Skip to main content

MotoGP: Marc Marquez in showdown with Jorge Lorenzo for world title

November 7, 2013 -- Updated 1637 GMT (0037 HKT)
Marc Marquez is the Spanish rookie who is enjoying a dream first season at MotoGP level. The Honda rider leads the world championship heading into the final race of the year at Valencia, where he is bidding to become the first rookie to win the title since Kenny Roberts in 1978. Marc Marquez is the Spanish rookie who is enjoying a dream first season at MotoGP level. The Honda rider leads the world championship heading into the final race of the year at Valencia, where he is bidding to become the first rookie to win the title since Kenny Roberts in 1978.
HIDE CAPTION
Marvelous Marquez
Lorenzo's last chance
Black mark
Japanese joy
Hayden's heyday
A danger to Dani?
Super Toseland
Poncharal's point of view
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Marc Marquez seeking to be first rookie to win motorcycling's premier title since 1978
  • The 20-year-old has a 13-point lead over defending MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo
  • They will battle head-to-head in Sunday's final race of 2013 season at Valencia
  • Fellow Spaniard Dani Pedrosa won last season's event at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo

(CNN) -- If Sebastian Vettel's efficient march towards his fourth Formula One crown left fans of motor racing's premier competition stifling yawns, things in the top class on two wheels are rather different.

Last month, the latest in Spain's prodigious production line of motorcycle racers, Marc Marquez, looked to have the MotoGP title sewn up.

Arriving in Australia with a cavernous 43-point lead over compatriot Jorge Lorenzo, it seemed almost inevitable that the 20-year-old would become the division's youngest champion, and the first rookie to win the title since Kenny Roberts in 1978.

Instead, the twisting undulations of Phillip Island flipped the season's story on its head.

Bridgestone, MotoGP's tire supplier, had been unable to properly test on the newly resurfaced circuit, and the teams quickly discovered that the fresh tarmac was causing their rubber to disintegrate at a dangerous rate.

MotoGP title permutations:

If Lorenzo is lower than fourth, Marquez is champion

If Lorenzo wins, Marquez must finish fourth or higher

If Lorenzo is second, Marquez must be eighth

If Lorenzo is third, Marquez needs to be at least 12th

If Lorenzo is fourth, Marquez must finish 15th

For safety, the race was reduced to 19 laps, and a mandatory bike change introduced at the halfway point.

To widespread astonishment, Marquez's Repsol Honda team misinterpreted the strict guidance on pit stops and he stayed out on track a lap too long, leading to his disqualification.

Read: Lorenzo sets up thrilling MotoGP finale

The black flag for Marquez may have been harsh -- a tweet from veteran rider Colin Edwards summed up the feelings of many fans -- but Honda's loss was Yamaha's gain. Lorenzo went on to win, and suddenly the championship race was back on.

Lorenzo carved further into Marquez's lead the following week, beating his younger rival into second place at Honda's home circuit in Motegi, Japan. Now, as the teams arrive in Valencia for Sunday's season finale, the title is well and truly up for grabs -- with just 13 points separating the top two.

The most likely scenario for Lorenzo to defend his title, and claim a third overall, is for the Mallorcan to win the race and hope Marquez is no higher than fifth. The other permutations would require Marquez to either not finish -- which has happened only once this season, in June -- or be lower than eighth. However, he has been on the podium for 15 of 17 races.

Hervé Poncharal, a former rider who is now principal of the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team he co-founded, is a big admirer of both men.

Pamela Anderson has become joint owner of GT Series team Race Alliance. Pamela Anderson has become joint owner of GT Series team Race Alliance.
Baywatch to burned rubber
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
>
>>
Pamela Anderson\'s motor racing venture Pamela Anderson's motor racing venture
As MotoGP returns to Malaysia for the first time since the tragic death of Marco Simoncelli, the Italian's memory is very much to the fore of the sport. Here, a fan of the rider, shows her devotion with a tattoo in tribute to her hero who died following a fatal crash on October 23 2011.<br/><br/> As MotoGP returns to Malaysia for the first time since the tragic death of Marco Simoncelli, the Italian's memory is very much to the fore of the sport. Here, a fan of the rider, shows her devotion with a tattoo in tribute to her hero who died following a fatal crash on October 23 2011.

