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Would Quartararo Have Beaten a Healthy/Crash-Free Marquez at Jerez?

We will never know for sure, but an analysis of the data indicates that Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) may have beaten a healthy/crash-free Marc Marquez (Honda) in both Jerez races held over the past couple of weeks.

Quartararo, of course, won both races quite easily – with a sizable gap in each race over second place Maverick Viñales (Yamaha). Marquez, on the other hand, spectacularly crashed out of the first Jerez race after a dramatic charge through the pack (following an early visit to the gravel trap put him near last place).

Take a look at this lap-by-lap analysis of the lap times posted by each rider during the first Jerez race. You can see Quartararo, who took the lead on lap 9, slowly building a gap over second place with relatively consistent lap times. Marquez, on the other hand, following his disastrous off-track excursion on lap 5 took him from first place to 16th, charges through the pack to the rear wheel of Viñales on the start of lap 21.

Although the lap times posted by Marquez during this sequence are typically quicker than those posted by Quartararo, the differences are generally not that significant (0.4 seconds a lap, or less). What is significant, in our opinion is that Quartararo was riding under control as he built a lead of more than 5 seconds at the end of lap 20 over second place, while Marquez was likely charging as hard as he possibly could before his violent crash with 4 laps remaining. Was Quartararo “cruising” out front while holding something in reserve? We submit that a smart rider would have done exactly that with such a big lead – save your tires and don’t risk a crash.

What do you think? Did Quartararo have Marquez covered? We may find out as the season unfolds.


  1. cis says:

    Isn’t it possible that Marc is over the top. I mean, he is the one always going that bit further. All the riders ride on the edge, but he seems to be driving just over the edge. But because of his unbelievable ability he manages to save just about every near crash. A man is at the top between his, let’s say, 18-25 yrs. Couldn’t it be he has just lost that tiny bit of reflexes that made it possible to drive like he does?

  2. MWS says:

    Fabio would not have won, because with a lap to go MM would have used one of his patented Banzai inside dirty passes to take the lead. I had to laugh when the commentators on MotoGP said MM was sitting out the race for his safety and the safety of others….HA!

  3. Marcus says:

    Yeah but, would Tyson have beaten Ali?

  4. Jerry says:

    WHAT IF…

    Casey Stoner had decided to keep racing for a few more years? Would MM still have 6 titles at this point?

    • Dave says:

      Sure he would. Stoner managed only 2 titles in 11 years and had to battle hard for (far fewer) wins against all the guys that MM has been dominating for the past 7-8 years.

      Marquez has had a more Rossi-like career in that over the course of 12 seasons, he’s only failed to with the championship 4 times.

  5. Mick says:

    I don’t understand the question. If some guy didn’t go off the track and then crash in the same corner, would he have won the race?

    Well, if one of the rest of the guys rode faster and made no mistakes, would they have won the race?

    If I entered the race and had a brilliant day, would I have won the race?

    How about Chuck Norris?

    • Anonymous says:

      Chuck Norris would win on any day. Riding a Honda Rebel. With two flat tires.

      • Marcus says:

        If Chuck Norris raced he would stay still and the track would rotate underneath him.

      • Mick says:

        MM would have won if Chuck Norris so willed it, even after crashing and breaking his arm.

        But he didn’t. End of story.

  6. dylan says:

    I was a fmr pro athlete. Hypotheticals are fun but the truth stands on the rostrum. What ifs are great but again that rostrum.

  7. Vinod kumar. S says:

    Fabio raced a consistent race, he knew his limits and what he is doing, he is a champion

    • fred says:

      Fabio is a race winner. He has not won any MotoGP Championships, in any of the 3 classes. Great talent, great potential, but he’s not a MotoGP Champion yet.

  8. Joe says:

    Sorry for Marc but you just can’t go that fast and expect the tires to last, he knew the bike was sliding all over, relax Marc you are too aggressive be smart.

  9. Michael says:

    If Fab is smart, he’ll let MM go and then wheel hook him and pull the pin w/3 laps remaining.

  10. Roy damron says:

    The answer to your question is is still at another level come crunch time.

    • MonsterJ says:

      Eh. The only crunch time was MM’s arm. To finish first, first you must finish. I don’t think it’s a changing of the guard but I do think FQ will squarely beat MM in a race this season.

  11. Hot Dog says:

    My heart says Fab but my head says Mark.

