The end of 2015 saw Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) lose the title of World Champion for the first time since moving into the premier class of motorcycle racing, as the historic battle between Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) took over at the top of the table and Marquez suffered his mistakes. Crashes, struggles and controversy marked the toughest year of Marquez’ premier class career – and 2016 saw the rider from Cervera stage an incredible comeback. Controlled, poised and willing to play the long game: this was the new Marquez, and he was here to take back his crown.
Marquez made his debut in the World Championship in 2008 at 15, and although his rookie season was curtailed by injury, he made headlines by achieving a podium result in just his sixth race. He picked up another podium result in 2009, before becoming 125 World Champion for the first time in 2010 – winning an incredible ten of the last 14 races of the year.
In the Moto2™ class the following season, the rider from Cervera had a tough start before going on an incredible winning run, taking seven victories to hunt down the mammoth lead accrued by title rival Stefan Bradl – including a podium in Phillip Island from 38th on the grid. A crash in practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix then halted the season, and Marquez was forced to cede the title fight with serious problems with his eyesight. Not knowing whether the problem could be solved, Marquez had a tough off season with his career in doubt – until surgery was able to correct the problem, and he was finally able to get back on the bike. When he did, he obliterated the opposition and took the 2012 Moto2™ World Championship – including an unbelievable win from the back of the grid at the season finale Valencian GP.
Fresh from that historic win, the newly crowned Champion of the intermediate class then got to try his new MotoGP™ bike for the first time at the Valencia test – joining Repsol Honda and finding big shoes to fill as Casey Stoner retired.
On the podium first time out and winning his second ever premier class Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas, Marquez became the youngest ever rider to clinch the premier class world title in MotoGP™, thanks to a truly amazing debut season. He also became the first rookie premier class World Champion for 35 years.
The 2014 campaign saw Marquez raise the bar as he built up a huge lead in the Championship with ten successive victories in the opening ten rounds of the season. Teammate Pedrosa then halted the streak with a victory in Brno, a result that started a mid season blip that saw him off the podium in three races in four. Back on top by Silverstone, Marquez wrapped up the title in Japan at the Twin Ring Motegi – the home of manufacturer Honda.
2015 began well, with a win in Texas second time out and Marquez looking to defend his crown. But too many crashes and points lost as the Yamaha charge of Rossi and Lorenzo gained traction saw Marquez out of contention by the time the flyaways came around – but a stunning win in Phillip Island saw Marquez back on the top step. After taking victory in one of the greatest races of all time, Marquez and Rossi then clashed next time out in Sepang – with Marquez crashing out and Rossi awarded a penalty for the incident. Valencia saw the rider from Cervera take another home podium in P2 to complete the year, ready to recharge over the winter and take back his crown from new World Champion Lorenzo.
The scars of last season have created a new rider. Where 2015 saw the Spaniard push too hard and make mistakes, this season has replaced those flaws with calm and control – pushing when the victory is there to be taken, and taking the points when the stakes are too high. The strategy – that Marquez explains as the way to win a title rather than win the most races – has seen the 2013, 2014 and now 2016 MotoGP™ World Champion equal great rival Lorenzo with a third premier class crown – his fifth World Championship. Taking the title at the home of Honda at Motegi – as he did in 2014 – Marquez’ ride to a stunning fifth win of the season was enough, as Rossi and Lorenzo crashed out of both the race and the Championship fight in the high drama in Japan.
Wins in Texas, Argentina, Germany and Aragon saw the Spaniard 52 points clear ahead of the Japanese GP at Motegi. The only rider to score points in every race, the 2016 MotoGP™ World Champion is Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez – once again.