Marquez’s MotoGP title hopes: Is it over already?

A new record would have to be set to claim the 2017 MotoGP world title

Marquez’s MotoGP title hopes: Is it over already?

TUMBLING THROUGH the gravel trap at turn two at the Autodromo Termas de Rio Hondo having led the Argentina MotoGP race, plenty of frustrating thoughts must have shot through Marc Marquez's mind but one that will linger is how it hurts his charge in the MotoGP world championship chase. 

Since the introduction of the MotoGP era no rider has come from Marquez's position of eighth in the riders' standings and 13 points after two rounds to fight back and claim the title in the same season. 

The closest marker to Marquez's challenge is Jorge Lorenzo's pair of fourth places, 26 points, when he clinched the MotoGP world title in 2015 – albeit with the wild speculation of Marquez aiding him against Valentino Rossi at Sepang and the Italian's consequential back of the grid start in the Valencia finale.

Take a look at previous defending MotoGP champions with indifferent starts and how their seasons panned out – if you are a supporter of the Repsol Honda rider take a deep breath. 

2006 Rossi: 14th in Jerez, 1st in Qatar. Finished championship second to Hayden 

Rossi was given the worst possible start to his 2006 campaign when booted off track by Toni Elias at the first corner in Jerez only to remount a minute down to claim 14th place. The Italian battled back to win in Qatar and despite turning around a 51-point deficit to Nicky Hayden heading into the Valencia finale, Rossi fell which handed the American the MotoGP title which shocked the motorsport world. 

2007 Hayden: 8th in Qatar, 7th in Jerez. Finished championship eighth as Stoner won 

With the weight of the MotoGP world crown weighing down on Hayden he struggled throughout the 2007 season to replicate his front-running pace from the year before. Eighth and seventh place finishes in the opening two rounds set the tone for the season as the American rider managed just three rostrum appearances all year. 

2008 Stoner: 1st in Qatar, 11th in Jerez. Finished championship second to Rossi 

Casey Stoner's defence of his MotoGP world crown got off to a flawless start in Qatar with victory in the desert but hit trouble at Jerez, a circuit ill-suited to his Ducati as he ran off track twice during the race to eventually finish a lowly 11th. 

Stoner's hit-and-miss campaign continued with a hat-trick of wins stalled by point-less outings at Brno, Misano and Le Mans. The Australian eventually finished second overall but a whopping 93 points behind Rossi.

2015 Marquez: 5th in Qatar, 1st in COTA. Finished championship third as Lorenzo won 

After a low-key start to his 2015 MotoGP title defence with fifth place in Qatar, Marquez appeared to spark back into life in Austin with a dramatic qualifying in which he parked his RC213V on the pit straight due to a technical issue, sprinted up pit lane and grabbed pole on his second bike with seconds remaining. 

The Spanish rider followed it up with a flawless victory to go third in the championship, with eventual champion Lorenzo down in fifth in the standings, as he looked to kick-start his year. 

What followed became a classic MotoGP campaign with momentum swings and clashes including his infamous fallout with Rossi which culminated in the Italian running him off the track at Sepang. 

2016 Lorenzo: 1st in Qatar, DNF in Argentina. Finished championship third as Marquez won 

Lorenzo endured a similarly mixed start to his title defence in 2016 with a rampant victory in Qatar followed up by a crash in Argentina. 

Despite the blip Lorenzo enjoyed a strong start to the year with three wins in the opening six races plus two further second places but with Movistar Yamaha's pace slipping and the Spaniard confirmed to be Ducati-bound in 2017 his form tailed off as he slipped to third in the championship behind Marquez and Rossi. 

What does this mean for Marquez? 

Simply, he will have to pull off one of the biggest championship turnarounds in the modern MotoGP era. 

What has doubled Marquez's task has been Maverick Vinales and his metronomic start to life at Movistar Yamaha by topping every winter test and storming to two wins from two MotoGP races.

It leaves the defending champion with 37 points to claw back while also contending against the likes of Vinales, Rossi plus the factory Ducati and Suzuki challenges which are expected to come on strong as the year progresses. 

But if there is one rider that can pull it off, it would have to be Marquez. The 24-year-old was the last rider to totally dominate a season back in 2014 when he won the opening 10 races while his tally stopped at 13 victories in 18 rounds. 

That kind of form would surely see him stroll to the world title but given the relative uncertainties still felt with the Michelin tyres and controlled ECU it is unlikely. 

Bringing into consideration the evidently pacey but tricky to manage RC213V, Marquez's first job will be to return to the winner's circle which is somewhere he hasn't been for six months since he wrapped up the 2016 MotoGP world crown in Japan. But where better place to start for Marquez than the Circuit of the Americas, a track he's only ever tasted victory at in MotoGP. 

However, if he fails to break the rhythm of Vinales in Austin it could be his title ambitions already over in 2017.