The metamorphosis of Marc Márquez: less fast and more cautious, but just as dangerous | Motorcycling | Sports

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Marc Márquez has had a tough time the last four years, and through blows and disappointments he has completed an absolute metamorphosis. At least in appearance, little remains of that kid who broke into MotoGP in 2013 without fear and with the desire to take on the world. And he did it. Six crowns later, separated from the top positions for the last four seasons due to injuries and the failure of Honda, the Spaniard has started a new chapter at Ducati without giving up, bowing his head for the first time in his career .

The great reference of the last decade, who tries to lower the soufflé in each public appearance, displays his calmest and most patient version on and off the court. Also the most honest, without fear of recognizing their weaknesses. “I will no longer be faster than I was in the past,” he assured before getting on the bike at the Portuguese GP. “When you are young you have that spark and you are not so aware of what you are doing, now I have more experience and perhaps I am more conservative,” he added. At 31 years old, his body is no longer ready to take risks as excessive as those that took him to the top in the past.

Just a year ago, in this same setting, Márquez still wanted to try the impossible with his old Japanese motorcycle. He had just declared in preseason that his goal was to win the title. The wounds from one of his last savages on the track are still fresh in his head. Against all odds he achieved pole position and climbed to the inaugural podium of the ‘sprint’ format in Portimao, although later on Sunday he forced himself so much that he overtook several rivals and ended up injured and operated on. Today he continues to effusively stretch his hands, flexing his fingers over and over again, before getting on the motorcycle, a habit inherited from that fracture in his thumb, the umpteenth of his career. In his mirror the scars appear every day that remind him of where he comes from and where he is going.

Another good dose of setbacks with the Honda made him abandon the best contract on the grid and renounce the status of official rider to stay with the last of the Ducati available. Having learned his lesson last year, his goal is less ambitious this preseason, despite the fact that all the spotlights are on him.

“In sport, the important thing is the present, not the past. Right now there are three drivers faster than me, and I must learn from them,” says the Catalan about Pecco Bagnaia, Brad Binder and Jorge Martín, the only ones who were faster in the opening grand prix of the season. He didn’t want to over-brake and risk a fall to catch them, and his brother Álex, a garage partner at Gresini, summarizes this less aggressive version of his brother with two adjectives: “He doesn’t do anything exceptional, but he is doing it.” all good”. The new Marc wants to become strong by being regular, without exceeding the limits.

In the desert, Márquez continued sending messages from a crouch, despite the fact that his fourth position in the race fully fulfilled his predictions. “All athletes have their moment,” he stressed. By results, the one from Cervera does not seem to be fooling anyone. This Thursday he said that his first objective in Portugal was to sneak into the top ten to fight directly for pole, and on Friday he fulfilled it despite signing his first crash of the year. “Marc has already demonstrated all his talent and class through an innate ability to adapt. He is already a formidable competitor on a motorcycle that is completely new to him,” says Gigi Dall’Igna, Ducati’s chief executive officer. “The experience and desire of a champion who wants to say his again will make the difference,” predicts the technical guru of the premier category.

With the third best time in practice in Portimao, without risking more than necessary, his progression continues unstoppable and the rest of the grid is wary of his metamorphosis. He smiles when questioned and admits that he feels much more confident this weekend. All the other pilots continue to see him as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He will be different, okay, but he is still Marc Márquez.

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