Making his Marc: two-wheel star chisels his name into history
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MotoGP is exhilarating, no doubt about it. There’s intense racing and riders overtaking with regularity, often on corners using knees and elbows for support, while leaning their bikes over at gravity-defying angles.
When things go wrong they do so spectacularly.
Not for them the luxury of carbon fibre safety cells and deformable structures — instead a hefty landing on terra firma and then hopefully a gradual slide to a stop.
In most cases the next instinct for the rider is to get up, rush to his, or her, bike, get it the right way up and try to regain the track, almost as if the last few seconds did not happen.
Last weekend Spanish Honda MotoGP rider Marc Marquez became world champion in the premier class for the sixth time.
He also became the youngest rider, at 26, to reach that mark — still with four rounds of the 2019 series remaining. He was also champion in 2010 in the 125cc class, and 2012 in Moto2.
In a series known for producing multiple winners during a season, Marquez has so far won nine of the 15 races. Apart from one American event, he has finished no lower than second. He wrapped up the title in Thailand, making a pass on the final lap for victory after a battle with Fabio Quartararo.
Adding spice to the win was Marquez going to hospital by ambulance after a crash in his Friday practice.
He returned to the circuit bruised and battered, but deemed fit enough to race, despite having yet another crash in a later practice session.
After a high side coming out of a corner, Marquez had lost control and in a split second elected to jump off the bike, then flew high through the air, leaving the machine to destroy itself. Remarkably he sustained no more than heavy bruising and being winded.
A huge amount of credit for the lack of serious injury must go to one of the biggest advances in motorcycle safety, the airbag race suit. In this case inflation is a good thing.
The suit is made with inbuilt sensors to detect an impending crash. Marquez’s suit was fully inflated 585 milliseconds before he hit the ground.
The suit constantly monitors activity with its Airbag Control Unit and stays fully inflated with inert argon gas for five seconds, cushioning the rider against major impact.
Marquez’s crash lasted for 4.8 seconds.
For Marquez, as for all the other riders, crashing is not an unusual occurrence.
With eight championships under his belt, Marquez may well eclipse the records of two of the sport’s greatest stars. Valentino Rossi has seven premier class championships and two in the lower classes but the daddy of them all is still Giacomo Agostini with eight premier and seven 350cc championships. Angel Nieto has 13 championships but none in the premier class.
To use a cliche, Marquez is a legend in the making.