Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Marc Márquez: 'He’s playing' is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

Marc Márquez: “He’s playing”

If you are a MotoGP rider, may I suggest you don’t read the following, but if you insist on putting yourself through the pain, might I suggest cracking open a beer and then afterwards you can arrange an appointment with your doctor who may be able to subscribe a course of anti-depressants; say 60mg of Prozac or 20mg of Citalopram, just to keep your pecker up, that’s all.

If you are a MotoGP rider who doesn’t go by the name of Marc Márquez, the deeply depressing reality is that whatever you are doing out there is no longer enough. It’s like someone has changed the rules of the game and no one bothered to tell you and now it’s too late to catch up.

Márquez has moved the game on and is now doing things on his Repsol Honda RC213V at every other corner that most riders can only dream off doing once every other race.

What we saw at Austin was a new Márquez, a MM93 1.2, an updated version, upgraded with hitherto unseen levels of confidence. He spent the entire weekend playing with his motorcycle, getting into some frankly ridiculous situations: riding sideways over the inside kerb, front wheel two inches in the air, or rear tyre six inches in the air as he braked and cranked into a corner, front tyre tucking as the rear regained the asphalt, transferring potentially disastrous forces through the rest of the motorcycle.

He even did it at the very last corner of the race, while luxuriating in a five second lead, “just to put some rpm in my mechanics’ hearts”. As usual, he found the whole thing hilarious.

Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

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Excellent article and couldn't agree more, however i don't completely agree with marquez being the first to lift the rear at an angle ... IMHO stoner started this trend although perhaps not to the same extent as #93

Most likely because his brother Alex will win it. Imagine 10 years of future Marquez domination, championships already decided as early as September.

Unparalleled skill by a single competitor tends to produce boring competitions. Marquez is proving to be the proverbial gun brought to a knife fight.

Besides all the records he has broken and may still break in the future... Marquez is living the Dream! He's being paid (very well) to do what he loves to do! He's enjoying the money, the travelling, the spotlights, fame/fortune, fans/hottest women, an awesome team/factory/bike, and being the MotoGP Champ after his 1st attempt. He's accomplished what he set out to do as a young child! As the years go by everything will just increase especially the money. So he's enjoying it tremendously... and he's only 20 years old! He has plenty of time to crush the motogp field in the years to come (til Alex M. get there) plus the competition wont' be able to touch him, this is just the start of his 2nd season in motogp... 2 races in with a broken/healing foot!!! So why not play!? I feel bad for Dani/Jorge/Rossi... what can they do to slow him down?! Not much, ask Dani! 5second lead, same team same bike... WOW! Marc can only take himself out being careless like on the last corner, funny but he won't be doing that again. We all mind as well just sit back and enjoy the show... P2 and back because Marquez will be P1!

Marc's corner entry style reminds of top level Motocross riders...

You'll see the guys come off of a double or triple into an immediate corner, and they keep the back tire in the air the whole time super hard on the brakes, riding on the front tire into the corner front suspension fully compressed, basically sitting on the tank, with their inside legging hanging off the bike ready to plant for the corner.

Marc, to me, does kind of the same. Most riders keep their weight back on the seat to keep the back end down, but as Marc gets closer to corner entry, he seems to be fully forward against the gas tank letting the rear end wag around all it wants. So he is fully concentrated on the front tire, riding it almost all the way to the apex, and the back end is kind of an after thought.

When Marc rides on the dirt, he looks as comfortable and stylish as any top dirt tracker. Not to say he would win in that discipline, (even though he did mighty good against a top American dirt tracker). But he does look far more comfortable riding in the dirt than any of the other top Motogp guys I have seen video footage on. Motocross and Supercross guys have been doing this since the 1970s. And Marc Marquez looks like he takes that same skill and applies to the Motogp bike. Always felt like it was easier to take dirt background and apply to road riding than the other way around. Marc seems to show that with each and every race.

For sure the guy is very very good at his job, but the same was/is said about Rossi and he has had also some very very difficult years. Let's wait and see what happens when he is facing some really difficult years and watch if he can recover from that, and no, I do not dislike the guy.