Memories of Marco
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
>
>>
Marco\'s Memories: A year on in Malaysia Marco's Memories: A year on in Malaysia

"Lorenzo is an incredible racing machine," Poncharal told CNN. "He is so sharp, he is so methodical. I have incredible respect for the rider."

However, he adds that the MotoGP paddock already considers Marquez to be a champion.

"For everyone it doesn't matter the outcome of Valencia, he is the world champ in terms of speed. And this year is really incredible, because this is happening in a year when MotoGP is so competitive (at the top)."

Read: Marquez mistake gives Lorenzo hope

Poncharal also notes Marquez's startling maturity, which has given the youngster the consistency that many rookie riders struggle to deliver.

"He is incredibly aggressive on the bike, but if you look at the record he's not a big crasher. When you look at how aggressive he is, how hard he tries, and the risks he's taking, you can see that already now he's a very mature guy, although he's the youngest."

Former MotoGP rider and double World Superbike champion James Toseland agrees.

"I've been amazed at how he pushes the bike to the limit consistently," Toseland, who is now forging a career in music, told CNN.

"At Mugello (the Italian MotoGP, when Marquez fell close to the end of the race while riding in a comfortable second place) you saw an over-enthusiastic 20-year-old, but that's all I've seen of that kind of personality. He's been so consistent and so level-headed since then."

The Briton also sees the two Spaniards as neck and neck in the talent stakes: "I truly believe that Lorenzo is more than a match for Marquez on the same day, on the same bike, in the same conditions."

Read: Lorenzo hits seagull, sets lap record

MotoGP is not immune to the problems F1 has faced with the dominance of Vettel's Red Bull.

Valentino Rossi, left, will rejoin Jorge Lorenzo at Yamaha next season, renewing one of MotoGP's biggest rivalries in recent years. Valentino Rossi, left, will rejoin Jorge Lorenzo at Yamaha next season, renewing one of MotoGP's biggest rivalries in recent years.
Best of rivals
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
Rossi to reunite with Lorenzo at Yamaha Rossi to reunite with Lorenzo at Yamaha
Lorenzo: Motorcycling is like dancing

While an underachieving Ducati team continues to struggle, the factory outfits of Honda and Yamaha are simply blowing away the opposition, so the fact that this year's title is going to the wire will no doubt please the championship's governing body.

Also, while the gap between Honda, Yamaha and the rest may be wide, there is no absence of personal rivalry at the top of the championship.

Marquez's relationship with third-placed teammate Dani Pedrosa is not exactly cordial, and he has consistently riled his rivals with his combative and uncompromising style.

Marquez was docked a point for a clash with Pedrosa at Aragon in early October, and controversially escaped censure for a rough pass on Lorenzo in Jerez.

So while Lorenzo will be fighting tooth and nail for victory, Pedrosa may also be less than willing to help smooth his fellow Catalan's ride to glory.

Poncharal doubts that any quarter will be given.

"I'm not so sure Pedrosa is going to help Marquez a lot, but Dani winning the race, that's good news for Marc," he said.

Intriguingly Valencia is a particularly happy hunting ground for Pedrosa, with a total of six wins at the track, including three in the MotoGP class.

Read: Pedrosa denies Marquez in Malaysia

While his own hopes of a long-awaited first championship were ended in Japan, the diminutive 28-year-old will be looking to end the season on a high. Lorenzo has also won a MotoGP race at the track, in 2010 -- the year he won his first world title -- while Marquez rode to victory there last season on the way to winning the Moto2 class.

I'm not so sure Pedrosa is going to help Marquez a lot, but Dani winning the race, that's good news for Marc
Herve Poncharal

Poncharal believes that Britain's Cal Crutchlow, who rides for Tech 3, could also play key role along with Lorenzo's seven-time world champion teammate Valentino Rossi.

