Senior Honda management have praised Marc Marquez’s ice cool temperament after the Spaniard’s record-breaking rookie season in the MotoGP world championship.
Marquez became the first rookie to win the premier class title since 1978 with a series of scintillating performances that took him to 16 podium finishes in 18 races, including six wins.
But it was his unflappable mental strength in dealing with difficult and demanding situations that have also drawn praise from those close to the 20-year-old, who beat Yamaha rival Jorge Lorenzo by just four-points after a nail-biting final round decider in Valencia last month.
The biggest test of Marquez’s famed bulletproof mental strength came during October’s Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island.
Marquez went into the Australian clash with a commanding 43-point lead over Lorenzo and he could have wrapped a historic crown at Phillip Island had results gone his way.
But instead he endured a disaster after an embarrassing howler by HRC that resulted him being black-flagged for missing a mandatory pit stop.
Major tyre issues dominated the Phillip Island weekend for official supplier Bridgestone, with a new grippy surface destroying slick tyres within a handful of laps.
With concerns over safety, Bridgestone and Dorna agreed to implement an unprecedented pit stop in a race already shortened because of the endurance issues.
The solution meant each rider had to pit at the end of lap nine or 10 but after an inexcusable counting error, Marquez missed the window to pit and was subsequently black-flagged and disqualified.
And HRC Vice-President Shuhei Nakamoto said it was the way that Marquez reacted to such a crushing blow that impressed him so much.
Nakamoto told MCN: “When we made a big mistake in Australia normal people would become very angry, shouting and start bashing the team. But Marc was the opposite. Already on Sunday night we all had dinner together and he was laughing and trying to keep everyone relaxed.
"He was already looking ahead to the Motegi and Valencia races and this is a very special part of his character. It looked like he is leading his team.
"I was surprised because he is only a 20-year-old boy. I was so surprised by this. If he was 25 or 28 then OK, but he is still only 20. Already he has developed some leadership qualities and this is very impressive."
Emilio Alzamora, who has been a constant companion to Marquez throughout his incredible racing career since he was 12, said Marquez’s ability to shrug off adverse circumstances was a key asset.
Alzamora, who was a pivotal figure in the lap counting error in Australia, told MCN: “The key point of Marc is when something goes wrong he talks with the guys and he understands that it is not possible to repair the situation and that the most intelligent thing to do is move forward in a positive way and believe you can still win.
"Marc is not just the rider. He is the leader of the group. You can have big budgets and great engineers but it is important to have a rider with the character to be a leader.
"Marc knows there are moments when he will be angry but he also has the intelligence to know that once the mistake has been made and cannot be repaired then you must move on."