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'Fast Fred' proud of upstart Marc

2013-11-08 21:52

MARC MARQUEZ: American Freddie Spencer is waiting in the wings to congratulate the young Spaniard if he wins the MotoGP title in Valencia on Nov 10, 2013. Image: AFP

Iain Rogers

VALENCIA, Spain - If 20-year-old Spanish rookie Marc Marquez seals his maiden MotoGP crown in Valencia on Sunday one of those queueing to congratulate him will be the man he will replace as the youngest champion.

That would be American Freddie Spencer who won three World titles and 27 races in all classes during a glittering career.

Honda rider Marquez, who's been smashing records since his debut on a 125cc at the age of 15, has a 13-point lead over title-holder and compatriot Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) going into the last of 18 races. Fourth or better at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Cheste and he will take the title.


He was quickest ahead of Lorenzo and Pedrosa in Friday's first practice and will seek a ninth pole in qualifying on Saturday before the race on Sunday. The times are below, but less than a second covers the first seven riders.

Spencer won his first World crown aged 21 in 1983, also on a Honda, when he pipped Kenny Roberts (also Yamaha) after finishing second behind his American compatriot in the final race of the year at Imola.

Spencer, now 51, said that when he met Marquez for the first time in June 2013: "Many people ask me how I feel about someone coming along and breaking my records. I think it's great.

"I really appreciate it when somebody comes along and pushes that envelope and has the ability to make the difference in whatever way that might be. It's important for GP racing and I really mean that. I told Marc 'If you do win I'll be the first to congratulate you'."

Marquez, with his toothy grin and boyish good looks, is a very different character to the sometimes prickly Lorenzo who became the first Spaniard with two top-flight World titles when he won his second crown in 2012.


The pair clashed at the Spanish GP in May when a typically aggressive move from Marquez on the final corner, ironically named after Lorenzo, denied the 26-year-old second place behind Dani Pedrosa. Lorenzo was furious and when Marquez tried to speak to him in the paddock after the race he brushed him away.

Later, on the podium, Lorenzo congratulated Marquez's team mate Pedrosa, patting him on the back, but ignored the young pretender, who said the incident was "one of things that happens in a race".

The title rivals had apparently buried the hatchet by Thursday's news conference ahead of Sunday's showdown, shaking hands and smiling for the cameras.

"I think Marc and I should be very proud as two Spaniards fighting for the MotoGP title," Lorenzo said.

Since the inaugural championship in 1949 the premier-class title has been decided 15 times at the final race. The first was in 1950 when Italian Umberto Masetti beat off the challenge of Briton Geoff Duke by finishing second behind him at Monza to win by one point.


The most recent was in 2006 when Valentino Rossi, a boyhood hero of Marquez, crashed on lap five in Valencia and lost to American Nicky Hayden.

Spencer, whose career was not without controversial incidents such as the one involving Marquez and Lorenzo at Jerez, believes what makes Marquez special is his confidence.

Marquez, born in the Catalan town of Cervera, north-west of Barcelona, started to blaze his trail in 2010 when he won 10 races from 12 poles to secure his first 125cc title. He was second in Moto2 behind Stefan Bradl in 2011 before going one better in 2012 and was then drafted into the Repsol Honda MotoGP team alongside Pedrosa to replace retiring Australian champion Casey Stoner.

"Riding at the very top level certainly is about belief," Spencer said. "That uniqueness, and I can see it in his riding, is about him performing and believing he can get the job done."

The experienced Lorenzo, who missed the Germany GP after breakikng a collarbone, has more wins to his name this year, with seven to six for Marquez, and has led more than twice as many laps, 208 to 82.

Marquez has also picked up three penalty points and one more will see him slapped with a back-of-the-grid penalty.

Valencia 2013 MotoGP practice times
1 Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda) 1min31.220
2 Dani Pedrosa (ESP/Honda) +0.066
3 Jorge Lorenzo (ESP/Yamaha) +0,158
4 Cal Crutchlow (GBR/Yamaha Tech3) +0.282
5 Valentino Rossi (ITA/Yamaha) +0.419
6 Stefan Bradl (GER/Honda LCR) +0.638
7 Alvaro Bautista (ESP/Honda Gresini) +0.653
9 Andrea Dovizioso (ITA/Ducati) +1.143
10 Nicky Hayden (USA/Ducati) +1.175

Read more on:    yamaha  |  honda  |  marc marquez  |  jorge lorenzo  |  spain

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