By Stephen English
Marc Marquez has taken MotoGP by storm in 2013 with a series of superb performances - including becoming the youngest ever premier-class race winner - and an extreme riding style.
But it is easy to forget that prior to the start of the season, many expected that Marquez would be fast, but fall too frequently to mount a championship challenge.
Cal Crutchlow however has consistently beaten a drum that Marquez would be a MotoGP challenger from the outset, commenting last season that: “Marquez's [Moto2] bike is worse than [Pol] Espargaro's. There is no other Suter up there and no one else can do what he does on that bike."
A third of the way through his rookie premier-class campaign and Marquez has risen even higher in Crutchlow's opinion, the Englishman stating: "Marquez is the best rider in the world at the moment."
Crutchlow recently explained why he feels Marquez is such a special rider.
"You only see a rider like Marc Marquez come along every 15 years and the one before that was Valentino [Rossi]," said Crutchlow. "It's as simple as that. He's fast and he's tough to beat...
"Look at Mugello [when Marquez ran off track and fell along the main straight] no one else would have thought to have leaned the bike over, put the bike between himself and the wall.
“He's just clever. He's just like when you drop a cat and it always lands on its feet. It's like that and it's unbelievable. But that's his forte."
Crutchlow also recalled a discussion with a suspension engineer from 2008.
"I remember one guy at Showa when I worked with him as a factory Honda [BSB] rider and I asked him 'who's the best guy you ever worked with?' He'd worked with Valentino, Colin and Max and lots of guys at the Suzuka 8 Hours and different things.
“He said 'Marc Marquez' who was only 14 or 15 at the time. He said he was by far the best, and gave the best feedback."
Marquez's only race mistake so far this season was to slide out of second position late in the Italian Grand Prix. The 20-year-old has finished on the podium in all other events to hold third in the early championship standings.