I t’s been an interesting year in the racing world, where we’ve seen riders who’ve already taken multiple titles secure yet another. In BSB we had Shane Byrne winning his sixth British Superbikes crown, meaning the press office will be working feverishly to figure out a zingy rhyming catchphrase for 2018, the rhyme being related to the number seven. Six titles is a phenomenal number, and we really can’t rule out him. By the time he eventually decides to retire, he’ll have won so many it’ll take decades for anyone to best his tally.
Then in WSB there’s Jonny Rea, with his third on the bounce (the first man to do so), Carl Fogarty’s four-title record now in danger of being matched. His race win record will undoubtedly fall in 2018, short of anything bizarre happening to Rea. Jonny has been truly outstanding, he and the Kawasaki ZX-10R are indeed one entity, meaning his main rival Chaz Davies has had to over-ride the fickle Ducati Panigale time and again, to his cost, to try and beat him. Can Rea be defeated in 2018? His recent hegemony in the class would suggest not, even with performance sapping rules coming into place. In fact, it’s highly likely that Chaz’s skills making the Ducati work, and subsequent rev reductions, will in fact hurt him even more than the restrictions put on Kawasaki will hurt Rea. The first few races will tell all.
And so, Marc Marquez, what a year he has had. He’s more famous for saving a dozen impossible looking crashes than winning his sixth world title. What he has done on his Honda time and again, nearly every weekend, beggars belief. Yes there have been a few remarkable saves by others over recent years, but even the most impressive of those pales into near insignificance compared to Marc’s antics, most of all turn one during Valencia’s race at over 110mph.
His skill at saving those front end slides and crashes, allied to the fact he can get the best of a very under-par Honda RCV and, crucially, take points when the bike really isn’t working, astounds even his closest rivals. They simply cannot believe what he’s doing, and nor can we, nor anyone else. We know this won’t go down well with many, but at the age of 24, just how long will it be before he takes the mantle of ‘Greatest Of All Time’? He’s just three titles away from equalling Rossi’s tally, and has enough time on his side to beat the records set by the main man, Giacomo Agostini. He already breaks a record nearly every weekend he pulls his lid on, there are few left he hasn’t smashed, in fact.
Folk will point to having to win on different machinery to become the greatest, or a half dozen other reasons that may stop him taking that mantle off either Rossi or Ago. But if he wins more titles and more races than anyone ever has before he retires, even if it’s just on a Honda, doing unbelievable things along the way, is that not enough? For some, no, and of course all this GOAT business is usually a load of nonsense. Our Pit Shadow put it perfectly a few years ago, in that these special riders are the greatest of their ‘era’ rather than of all time.
But anyway, in the meantime, well done Marc, another in the bag – will 2018 be number lucky seven, we wonder?