 bike and he is good.

    If he passes someone and ends there race, then by all means at least a point or place should have been removed from him. That’s the rules and they need to stick by them…

    Outside of that… great run by him and without crushing his tires in his run to 5th, he would have been up there to make it a 5 bike race no doubt… WIN? You never know and we will never know.

  11. x-planer says:

    Marquez makes mistakes but he’s won every championship he’s entered in MotoGP, that’s “good enough” judgment if not good judgment, no?

    It’s gratifying to see more passing and different teams vying for the win. If we could get Aprilia up to speed and maybe Suzuki too. For a season opener, Qatar was hard to beat!

    See y’all at COTA and we get to see Moto America there too!

  12. Andy says:

    If FIM does not put a lid on it, perhaps , it will evolve to being as aggressive as passing in Supercross? Not good.

  13. mickey says:

    Tell me a top notch MotoGP rider that hasn’t been accused of making risky and aggressive passes. Valentino at Laguna Seca and a hundred other times? Marquez when he hit Pedrosa? Lorenzo? Pedrosa when he hit Hayden? Crutchlow? Simoncelli ( maybe the king of risky and dangerous passes) Again you are talking 20 type A personalities on 250 horsepower motorcycles trying to squeeze thru the same narrow spots for the best finish possible. I imagine when they see a hole, no matter how small, they think ” I can make it through there, I’ve done it many times over the years”, and then they just go for it. Most times it actually works out, sometime it doesn’t. Racing motorcycles is a risky business.

  14. Martin says:

    I don’t have a problem with the pass on Bautista. There was no malice, just a freak occurrence. Like Lorenzo’s helmet liner suddenly blocking his view, or Zarco’s shifter breaking; they touched like riders do in every race, and Alvaro’s brakes happened to fail in a most unexpected way. S#!t happens! This is the highest level of competition, everyone out there has truly great skill, and the only way to consistently be on the podium is if you have that “get outta my way” attitude. All sports have their legends, and they’ve all had moments that skeptics boldly claim “he’s gonna get hurt”. With the machines all looking equal, I’m thinking that Mark’s attitude is what will win him title number 3 this year.

  15. al says:

    That is why they call it racing. He came from last to fifth..I have little doubt that he would have won had he not gone off. Would have, could have?

    • Blackcayman says:

      “Speculation”. You can be as sure as you want, It’s still just speculation.

      Only time will tell the tale.

      Is there going to be an updated guessing contest on how many races MM would win this season?

      My guess is the #’s would radically change after race 1.

      My new guess is 4

  16. Lenz says:

    Old heads on young shoulders has been an impossibility since ….. forever.

    In so many of these passing attempts, thinking it through is not the way to go. It’s a two edged sword for the aggressor – they could end up slidin across the track too if the contact is excessive.

  17. PABLO says:

    KARMA! I seem to remember Bautista trying to make an impossible move on VR a while ago and ending his race on the first lap.

  18. joe b says:

    “In turn 6 he squeezed between Barbera and me, I have no idea how”,unquote… that says a lot. Marquez knew how, and he did it.

    • Curly says:

      But he didn’t do it without colliding with Bautista’s bike and tearing a brake line and sensor wire. Not acceptable. It’s the passing riders’s responsability to make the pass safely and that pass wasn’t. That happens in racing and he should have been penalized a place or point for the bad pass.

  19. Gary says:

    I’ve said it before and will again … Marquez is exceptionally talented, but sometimes uses poor judgment. He will win a great many championships if he matures without serious injury. But the jury is still out.

    • …”if he matures without serious injury.”

      Agreed, true for every promising MotoGP rookie since…ever.

      “But the jury is still out.”

      I’m not sure everyone would agree with you on this.

      “..exceptionally talented, but sometimes uses poor judgement.”

      Ah, there the jury has spoken!

      🙂

      • Gary says:

        What I was trying to say is what Ricky Carmichael has said … championships are won on your bad days. Sometimes a third or fourth place is good enough. All too often, Marquez seems to take a “win it or bin it” approach to racing, and it will bite him. He got away with it in Quatar … barely.

        • He does indeed take an “all-in” approach. It seems like it will bite him, although it really hasn’t yet – my thinking is that it will more likely bite him the more he has to push. It is good for the championship that he did not leave Qatar with 25 points.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          He has gotten away big time with it for a while now. It looks as though he is going to have to push harder this year than before though. I hope this is the beginning of a great season ahead of us.

        • Dave says:

          Re: “He got away with it in Quatar … barely.”

          I read a post race interview with him that sounded like he’s got his head screwed on straight. He knew he wouldn’t get farther ahead and pedaled it in.

  20. jacksonk says:

    Marquez is an incredibly gifted rider but a lot of his passes, IMHO, are outright bombing runs. He seems to think just because he CAN get his motorcycle into a certain location, he SHOULD. Ask Mr. Pedrosa how that turn can turn out trying to go up the inside of Super Sic. Frankly I’m surprised that some of the other riders have not roughed him up some more during his passes. But I guess that’s kinda hard to do when he is running out front most of the time. I would pay good money to see a Rossi vs. Marquez dust-up similar to the Rossi vs. Stoner shootout at Laguna Seca. Or maybe even an old school 250cc style barnburner with Jorge, Dani and Marquez.

    • With Rossi taking the first 25, I suspect your hopes for a Rossi v. Marquez dust up come true sooner rather than later. Let’s hope someone can keep the pressure on the new guy. You know, for the good of the sport. 😉

    • theguy says:

      Marquez pulled the same stunt on Pedrosa at Aragon, rear brake line that time, causing Pedrosa to high-side. Evidently the single penalty point he was given didn’t send the message Race Direction was hoping for.

      Given the level at which Marquez rides, one has to wonder whether it’s intentional, like the chariots’ spiked wheels in Ben Hur.

  21. Brian says:

    Recent history shows the Qatar track favorable to Yamaha, other than last year. Amazing how they turned around their misfortunes of qualifying for great race results.
    Marquez, will show a different race in Texas I’m sure.
    His run in with Bautista was resembling his rookie year aggression. He had to know his race was over as far as victory chances, but i’m sure the first race of the season, on the first corner had his adrenaline pumping a bit… He knows better and had to be reminded with this incident.

    • Dave says:

      Maybe Bautista’s team should send Marquez a bill for their travel expenses. That’d remind him…