At 23 years of age, Marc Marquez has not only re-written the history books, he has torn it up. Following up with championship wins in 2013 and 2014, the Spaniard became the youngest rider to win three premier class world championship titles, all of this done with three races to spare.
In a season which began in second gear for Marquez, a third place finish in Qatar, the Honda rider took off and never looked back with wins in Argentina and a hugely impressive performance at Circuit of The Americas in Texas. From there, he never looked back. Though his next win would not come until round 9 with a win in Germany, his consistency has been pivotal.
Italian Valentino Rossi, a seven-time world champion, his barren spell of seven years without a world title continued. Now 37, the Yamaha rider’s moment in the sun has not yet transpired, and very may well not. In similar fashion, Rossi’s 2016 season was a case of what might have been: engine failure at Mugello, a lead slip in wet conditions at Assen, being overhauled in the final laps of Misano by Dani Pedrosa. Rossi’s misery was complete when he went out of contention in Japan, all but handing the title to Marquez.
Despite this, wins in Valencia and the Catalunyan Grand Prix proved there is life in the old dog yet.
Rossi’s teammate Jorge Lorenzo, last year’s world champion, looked for all world as the man to beat with some brilliant early-season driving giving him five podium finishes in the first six races. In the next five races, a retirement in Catalunya, coupled with some lowly finishes (15th in Germany, 17th in the Czech Republic), gave him too much ground to make up on the leading pack. A strong showing at the Aragon GP showcased his credentials, but it was too little too late when he ended up in the gravel in Japan, crowning Marquez as the 2016 MotoGP world champion.
The Would-Be Contenders
Though the 2016 MotoGP season was the coronation of a king as Marc Marquez won his third title at the age of 23, it also was a breakout year for many. Wins by 21-year-old Australian Jack Miller in the Netherlands, a first win for Italian rider Andrea Dovizioso, as well as year-long brilliance from a future champion Maverick Vinales (he will move to the Yamaha team for 2017), this season had it all. Ultimately, the cream always rises to the crop and in 2017, Marquez will once again be the man to beat.
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