Marc Marquez, 25, is so gifted as a professional motorcycle racer that even he seems stunned by his victory in Austin on Sunday.
Wearing a leather jacket over an open black jersey that looked like it came straight from a rap video, Marquez won on Austin’s temporary street circuit, finishing more than 17 seconds ahead of rivals Stefan Bradl of Germany and Julian Simon of France. The two-time MotoGP world champion is the world’s youngest two-time MotoGP champ, now at 25 years and 52 days, but next season he will be older and, crucially, wiser.
Marquez comes from Barcelona, the center of Spain’s creative scene, where he got his start riding his scooter while listening to hip-hop songs and thought nothing of drinking pineapple juice in a race circle.
All that hard work and talent ended in frustration. A motorcycle race circuit would be nothing without risks, and Marquez came close to dying in 2016 at the Dutch TT of Assen, where he crashed during a rainstorm, losing a top-of-the-line road bike and suffering serious concussion. He spent eight days in a coma.
“The life of a racer is not easy, there are lots of stupid things that happen and unfortunately, not a lot of nice things,” Marquez said Saturday.
The 2016 crash was a low point, and he looked back on that race in June as “the tragedy that got me to where I am today.”
Marquez also lost his left hand to a motorcycle, and now uses an arm-controlled steering wheel instead of a handlebar.
Some sportswriters were skeptical about his claims of turning pro in his early teens because he won races by riding his scooter. And then came his victory in 2015 in the Indianapolis 500.
By then, he was already a star in his home country — that “never-ending, no-settling energy” that runs in his veins, his stepfather Jorg Urbanovitch said in an interview with La Vanguardia.
Between 2016 and 2017, Marquez became the youngest person to ever win two MotoGP races by age 19. “His success comes from a natural quality that has nothing to do with training,” Urbanovitch said.
This season, he has won three of the four rounds he’s entered to lead the way. That includes the Moto3 race on his home turf last month, where he led from start to finish to beat Maverick Vinales by 9.6 seconds.
This weekend, in Austin, Marquez spent about a half-hour before the race in a video interview with the sponsors, where he mostly spoke in Spanish and joked that his appearance this year is a tribute to his fans.
“Thank you to all of you that made my dream come true,” he said.