Marquez: MotoGP title is possible
PROGRAMMING NOTE: The Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix will air LIVE on FOX Sports 1 on Sunday in a four-hour programming block that starts at 11 a.m. ET.
It has taken six months, nine races, and three wins, but now even rookie sensation Marc Marquez admits he can be a contender for the MotoGP world championship.
And King Kenny Roberts, the last rider to win the title as a rookie, feels 20-year-old Marquez is capable of completing a championship winning season.
Roberts, riding a Yamaha, won the first of three consecutive 500cc titles in 1978.
For six months, Marquez and his minders have declared that 2013 was a learning year in advance of a full frontal title assault in 2014. But Marquez continues to dismantle his own game plan.
The second half of the season kicks off with the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix this Sunday, the 10th of 18 races, with Marquez leading the points.
The Spanish kid went to the summer break with a breathtaking win in the USGP at Laguna Seca in July, and he is now chasing three wins in a row, including his German GP victory.
Marquez is level on race wins -- three apiece -- with defending champion Jorge Lorenzo at the halfway point of the season.
The top three riders -- Marquez (163 points), Dani Pedrosa (147) and Lorenzo (137) -- have all scored points in eight of nine races with one zero score each, but only Marquez has been on the podium at every race he has finished.
Title talk in his rookie year was once off the agenda as a humble Marquez deferred to his more experienced rivals. But Marquez now admits that he now dares to dream of being world champion in his rookie season.
"Why not? It will be difficult. I didn’t expect to be in this situation before the start of the season and so this is good news," Marquez said. "I will try to keep the same level and mentality and focus like now into the second part of the season.
"And I am interested to see how my level is with Dani and Jorge when they are 100 percent fit, because then I think it will be a little more different."
Marquez made the most of collarbone injuries to Lorenzo and Pedrosa with wins in Germany and Laguna Seca, but that's what champions do.
Back in 1978, it was Roberts, a fast and funny dirt-tracker who dismantled the reputations of Europe's finest road racers, including double world champion Barry Sheene. After Roberts arrived in Europe, Sheene never won another world title as King Kenny added the 1979 and '80 crowns to his championship triple play.
Roberts was a game changer, and 35 years on, Marquez is also taking no notice of reputations in his rookie MotoGP season.
Roberts was at Laguna Seca for Marquez's stunning third win from nine races. He liked what he saw.
"If Marc makes it through the season the way he is going at the moment, he will win it," Roberts said. "To go in at those lean angles and turn the throttle without a second thought is impressive.
"Jorge is tough and he is probably the toughest guy to try and take the title away from. I wouldn't take my money off him, but his collarbone injury is unpredictable. In a straight up fight I didn't think Marc would beat Jorge this year. But the writing is on the wall.
"Mentally, Jorge is the toughest, and talent-wise Marc has set the world on fire, and if he gains any more confidence, it will be a close call."
What Marquez has shown during the first half of the season is that he is in his comfort zone winning MotoGP races. He often talks and looks surprised, but his winning form has set the scene for an intriguing battle for the title with Lorenzo and Pedrosa.