  12. David Hanson says:

    FQ chasing MM is on the limit and just following. MM chasing FQ has reserve and is always studying. MM barring a mishap or mech always beats FQ. (and I dont like MM)

    • Dirck Edge says:

      Rookie FQ beats rookie MM rather easily. FQ will get faster, just like MM did. They have only raced once after FQ’s rookie year and FQ won.

      • fred says:

        Really? Rookie Marc won the World Championship with 334 points in 18 races, while Rookie Fabio got 5th with 192 points in 19 races.

        • Jeremy says:

          I have to agree. There’s no indication at all that a rookie Fabio could have “easily” beaten a rookie Marc. Marc was in a factory bike vs a satellite machine, but regardless, he was pretty fierce in his rookie year.

  13. Kenny says:

    What crashed Marq? Marq did. He may be the best to have grabbed a set of handle bars but his luck may be running out. His bowling ball principles of road racing could be biting him.

  14. fred says:

    The race is over. Fabio won twice. The rest is speculation & analysis.

    The argument that Fabio would have won w/o Marc’s crash(es) is based on the theory that Fabio was loafing/had speed in reserve. That seems like a weak argument.

    The argument that Marc would have won if he hadn’t crashed seems much strong. He crashed after (because?) he backed off the pace when he caught Mav. He possibly/probably wouldn’t have crashed had he continued going hammer and tongs. It is commonly recognized that fighting traffic increases a rider’s lap times and tire wear. Marc was faster on a lap-to-lap comparison, even though he was fighting traffic. It it reasonable that with a clear track, he would have won.

    As I see it, the probable answer to the headline would be “No”.

    The real headline question should be “Does Fabio have a real shot at winning the MotoGP Championship, on a satellite bike, in his second year?”. The answer to that is “Yes”.

    • Dave says:

      Satellite team, factory bike.

      Check the other article though, they may run out of engines. If that happens, they’re at the mercy of the other teams.

    • Tom R says:

      “The rest is speculation & analysis.”

      That’s pretty the point of this article and the responses.

  15. bmbktmracer says:

    Obviously Marquez couldn’t run FQ’s pace or he wouldn’t have run into the gravel in the first place.

  16. Stuki Moi says:

    With MM healthy, Fabio is unlikely to have been able to ride his own race, to the extent he could with MM out.

    Fabio’s so young, it’s hard to guess how he would have responded to being caught in a dogfight at MotoGP speeds with MM. MM loves that sort of elbow to elbow, cut’n’thrust, poke the other guy type of racing. Almost too much, according to some…

    I’m sure Fabio can hold his own heads up against most as well. But to race like that, while at the same time going consistently within a hair’s breath of the ultimate capability of bike and tires, has got to be pretty taxing on anyone. MMs proven ability to save an awful lot (not all obviously…) of “impossible-to-save” slides, likely gives him just a bit more confidence to press harder in just that sort of at-the-limit duels.

    OTOH, MM gambling like he did trying to close the points gap, indicates that Fabio is one young rider which has managed to put a bit of fear even into the Champ.

  17. mickey says:

    If you are asking if Fabio could have beat MM if MM had not run into the gravel and lost places? I don’t think so.

    • Dirck Edge says:

      That’s what I am asking.

    • Provologna says:

      I tend to agree with mickey. Too bad we’ll never know.

      I also think most can agree that MM apparently felt more pressure with Fabio in this race than in prior races minus Fabio. That pressure could have caused MM’s first trip through the gravel. I tend to think MM wanting to finish in 2nd instead of 3rd combined with extreme tire wear correlating to his come back from almost last, largely cause his crash.

      I must apologize for earlier blaming MM for his claim that the series maintains the same value without him. IMO MM was very sincere in that statement. Certainly MM indirectly contradicted his boss Puig, who still owes the series an apology for ranting that the race winner deserves less credit without the current champion in the race.

      I agree with VR46, who claims that MM could still win the Championship, more likely with Yamaha’s current engine failure problems, which I hope they fix and soon.

      • Dirck Edge says:

        I agree. Puig was out of line, and Marquez tried to rectify that. The engine problem may cause Yamaha the championship. I understand Yamaha is considering reducing engine power/rpm to milk as much as it can out of the engines it has left. This will put Fabio and Maverick at a huge disadvantage on several remaining tracks.The Yamaha is already at a top speed/acceleration disadvantage to the Hondas and Ducatis.

        • Jeremy says:

          “I understand Yamaha is considering reducing engine power/rpm to milk as much as it can out of the engines it has left.”

