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MotoGP, Marquez: "You have to be selfish and want the best, which for me was the red Ducati"

"To get it you have to play all the cards, but the one that weighs most is the track. I'm in Ducati thanks to Dall'Igna, he has made everything he touched win. Bagnaia? I haven't heard from him, but in the box calm must reign, the war is only on the track. The 9th title? first I'm thinking about the victory. Acosta? I see myself in him, he will leave his mark."

MotoGP: Marquez:

In the aftermath of the signing that marked the number 93's move to the official Ducati team for the next two years, the eight-time world champion indulged in a lengthy interview on the "El Larguero" program, in the company of our AS colleague Mela Chercoles. The Spaniard has many weighty reflections on the resounding market coup.

You look tired.
"Yesterday I struggled to sleep a bit ," Marc began, "and today was a long day, with the phone calls for the signing. And we've also been training. You can't waste time."

Did you know the announcement would come this morning?
"I don't know if I can say it, but this morning at eight o'clock I signed the contract. The agreement is already for two years, with Ducati, with the bike that wins. Right now there is no faster bike. In the last race, the first four were Ducati."

What is the difference between the GP23 and the GP24?
"In terms of lap times it is very relative. Neither the engineers nor the riders can say exactly. Half a second? No, not that much. From one year to the next you improve by two tenths a lap, which is equivalent to four seconds in the race, which is a lot, but it's all very relative."

Next year you will have no excuses, will you fight for the title?
"Next year we will have to fight for the title. Last year I made a very important decision that was to leave Repsol Honda, the team of my whole life, I did it with a heavy emotional load, to give priority to my sporting career that is to look for results. When there are results, there is motivation. You have to have courage and desire when you take on such an important challenge, I would have gotten on the best bike, the bike that wins, and seen what would happen. I would have been exposed to everything, the criticism, the flattery, everything that could have happened, but I wanted to do it because I saw that otherwise my career would have been different. I was injured for four years, with no results, and it was difficult to maintain motivation, and especially confidence. I put a plan in my head, a strategy, and it's going very well."

In the race for the Ducati seat Martin was ahead, did you make a comeback in that aspect as well?
"For me, nothing has changed. In our environment nothing has happened. Ducati said they would wait until Mugello to make a decision, that they were undecided because they had two riders and Bastianini, who was also in the equation, and that it was all still to be decided. They said they would base it on the results, on everything in general, because in all sports everything has importance, and they communicated that to me on Sunday night."

Do you think they talked about it with Jorge as well?
"I don't know, I only know what they told me and I was very calm, I gave everything on the track. I had two or three scenarios in my head where I felt comfortable and that, in the Mugello weekend, which was a turning point, worked well for me."

Martin had proposed that the seat should go to the winner between the two of you, why didn't you accept?
"It's simple. One of the reasons, the main one, is that if you have to win on the track you have to have the same weapons, and now I don't have them. But that's not an excuse, and I'm showing that I can be competitive. Another thing is that I was very clear that I would not switch from one satellite team to another. And the third point: sportsmen do not only have sporting contracts, but there are other sponsors who have followed me throughout my career, and a multinational company closes in September for the next two years and cannot wait. It was not feasible to wait."

Martin, however, was convinced that he deserved that seat.
"This is life, this is sport. I'm not happy that a rider was left without the bike he was looking for. In professions, in many cases you have to be selfish, because everyone wants the best, and the best for me was the red Ducati, the one I managed to get, and to get it you have to play all your cards. The card that weighs the most is the track and the Ducati engineers, as they told me, saw my progression with the 2023 bike and that weighed much more than the rest. Then there are also other factors."

Why the no to Pramac Ducati?
"I have always been very clear and never changed my mind. In the first conversations with Ducati I expressed myself in this way. I did not want to go from a satellite team to another satellite team. That's why I stayed in the Gresini family, which gave me the opportunity to rejuvenate myself. If I had to stay in a satellite team I would have stayed with Gresini. The most important thing in a negotiation is to be honest and not change your mind. When you say one thing, you are very clear and you die with it."

Did Bagnaia congratulate you? What do you expect in the box next year?
"No, but the CEO of Ducati (Domenicali, ed.) called me and congratulated me. The box has to be serene. The war, that takes place on the track, but the box has to be calm."

Has Dall'Igna been your big supporter? Why do you think Ducati chose you?
"With Gigi we have always had a very direct and sincere relationship, and I am in Ducati because of Gigi Dall'Igna. He is the engineer who has made everything he touched win. One of the things I say to him when we start talking is, "For me the most important thing on the 25th and 26th is that you are still in Ducati, right? Because otherwise there's no need to even sit down." Why? Because it's about the Racing department. When you are already in the Ducati family you will feel the colours, but you can't do it before. You feel them after, not before you get in, and there you look at the sportiness and the performance of the bike, and I had a very direct relationship with him. According to him, they were guided only by what they saw on the track, with the progression and the ability to improve in the future."