Evolution, it's wonderful thing. Jay Springsteen showed dirt trackers you could steer with the front wheel, veterans told him you can't understeer like that you'll crash, he made it work, Jeremy McGrath, changed Supercross forever with bike control never seen before, when revolutionaries come along all we, the mere mortals of the world can do is watch in awe as they show us a new way to ride.

Racing motorcycles belong to the young, Maverick Viñales, Jack Miller, Alex Marquez and a number of other youngsters will show us the way.

Motorcycle racing has always been a young man's game. Just shows how good Valentino Rossi was that he can still keep these guys in sight. 5 years from now people will ask Jorge who?

Like almost everyone else, I am currently in awe of the things that Marc is doing on a motorcycle. However one thing troubles me....

As mentioned, many times in Mat's blog - the key thing he has is confidence. And whilst class is permanent, confidence, like form, is temporary. At some point it is almost inevitable that Marc will hurt himself on a MotoGP bike (as he did in Moto2). The more he flirts with the limit, the higher the likelihood that this will happen. At this point, whilst he will not lose any of his ability, it is very likely that he will lose some of his confidence.

Now, that may last a weekend, a week, or the rest of his career - nobody, including Marc, can understand how those events could play out. I think it's no coincidence that Valentino's results dropped so heavily with the cumulative effect of a fast team mate, a broken leg, a lost friend and a difficult motorcycle. He is now again looking more confident, but it's taken a long time and the severing of a career-long partnership.

I don't know why, but my gut feeling is that Marc's career might not be as long as people are thinking. I always thought the same thing about Casey; the harder you push, the sooner you tire. Marc has the advantage of course that he has stepped up into the dominant team, with a brilliant and likely more forgiving motorcycle underneath him.

For me, the greatest skill of Valentino has been to maximise his results, whilst through a combination of talent and luck, minimising his injuries. Time will tell, but I hope to watch Marc race for many years to come.

All the skills in the world won't help you win a title if you do not also have the minimum required bit of luck.
Valentino said so himself many times. And yes, I do think, that he stayed out of major injuries for most of his career because he's talented enough to know the limit at any given moment. So did Stoner for most of his MotoGP career, but not in the beginning. How often did he crash in his maiden season with LCR? Remember Lorenzo getting to his M1 with crutches? Remember Marzuez nearly hitting the wall after a high speed crash on the straight at Mugello '13?

It's moments like these that can also decide championships. And that's when you need luck. No matter how much a rider is in control of his bike, there's always things which are out of his control (for example other riders on track). Gibernau and Capirossi in the first turn in Catalunya in 2006, Simoncelli and Dani in Le Mans 2011 (don't wanna discuss whose fault that was) and, of course, the Sepang race of that very same season.

So let's just hope all riders remain unhurt this season. Because that's how we love to see them race!

i cant help but feel a little annoyed Stoner retired. I can only imagine how hard they would have pushed each other. Such a shame we wont get to see that.

Marquez may have moved the game on again but Stoner was the first guy to consciously rear wheel steel over kerbs. Where Marquez has really upped he ante is on the brakes, nobody is even close to matching how hard he brakes into turns, while turning.

What I do se with mm is that when he does go past the limit he doesn't low side, he just runs wide and loses very little time. Where with most other riders this is a crash!

It's fun watching him ride a moto. I think he started riding moto cross when he was 6 months old, pretty sure he started racing moto cross at 1 year old

Fun article Matt! Good job w your dosages on the meds, but you have the pecker thing backwards. ;)

The 'playing' aspect is an essential one of his temperament, and this sort of thing has been well considered (Rossi vs Biaggi for example). As such he is never 'working at it' or 'practicing.' So much joy with this kid!

Contrast a bit w Lorenzo and his precision methodical 'work.' Compare, also, how he is early in his career and personal development as Jorge was in his gold helmet era. There is an envelope of the possible that is pliable. If massaged it works out, if bumped against it tears and PLOP.

