I think it caught us all by surprise. While theories that the closest ever top 15 finish at the previous round in Qatar was a bit of a con because riders where protecting their tyres have been expounded in certain sections of the media, Marc Marquez simply blew away the opposition in Argentina on Sunday.
It was one of his biggest ever dry weather victories and the 9.8s gap between him and the fight for second did not even show just what a difference there was between the World Champion and the rest. Sure he took the gamble on the soft rear tyre on the Repsol Honda but his domination over the 25 laps meant he was quite simply in a class of his own.
Winning at the highest level is an art and skill that only a few are lucky to possess. Racing at any level is all about winning. That is the aim of every rider competing from the humble beginnings of club racing to MotoGP™ and World Champions have the ability to do it whatever the circumstances.
A World Champion and multiple Grand Prix winner once told me that winning races at the slowest possible speed was always his aim. Protect the tyres, protect the engine and protect yourself was always part of his winning strategy. Today more and more protection of the tyres has to be a vital part of race winning strategy. The fact that it can produce record breaking close finishes like Qatar and controversy that boiled over between Rossi and Marquez in Australia four years ago is surely a bonus for the fans. For the riders and the teams, it’s just about understanding and then implementing the conditions and the circumstances to their advantage. For both the media and the fans it just adds to the drama.
When I first got the Grand Prix bug a long time ago a certain Giacomo Agostini was winning races on the MV Agusta by vast distances that were often calculated in laps rather than minutes and certainly not seconds. Ago was the true master and took full advantage of the circumstances but being brutally honest after admiring his brilliance and the glorious sound of the MV Agusta, it did not make compelling viewing.
At the third round of this year’s Championship at Austin in a couple of weeks’ time Marquez arrives with an unbeaten record in Texas. He will take full advantage of the conditions and circumstances to ensure that record continues to enable him to arrive in Europe with an increased advantage at the top of the Championship. If it has to be an Agostini style victory or a fight to the line after a tactical battle grabbing 25 precious points will be his only aim. Selfishly I know which race I would prefer to watch but I’ll never be chasing a world title.