Photos: MotoGP and Repsol Honda
Marc Marquez of Repsol Honda Team is now an 8th-time World Champion, with the number 93 fighting off Fabio Quartararo for victory at Buriram to secure the 2019 MotoGP™ World Championship in some serious style. The crown makes Marquez the youngest ever six-time premier class Champion, taking the record from Giacomo Agostini, and the youngest eight-time World Champion, taking the record from Mike Hailwood. Marquez has also joined Valentino Rossi and Giacomo Agostini as one of only three riders to have taken six or more premier class World Championships after taking the crown in 2019.
Marquez’ rise to record-breaker began in the 125 Championship in 2010, two years after making his debut on the world stage at 15. From podium success as a rookie in that debut season, the number 93 rose to lift the crown in 2010 – and he won ten of the last 14 races of the year on his way to that first title.
2011 saw Marquez make the move to Moto2. Although the first part of the season was punctuated by crashes, it suddenly all seemed to click and after his first win in the class, one became seven. Marquez was the man with the momentum as he closed down the gap to Championship leader Stefan Bradl, even taking a podium from 38th on the grid after a penalty at Phillip Island. A crash in practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix would end his charge, however, as the number 93 suffered problems with his eyesight and was forced to forfeit the rest of the season and the chance at the crown.
The subsequent winter was a worrying one as Marquez sought to cure the problem, and surgery eventually got him back to fighting fit for 2012. He came out swinging and was the pacesetter from the off, taking the Championship in style – including a win from the back in the season finale in Valencia. From there, the premier class beckoned for 2013.
No one will ever forget Marquez’ debut in MotoGP. A first podium first time out became a first win second time out, and he went on to become the youngest rider to clinch the premier class crown after a stunning rookie season. He was also the first rookie to achieve the feat in 35 years. But 2013 was only a taste of what was to come, with Marquez’ march through the record books continuing the year after.
Victory in the first ten races gave him an unassailable lead, and he retained the crown at the Twin Ring Motegi. 2015 began well with a win in the Americas GP once again, but the season was punctuated by a few more ups and downs and Marquez lost the title for the first – and so far only – time since moving up to MotoGP. The end of the season was dramatic in itself too, as the number 93 clashed with Valentino Rossi and Rossi’s then-teammate Jorge Lorenzo emerged victorious in the Championship.
2016 saw the Spaniard on a serious mission to make sure he took back the throne, adjusting his strategy and riding to take the title and not simply to win races and his new approach to the season saw him able to once again wrap up the crown in Japan on Honda’s home turf. 2017 didn’t quite go to plan initially, however, as the reigning Champion suffered a DNF in Argentina and had already recorded his third 0 of the campaign by Le Mans. Insurmountable? Despite the best efforts of key rival Andrea Dovizioso taking him to the wire – and the two staging some of the greatest duels in modern MotoGP history – it was a mountain Marquez was able to climb. That was title number six, and his fourth in the premier class.
Then began 2018 and the long road from Qatar to Valencia was reset once again. Fireworks in the desert as ‘DesmoDovi’ came out swinging saw their rivalry reignite and the Italian would once again prove Marquez’ closest challenger. Marquez came out on top but there were hurdles on the way – a hotly-debated Argentina race that saw the number 93 get three penalties, a resurgent Jorge Lorenzo, more last corner lunges on Dovizioso – but by Japan Marquez had pulled clear and once again took the Championship on Honda’s home turf at Motegi.
2019 could be Marquez’ best season yet. It started with another last corner defeat to Dovizioso, but next up Argentina was utter domination to set a tone – although the one hiccup of the year came right after as Marquez crashed in the Americas GP. He bounced back at Jerez and Le Mans to win two on the bounce, however, and only lost out at Mugello by hundredths before he was back on the top step at Catalunya.
The man behind him there would prove a presence for the rest of the Championship: Fabio Quartararo. But despite a season of incredible rivals and races, the key to Marquez’ success in 2019 has been consistency: even when beaten by Maverick Viñales at Assen, out-duelled by Dovizioso in Austria or Alex Rins at Silverstone; the times he didn’t take the victory, the number 93 kept raking in the points and podiums. And he did win duels, including that which ultimately secured him the crown in Thailand – fighting off that very same Quartararo at the final corner.
So after a stunning season so far – because it’s not even over yet – Marquez is crowned World Champion for the eighth time and the sixth in the premier class with nine wins, 14 podiums, and a whole host of new records for a man who already owns so many.
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- Repsol Honda Riders – Alex Marquez 17th, Marc crashes but still 9th - February 8, 2020