Marc Marquez is a triple MotoGP champion, despite the odds being against him for a large part of the season.
We all heard Valentino Rossi’s confident take on where the balance of power would be with the introduction of standard electronics and Michelin tyres that were causing all manner of front-wheel washouts among the MotoGP grid. With Yamaha’s reputation for building the sweetest handling grand prix motorcycle, the Italian seemed very confident of finally adding an eighth premier class title to his name.
We saw Rossi’s take on the state of affairs in MotoGP get played out in Mugello where too much wheel-spin cost Marquez a race win as Jorge Lorenzo’s Yamaha put the power down perfectly while coming on to the main straight towards the chequered flag. And we were there in person at the Catalunya GP when a Marquez pole position was negated by Rossi whose race pace in high ambient temperatures suggested a win for the Italian. And that is exactly what happened.
But probably more significant than those two defeats and Rossi’s assessment of the MotoGP balance of power was the points table after that race. Marquez was in the lead with Lorenzo ten points behind and Rossi a further 12 adrift. The 23-year-old Spanish sensation was beaming in the post-race press conference as he had mentally prepared himself to be trailing the Yamahas by that point of the season. But found himself to be leading with tracks that he felt were more to his liking on the horizon.
A second place finish at a wet and wild Assen with Rossi crashing out and Lorenzo finishing tenth was just the start of Marquez’s own predictions coming to fruition. Three wins in the following seven races and never finishing outside the top five led to Marquez wrapping up his third premier class victory in just four years of competing in it with a double whammy in the Aragon and Japanese Grands Prix.
Marquez left Lorenzo and Rossi trailing in his wake at Aragon after an initial scuffle with them in the early part of the race and had managed to do the same in Motegi until Yamaha’s title challenge literally fell apart. First Rossi went down trying to chase down the youngster with whom he unnecessarily stirred a hornet’s nest in Sepang last year. Then Lorenzo’s brave attempt to hold off Andrea Dovizioso – despite a heavy crash in qualifying that left him battered and hurting – ended with just five laps left.
The mathematics went out of the window. No more calculating who needed to finish where. All Marquez needed to do was to take his fifth win of the season and number 29 since he started competing in the premier class in 2013. He did so with little challenge from either Ducati’s Dovizioso or Suzuki’s Maverick Vinales. And just like that, he was a triple world champion in a year where the odds were definitely not in his favour at the start of the season. For Lorenzo, it was ultimately a tame surrender of his hard fought title win of 2015. For Rossi, it is a return to the drawing board as he figures out how to end 2016 on a high and come back next year in a bid to not only beat Marquez, but also Maverick Vinales.