Cycle News

Cycle News 2019 Issue 42 October 22

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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VOLUME 56 ISSUE 42 OCTOBER 22, 2019 P147 he stopped doing them quite a long time before he stopped win- ning races, but some time after they'd become more than a bit clunky. Marquez and the eight ball were on the wrong side of being contrived, but I guess he and his cohorts feel they have to do something. Courting popularity has plenty to do with creating a profitable brand. The winning is a neces- sary part, but it takes the com- mercial enterprise to monetize it, an area in which Rossi knows no peers. But greatness as a racer is rather harder to measure, al- though easy to appreciate. Marquez's progress to his eighth championship this year has been simply awe-inspiring. He was already dazzlingly fast and frighteningly competi- tive. The addition this year has been the maturity of a seasoned 26-year-old, able to moderate his natural instinct to try to win no matter what and to fall off at least once in free practice to determine the limits (11 so far this year, compared with 17 in 2018). This year's Honda has clearly not been easy to ride: along with Ducati-challenging power has come difficult handling and front- end feel. Marc frequently spoke of how, at tracks that did not play to the bike's strengths, he would go for a strong finish rather than over-riding. In this way, along with nine wins in the first 15 rac- es, he has never finished lower than second, and non-finished only once. Amazing. So, in fact, is everything he's done since his days on a 125. Remarkable he could do it then, even more so that he can do it with interest now, 10 years on. He's always been without mercy: even when he looked like a choirboy back in his teens. He's always been polite, too. Maybe too polite. When Valentino has attacked him, he's declined to rise to the bait. Perhaps that makes him look insincere. But his way of belit- tling and psyching out rivals is different. Rossi did it by summoning up scorn that his fans find it easy to share. Marquez does it with his on- track performance, by ignoring setbacks, shrugging off injury, and overtaking all challengers, come what may. Although he's not averse to the occasional smilingly snide backhanded comment: like that, Quartararo rides the Yamaha "in a good way." Obviously, unlike Valen- tino. Thinking back over the cham- pions I've known pretty well over more than three decades, there's a vast variety of person- alities. Eddie Lawson—aloof and self-contained; Freddie Spen- cer—ethereal, other-worldly; Wayne Gardner—aggressive and determined; Wayne Rainey— thoughtful and determined; Kevin Schwantz—swashbuck- ling but vulnerable; Mick Doo- han—burning intensity; Alex Criville—self-doubt conquered; Kenny Roberts Jr.—total self- belief; Jorge Lorenzo—relent- less pursuit of perfection; Nicky Hayden—almost too nice; Casey Stoner—willful genius. The list leaves out Rossi and Marquez. Not because they're more special, though in some ways, of course, they are. But all the champions, personality quirks aside, share something more than talent, and more than high-level support, though both are essential. It's utter determination. To a level that's actually quite scary, whether it's hidden behind a façade of charm or blatantly displayed. And so we come to the new boy Fabio Quartararo. He is boy- ish and humorous and seems able to make light of his talent. Scratch the surface, however, and you'll find something deadly. In WorldSBK, Jonathan Rea proved that you don't have to be Spanish to be World Champion. Maybe in a year or two, Quar- tararo will do the same. This year, though, Marquez showed that it certainly helps. CN

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