During the Valencia season finale, Crash.net's
Stephen English had the chance to sit down with MotoGP's official statistician Dr Martin Raines.
What had been planned as a five minute chat about Marc Marquez' rookie season became much more wide ranging, with Raines comparing the current crop of riders to those of previous eras as well as looking at the health of British motorcycle racing...
What have you thought about Marc's performance this year?
I think that Marc has been sensational and has exceeded all of our expectations as a rider. It's always been difficult for riders in their first year - even Jorge, Valentino and Dani found it difficult when they came up to the top class - but I think that he's been absolutely superb.
He's a sensation and a really talented guy. I think that he's been a little fortunate at times because he's crashed quite a lot but he's managed to get away with most of them. I think that he's crashed 13 times and walked away from them. Jorge has crashed three times and damaged himself. So Marc was a little fortunate in that way but as a rider he's certainly one of the fastest that I've ever seen and he's the quickest rookie I've seen.
Given his age and his status as a rookie he'll always be compared to Freddie Spencer and Kenny Roberts. Where do you think he falls between those names?
We compare him to Roberts because he's a rookie but Kenny was no youngster when he was a rookie. He was perhaps 27 when he arrived and a really experienced road racer and dirt tracker and he had a great crew with him and he arrived at a time when the strength in depth wasn't quite what it is now. But he did fantastic because he was coming to new circuits so that was a phenomenal year when he came and beat Barry Sheene... I wasn't happy because I was a big Sheene fan!
It was a great achievement what he did because he had only one bike I think and he was also the only one racing Goodyear tyres at that stage, we don't know if that was an advantage or a disadvantage though because he was the only guy using them. But he made the most of any advantage he had and was superb against Barry Sheene who had dominated the previous two years and won the title as a rookie.
Freddie [Spencer] is the other one. Freddie for me, up to Casey [Stoner] in the last few years and maybe Marc now, is the fastest guy that I've ever seen on a motorcycle. On an individual race at his best I think that he could have beaten anyone that I've seen. I'm not going back to the Mike Hailwood's because I didn't see those guys so I'm going back to the early 1970s. I think that the accomplishment that Freddie did you can compare Marc to but you also can't compare them.
Freddie arrived having not been in this paddock and not knowing the circuits and in his first year he goes to somewhere really scary, Spa-Francorchamps, and wins first time out as a 20 year old. In his second year he beats Kenny Roberts
who was a great rider with six years' experience but Freddie comes along with a three cylinder Honda, that probably didn't have a lot of advantages over Kenny's Yamaha, and won the title.