Sport Rid­ing Tech­niques: marc mar­quez

Marc Mar­quez is def­i­nitely the most spec­tac­u­lar Mo­toGP racer of all time: slid­ing the front and the rear at ev­ery other cor­ner. So, what are the se­crets of the four-time Mo­toGP cham­pion’s rid­ing tech­nique?


‘Dur­ing the last three sea­sons in Mo­toGP the big­gest change has been the [ar­rival of] Miche­lin, be­cause they com­pletely changed the bal­ance of the bike. If you remember when ev­ery­one tried the Miche­lins at the end of 2015, there were many crashes in the be­gin­ning, be­cause with the Bridge­stones, the bal­ance of the bike was com­pletely dif­fer­ent to what we needed with the Miche­lins.

‘The Bridge­stone front was so good and the rear had no grip and the Miche­lins are the op­po­site. So, yes, first of all, we adapted the bikes and also our rid­ing style a lit­tle bit. Also, when they changed the soft­ware, ev­ery­thing changed, be­cause ear­lier you were able to use the elec­tron­ics to be fast and now it’s the op­po­site: the less elec­tron­ics you use the faster you go, be­cause the soft­ware works in a dif­fer­ent way.’

‘With the fac­tory soft­ware you were able to com­pletely be­lieve in the elec­tron­ics and work in any way you wanted, us­ing the elec­tron­ics to be faster. Now it’s the op­po­site: you need to be quite free with­out us­ing too much of the con­trols and also you need to be quite smooth, so that you don’t work against the elec­tron­ics. For me, less elec­tron­ics is bet­ter, be­cause then ev­ery­thing is more in your hand, in your body, in your­self. But also it was re­ally nice to work with good elec­tron­ics. The soft­ware we have now isn’t bad, but it was good to ride with high-level elec­tron­ics be­cause you were able to con­cen­trate on other things: just open the gas full and try to do your best, so it was eas­ier.

‘Be­fore the con­trol soft­ware, we were able to use the trac­tion con­trol a lot more to stop slides. But also the Miche­lin rear spins in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent way com­pared to how the Bridge­stone rear used to spin, so you must un­der­stand that the way to be fast is to let the Miche­lin spin a lit­tle, be­cause the bike still pushes for­ward. I like to spin from lower rpm and keep push­ing for­ward. But if you spin too much, the smoke comes! So you must find your own com­pro­mise with­out the TC, be­cause the TC helps a lot less.’

how i save a Front-end slide

‘Many peo­ple ask me how I save fron­tend slides, even my team: what do you do? It’s some­thing that just hap­pens with me. I lose the front and what I do is push down with my el­bow. Then it de­pends on the sit­u­a­tion: some­times I open the gas, some­times I just close the gas and I wait. But it’s so dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand!

‘Also, it de­pends on which tyre I am us­ing. If I lose the front with a very hard tyre, then I crash. But if I lose the front with a softer tyre, then I can save the crash. For ex­am­ple, at Jerez this year I crashed three times dur­ing prac­tice and morn­ing warm-up be­cause the front tyre was very, very hard and this was the tyre that was best for the race. When you lose the front with the hard tyre, ev­ery­thing hap­pens much quicker!’

how We use the tyres has Changed

‘With the Miche­lins you use the rear grip more, whereas with the Bridge­stones you used the front more — you braked very, very, very deep

into the cor­ners. With the Miche­lins you brake less deep, then you use the rear grip when you ac­cel­er­ate. Cor­ner speed is very sim­i­lar with both tyres, but when you needed to stop in the cor­ners with the Bridge­stones, you stopped and when you ac­cel­er­ate with the Miche­lins, you can open the gas and use all the trac­tion.

Since the change of tyres we got the bike to turn by chang­ing the ge­om­e­try. When we changed from Bridge­stone to Miche­lin, I tried many things: I changed my rid­ing style, I used more rear brake, I touched the gas ear­lier, I touched the gas later, I used less cor­ner speed, I used more cor­ner speed; but un­til we changed the ge­om­e­try, it was im­pos­si­ble. Now we use quite a lot of weight on the front of the bike, which leaves the rear of the bike more free. I feel bet­ter like this but, maybe, some other Honda rid­ers go in the op­po­site way. Any­way, with a lot of weight on the front it seems like I can touch the gas ear­lier be­cause the bike is more ready. The thing with the Bridge­stones is that we used more weight on the rear, be­cause the rear was slid­ing more on the en­try of cor­ners and slid­ing more on the ex­its. With the Miche­lins you can for­get a bit about this be­cause the rear grip is al­ways very, very good, so you can push with the rear tyre and then work on the front tyre. This is one of the rea­sons I al­ways go for the hard op­tion front for the race.’