If Dall'Igna had not stayed with Ducati, maybe you would not be in the factory team now?
"It depends. In that case many other things would have been taken into account. Maybe I would have asked him, 'Where are you going? Gigi was very important, the always present conductor, and already in 2017 and 2018 I had contact with him and we were always very direct. In those years I told them not to make me any offers because I was doing well at Honda and I didn't want to play the game of seeing if one gave me more than the other. When I have something clear, I choose what I feel and what I felt now was to be in Ducati."

You said next year you will fight for the title, what about this year?
"At the moment we are working on it (Marc is 35 points behind Martín and 17 behind Bagnaia, ed.). We still have to refine some things. At Le Mans and Montmeló I made a save like Real Madrid, in the 90th minute, I saved and we scored. You save once, twice, but you don't save a World Championship. In that sense Pecco and Martin don't fail in any training session, but we are doing a great job with the Gresini team, making the most of what we have. What we may not be able to make up somewhere, we make up with happiness inside the box."

Do you think that now Martin's move to Aprilia will exclude him from the title race?
"No. Knowing the Ducati group, Gigi and their approach, they have always shown me that they are very honest and you have to earn it on the track. If you get beaten on the track by another rider of a different colour team, you have to wake up. It will be a very long championship, there are still many races and many points up for grabs. Anything can happen."

What is your physical condition now, have you been afraid of crashing again?
"Not fear, but after so many races I had no confidence. There was the insecurity, the stiffness of the body. You are not so loose anymore and things don't work the same way. When you go into body defense mode, you are less loose and it becomes more dangerous because you can't carry your body position well. I had gotten into a loop that I couldn't get out of. Then last summer, and now it will be one year in which I am injury-free, I told myself that I had to change my mindset. I spent the whole second half of last season rebuilding that confidence."

So is it better to have a third place finish than risking an injury to aim for a win?
"An injury or a difficult moment makes you see problems differently. Of course you always want to win, but before finishing third I was sick all night and all week. Now if I finish third or if I crash, I tell myself, 'Don't worry, Monday is another day and in a week and a half there is another race.' That's what I say now at 31, while at 25 I said my body is made for the bike and there is nothing else in life. That doesn't mean I have less ambition. I make the same sacrifices and do the same job, but it is true that this helps you to be more relaxed."

Your 59 MotoGP wins look a lot like Alonso's 32, when will the next one come?
"I believe and trust that the 60th will come this season. When? I don't know, but one of the things I've learned is not to be obsessed, because if you just want to win, there will be a lot of crashes. We are playing our cards, and when you can't, you can't. At Mugello I had a lot of pace, especially in the sprint where I finished second, while in the race it cost me more and I was fourth, but hopefully the win will come soon."

Are you already thinking about a ninth title?
"First we are thinking about the victory, because without victories there are no titles. There are people who have succeeded, like Alzamora, but it is very difficult."

Is the goal to surpass Rossi's nine titles?
"I never had a benchmark number and now I have one even less. This year I said I had to get back to having fun to continue my career, and this goal I have achieved. We have a plan, a strategy. Obviously, there is not just one direction, but two, and that's where, with the ongoing results, you can take one or the other."

In all of this, was there also a way to give Alex a hand in his future?
"There has not been and never will be in my job. My brother is fast enough to have a MotoGP bike on his own, but it is true that I am in Gresini and Ducati because of him. If he had not taken that step, I would probably never ended up in Gresini and Ducati. You have a brother and you see his results and his happiness, and in a way he transmits that atmosphere to you in a positive way. One year it seemed like he wasn't good enough for MotoGP and the next year he was making pole positions, podiums, winning sprint races.... Thanks to him I ended up at Gresini, I'm riding a Ducati and, thanks to him guiding me down this road, I'm going to end up on the factory team. He is fast enough to have a MotoGP bike next year and I hope one of the options for him can be Gresini."

Which MotoGP rider do you admire most and in whom do you see the best future?
"I've always said it: Pedro Acosta. All of them have made their way and are going strong. You can see it with Pecco and Martin, but Pedro Acosta is coming along and doing different things. Right now he still lacks the experience to control all the situations, but he is coming along and doing different things. He can make his mark in MotoGP for a few years."

Do you see yourself in him?
"Yes. When I came to MotoGP I met Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa, and now there is Pedro Acosta, who with patience and calmness will do very well."

If the deal with Ducati had not gone through, was there a possibility of a dream team with Acosta in KTM?
"Out of respect for the other manufacturers, I will not say what my B or C plans were. I was very clear that my number one priority was a Ducati, because I had already made a big change last year and I didn't feel like making another one. I wanted to stay where I was or switch to red. Those were my two options, and I was able to take the one I liked best, the best one."

How did you celebrate the news of the deal with Ducati?
"I wanted to celebrate my contract with what I love most in the world, the bike. For me, on my birthday and on holidays I have to train on the bike."

The smile on your face is emblematic, you now feel like the fastest rider on the fastest bike.
"In today's MotoGP, you have to have the bike. Now other factors have been added to the bike, technical characteristics make the difference, and right now it's 50-50. If you have a very good rider, you can also have a good amount of luck. If you have a very good rider, but the bike doesn't work, you can have results in flashes, but if you want to fight for the title you have to pick the best bike and the best team. And I think I did that."

 

Translated by Julian Thomas

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