By Neil Morrison
Whatever happens in the 45-minute race on Sunday afternoon, 2013 will be best remembered for Marc Marquez's astonishing speed throughout his rookie MotoGP year.
With six wins, 15 podiums, eight pole positions and eleven fastest laps his first campaign has exceeded the expectations of almost everyone, including his own.
As he said after his second placed finish in Motegi, “We cannot forget that it's my first season and that [the championship] was not the target.”
Marquez heads to Valencia, a circuit he won at in 2012 after starting from 33rd on the 11th row of the grid, 13 points clear of nearest challenger and reigning double champion Jorge Lorenzo.
Fourth place would be enough to make Marquez the first rookie champion in the premier class since 1978 and the first in any grand prix class since 2004, even if Lorenzo wins the race.
It's a rare feat - here are six of arguably the most impressive rookie winners in their class in grand prix history.
NB. In order to qualify for this list the rider must have completed no more than one grand prix in the category prior to the beginning of their victorious campaign.
John Surtees – 1956 500cc World Championship
1956 saw a changing of the guard in the motorcycle racing world. The domineering presence of Geoff Duke had won all before him in the early fifties, firstly aboard a Norton and then a Gilera, but he was all-too aware of a new figure emerging from the British scene.
John Surtees made a name for himself by rivalling Duke on the national circuit in 1953 and '54, with one local journalist famously dubbing him 'The man who made Duke hurry.' By 1956, having won his first grand prix at the previous season's round in Ulster, Surtees was top of many team's wish lists. He turned down offers to ride for BMW and Norton to sign for Count Domenico Agusta's team to spearhead their 500 and 350 efforts.
Taught to build and rebuild the engines of his own bikes by his father at a young age, Surtees' staunch work ethic was complimented by a natural mechanical know-how. Even Count Agusta was impressed with the 21-year old after he first tested MV's four cylinder 500. “Surtees rode like a veteran…as if he had known the machine for ages,” he told the British press.