Why do Yamaha continue to ignore Marc Marquez?
If you can't beat him, hire him?
Marc Marquez's dominant crusade on the 2019 Moto GP championship is arguably the finest season ever seen in motorcycle racing. 12 wins, 6 second place finishes and only one crash in Texas. From a commanding lead. Although rookie sensation Fabio Quartararo has proved the sharpest thorn in Marc's side, Honda's precious asset has staved off each attack with ease. No rider has been able to mount a consistent challenge to the superhuman Spaniard.
Since joining the premier class, as a 125cc and Moto 2 champion in 2013, Marquez has consistently stunned the field. A world title in his rookie season and 6 world championships from 7 attempts is an astounding strike rate.
Cervera's most famous export has been backed by Spanish oil giant, Repsol, since his early teens. Moto GP powerhouse, Honda, have enjoyed the backing of Repsol since the 1990’s. In hindsight, it’s hard to imagine Marc Marquez riding for anyone else.
Valencia 2017 was the last time a team mate of Marc Marquez won a race. When, the now retired, Dani Pedrosa claimed the top step of the podium. Over the last 7 seasons, the other Honda riders have scored just 12 victories. Marquez has won 56 races over the same period. For further context, Ducati riders have scored 17 victories. Yamaha riders climbed to the top step of the podium on 37 occasions.
If you want to win, Marquez is your man. But, bizarrely, Yamaha team boss Lin Jarvis recently stated the Hamamatsu factory will not make a bid for the Spaniards services in 2021. Jarvis revealed that Yamaha's goal is to beat Marquez and his beloved Honda with their own rider. To fulfill such an ambition, a special rider will be required.
Fast Frenchman, Fabio Quartararo, shocked the Moto GP paddock in 2019 with dazzling one lap pace and seven podium finishes. Unsurprisingly, Quartararo has risen to the top of most Moto GP team's shopping list for 2021, when most riders are out of contract. Riding the Petronas Yamaha machine, Quartararo has punched well above both his and his bikes weight on a number of occasions. Inflicting constant pressure on Marc Marquez in the process. However, glaring weakness in the M1's power has left Quartararo defenceless to Marquez's rapid Honda.
Yamaha will undoubtedly be delighted with their 20 year old protégé's progress. However, the Japanese factory may fall victim of their own success with the French youngster.
Italian factory, Ducati, look set to bid to poach yet another Yamaha superstar. Both Rossi and Lorenzo were lured away from the homely feel of the Yamaha M1 saddle by Bologna top brass. Since then, Ducati have a far stronger pitch as far as their motorcycle is concerned. Dubbed “The Bologna Bullet", Ducati's Desmosedici holds an ace card in close combat. Horsepower. During this year’s contest at Aragon, this power advantage was exhibited in blatant fashion. On the never ending back straight, Ducati’s Andrea Dovisioso enjoyed a 14kph advantage over Fabio Quartararo’s Yamaha. A lifetime in modern day Moto GP.
Ducati reportedly wish to pursue not only Quartararo but factory Yamaha rider, Maverick Vinales. This raid on Yamaha’s roster will certainly unsettle the crusade to dethrone Marc Marquez.
Jarvis and Yamaha's stance of shunning Marquez is certainly puzzling when considering the Japanese manufacturer's long and illustrious history in grand prix racing. Back in 2003, Yamaha were in a similar situation to where they currently find themselves. Minimal success and outpaced by rival Honda and their star rider, Valentino Rossi. Sound familiar?
After a long courting process , Yamaha managed to pluck Rossi from Honda for the 2004 season. At the very first race, in South Africa, Rossi won on the M1 after a titanic rival with bitter rival Max Biaggi. Rossi then romped to a world title with Yamaha at the first time of asking.
Making a move for the Italian legend, spawned 4 world titles in 6 seasons for Rossi and Yamaha. Shortly followed by 3 world titles from Jorge Lorenzo. Given this history, I find it baffling that Yamaha would not at least bid to prize Marquez away from the Honda nest.
Marc Marquez has clearly proven that in Moto GP, the standout rider makes the difference. Rossi proved the same at Yamaha. As did Casey Stoner at Ducati.
If Quartararo is seduced by big horsepower and big bucks at Ducati, Yamaha’s all in strategy with the Frenchman will backfire spectacularly. Currently, no other challenger to Marquez has emerged. Therefore, the chances of Yamaha knocking the 8 times world champion from his perch remain slim.
Peter MacKay is the host of The Peter MacKay Motorsport Podcast. Follow the show via the link below and never miss an episode: