With six titles from seven seasons, MotoGP is in the midst of the Marc Marquez era.

But results alone only tell half the story.

Marquez has also changed the way of riding a MotoGP bike, prompting rival Danilo Petrucci to draw comparisons between the Spaniard's reign and that of 'King' Kenny Roberts.

Roberts (world champion in 1978, '79 and 80) is widely credited with introducing the knee-down technique now synonymous with motorcycle racing. Marquez meanwhile has mastered an elbow-down style to tease with the limits of his Honda like no rider before.

Marquez was the first rider since Roberts to win the premier-class crown in his debut campaign, in 2013. Although remaining with Honda (just as Roberts rode only for Yamaha) he has been world champion on the opposing characteristics of Bridgestone and then Michelin tyres.

The last three seasons have seen Petrucci's Ducati team-mate Andrea Dovizioso provide Marquez's main opposition. The Ducati duo also spent the closing stages of 2019 fighting a losing battle against Marquez over the destination of the constructors' championship.

"That's one key to read this year's championship; Marc fighting alone with me and Andrea [for the teams' title]," Petrucci said.

Clinching the riders', teams' and constructors' title almost singlehandedly - on a bike no other rider could win on last season - was another sign of how Marquez has stamped his authority on the sport. The other is the unique and often spectacular riding style that no-one else has yet been able to replicate or overcome.

"Marc always moves the limit forwards," said Petrucci, during an exclusive interview with Crash.net.

"I feel proud to have raced not only with him but also Jorge, Valentino, Dani, Casey. People that I watched on television. Sometimes I could beat them, but I always remain with that feeling that they are really big champions.

"With Marc, for sure we are still not fully recognising that he is changing an era of motorbikes.

"I've read many things about Kenny Roberts, who was the first to touch the ground with the knee, trying to make another way of riding the bike. And Marc is the same. He's really changed the way to ride."

Given the Roberts knee-down comparison, how would Petrucci describe the style that defines the Marquez era?

"For sure his body is always closer to the ground compared to the other riders," the Italian replied.

"I've seen many, many images of him trying to save the bike and he's able to do it only because when he starts to lean the bike, he really becomes one 'piece' of the bike. If you watch the images from the front, he's always the first to touch the ground with the elbow and knee compared to the other riders.

"I'm one of the riders that has his body more out of the bike [in the corners], but he is always ready to pick up the bike when there is a risk of crashing.

"You can try to do [what Marquez's does], but it's not natural. When you are really pushing your limits sometimes you feel the bike crashing and you cannot do anything because by the time you touch the elbow [to save it] the steering has already gone.

"But he is always 10-15cm closer to the ground, so he is quicker to react but especially he is touching the ground with his elbow every time in case he needs to save the bike and especially to be faster in the middle of the corner.

"We saw many, many saves this year and I think it's for that reason.

"Imagine how many times he would crash if he didn't save the bike? Maybe he would not have won the title. It’s incredible how many saves he made."

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It remains to be seen if the Marquez technique can become widely adopted by the next generation of grand prix stars, like the knee down, but youngsters on minibike tracks around the world are no doubt already trying to copy their hero.

And while some current MotoGP competitors might imagine how life would be easier without Marquez's dominating presence, Petrucci is proud that his only win to date came with a narrow victory over the eight-time champion, in last year's home Mugello race.

"Even when you are really, really fast and [Marquez] is maybe in trouble, he always tries to beat you! And sometimes this year I felt, not unlucky [to race against him], but sad, because I was setting the fastest lap time and then he beat me! But that's racing," Petrucci said.

"I am one of the few riders that could beat him for a victory this year and it's good to share the track with a champion that has changed an era of motorbikes, also like Valentino for example.

"But I only lived most of the Valentino era from watching television because when I joined MotoGP in 2012 he was struggling a lot [at Ducati] so I never saw him win a championship when I was on track.

"I always pay a lot of respect to guys like Valentino, Marc, Casey, Dani, Andrea and Jorge because I understand how difficult it is to ride MotoGP bikes, how difficult it is to win a race and so I can only imagine how difficult it is to win a championship.

"I have a big respect for all the riders."

Petrucci will be back on track alongside Marquez for the start of 2020 testing at Sepang in February where, for the second year in succession, the #93 will be making his return from major shoulder surgery.

 

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