Photography By Gold & Goose
A couple years ago Le Mans was the site of a big announcement from the reigning MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner when the Repsol Honda rider stunned everyone with the news of his impending retirement. This year pre-race press conference at Le Mans wasn’t as shocking with Marc Marquez, the reigning World Champion, talking about the two-year extension he’d signed this week to stay with the Repsol Honda team through 2016.
“Yeah, of course, the situation is a little bit different,” Marquez said in comparing himself to Stoner. “I’m really, really happy about the situation and also about the new contract with Honda. For me it was important to do that step I feel so good with this team. I think they feel good with me and then that makes everything a little bit easier. For me it’s a pleasure; it’s a dream come true continuing in that team.”
With the first piece of the silly-season puzzle how out of the way, the focus shifts to who his teammate will be. There were rumors circulating about the possibility of Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo looking to make the switch to Repsol Honda.
“For the moment we are not in a hurry for this aspect. It’s still too soon,” Lorenzo said about his plans for next year. “We are in the fifth race. So we have plenty of races to decide these things. My priority is the same as the last year’s – to keep in Yamaha. It would be like a dream to stay always in Yamaha in my MotoGP career, but we’ll see what happen. My manager, he’s working in this area. So I working on the track.”
So while everyone’s trying to work out the rest of the puzzle, did Marquez have any inside information on who his teammate will be next season? And since Lorenzo has been Marquez’ rival, would it be a problem to be in the same garage next season?
“Of course you know my goal was being on HRC. And now I’m there,” Marquez responded. “Of course, I need to have some teammate and I know that in the Honda team, the teammate will be a strong guy because it’s the best team in MotoGP and will be a strong rider. But anyway I’m there so for me doesn’t matter who will be my teammate.”
In addition to wanting to know who Marquez’ teammate will be, the next question was in regard to the details of the contract. With the young Spaniard following in the footsteps of Valentino Rossi in terms of fame, was he also following in terms of fortune?
“With 21 years old at the moment, I’m not looking about the salary,” Marquez said in response to whether he beat Rossi’s salary record. “I’m just looking about the performance on the bike and performance on the team.”
Marquez’ modest response was applauded as commendable, but another journalist asked if Marquez knew where he stacked up to Rossi’s salary record.
“Honestly, I don’t know the Valentino record,” said Marquez. “So I don’t which is my place.”
“I have the record,” Rossi asked? “Yeah? Seriously I don’t remember. A lot more than now anyway.”
So in typical charming Rossi fashion, he had the room laughing and entertained.
As Marquez heads into Le Mans undefeated with four-straight victories, he closes in on a mark set by Rossi, the last rider to win five-in-a-row. Rossi was asked if he had any advice for Marquez about a five-race streak.
“I remember yes… it was a great moment for me,” Rossi said. “For sure when you are able to win five races in a row it’s fantastic; it’s a great moment of a great shape… It was 2008 and it start with the victory in Laguna Seca. And, after, it continue for five and I think that the streak give me the championship. So I hope that Marquez doesn’t win. I will try to give some problem. But I think that for Marc [Marquez] if I have to give advice, I think that four are enough.”
And once again Rossi was smiling. And the room was laughing.
But on a serious note, Rossi had said that after five or six races this season he would be able to make a decision about his future. So how was the doctor feeling?
“Seriously I feel better [than last season]. I enjoy a lot to continue to race and work with Yamaha and my team,” Rossi said. “So my project is make another contract of two seasons.”