This is true for all racers on all bikes in all situations, and experienced to know it is truth. After doing Keith Code's school I came back to my home track brimming w 'playing at it' and hubris, maniacally did 2 wheel drifting slides overcooking corners for precisely one race. Inside my helmet I laughed 'f*#@ing Rossi baby!' until having a retirement demanding crash at the fastest corner, and head injury impairing a YEAR. Relax now, I am entirely aware I was a better than mediocre club racer. However, perhaps a question is arising in your mind as is mine...did you see Marc nearly lose his bike celebrating? The Limit, will it push back at him? Then what?

Good news is is that for those 'playing' it is a very dynamic and instantly responsive adjustment process. Cue Rossi comparisons galore. Remember his first 125 victory and nearly hitting the paddock wall? Playing temperament. Lorenzo's jump start in Texas? Not playing, working at it. It is indeed feeling easy for Marc, and I am SO thankful to have him around to enjoy. Remember too that when Lorenzo first started beating Rossi in an M1 battle he was relaxed and it felt 'easy.'

From here on out I am no longer considering any of them Aliens coming down from a mysterious far away place from beyond The Limit. That takes away from the brilliance of our shared human story. They are Astronauts that have trancended the atmosphere, time, and concept. They better damn well do re-entry well. There is no Alien planet to return to, even on the Factory Honda.

This kid is brilliant. I second the wishes for such things as Stoner back in Dani's seat, or swap 93 and 26 for 99 and 46, 26 for 41, et al. And am just super happy to have gotten a wish in having Marquez here at all. Holy cr*p, what a gift we get to keep unwrapping for a whole career.

Well sir i don't have the vast knowledge or experience of GP's as you, but what you said is the truth but if it is , it has one more side to it which maybe you've not considered. AUSTIN is a track marc has mastered and what he did there is not possible for others. But at the same time let me remind everybody of #27.

As GP freaks know casey was the master or to be more precise the ruler of phillip island. If marc finished first in texas with 4.1 sec lead to 2nd placed dani, casey defeated every1 with 6 to 7 sec even 8 in phillip island every year. Now this states that few riders are rulers of some few circuits. Similarly let us consider ASSEN' as i know that if yamaha ride to their potential there honda doesn't stand a chance. Ben beated casey there with ease with a much weaker m1 in 2011 despite honda's supremacy that year. MUGELLO ...... as we know if jorge rides to his potential there marc can never ever win there even if he cries trying, we will see this year to ourself. "Jorge just slaughtered his rivals"..........pardon me MAT OXLEY but those were your words after the race at MUGELLO 2012.

What is going to happen is that jorge will transfer over to honda at the end of the year and that will bring an end to MMs run . best rider on the best bike . he would have been there now if his manager had told him about the offer from honda ??? HOLLY

Hard to believe this little kid from just a few years ago is bringing nightmares to the most lethal racing pilots in the world.

Looks like he should be plotting how to steal 20 bucks out of his dad's wallet, not preparing how to twist a 3 million dollar prototype motorcycle to his will.

(As a side note it's a shame Cameron Baubier, shown in the pic, is not in Moto2 by now)

I am not being cynical with this comment, let me clear that upfront. As somebody who has been following the sport and reading reviews about riders, I can very well say that this type of articles which sing paeans about a rider like he is the first to ever do something, start making their appearance. While riders do what comes to them instinctively, it is the commentators who spin stories around how and why the rider is doing what he does thus projecting the picture that a rider has consciously evolved techniques of riding. So when Rossi was on top, commentaries were written on reams and reams of paper about how wonderful he is (and he is). Then it was the turn of Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner to be lionised and praised to the high heavens (deservedly). Lorenzo was specifically praised for his "metronome precision" and a lot of Stoner's praise was more due to his ability to tame the Ducati by riding loose. Stoner quit on a high, so for the time being he is fine. Lorenzo did not. Now it is all about the precision thingy being not so great compared to hard braking with a stoppie thrown in at a lean angle that Marquez is doing.

