That’s the opinion of the Frenchman’s former rival Danilo Petrucci, whose own MotoGP career began in 2012, when the top six places of the premier-class standings were filled by Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Stoner, Andrea Dovizioso, Alvaro Bautista and Rossi.

Marquez took MotoGP by storm the following season, joining Repsol Honda on the bike vacated by Stoner and kicking off a new era by winning six titles over the next seven years.

That run was brought to an abrupt end by Marquez’s right-arm fracture and resulting complications at Jerez 2020.

On paper, Petrucci’s factory Ducati team-mate Andrea Dovizioso should have been the favourite to take over Marquez’s crown that season, having been title runner-up to the Spaniard for the previous three years.

Danilo Petrucci EXCLUSIVE! Feature-length interview | Crash.Net MotoGP 2022

Instead, while Dovizioso and Petrucci battled with the revised rear tyre construction, a new wave of young guns led by Quartararo and eventual champion Joan Mir (Suzuki) picked up the baton.

Both had joined the MotoGP class, alongside Francesco Bagnaia and Miguel Oliveira, in what would prove to be a stellar 2019 rookie intake. All four have gone on to win MotoGP races and two of them, Mir (2020) and Quartararo (2021), the World Championship.

Currently on course for a second premier-class crown, Quartararo holds a 21-point lead over nearest rival Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) heading into the summer break.

But it’s also the level of dominance over his fellow Yamaha riders that is putting Quartararo’s name up amongst the very best the sport has seen since the switch to four-strokes in 2002.

There’s certainly growing evidence to back up the claim that Quartararo will be the long-awaited next ‘alien’.

Not only is he the only Yamaha rider to have won a MotoGP race since Qatar 2020, but the next closest M1 rider in the world championship standings, factory team-mate Franco Morbidelli, is just 19th with 25 points vs 172 for Quartararo.

Likewise, while Quartararo has taken three wins and six podiums the next-best finish for a Yamaha this season is seventh by Morbidelli in the Mandalika rain, or 11th in the dry by Andrea Dovizioso at Portimao - where Quartararo finished 29s ahead for his first win of the year.

“Fabio is a really, really nice guy and I think he is showing especially this year that he is the only one that can ride the Yamaha in this way, winning all these races, despite having such a big [top speed] gap on the straights,” Petrucci told Crash.net.

“Because if you see also the Mugello race he was really fast in the corners but was missing a lot on the straight, but he's still leading the championship and is always there.

“I think he will become one of the best champions in MotoGP, like Rossi, Stoner, Lorenzo, Marquez - and also Pedrosa, who never won a championship but deserved one for all the races he won [31].

“I think Fabio will win a lot.”

Petrucci: When I was in my best shape, so was Marquez!

Repeated problems with his right arm, plus two episodes of diplopia, mean Marquez has not completed a full MotoGP season since 2019.

“I think, and I sincerely hope, that Marc can be the same Marc,” Petrucci said of the Spanish star, currently recovering from a fourth operation on his right arm.

The year before his fateful Jerez arm injury, Marquez romped to a new MotoGP points record of 420, winning 12 of the 19 rounds, finishing second in six other races and only crashing out in COTA due to a technical issue.

One of those second places came at the hands of Petrucci, newly promoted to the Factory Ducati team, who put a memorable double pass on Marquez and Dovizioso to snatch an emotional debut home win at Mugello.

“Unfortunately, when I was in my best shape, I found Marquez and his Honda in their best shape!” smiled Petrucci, who as a satellite Pramac rider had finished second to Marquez at Misano 2017 and Le Mans 2018, plus runner-up to Rossi at Silverstone 2015 and Assen 2017.

The Italian, currently embroiled in a thrilling title fight as a ‘rookie’ for the MotoAmerica crown, then added a second MotoGP win while Marquez was still sidelined at Le Mans 2020.

The #93 returned to MotoGP action in early 2021, ended Honda’s long victory drought at the Sachsenring, and by late-Autumn was consistently taking the fight to title contenders Quartararo and Bagnaia.

MotoGP seemed poised for the tantalising prospect of the rising stars vs the sport’s long-time king. But it was put on pause by diplopia in late 2021, then RCV handling difficulties, more double-vision problems and the ongoing arm mobility issues this season.

“I would like to see Marquez [back to his best] against Fabio and Bagnaia and all these riders that are now leading the championship. Also Mir, who I think needs to find himself again. I think they are really, really such incredible talents,” Petrucci said.

It’s also not lost on Petrucci, who left MotoGP after a disappointing campaign for Tech3 KTM in 2021, that many of the new stars have been inspired by Marquez’s riding style.

“I think now there are some riders that have Marquez as a ‘target’ for how to ride. Martin is riding really similar, Bastianini is riding really similar to what Marquez was doing,” Petrucci said.

“If you see their riding style it’s much more similar to Marquez than the riders from 10 years ago.

“For example [Aleix] Espargaro’s style is way different compared to Quartararo and Martin, who are just moving on the bike really differently and they're really, really fast in the change of direction.

“It’s really nice to watch and I think they are the future of MotoGP.”

Petrucci: Electric bikes? I still remember the sound of Kevin Schwantz’s RGV500

Looking to the longer-term future of the sport, MotoE has received a boost in prestige with the news that Ducati will take over as supplier of the electric-bike FIM Cup from 2023.

For Petrucci, who spent six years with Ducati in MotoGP and has returned to the manufacturer for MotoAmerica this season, there’s one big thing missing from electric race bikes – the sound.

“I hope that for me racing with electric bikes is still far away, because one of the things that helps you fall in love with the bikes is the sound,” he said.

“When you hear a MotoGP bike, when you hear the sound before the bike even arrives, it's something that you cannot forget.

“I remember when I was four years old, my father just pulled me out of the box and I heard the RGV500 of Schwantz, I still can feel the sound of the bike warming up. It was absolutely incredible. The sound is something that you cannot buy or you cannot compare.”

But outside of world championship road racing, the sound of revving motorcycles is causing major problems, particularly for dirt bikes, which are traditionally the entry point into two-wheeled motorsport.

“I'm following electric bikes, dirt bikes especially, because where I live in Italy, and also I think it’s the same in Great Britain, every day it’s becoming more difficult to have tracks,” Petrucci said.

“So having electric bikes that have no sound, no emissions can help to ride the bikes also near the cities or near houses.”

Petrucci revealed that noise from petrol engines has also been the main obstacle preventing him from setting up a track where youngsters can try out motorcycling.

“I would like to build a track or something for the children, to at least have a try. The format is like the one for fishing, where you rent everything and can spend an afternoon having fun,” he said.

“I would like to do the same with small bikes, giving an opportunity for a child to ride. But in my area, in the middle of Italy, every hill has a church and it is full of people.

“For me, the problem is not how to build it, but where.

“Because the noise is something that people don't like and it's been 10 years that I'm facing this problem. We’ve tried hard but in the end people are not really friendly with the noise, the [two-stroke] smoke and everything.

“I think we are at the beginning with electric bikes, but also from what I understood at the Dakar, I think in a few years all vehicles will be low emissions.

“So although at the moment I don't like electric, because they are generally slow and heavy, there are some dirt bikes that are on the level of a normal [combustion] engine. Sincerely I would like to try them, the Stark [VARG] is one of them.”