If Marc Marquez is feeling the massive pressure of becoming the first rookie in 35 years to win the MotoGP World Championship, he is not showing it.
After blasting his way to a ninth pole position for the season in front of a euphoric, near-capacity crowd at Valencia, he breezily explained his mindset for Sunday’s title showdown.
Marquez has been in this situation before, albeit not with the intensity and pressure of the premier class title at stake.
Three years ago in 2010, Marquez won the 125cc world championship by finishing fourth in the championship deciding race at Valencia.
If he does the same tomorrow, a seemingly easy task given his fast and nerveless pace, then he will be MotoGP World Champion even if his great rival Jorge Lorenzo wins the 30-lap race.
Marquez says he has had little difficulty handling the enormous expectation surrounding his title aspirations.
“Normally with the pressure I feel quite good and in 2010 here I was in the same situation for the 125 title and I managed it quite well,” Marquez said.
“For sure MotoGP is more difficult but now three years later I also have more experience so I feel quite good; I have had a good weekend so far.
“But the most important day is Sunday so I must concentrate like I have until now.”
Mistake free in practice and qualifying, Marquez has been scarily on the limit, but that’s the way he rides.
“My plan is to be the same Marc as always, that is the best way to maintain focus and concentration,” he said.
And win or lose, he is not carrying any mental baggage into the race having put aside the nightmare of the recent Phillip Island race when he was black-flagged for a tire rule infringement and threw away at least 20 points to Lorenzo.
“I haven’t thought about that because also I could think about Mugello and what happened there with two laps to go, I was alone and I crashed, it was my mistake.” Marquez added.
“Everybody is human, everybody can make a mistake.”
That crash in the Italian GP was a rare blemish in a stellar rookie season filled with blinding speed and consistency. That Mugello incident was Marquez’s only Sunday riding error that has seen him on the podium in 15 out of 17 races. Lorenzo has been on the podium 13 out of 17 races despite his higher number of wins.
If Marquez has a small weakness it is his starts, which have forced him to come from behind many times this season with some breathtaking overtaking moves.
Timely to recall that in the Moto2 race at Valencia just 12 months prior, Marquez started from the rear of the grid and won the race with nerveless display.
And he is unconcerned that he will be tagged off the start line on Sunday by a squadron of fast Yamaha riders with four of them qualifying in the top six across the first two rows of the grid.
Lorenzo is off position two with Valentino Rossi in fourth, Cal Crutchlow in fifth and Bradley Smith sixth, all capable of slick starts and perhaps mixing it up early with Marquez with Lorenzo grabbing his trademark early lead.
Marquez’s Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa, out of title contention, starts from third on the grid and may yet be an influential wingman for Marquez.
“I always try to do a good start but for some reason it is not my strongest point so I will try to at least do a better start than those guys,” Marquez said.
“I know that Bradley does good starts and also Jorge and Dani so if in the first or second corner I can be in third, it will be OK.”