The Rookie Marc Marquez has done what no other rider has done before. Such a bold statement would typically be theatrical hyperbole, meant to inflate the ego or importance of the subject, to dramaticize some minor accomplishment to add drama that entices the viewership. For Spain's fast rising star, however, this could not be further from the truth. Under the glaring heat of the Texas sky, Marquez officially stamped his name into the MotoGP history books not once but twice in the same weekend. First he tackled a record that has stood since the great Freddie Spencer graced the track when, despite an early fall in practice, he became the youngest rider to achieve a pole position in the premiere class. The celebration was short lived however, with race day looming mere hours away and Marquez's closest rival on identical equipment. Bolstered by the youngster's stunning performance at Texas to date, the team set about putting together the best package possible to complete the weekend. The race itself could not have gone better without a professional script for entertainment and perhaps a couple of Blockbuster stars. From pole position Marquez lost the lead early and fell behind Pedrosa into second. Then, in an eerie repeat of a scene played out beneath the Qatari lights the GP rookie stalked his teammate over several laps. Ever threatening but never demanding, Marquez shadowed the veteran until mid-way through the race when he quite simply made the pass and never looked back through to the checkered flag. That win shattered the second record from Fast Freddie, putting Marquez as the youngest rider to ever win a MotoGP race. This is the emotional high the will buoy him up through the Jerez weekend against three of the series' strongest riders.
The Veteran For the second race in succession Dani Pedrosa has lost a position to his teammate. This is without doubt a burr in his proverbial paw, but the most damning pattern to form as been his seeming inability to mount a meaningful response to the threat from his teammate on the track. Racing at its best, from the perspective of the viewership, is reliant on passes after all and the drama between two riders fighting for position. As such there is certainly no shame in relegation for a position. Marquez himself has been passed by two of the greats already so early in his career, as both Pedrosa and Rossi have stormed past him at one point or other in both of the opening races to the 2013 season. The difference between them, however, is that while Marquez has been able to to fight back and reclaim his position to the point of engaging in battle with Rossi at Qatar, Pedrosa has simply not been able to respond in a decisive way. This is not to say that he doesn't try. In Austin he hounded the ascendant Marquez for lap after lap, often time hovering mere inches from the Respol pilot's diminutive tail piece. The result that time, and everytime, is the same. Yet Pedrosa is far from a wide eyed novice in the paddock. He knows that the season is a long one and that despite a slow start he will have plenty of chances to claw back an advantage over his rivals. Patience is a virtue after all, and in 2012 it almost netted Pedrosa the title. Jerez may be the track where he is able to mount his 2013 challenge in earnest.
The Champion Every great rider has a style of their own. In superbikes Ben Spies had an elbows out chicken wing style that served him well. Rossi has a dangling leg trick that everyone hasn't quite figured out but yet but has become popular amidst the classes. Casey Stoner had a wild, almost frantic style that allowed him to get even the Honda loose on the tarmac. Lorenzo has an internal gyroscope that enforces a seemingly impossible balance over race distance. It is rare to see the reigning champion's bike out of sorts, a notable exception being a particularly wet Sepang in 2012. Monsoon season aside, the track may as well have a painted line for all that Lorenzo deviates. The result is that Lorenzo may not always win, but he manages to consolidate position and maximize his points score each weekend. As the series enters its third round Lorenzo finds himself once again at the head of the points table despite a dominant weekend in Austin by the factory Honda squad. Still, this weekend will be one of the most hotly contested races of the season, Jerez being the home venue for all 3 of the current top riders in the class. While Lorenzo tries to remain stoic and focus on his championship aspirations there is a level of national price at stake. The two-time champion will need to keep his wits about him in the face of a boisterous newbie and a wily veteran looking to shore up his position on the Repsol squad.