You only need to glance at Marc Marquez’s race results to recognise his flawlessness on a MotoGP bike when the points are handed out, but there is no denying it requires him to push – and occasionally overstep – the limit in order to get there.

Indeed, while Marquez finished all but one race inside the top two during a dominant season in 2019, he still ended the year with the fourth highest number of crashes behind only Johann Zarco, Jack Miller and Pecco Bagnaia.

Hitting the deck on 14 occasions, only one of those – at COTA – came on a Sunday afternoon with the rest occurring during free practice sessions or qualifying.

It has become a regular trope in Marquez’s armoury to find his maximum when it matters less in the run up to the races, as demonstrated by his similarly alarming tallies of 2017 and 2018 – both title-winning years – where he fell 27 and 24 times respectively. That amounts to 65 accidents across 56 events, 27 of which he has nonetheless won.

For Marquez though, the strategy to ride on the edge – which he calls ‘risk and reward’ - in order for him dial it back into a manageable but rapid pace is one that arguably sets him apart from his rivals.

“The balance between risk and reward is difficult,” he told DAZN. “Without risk there are no rewards and if you want a reward greater than that of others you have to risk more. Looking for the limit is my DNA.

Marquez also says the regularity of his falls has allowed him to ‘train’ himself into the art of crashing to avoid injury.

“Falling is never a good thing, but having experience helps. When it happens, I tighten my body and my shoulders, I prepare myself for the fall, trying to arrive by sliding on the gravel with my feet up. You can’t train to fall, but you fall a lot you end up half-trained.”

It’s not a fool-proof strategy though as shown by the fact he has needed to undergo surgery on each shoulder during the last two winter periods as a result of crashes – both during race weekends and testing – raising the concern he won’t always be so lucky when he comes off.

However, there is only one occasion Marquez has felt affected by an accident, that being his 280km/h accident during the 2013 Italian MotoGP. The Spaniard crashed at the end of the Mugello home straight when he got it wrong under braking and had to throw himself off the Repsol Honda to avoid connecting with the wall.

“In a few tenths of a second, I decided to jump off the bike, luckily I did. It was the only time I went off the track on a stretcher and also the only time I was afraid.

“I was afraid because I was conscious and I knew something very serious could happen to me. That fall affected me all weekend, I could not pass the same point to the maximum but luckily I forgot about it in the race.”

 

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