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Marc Marquez: MotoGP’s best ever rookie?

Note: The data below, including the age and championship position is that of the rider just after the ninth race of their respective rookie seasons in the premier 500cc/MotoGP class. For the sake of comparison, the current point scoring system has been used calculate each rider's total score after nine races. Riders are ranked by the number of points scored...

1. Marc Marquez – 2013 – 20 years and 153 days old
Championship position: 1st
Number of points (on current point scoring system): 163
Number of race wins: 3
Number of podiums: 8
Number of pole positions: 3
% of races finished on podium: 88
% of races won: 33
Riders battling for championship: Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Rossi, Crutchlow.

Marquez astonished with his speed and style throughout pre-season and has been a consistent podium challenger since Qatar. He has shown an incredible toughness and ability to bounce back after massive practice falls in Mugello and Assen and took full advantage of Lorenzo and Pedrosa's mistakes to overhaul them in the championship.

2. Max Biaggi – 1998 – 27 years and 21 days old
Championship position: 2nd
Number of points: 148
Number of race wins: 1
Number of podiums: 6
Number of pole positions: 2
% of races finished on podium: 66
% of races won: 11
Riders battling for championship: Doohan, Criville.

After Mick Doohan eased to the most dominant season in the history of the 500cc class in 1997 the addition of four-time 250 champion Biaggi added some much needed spice for 1998.

After breaking lap records throughout pre-season, Biaggi became only the second rider in history to win his first premier class race after Jarno Saarinen. He eclipsed the field at the first round at Suzuka while Doohan was left floundering.

With his NSR being prepped by Erv Kanemoto, Biaggi's silky smooth style was aided by the class' switch to unleaded fuel, which Doohan claimed took the edge of the 500's vicious power band and made the bikes more like 'a big 250.'

Nonetheless Biaggi managed to set a new record of finishing each of his first four races on the podium and was never outside the top six in nine attempts. Although a lone marshal in Catalunya eventually halted his challenge to Doohan's dominance, Biaggi's reignited excitement to a class, which had been on the wane. The explosive start was at odds to his whimpering goodbye to the class in 2005.

3. Kenny Roberts Senior – 1978 – 25 years and 211 days old
Championship position: 1st
Number of points: 144
Number of race wins: 3
Number of podiums: 7
Number of pole positions: 2
% of races finished on podium: 77
% of races won: 33
Riders battling for championship: Sheene.

At the 1974 Daytona 200 Kenny Roberts labelled himself the real world champion in a conversation with Giacomo Agostini, “Because the world is America, not Europe.”

Clearly the Californian wasn't afraid of ruffling the feathers of the established European hierarchy and quickly set about dismantling it when he debuted the world championship in 1978. Although he was at first hesitant to travel to Europe while dominating the national scene he later said his mind was made up after '77 champion Sheene labelled him “no threat” to his crown.

Yamaha's full factory might was reserved for Johnny Cecotto but Roberts, aided by American Yamaha's support and crew chief Kel Carruthers' know how, rode brilliantly all year finishing six of the first seven rounds inside the top two, despite having only one machine for the first nine rounds.

To make matters more impressive he contested the first four rounds of the '78 250 championship, winning twice, as well as the Formula 750 class, learning as much as possible in the short time available.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Marquez, U.S.MotoGP 2013
Rossi, Malaysian MotoGP 2016
Crutchlow, Malaysian MotoGP 2016
Rossi, Malaysian MotoGP 2016
Marquez, Malaysian MotoGP 2016
Marquez, Malaysian MotoGP 2016
Rossi, Malaysian MotoGP 2016
Crutchlow, Malaysian MotoGP 2016
Iannone, Crutchlow, Malaysian MotoGP 2016
Marquez, Rossi, Malaysian MotoGP 2016
Crutchlow, Australian MotoGP 2016
Hayden after crash, Australian MotoGP 2016
Hayden, Australian MotoGP 2016
Hayden, Miller Australian MotoGP 2016
Rossi, Australian MotoGP 2016
Rossi, Australian MotoGP 2016
Bradl, Hayden, Australian MotoGP 2016
Lorenzo, Australian MotoGP 2016

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August 08, 2013 6:01 PM

Not many rookies had a teammate at Pedrosa's level that gave up data and techniques to get the most out of the bike. For example, Lorenzo had 'the wall' so had to do his own thing. There are too many variables to really say who was the best. It will be judged purely on results though, so in that sense yes he could be the best ever rookie. He's an amazing talent there's no doubt about it.


August 08, 2013 1:05 PM

I don't think you can compare his rookie season to any other, the number of competive rides is very low compared to most of those other riders rookie years, except maybe Jorge's, but the grid state has gotten even worse since then

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