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GP Week : Issue 182
10 GPWEEK.com // 10 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: By now, over a week later, everybody will have seen, mulled over and talked about the pivotal move at the Spanish GP. Marquez versus Lorenzo, upstart versus champion, and a full-contact barging pass that said “get out of my way, old-timer.” Pivotal for the race, albeit only for second place; pivotal in the hierarchy of Spanish racers as judged by the fans, and possibly (probably?) pivotal in each rider’s career. Definitely pivotal for motorcycle grand prix racing. Whatever else Marquez has brought with him from his Merciless Moto2 campaigns – and the list includes swashbuckling riding talent in the Schwantz/Rossi/Stoner mode and aggression enough for two of them – he has also brought an insatiable urge to overtake. In other words, real bike racing. The pass took place, as we discuss elsewhere, at a corner of classic confrontation. To be fair to Jorge, it is a very difficult place to defend yourself; the man behind very frequently comes out in front, one way or another. The error was his, however: he underestimated his opponent, and left him an open invitation. For the tick- tock metronome of regular laps on the limit, it was an error of complacency. It’s not really fair either to say that Marquez has returned overtaking to MotoGP, but there is an element of truth. Stoner always did his best to disturb it, but him apart, and after Rossi was removed from the equation, it’s plain to see that there has been some complacency at the front. Lorenzo and Pedrosa would try to win at tracks where their bikes were stronger, and accept second where they weren’t. Even apprentice-alien Crutchlow was in danger of joining the game, becoming almost as interested in the limitations of his non-factory bike as he was in forcing the issue on the track. People finished where they were supposed to. That’s over. Thanks to Marquez, whose scintillating riding as a rank rookie has overshadowed even Rossi’s still slightly tentative attempt to re-run the glory years. Never mind all the youngest- ever records he has broken, and put aside the tempting parallels with the former boy-wonder he has started to depose, Freddie Spencer (choirboy looks and ruthless speed and aggression). Just look at the first three races, at how many people Marquez has passed. At Qatar not only a troubled team-mate Pedrosa, but a resurgent Rossi, several times ... though in the end he was behind him. At Austin a move past Pedrosa through the complex Esses that was smooth, respectful, and in a place and style few would have thought possible. Fresh from that win, he went up a gear at Jerez. Rossi passed him hard on lap one; he passed him straight back, with equal aggression; he spent the mid-race examining Lorenzo’s flawless technique so closely that he more than once almost hit his back wheel; then he attacked on the last lap. The first one, at the far hairpin, went wrong. For most riders it would have been enough. But he had another one up his sleeve, taking Lorenzo – and racing – by storm. The word game-changer seems too easily used. I prefer game-reviver. And we’re all loving it. GAME CHANGER What the Marquez pass means to MotoGP OPINION OPINION MICHAEL SCOTT MotoGP Editor