Sixty-five laps at Portimao to be sure that the eye problems are behind him and to start over in the best possible way with winter tests before joining the fray. Finally, Marc Marquez's path seems to be going downhill while that of his opponents in the opposite direction.
Since his crash at Jerez in 2020, many things have changed in MotoGP and the grid has undergone a major rejuvenation. After Lorenzo, Valentino and Crutchlow retired, Dovizioso took a sabbatical and then returned, new and younger riders have emerged. It’s the generational change about which so much has been written and which is represented by the last two titles of Mir and Quartararo, the tip of the iceberg which also includes Morbidelli and Bagnaia, the runners-up to the aforementioned, and Martin, Bastianini, Oliveira, Binder (Brad), as we wait to see what Fernandez, Gardner, Bezzecchi and Di Giannantonio, this year's rookies, are capable of.
Usually, the script foresees that the young ‘gun’ defeats the 'old timer’ (if Marc, who has yet to turn 29, can be defined that way ...) and steals his crown. Because of Marquez's physical problems this didn’t happen and the real challenge might only be seen this year.
Quartararo had to deal with the rider from Cervera in 2019, and always came off second best. That year, however, Fabio was making his MotoGP debut and with a satellite bike, the Frenchman has improved a lot in the meantime and with Marc on the track he will be able to understand exactly how much.
The only rider of the new generation to have come face to face with Marquez and to have prevailed was Bagnaia. At Aragon Pecco understood how dangerous even a wounded lion can be, but on that occasion he was able to tame it. Even at Misano (in the second GP) he had the Honda rider breathing down his neck, managing the pressure as best he could until the crash.
For everyone else, fighting with Marquez will be a totally new and very important test. It might also be true that the #1 is on Quartararo's bike and according to an unwritten law he will be the man to beat, but with Marc on the track, everything changes. He has been the real dominator in the last few years, a rider who has had to deal with big shots like Lorenzo, Rossi, Pedrosa, Dovizioso and has learned a lot from each of them, to the point of becoming unbeatable. Speed, cunning, strategy are all qualities that Marc is not lacking in and to beat him, especially over the long distance of a championship, you have to be perfect.
Often doubts have arisen about the real quality of the new generation, precisely because the yardstick with which to compare it was lacking. Now that he's back, we will surely have all the answers.
Everyone will want to beat Marquez and he will want to prove that he hasn't lost any of his lustre, that he has left his throne unguarded and he wants to take it back by force. It's an arm wrestling match between Marc and the rest of the world that seems unrivalled only for those who do not know the Spanish rider. Provided, of course, that his physical condition is perfect and that Honda finally gives him a less complicated bike, with which he is not forced to constantly transcend the limit.
All the others will have to get their act together if they want to beat Marc. It only takes a few words to write it, but to do it they’re going to need a whole season.