Irreproachable or reckless? Marquez’s constituency is under fire again

It is not the first time that six-time MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez has returned from an injury-induced break after competing in the championship and immediately made an impact in the title fight.

And that then led to controversy – after opening lap contact with defending champion Fabio Quartararo at Sunday’s Aragon Grand Prix, the Frenchman watched battered and bruised from the touchline and team-mate Honda de Marquez’s Takaaki Nakagami was in danger of missing his home run at Motegi next. weekend.

However, while the Honda works rider might have found himself at the center of a storm of attention at Motorland Aragon, there has certainly been more than a fair share of misplaced anger directed at him since.

Some were quick to label an honest running error by Marquez as at best a wild move and at worst a more sinister and deliberate attempt to somehow shape the 2023 title fight.

But while it’s certainly possible to blame him for at least the mistake that set off this cascading chain of events that followed, it’s unfair to say it was particularly reckless. Aggressive, sure, but with the unbeatable former champion continuing to suffer the aftermath of his absence from MotoGP, that sort of movement in the opening laps of racing has become more normal for him in the opening laps.

As he is aware that he is still not physically capable of dominating races as he has in the past, his new strategy now seems to be to use his lightning fast starts to advance in a good position from the start. beginning.

Coming on the heels of Brad Binder’s incredible move from 10th to second in the opening corner, Marquez used that to his advantage and in doing so perhaps asked his rear tire a bit too much. Michelin.

Not on the racing line (something normal in the first few corners) and on a cold tire, the resulting onset of rear slide is probably something that could be described as a rookie mistake – and not the kind thing that pre-2020 Marquez would have never been a victim of.

But, because of his thrust, it forced him back a bit to get him back under control – and with Quartararo’s Yamaha very close, that meant there wasn’t much for the championship leader to do. could only run into the rear of Marquez, causing him to crash heavily.

Marquez called it a “racing incident” in which Quartararo was “very unlucky” to be so close to Marquez’s back.

It was an assessment that the majority of his fellow riders and – importantly – Yamaha team boss Lin Jarvis accepted, with the veteran manager quickly admitting after the race that he too had seen what had happened. as nothing more than a normal racing incident, albeit one with significant consequences for its rider’s attempts to retain the crown.

“We studied the crash three or four times to try to understand the dynamics,” he said afterwards. “Unfortunately, if you’re in the middle of the mix, in the peloton, things like that can happen. Marquez was up front and Fabio hit the back of his bike.

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“He’s angry, he’s upset, but from what we can see it appears to be a racing incident. Obviously Marquez gained a lot of places at the start of the race, was riding very, very aggressively and Fabio was just too close to him.

This was also echoed by ex-Jarvis rider Maverick Vinales, a man with a newfound respect for the type of riding that happens all the time at the back of the peloton after his rocky end to 2021 learning to ride a Aprilia. Something he’s spoken about many times in the past, he said the way Marquez rides is completely normal further down the grid.

“If you start 16th, there’s a jungle,” he said. “It’s not even normal. When we start in front, everyone is calm, normal. But in the back, nobody respects anything, they just let go of the brakes. But that’s normal. The first corner here is very slow, and you have a lot of corners after where a lot of things can happen like that.

However, Marquez’s contact with Quartararo was only the first of an accident-strewn first lap, with the second contact coming two corners later with Nakagami when the works rider seemingly veered across the track and straight on. the side of the Japanese rider, catapulting him off his bike at high speed and into the path of the oncoming peloton.

Firmly blaming his rear ride height device, Marquez explained that despite feeling something was wrong after contact with Quartararo, he kept racing – and when he activated the device to lower the rear suspension coming out of turn 7, everything took a turn for the worse.

But while the first clash could have been seen as a racing incident, not everyone accepted that the second was entirely out of Marquez’s hands, with Pramac Racing’s Johann Zarco coming out on top claiming that Marquez’s actions Marquez after the impact with Quartararo were possibly over. line.

“I think he overdid it a bit too much, Marc,” he explained. “I love his style and for me he’s kind of the strongest – I said on Thursday he would be strong, but a move like that in a race where he felt he had a problem was maybe too much. It was kind of a crazy first round, almost all because of one guy.

“I don’t like to say that because I like Marc, but for today it was above the limit that we have now.”

And although he admitted to seeing during the race the piece of Yamaha fairing stuck at the rear of Marquez’s machine, Zarco was also adamant that it was the sole cause of the subsequent accident with Nakagami. (and not accepting blame for racing on a damaged bike) was somewhat dishonest to the eight-time world champion.

“It’s a way of finding a reason for the accident, he says, so as not to blame him for it. I don’t want to say all the blame is on him because clearly he had something in the bike but he already had that in turn 5 and when I saw him slipping in turn 5 he was slowing down in the turn 6 and trying to figure out what was happening on the bike – but he insisted on going far because in turn 16 he was still riding.

“Maybe it’s the devices and all that, but something was already wrong with the bike in Turn 5. It’s his word against mine, and he’s stronger than me!”

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