"Cal is going to wish to finish the season as high as possible; he was second last year (at Valencia) when he crashed four laps from the end. Valentino is going to be pushing; I'm not sure he will play Jorge's game."

The last time a MotoGP season went down to the final race was in 2006, when America's Nicky Hayden, then riding for Honda, wrested the crown from the all-conquering Rossi.

Read: Rookie Marquez makes MotoGP history

Rossi, in his first stint at Yamaha, fell early in the race and was unable to regain enough places to prevent Hayden clinching what would be his first and, to date, only title. This time around, Marquez will be hoping to avoid any mishaps as he looks to clinch motorcycle racing's ultimate prize.

"It's going to be incredibly tense -- 13 points is good to have, but it's not a lot," Poncharal said. "It looks easier than it will be ... I think it's 50-50."

With Europe heading towards winter, conditions at the track may also play a role.

"Valencia is a special track," Poncharal said. "We know the weather this time will be difficult, there will be a lot of pressure because (in Japan) we saw Marc, for the first time, not being the Marc we know. He will be under more pressure at the last round.

"In Jorge's mind it was game over (before Australia). Now everything has changed, Jorge is going to go out in Valencia not thinking, just pushing -- without any pressure."

For motorsport fans looking for one last fix of excitement before the season ends, Sunday's race should provide it in spades.

"The final is going to be like a dream scenario," Poncharal said. "Let the sport decide."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Track the buzz of the 2014 Formula One season, race by race, with all the latest social reaction from motorsport experts.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)
Formula One is not likely to go hungry in Hungary as master chefs cater in volume for drivers, teams and VIP guests.
July 3, 2014 -- Updated 1443 GMT (2243 HKT)
It's the elephant in the room of Formula One. What's the prognosis legendary driver Michael Schumacher?
May 23, 2014 -- Updated 2310 GMT (0710 HKT)
It stimulates all five senses, creating an unparalleled experience for drivers and fans alike. Take a tour of Monaco with Mark Webber.
May 22, 2014 -- Updated 1233 GMT (2033 HKT)
To be a champion you must win a title -- but to become an F1 legend you must win races at Monaco, the calendar's most testing circuit.
May 21, 2014 -- Updated 1459 GMT (2259 HKT)
Caterham F1 reserve driver Alexander Rossi takes you on a tour of the Monaco racing circuit.
May 5, 2014 -- Updated 1238 GMT (2038 HKT)
The Formula One driver transcended his sport and even 20 years after his death, Ayrton Senna commands the adoration of fans worldwide.
May 1, 2014 -- Updated 1500 GMT (2300 HKT)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY IN ARABIC BY SUHEIL HOWAYEK: (FILES) Brazilian F1 driver Ayrton Senna adjusts his rear view mirror in the pits 01 May 1994 before the start of the San Marino Grand Prix. Senna died after crashing in the seventh lap. Some 45 drivers, including Senna and Canadian Gilles Villeneuve, have been killed during Formula One races whose tracks are dubbed by some as the 'circuits of death.' AFP PHOTO/JEAN-LOUP GAUTREAU (Photo credit should read JEAN-LOUP GAUTREAU/AFP/Getty Images)
F1's greatest racer was killed during the San Marino Grand Prix on May 1 1994. The sport hasn't been the same since.
April 30, 2014 -- Updated 1516 GMT (2316 HKT)
Just four F1 drivers turned up to Roland Ratzenberger's funeral after his death during qualifying for the San Marino Grand Prix on April 30 1994.
April 25, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
For a championship with a distinctly Iberian streak, it is no surprise that South America should be high on MotoGP's list of territories to conquer.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1113 GMT (1913 HKT)
Susie Wolff, pictured, will become the Formula One's first female competitor in 20 years when she takes part in the first practice sessions at the British and German grands prix in July.
Too weak. Can't handle the pressure. Susie Wolff has heard it all -- but she is determined to become the first female F1 driver in 20 years.
CNN's Amanda Davies visits the headquarters of Mercedes, the dominant team in Formula One this season.
ADVERTISEMENT