          Man, that would be disastrous. The only guy that can beat Yamahas at “Yamaha tracks” has no points for at least the first two races while Mav and Fabio both haul in solid counts for a nice advantage at this point. That advantage could gradually melt away at some of these other tracks that really reward the horsepower should those two routinely finish off the podium. Somebody in Yamaha’s engineering group must be working up the grit to fall on his sword. They’re stuck with that engine until the end of 2021, correct?

      • fred says:

        I disagree. Puig was not out of line. The Championship is devalued when the best rider fails to win because of injuries. Crashes are part of the games, especially when the rider is at fault. Injuries are a different matter.

        The same point can be made for mechanical failures, and when other riders knock you out of races. The winner is still the winner, but but the reasons behind the wins and losses are relevant.

        As a Lorenzo fan, for example, I don’t rate Marc’s 2013 Championship as high as the others, because Jorge was the better rider that year. More wins, and 3 races hindered by injuries.

        Rossi fans could point to other years.

        Nicky’s 2006 Championship was deserved, but it was won, in great part, by attrition rather than speed.

        All Championships count the same, but they do not have equal value. Puig was simply stating the obvious.

        • potomacduc says:

          If Marquez had crashed because another rider took him out, then I would completely buy this. That’s not what happened.
          The fact is he ran off track because he was riding too close to the limit in a vain attempt to keep up with faster bikes/riders. He then crashed by again, riding beyond the limit to catch faster competitors. When you crash and it’s your fault, then it’s on you and your team.

          As for Puig, even if what he said were completely true, he’s a poor sport for saying it. The question Puig should be answering is why the fastest rider of the past few years has to ride over his head and why no Honda has sniffed the podium. If Puig wants to know why his rider has a huge mountain to climb, he should be looking in the mirror and talking to the Honda engineers.
          Puig needs to spend more time worrying about his team’s struggles than trying to diminish his opponents’a accomplishments.

        • Marcus says:

          By that logic MM’s wins are diminished because he’s on a faster bike?
          It’s called “that’s racing for ya”.

          • mickey says:

            Actually MM’s bike is not the fastest, that would be one of the 1/2 dozen Ducat’s circulating the track. MM just rides the Honda harder. Talent and determination over kit.

          • Marcus says:

            If I remember correctly, Rossi had good results on the Honda.
            I’d like to see MM vs. Rossi on equal bikes.

          • VLJ says:

            And at equal ages/points in their careers.

  18. Jeremy says:

    I think 3/10ths to 4/10ths per lap coming through traffic could be pretty significant. And Marc’s race pace simulations during the free practice sessions were a good deal faster than Vinales or Fabio. But it sure seemed that conditions weren’t the same for race time as free practice, so that might not mean much.

    I’m not sure how much Fabio had in reserve. He built his lead with high 38’s before backing off to low 39s to keep the gap. So high 38’s may have been near the acceptable limit in Fabio’s eyes. Marquez was running mid 38’s at the beginning of the race and also mostly while playing catch-up, but obviously, mid 38’s weren’t sustainable.

    So I’d speculate that Marquez would have had to run a similar pace to Fabio for a clean race. Could have been a close finish. That, or one of the two would have crashed in the last five laps as they pushed each other into the low 38’s. Doesn’t matter though. In the end Fabio won because he ran the best race. Case closed.

  19. mickey says:

    Fabio had too large a lead to for Marquez to make up even if he had gotten past Vinales… but it would have been fun to watch MM try.

    • Dave says:

      I think if Marquez had gotten within shouting distance of Quartararo, he’d have chewed through too much tire to maintain his pace to the end.

      Had Marquez not run off? Fair point, but he did. He could’ve won if he hadn’t lost, or something like that…

      • potomacduc says:

        Exactly. How many championships would Schwantz have won if he never crashed or ran off track?

        • Exactly and 99 has brought out the mistakes the few times that he was able to pressure 93 as evidenced by both 2013 and 2015. Contrary to popular belief if 26 had not neen able to pass 99 at least a couple of times during 2013, 93 would not have been champion ! As 99 won 8 times to 93’s 7, do the math yourself !

          • mickey says:

            and that’s why they line up on Sunday…stuff happens.

            In 2006 Rossi won 5 races and lost one by .002/sec but had 3 mechanical DNF’s. Hayden only won 2 races but finished on the podium consistently. Clearly Rossi was the faster rider that year, but due to racing being racing, Hayden won the WC. It’s really all about consistency. Got to stand on the steps to get the points.

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