Former world champion Mick Doohan believes Marc Marquez has inspired Valentino Rossi to lift his game, and rates him a chance of winning a record-equalling eighth MotoGP title.
After three difficult seasons between 2010 and 2013, in which he only managed one victory, Rossi bounced back to form last year to claim 11 podiums and two race wins for Yamaha.
The Italian has continued his good run into 2015, winning the season-opener in Qatar and finishing third at the weekend’s Grand Prix of the Americas.
Rossi hasn’t won a world championship since 2009, but Doohan reckons 21-year-old Marquez’s phenomenal first two seasons with Honda - in which he’s won both titles for the team - has spurred his senior on.
“Marc Marquez, I think, has inspired Valentino to reinvent himself and to lift himself,” the Australian said.
“Not that Valentino is old, but he’s 36 racing against a 21-year-old - so a completely different generation and still battling.
“It’s great for an enthusiast and spectator and an old rider (like me) to watch. It’s good for the sport as well.”
21 year old Marc Marquez is reigning MotoGP champion.
Asked if he could see Rossi adding to his seven crowns, Doohan said: “He’s certainly capable of it.
“The way he was riding last year and the way he started this season, I think you certainly wouldn’t put it past him.
“It would be great for MotoGP to see Valentino take his eighth title and equal (Giacomo) Agostini’s record of eight world championships.”
The third round of the 2015 MotoGP season begins in Argentina on Friday.