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.’