Are mind games the key to defeating Marc Marquez?

Alex Rins says he likes it when he makes Marc Marquez angry because it shows he is getting under the six-time MotoGP champion's skin...

Marc Marquez, Alex Rins [1200]

Suzuki Ecstar rider Alex Rins says getting under the skin of rival Marc Marquez could be the key to cracking his dominance in MotoGP, pointing out a moment during last year’s Brno for how he could get a reaction from the eight-time World Champion.

With six MotoGP titles from seven seasons – and the 2019 campaign proving to be his most dominant yet – rivals are questioning exactly what it will take for Marquez to be beaten.

However, there have been occasions that demonstrate the new generation have what it takes to employ the mind games Marquez has become renowned – some would say, ‘infamous’ – for, right back at him.

One such example is when Rins got the better of Marquez at the death to beat him at Silverstone – prompting a furious reaction from the Spaniard for losing the drag to the line - as well as an odd fracas during a damp practice session in Brno when the Suzuki rider got ahead, leading to Marquez to pounce straight back with an on the edge move, only to peel into the pit lane. 

The pair exchanged a few ‘WTF’ hand gestures as they toured, before Rins said afterwards, "It's a tricky thing because for sure [Marc] is now one step in front of everybody. He put the slick tyres and he was super-fast. But I think he has no respect for the other riders. He is riding on his way.”

Despite those moments though, Rins said they simply fuel his desire to defeat Marquez because he feels he is getting into his head.

"Marc for me is the man to beat," Rins told "The rivalry is so high. Already in 2019, I shared more moments on track with him and, for sure, when he wins or he finishes in front of me, I finish the race and I’m a bit angry. I want to beat him but also, it’s like this for him. I remember in Silverstone when I beat him, he was so angry, so, so angry."

“Marc is so good on these mental things; he plays a lot with all of the riders. For example, Brno last year comes to mind. I was doing a fast lap and he looked behind, he saw me, opened the line but not too much. I was on the dry line and I touched him. 

“I lost my lap but ok, I continued pushing. In the end, at the last chicane in Brno, before going into the left he overtook me so close, we were so close to crashing, and then he went into the box. That moment comes to my mind and I knew there that Marc was considering me as a rival.

"Yeah, I like this because it means I’m doing a good job. Marc is an incredible rider, he wins a lot of races, a lot of Championships and if he is thinking about me as a rival, it means that I am there fighting with him."

Are mind games the key to defeating Marc Marquez?

When it comes to turning it on for a fast lap from nothing, Marc Marquez is difficult to beat but in the heat of battle he’s not quite as infallible.

Indeed, perceived mind games are nothing new in MotoGP (ask Valentino Rossi…) but Marquez is known for his subtle asides towards rivals off track and his pressuring conduct on it when it comes to ramming home the fact he is the one to beat at the moment.

He’s even said he wants to take race battles right to the wire to put on a show for fans, but rivals believe he is merely holding back intentionally to toy with them, which may explain why he was so angry with himself for losing out so late at Silverstone.

It has not always gone Marquez’s way though, as demonstrated by his clumsy accident during qualifying at Sepang last year having attempted to closely track Fabio Quartararo. Nasty though the accident was, he didn’t get a lot of sympathy…

So with that in mind, Rins is perhaps right that riders need to either totally ignore Marquez to the extent that he can’t get into their head or play him at his own game… whether they can keep their cool though remains to be seen!