And Marquez is not the first to do this. I have seen Casey Stoner doing it, as did Rossi. I even remember seeing Pedrosa doing the same on occasion. So I would say that the writer Mr. Oxley has the right to his own opinion and characterisation of riders, I have a small feeling somewhere that is causing me discomfiture. It looks like hype. I am a Marquez fan (despite my dislike for Honda machines and therefore an extension of it to the riders on Hondas, all of which is totally irrational) and his abilities are intriguing without doubt. But do we see him as a pioneer doing things that perhaps others did not and cannot? Or maybe I am reading non existent meanings into Matt Oxley's piece, in which case an advance apology is needed and therefore rendered.

I don't understand where people are getting the message that MM is some kind of Thomas Edison of motorcycle riding from this article:

"Márquez has moved the game on and is now doing things on his Repsol Honda RC213V at every other corner that most riders can only dream off doing once every other race"

That statement sums up the article. He does regularly what other top riders do rarely.

Can we please stop with the "Casey did it first" nonsense?

He wasn't the first to do anything either.

The only first that I know of that a rider himself claimed was Kenny Roberts Sr claiming he was the first to drop a knee on the asphalt, putting duct tape on his knees.

MM is the new standard, it's a little too late to call descriptions of him "hype" when he broke a long standing record of youngest to win a race and a championship.

Interesting that you would mention Kenny Roberts.
I was wondering ever since I first saw it:
Is or is MM not the first ever racer to regularly drop his elbow on the ground? I know that others might have done it before. For example a certain retired australian. But MM seems to be the first to really incorporate it into his regular riding.
I do know at least, that Alpinestars had to modify his leathers multiple times to make the elbow protectors more durable for sliding.

Do a google images search on Jean-Phillipe Ruggia. He was grinding the ar$ehole out of his elbowz before MM was born. :)
There was someone well before KR Sr who dragged (or at least stuck out) his knee, a pommy I think, but I can't recall the name.
I don't think any rider really completely 'invents' anything, just that they take the 'conventional' (ie worlds best practice, which incorporates the limitations of the machinery as well) and push it into way others have not consciously thought (or dared) to try.
Must say that it is totally enjoyable to watch Marc ride, I'd be perfectly happy to see him win every race.

I never heard of Jean-Phillipe Ruggia. Thanks for the info! He just raced a little bit too early for someone at my age to take notice.

And you're right: the guy obviously enjoyed sliding whatever he could get on the ground:

Didn't seem to really help him running at the front, however. His best overall result was a 5th place in 1995's 250cc season. But then again, what do I know about his bike and team at the time?

Jean Philippe Ruggia was a spectacular rider to watch with Keith Huewan and Julian Ryder call him Elbows and Knees but overall his performance as a rider in the 250 cc class did not produce anything particularly great. That could be due to the fact that except when he was with Chesterfield Aprilia along with Loris Reggiani, he ran on less than the best machinery available. You also have to factor in Tetsuya Harada, Loris Capirossi, Max Biaggi as his competition to realise that he was perhaps carrying a double handicap. Even the Aprilia in his and Reggiani's hands was not the best. It was only after Yamaha quit the 250cc class that Harada moved to Aprilia and little before him Biaggi had done after the partnership between Rothmans and Honda came to end. Capirossi also moved to Aprilia from Honda, and it was after this that the Aprilia domination began. The initial development for the 250cc Aprilia was done by Jean Philippe Ruggia and a little more by Loris Reggiani. But nothing can take away the fact that Ruggia was great to watch, so one could say he was the spectator's rider.

Guys let him show circus on two wheels as it us who will be entertained. He's good and will surprise us in the future too but that doesn't mean jorge, dani and vale can't do anything, they just need their time....... as betrayal is in time's nature.Today it's in marc's lap tomorrow will kick him in the butt.This kid has just arrived and everythings looking so green to him, 1 big injury and his brain will come back to its origin.

If it comes to a fight of pride then jorge, dani and vale will not even consider one bit of mercy. Does any1 remembers jorge's act in phillip island and in valencia. Whereas for dani we know he never rode aggressive but he'l take his revenge by beating marc in the way he did at sepang as often as possible. Let the battle commence at termas de rio hondo in argentina....