MotoGP

What will it take for Marc Marquez to become MotoGP’s "GOAT"?

Marc Marquez is closing on a record number of MotoGP titles... and he's only 26-years-old. But what is stopping him from becoming the only and only GOAT?

Earlier this month, Visordown ran a poll asking whether you thought Marc Marquez was the veritable GOAT – aka. the Greatest of all-time – in MotoGP and more than 1.3k of you responded… with a majority ‘no’.

To be exact, the result was a 41% ‘Yes’ he is the GOAT to 59% ‘No’ he isn’t.

This isn’t a scientific experiment by any means and even though it wasn’t a yes, it certainly wasn’t a resounding ‘no’ either which is quite something when you consider the competition of Valentino Rossi, Giacomo Agostini, Wayne Rainey and Mick Doohan et al.

Of course, it’s tricky to compare across eras and partisan lines will always muddy the waters of trying to choose impartially, but judging by comments on this and other posts, Marquez – while respected for his achievements – is yet to achieve the widespread universal approval of fans.

Indeed, Marquez is well on course for a record number of world titles at his current rate… but is he the People’s Champion? And does it matter if he isn’t?

What do fans know?

Well, a lot… you only need to glance across any MotoGP event and feast your eyes on the sea of yellow – Rossi’s signature colour. Every round… even in Spain where they have umpteen other riders, including Marquez, to support.

Rossi made his reputation on the back of an era when minimal electronics made slights of hand on a motorcycle more influential, overtaking was more aggressive and personalities were less curated by nervous PR teams. MotoGP is a show and Rossi was (and in many ways still is) the ringleader.

In terms of results, Marquez’s record speaks for itself and if your definition of GOAT is purely statistical, it seems we won’t have long to wait until the sport has a new all-time #1.

But a combination of outrageous talent at such a young age coupled to a team and machine that works very much in his orbit year in, year out raises questions as to whether he can only ever become the unequivocal GOAT if he gravitates out of it…

Could Marc Marquez ever change teams?

Indeed, one of the most frequent points leveraged against Marquez when his ‘GOAT’ status is argued is the way he is doing so on the best machine (in his hands, anyway) with the most support. Then again, looking at the way other Honda riders have performed recently, perhaps that isn’t the correct way to term it.

Measured against the likes of Rossi, many suggest we won’t know the true ability of Marquez until he tests himself with a new challenge at a different manufacturer, just as the Doctor did when he switched from Honda to Yamaha.

Indeed, while there is no begrudging the way in which he has swept all before him, the more impactful headline today is when he is beaten, not when he wins. As such, it is entirely believable Marquez has considered a future outside of Honda to assert his talent on a machine that challenges him to change his riding style or prove his developmental nous.

So where would he go? Ducati has been previously mentioned but Marquez would put his achievements directly into comparison with Casey Stoner, the only rider many consider capable of stemming the Spaniard’s dominance had he not retired early.

It’s the same issue with Yamaha and the Rossi comparison (ignoring the fact he has personal Red Bull sponsors and Yamaha is a Monster team), while Suzuki seems unlikely to meet such wage demands.

As such, the most obvious destination is KTM. The manufacturer is backed by Red Bull, is steadily working its way to the front of the field and could probably – with the help of sponsors – give him plenty of financial incentives.

A Marquez-KTM set up would be neatly timed too. Both have something to prove and while any such move is unlikely to happen before Marquez surpasses Rossi’s seven premier class world titles, if it’s 2022 at the earliest then KTM should probably be a front runner, if not a title contender.

It’s a worthy theory – one that admittedly progresses no further than educated guesswork right now – but there is no denying Marquez winning a title with KTM would finally answer those question marks once and for all.

One could also argue the arrival of Alex Marquez at Repsol Honda is insurance for ensuring the Marquez-Honda name remains intact should Marc depart. Indeed, by that stage the younger brother just might be a MotoGP title contender too.

It would be a risk but, all things considered, a calculated one worth taking when you’ve already achieved eight world titles by the age of 26…

Does Marc Marquez care if he is adored?

Without a doubt, Marquez has a sizeable army of fans defending his honour across social media and waving #93 flags in the stands around the world. However, you don’t need to look far to see his extraordinary feats on track aren’t quite mirrored by universal adulation among those that attend races, tune into television or contribute to various public forums.

Watching Marquez on track can be frustrating if you’re don’t buy into majesty of his performance. The way he can stalk his opponents for laps on end before launching a late attack for victory is both exemplary and off-putting in sense if the end result is always the same. Not that you can blame him for that.

Earlier this year Marquez referenced that exact style of race craft, saying he wanted to be entertain fans by keeping them guessing down to the last lap – even if, presumably he always knew he had the pace to win – and exerting a physically engaging riding style in the image of Randy Mamola.

It’s a noble endeavour. After a period of Casey Stoner dominance achieved by him qualifying on pole position and sprinting into the distance, then complaining how he felt his performances were not given enough credit, you can understand why Marquez might prefer to throw a bit of showmanship into his armoury to complement his extraordinary talent.

Bottom line, Marquez has clearly considered how to carve his image among fans to create a legacy beyond the wins and titles, but whether he uses this as impetus to fundamentally shake his career up remains to be seen…

As we say above, to have achieved so much at such a high level by the time you are 26, time is most definitely on Marc Marquez’s side.

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