Motorcycling: On your Marc Marquez... but will it be historic debut?

Spanish whizzkid has style and class to go for victory – maybe even a title – first time out

The Spanish prodigy Marc Marquez will tomorrow night get the chance to appease or frustrate disciples who have hailed the 20-year-old as a potential MotoGP champion this year before he has even started a race on his 800cc Repsol Honda.

Marquez, who won the 600cc Moto2 feeder category last year, lines up against MotoGP giants Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi in the opening round of the 17-race MotoGP series under floodlights on the 3.34-mile Losail circuit in Qatar.

Pundits have noted Marquez’s searing speed in pre-season testing and his vivid riding style – his elbow frequently scrapes the track in corners – as evidence that he can scoop the world title at his first attempt on a 250bhp MotoGP bike.

The youngster himself – he is only two months past being a teenager – takes a slightly more balanced view of his prospects. “We don’t discount anything because nothing is impossible, but the key is to try and be patient,” Marquez said. “If your mentality is that winning is essential, it will be dangerous.”

Marquez has gained a reputation for uncompromising riding tactics on his way to his two world titles and 26 race victories in the 125cc and Moto2 classes. He has been recruited to replace the retired two-times world champion Casey Stoner in the factory Honda squad, where he is surrounded by wise heads steeped in racing lore, including team principal Livio Suppo.

Marquez set a front-running pace in the official tests at Sepang in Malaysia, and then dominated a private Honda/Yamaha session at Austin, Texas, on a track new to the MotoGP calendar. Now his more fervent believers claim he could join the Italian Max Biaggi (1998) and the Finn Jarno Saarinen (1973) in winning in his MotoGP debut. Some even claim that he could take the world title first time out.

“We are likely to see a rookie racing to win the MotoGP world championship for the whole of the season,” the 1993 500cc world champion Kevin Schwantz has said. “I am sure he has got all of his team telling him to take his time, let the races come to him and not go out and give points away.”

The nine-times world champion Rossi, who returns to Yamaha this season after two win-less years with Ducati, said of Marquez: “I like his skill, his style and his aggression, but he risks too much.”

“He is going to be exciting for the sport,” Nicky Hayden, the Ducati rider and the 2006 MotoGP champion, said. “He rides very hard and he is very hungry.”

But more pragmatic observers will say that Marquez is unlikely to be able to match the season-long racecraft and the gruelling mental stamina developed by Lorenzo, 25, and the 27-year-old Pedrosa, over several seasons in MotoGP. If Marquez could win a couple of races this year and challenge Rossi, and perhaps Britain’s Cal Crutchlow, for third place in the championship, he would have handled himself brilliantly.

Crutchlow starts his third season in MotoGP with France’s Tech 3 Yamaha team, where he has performed superbly. But he will be frustrated by the fact that Tech 3 is a satellite team, and he may not receive the latest go-faster parts received by Lorenzo and Rossi on the factory Yamahas.

Another Brit, the 20-year-old Scott Redding, could challenge for the Moto2 title on the Marc VDS team’s Honda, while at Brands Hatch, reigning champion and title-holder Shane Byrne kicks off his defence of his British Superbike crown on his 1,000cc Kawasaki.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
The Swiss Re tower or 'Gherkin' was at one time the UK’s most expensive office when German bank IVG and private equity firm Evans Randall bought it
news
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tv
Arts and Entertainment
filmThe Battle of the Five Armies trailer released
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Extras
indybest
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
Life and Style
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on