After Marc Marquez claimed a sensational debut win in Laguna Seca last month, Italian legend Valentino Rossi reckons the gifted Spaniard has the potential to become one of the all-time greats in MotoGP history.
“He has all the potential to become the greatest of all time and to win more than me because he is very talented with great skills and he is also very young. It is very early to say but 100% he has the possibility to do that, “said Rossi, who has won nine world titles and 106 races.
So what do three of the biggest names from the past, who have already been afforded legendary status, think of Marquez?
MCN grabbed Kenny Roberts, Kevin Schwantz and Wayne Rainey for their impressions after they witnessed the Repsol Honda rider in action for the first time on a MotoGP bike in California last month.
Here’s what they told us.
Roberts was the last rider in history to capture the MotoGP crown in his first attempt when he took the world championship by storm back in 1978.
He thinks his long-standing record could be ended in 2013 and he told MCN: “Marc has lit it up and it has been fantastic. He’s got a lot of corner speed and a lot of lean angle and I had my doubts at the beginning because it is hard to stay on top of that. At the lean angle these guys are achieving and the bikes they have to ride it can spit you off over a house a few times and you always have that at the back of your mind.
To go at that angle and to turn the throttle at that angle and have no second guessing at all is impressive. If he makes it through the season the way he is going at the moment he will win it. Marc for me could be a game changer. I’m a little but surprised that he has not been over the top more with the lean angle he carries. But there are no bad thoughts in his mind.”
Schwantz believes Marquez is riding high on confidence and he said: “He just seems like a kid that is brimming with confidence and that’s what you have got to have, especially coming to a place like Laguna Seca that he probably only played on a video game. But that doesn’t prepare you for what the drop in the Corkscrew is like and what the camber on all the corners is like. Marquez just seems to be a kid that takes each lap at a time.
I don’t think he is thinking about the championship or what it is going to be like at the next race. He is just dealing with what is right in front of him and that to me is what’s pretty unique about him. And his crazy lean angles, that’s just sheer bravery. I used to think I was 10ft tall and bulletproof when I raced and I learned pretty quick I wasn’t, so I think its just a young kid who has been at the front, won some races and he thinks he can do it every weekend and he hasn’t really proved us wrong.”
Triple 500cc world champion Rainey believes Marquez can become a dominant force in MotoGP for years to come after getting his first chance to observe the Spanish starlet at close quarters in California.
The Yamaha legend said: “Marquez doesn't mind the bike moving around and it is really nice to see that. If the bike doesn't move around how do you what it is going to do? Marc goes fast enough to where the bike moves and I have always thought that is the correct way to do it. You have get the bike moving so you know where it is.
If the bike never moves you are not at the limit. Marc is full of enthusiasm, youth and loads of talent. He really enjoys everything about what he is doing and that makes for a heck of combination. He is the guy of the future and going to be title contender for a long time.
I watched him at Laguna close up for the first time and he is a little more aggressive on the brakes and he tends to use both tyres together more than the other guys. And he relies a lot for his feel of the bike from the electronics. He has good understanding for the artificial feeling from that."