Three rounds in the premiere class - that's all it took for Spain's Marc Marquez to become embroiled in controversy that has followed him for so much of his riding career: the aggressive nature of his riding. In Moto2 there were several official complaints lodged against the young star, though fortunately even the most egregious incident did result in the significant injury to any party. With such a colorful history there was much speculation across the Internet regarding how long it would be before Marquez punted a rival off track. For a while it looked like Marquez's bad-boy days on the track were behind him as his racing in the opening rounds showed a much more mature and patient riding style. Battling with Rossi, Pedrosa and Lorenzo in turn over the rounds he seemed much more astute in his race craft, following - even hounding - his opponents before making passes that were always decisive, always very fair and quite often un-matchable. Then this past weekend the oft-spoken question was answered. At his first home race in Spain since advancing to MotoGP the Rookie-Of-The-Year candidate lit a short fuse on the media world by make a last lap-last corner pass on reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo that left the veteran shaking his head off track and the incumbent sailing past the checkered flag in second place. Everone, inside and outside of the paddock, is talking about the move, and inevitable comparisons to similar tactics by other great riders were inevitable. Regardless of which side of the fence you fall on, the fact remains that The Move put Marquez on an emotional and performance high before France that it will be hard to knock him from. For opponents of the young man who has already broken two records in his inaugural season, this may make the difficult task of beating the rising star just one click harder.
Three races of the 2013 season - That is how long it took for Dani Pedrosa to win his first race. For one of the few men to have earned the unofficial title of "alien" within the GP paddock, the importance of the victory should not be underestimated. After nearly a decade as the undisputed lead rider in the Repsol Honda garage, the 2012 off-season presented a unique challenge as he was presented with a teammate who was not only an talented rider but also had at least equal backing by both of the team's major sponsors. Problems seemed to stack on each other once the season got underway, with Pedrosa not only finishing below the rookie Marquez in position but each time doing so after being passed by the newcomer during the race and being unable to recapture the position. Suddenly the not-so-quiet murmurs concerns Pedrosa's future with one of the two strongest teams on the grid became considerably louder. The most evident sign of how much pressure Dani may have been under came as he responded to an article in which former champion Kevin Schwantz was critical of his reliance on some aspects of his support network including long-time manager Alberto Puig. Then under the brilliant Jerez sunshine it all changed and the rider who was runner-up to a close fought race to the championship in 2012 re-emerged. Pedrosa was not the fastest in practice or warmup, but Jerez has been his playground for years and 2013 was no different. Pedrosa took an early lead in the race and set a scorching pace that no-one could match, and then quite simply rocketed off to the finish. The decisive and unequivocal win puts the stamp that Pedrosa is still very much a title contender and force to be reckoned with inMotoGP and set the stage for a rematch in France where he hopes to drive the point home.
Three races of the 2013 season - That is also what it took for Jorge Lorenzo to lose his lead in the championship. The Mallorcan rider had seemed unflappable during practice and qualifying, posting chart topping times despite the oppressive heat that so many complained about. Yet when the lights turned green it all changed. Whether the increasing heat adversely impacted the team's chosen setup or the Honda rider's found something unexpected in theirs the Mallorcan rider found himself in deep waters when the bikes shot away from the line. After a disastrous start that placed him squarely in the sights of his competitors, Lorenzo found himself left behind as championship rival Dani Pedrosa rocketed away for his first win. There was some consolation to second place, as 20 points would have kept Lorenzo in the points lead; alas it was not to be. A second mistake going into the final corner saw Lorenzo make contact with Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez and be pushed off track. Lorenzo recovered quickly and rejoined to finish third, but the damage was done. Going into the French weekend Jorge now sits on 57 points, a single point below race winner Pedrosa and a scan four points behind (now) championship leader Marc Marquez. However this isn't Lorenzo's first rodeo. France may be the place where we get to see how much of the fairing banging 250cc racer remains beneath the polished MotoGP champion exterior.
Three race wins in three rounds for 2013 - That is what it took to firmly cement Spain's apparent stranglehold on talent for the MotoGP grid. In three successive weekend events, El Marcha Real has rung out across the world to proclaim that a Spanish rider has claimed the top step of the podium. That small fact, however, remains just a small piece of the puzzle. Of the combined 9 available podium positions 8 have been occupied by Spanish riders, notably the three aforementioned winners. The lone exception was Valentino Rossi's hard fought second place finish in the season opener under the lights at Qatar. After a costly mistake relegated the Italian rider as far back as 7th during the race he was able to fight back past the factory Hondas of Pedrosa and Marquez to break the Spanish domination of the grid. Despite being an international series with races across the globe, large amounts of funding flow into MotoGP from Spain and many of the key players in the background - from major sponsor Repsol to current CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta - are Spanish nationals. Quiet rumbles have been cirulating outside of the paddock that Spain's general interest have also begun to play a part in the behind-the-scenes politics that ultimately bubble over into policy and privilge, the recently removed "Rookie Rule" being one such example as it was withdrawn in time for Spain's Marc Marquez to join the factory Honda team. Whether the rumors are true or not, Spainish fans will have a lot to be proud of when the riders take to the track for first practice.
For the remaining Power of Three: Follow the Yellow Brick Road