Why i Don’t slide into turns so Much any longer

‘It’s be­cause of the rear grip. The Miche­lin rear has bet­ter grip, so it’s more dif­fi­cult to slide the rear and if you do have a slide, then the slide is sharper, so if I slide on cor­ner en­try, it’s a prob­lem be­cause the slide is too sharp and so I miss the apex.’

how i adapt to Dif­fer­ent track and grip sit­u­a­tions

‘I think one of the main rea­sons that I can adapt is that I do a lot of mo­tocross train­ing. In mo­tocross you can ride the same cir­cuit all the time, but from the first run of the day to the last run of the day it’s al­ways a dif­fer­ent cir­cuit. I mean, ev­ery lap is dif­fer­ent, so you need to adapt! When you ride in the morn­ing, maybe, it’s wet, so there’s more grip, then later in the day there’s less grip. It’s the same with dirt-track bikes: if you train with dirt-track bikes, it’s dif­fer­ent ev­ery time.

‘If I didn’t do this, I don’t think I could save so many front slides. I started dirt track and mo­tocross when I was five years old. With dirt track and es­pe­cially mo­tocross, maybe, you can save three or four crashes in one lap. And if you do crash, it’s all right be­cause you just pick up the bike and con­tinue and then you can find the limit.’

One rid­ing tech­nique is no longer enough ‘The level of Mo­toGP is so high now that you need to use dif­fer­ent rid­ing tech­niques ac­cord­ing to the lay­out of each cor­ner. In some cor­ners the best way is to brake very, very deep, then stop the bike and go. In other cor­ners you try to keep more cor­ner speed. It also de­pends on the tyres. For ex­am­ple, at Le Mans I was able to be ag­gres­sive all week­end be­cause the tyres didn’t drop in per­for­mance af­ter I’d rid­den some laps. But at Mugello [where he crashed out of the race] I checked the al­lo­ca­tion be­fore prac­tice and I could al­ready see that the front tyres were quite soft, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to push as hard as I wanted, so my rid­ing style wasn’t the same as it was at Le Mans, be­cause the tyres would not ac­cept that.’ Why all the rid­ers are so equal now

‘Ev­ery week­end each bike and each rider can, maybe, find the best op­tion in the tyre al­lo­ca­tion; so, maybe, one week­end is bet­ter for one man­u­fac­turer and an­other week­end is bet­ter for an­other man­u­fac­turer. With the Bridge­stones we nearly al­ways raced with the medium front and the soft rear, so ev­ery­body was us­ing the same tyres. Now we all have a lot of op­tions. Like at Jerez, some chose the soft rear, some went with the medium and some with the hard, and ev­ery­body was fast! This is one of the good things with the Miche­lins.

Work­ing with the Bridge­stones was eas­ier, but the good thing with the Miche­lins is that, maybe, one tyre can save your week­end. Maybe, you are strug­gling with the bike and ev­ery­thing, but be­fore you get an­gry, you need to un­der­stand all the tyre op­tions, be­cause if you have a prob­lem then, maybe, you can find one good op­tion and then your bike is work­ing much bet­ter than the other bikes.’

how My Fo­cus Changes from Prac­tice to the race

‘In a race I’m much more con­cen­trated than in free prac­tice. Of course, in free prac­tice you are con­cen­trated and you are try­ing to be fast, but you are rid­ing the bike think­ing about the set-up: all right, now we should try this or we should try that… but you for­get, maybe, the en­try of the cor­ner or some­thing! But when you are rac­ing on Sun­day, you just con­cen­trate like this: be fast and don’t crash; you don’t con­cen­trate on the set-up of the bike,

‘Al­ways the feel­ing is nat­u­ral. I think it’s the same for all the rid­ers. Peo­ple ask me how I brake with the rear or with the front, how I down­shift the gears, how I pick up the bike, but it’s all nat­u­ral, you just do it.’

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