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GP Week : Issue 208
23 GPWEEK.com // 23 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: The surprising thing about the end of Marc Marquez’s run of absolute perfection at Brno was not that it happened ... it had to happen sooner or later. Nor the way it happened: he’d somehow missed the set-up, and while on new tyres he was able to claim pole position again (his ninth this year), once the Bridgestones had taken a bit of the usual punishment, he was below par. What was really remarkable was the rider’s mood after wards. Bearing in mind that in his year-and-a-half of MotoGP racing, this was the first time he had finished off the podium. I have seen former champions go into 12-hour sulks for the sake of a few tenths of a second. Marquez by contrast seemed to find the whole thing vastly amusing. Which is surely a far more daunting reaction for his temporarily more successful rivals. Marquez, still just 21, is an extraordinarily mature personality, as well as an astonishingly talented rider. This was just the latest way of showing it. There have been other examples, particularly in his deployment of race- craft and overall tactics. One example of the latter is his innovation in qualifying at Jerez. There is a scant 15 minutes in Q2 for the top dozen pre-qualifiers to sort out the order of the first four rows of the grid. Everyone tackles it the same way. One run on a fast tyre, into the pits for fresh rubber, then another two or three balls-out laps to attack any new target that rivals may have set. Jerez is one of the shorter tracks, with a lap time of less than 1’40, compared with the two minutes odd of Brno and Phillip Island, for example. Marquez exploited that by pitting twice rather than once, taking three rather than two qualifying runs. And yes, he was on pole again. The race-craft comes in various forms. Marquez is adept at the runaway, equally comfortable with the stalk- and-pounce; and quite at ease with sustained aggression, whether handing it out, as is more usual, or being on the receiving end. In the same way as he is the master of all sorts of circuits, and all sorts of conditions. And as for the riding: his greatest gift seems to be to go fast enough to trigger an inevitable crash, and then to save the day by feats that appear quite impossible. A sequence of photos from the post-Brno tests show just such an event: his Repsol Honda is almost horizontal, the tyres barely touching the road; the rider in full contact with it from shoulder to hip, knees and elbows his only manner of control. He saves it. The last rider with this uncanny ability, of crashing without falling off, was the man whose youngest-ever records he has been smashing with monotonous regularity: that meteoric hero of the early 1980s Fast Freddie Spencer. How much of a setback is this first-yet fourth place? Here are the numbers. In the unlikely event of his closest challenger, team- mate Dani Pedrosa, winning all of the remaining seven races, Marquez will need an average of 14 points at each of them to equal him on points, and will beat him on numbers of race wins. There are 16 points for third, and 13 for fourth. Marquez will have to be back on the podium at least three times (assuming he is other wise fourth) to be sure. Sounds easy enough, given his record so far. Although just one non-finish would make matters a little more urgent. It would still take a brave man to bet against him. Back to the post-race Brno Marquez, as full of smiles and laughter as if he had won. His greatest pleasure ... that he wouldn’t have to face the question that had been growing in intensity with every fresh victory: “Can you win every race?” Mind you, there are worse things that can happen to a racer than that. ThE RElIEf Of GETTING bEATEN OPINION OPINION MotoGP MICHAEL SCOTT