“I will sleep sweet dreams.” Marc Marquez’ mother Roser had no doubt. When her son was in Moto3 and Moto2, she used to spend the time of the race behind the trucks, dealing alone with a pressure that only a mother can understand. After two titles in the small classes and three in MotoGP, Roser is confident and she can finally watch a race in a relatively relaxed way.
Despite that, on Saturday evening, when she met Zarco in the motorhome area she told him, “Please, be careful with my son tomorrow, alluding to the Frenchman’s aggressive passes. In the HRC garage there was also Julia, Marquez’ father, alongside his two sons.
Today, everybody did their homework and, at the age of 24, Marquez became the youngest ever rider to win four premier-class titles but it came at a cost as mid-season the stress was causing his hair to fall out.
Despite his margin of 21 points over Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso, Marquez did it his way, as Frank Sinatra sang. Unpredictable, spectacular and unique in his style, the Spaniard didn’t take anything for granted and faced the race weekend with the same determination. He looked for the limit, crashing on Friday and Saturday and clinched the pole position. With Dovi in fifth behind Jorge Lorenzo, Marquez remained calm trailingZarco, till he decided to take the risk and almost crashed. Joker or cat, the Honda rider succeeded to save face at 140 km/h with a knee.
In the end, with the two Ducatis out, it was a Honda party. He finished third behind team-mate Dani Pedrosa and Zarco, and celebrated his sixth title in front of a packed Valencia circuit. The Joker, as he is called in the paddock due to his big smile, Marquez rolled the dices and it came out on six. We talked to him afterwards:
How did you live the weeks before the final duel with Dovizioso?
“I prepared for the final round spending time with my friends in Cervera, my home town, trying to keep the pressure away. Everybody was telling me that it was done, but I know that in racing everything can happen.”
Today saved an unsaveable crash with your elbow and knee while you were riding at 140 km/h. How? Do you train for this?
“You cannot train for this, but this 27th crash of the season I learned a lot. When you are 100 per cent focused, your body responds consequently even in case of a crash. If it is like the body is prepared. On the contrary, I got injured when the incident took me by surprise. Anyway it all ended well.”
The face from your father in the garage was desperate…
“It was a heart test!”
To whom do you dedicate this title?
“To all my team, this is the victory of all of us. We are friends, before being a bunch of people who work together. We celebrate together, we suffer together. I also dedicate this success to my family and all the people around me.
Can you sum up this extraordinary season?
“I struggled in the first five races. Fortunately in the second half of the season we turned things around and we improved a lot. We could have done better, but believe me it was a tough season. There was a point we were all very close: five riders in the title chase. I think the turning point was Sachsenring. We won before the summer break, and this is very important for the mood of the rider and the team and then we won in Brno, the first race after the break, starting the second part of the season on the right foot.”
This season you clinched the record number of 27 crashes and even in the final you took a huge risk that could have ended in disaster…
“This is Marc’s mode. I was so comfortable behind Zarco that I was losing the concentration. This happens when you go too slow, but I didn’t want to take risk. Then, I felt that a rider was close to me and I was scared. I was riding a bit still for the pressure and I made a mistake. I braked too late and I was very close to crash. I said to myself: stay attached to the bike. I wouldn’t have left my bike for anything, so I pushed with my elbow first and then the knee. As you can see it was a tough season. The number of crashes shows that it was not easy, plus I prefer to push to the limit in the practices, like this I can ride within the limit in the race.”
From the outside, Honda was probably the bike that improved more during the season, but still you define it as tough…
“Yes. The Japanese did a great job. They continued working but I also had to change the approach. I remember that after Le Mans I went to the hairdresser and she told me that I was losing the hair. How was it possible at 24 years? I went to the doctor and he found out that I was suffering too much from the stress. I was keeping on smiling in the paddock and at home, but my body was absorbing all the tension, so I had to change approach and this paid off.”
What about your title contender Andrea Dovizioso…
“This year we expected Vinales and Rossi to be strong, and against all odds Andrea shone. None expected him. I want to congratulate Dovi and Ducati for the fair play. We had hard battles but with respect. I learned a lot from Doviziso, especially his mental approach to the race weekend. I think he is a master in this. He has all my respect. “
Do you see Dovizioso as you main title competitor next year?
“Now I want to enjoy this victory. I can finally relax and for two months because till the end of December I’m the world champion. Then from January we open a new chapter. I will start the 2018 season with my feet on the ground, knowing that you need to earn your gallons on track. Dovizioso will be a strong contender, but there will be also the Yamahas of Valentino and Maverick, and Zarco.”
How will you celebrate the title?
“Sunday night we will have the FIM awards and then on Tuesday the 2018 season kicks off with two days of testing. Then from Thursday I can enjoy my holidays. Where do I plan to go? To Cervera, at home with my mum cooking good food and spending time with my friends. After traveling the whole year on a endless routine made of airport – hotel – circuit – hotel – airport, I look forward to staying at home.”