It is becoming increasingly difficult, impossible almost, to see how Marc Marquez can be beaten.
In the first eight races of the year he’s raced on one new track, Argentina, and won. Of the other seven, he’d only won on one, COTA. He’d never led a race from lights out to chequered flag before that race in Texas, he’d never raced in a proper flag-to-flag wet and dry race that involved changing bikes but he did that at Assen and won. He thought pre-season that the run of the three grand old tracks—Mugello, Catalunya, Assen—wouldn’t repay his style and were Yamaha friendly. He won on all three.
Can he come out on top in a group fight? Yes, Le Mans showed that. Has he come near being beaten? Yes, at Catalunya where Dani Pedrosa should have won and where Marc was happy to say that his teammate was faster. All grate champions seem to have the gift of timing and of luck. Marc was lucky that Pedrosa’s Catalan last-lap charge was ended by a mistake (or did Marc catch him by surprise with an unexpectedly defensive move?), and if you want an example of his timing look no further than the pre-season leg break.
Losing the run of pole positions didn’t seem to bother him. He knew he was taking a risk at Catalunya’s first corner on his last run in the second qualifying session but chose to risk it. His only other crash was in warm-up at Assen when he fell victim to a wet curb. Neither crash disturbed his equilibrium. In both of the last two races he seemed more excited about his little brother’s achievements than his own.
Mightily impressive as a run of eight victories in a row may be, and it’s a record for the MotoGP era, Marc still is a little short of MicK Doohan’s 1997 run of ten, John Surtees run of eleven over three seasons from 1958-’60, Mike Hailwood’s dozen in 1963-’64, and Ago’s astonishing twenty from 1968 to ’69. Surtees ended his run by going to cars, Hailwood simply did not go to the next race after winning the title, Doohan was beaten by his teammate Tady Okada (cue comments about tow trucks), and Ago did not race in the last two events of 1969. If he had, he’d probably have won which as he won the first ten races of 1970 as well would mean we’d be looking at a record of thirty-plus consecutive victories. He missed the last race of that season too, then won the first eight rounds of the 1971. Again he didn’t race at Ulster but at Monza he broke down, an unprecedented event. The total theoretical possible before that cataclysmic event? Forty three 500cc GPs.