MotoGP is making its only stop on the schedule in the United States this weekend for the 2017 Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin, Texas, and we managed to make a trip to the event. Thanks to our friends at Red Bull, we were granted a fifteen-minute interview with Marc Marquez on Thursday morning, the last free moments before the reigning champion begins his quest for a fifth consecutive victory at the Circuit of the Americas. As much as we want to know what it’s like to spin laps on the Repsol Honda RC213V motorcycle, we didn’t want to bore the young Spaniard with the same questions he’s constantly thrown. So we just talked about motocross, his passion and our specialty.
How did you get into riding dirt bikes?
I started when I was four years old with a Yamaha PeeWee and then switched to a KTM 50. I started in Enduro and then changed to motocross because I liked it. Enduro is nice, but motocross is with other riders and it’s fast. I always enjoyed motocross and I keep it for training. When I was eight years old I started road racing, but also motocross. By then I was a champion in motocross in Catalunya but was also competing in road racing. That’s when one team called me for road racing and said they would support me and that everything would be free. Then my father said, “Go to road.” I didn’t want to, because I was mad for motocross and was just riding all of the days. But my father pushed me to road, “Go to road because it’s free for us [Laughs].” I still continued with both championships but with road racing, it became more professional and I stopped motocross to ride MotoGP. Motocross is always part of my training.
How often do you ride motocross now?
In the wintertime a lot. That’s our free time and I always ride in Catalunya. There I have two motocross circuits, they aren’t mine but they are like mine. We have really good friends so if I want to go at six in the morning I can go. I have two different circuits and normally I ride there, but also I like to change and to spend time with motocross riders. In the winter time I ride a few times per week, but during the season and between races, maybe just one time. The risk is something that I need to manage.
Is flat track racing the perfect in between for you?
Yeah, but I ride more motocross than flat track. I like motocross more than flat track. Flat track is more similar to what we have here in MotoGP, so it’s part of the training. I work on the sensibility of the gas, but motocross is the one I enjoy more. It’s two different things. Flat track I do because I need to and motocross I do because I love.
Do you find motocross more physical?
Motocross is physically and quite demanding, but it’s completely different. In the wintertime I ride a lot of motocross and feel really fit for it, but then I arrive at the first test for MotoGP and I’m really tired. Because the muscles are different. It’s a different way to work, but you must understand that when you ride a lot of motocross, when you arrive here (to MotoGP) you have habits that can be confusing.
Your riding style is very aggressive. It seems like that’s maybe inspired by motocross.
The style that I have here is because of motocross. With motocross, how many laps do you do that are the same? Every lap is different and the track changes with bumps, ruts, and rocks.
These tracks don’t change too much compared to a motocross track.
Here it is always the same and I must control a little bit of this, because in road racing it’s important to be aggressive but to be smooth and constant every lap. In motocross every lap is different, so when I arrive here, if the bike has some movement or something, the mentality changes. You can change the riding style very quickly.
What bikes do you ride?
I have a Honda CRF450R and a CRF250R, and some two-strokes too. I have a CR125. The most I ride is the 450. I have the 250 but it’s tough to ride honestly because then I become even more aggressive here. The 250 I enjoy more but then I ride even more aggressive in MotoGP, so then I go back to a 450.
The 125 has to be fun because you are always wide open.
Yeah, it’s a 2007, one of the last ones. I took one and prepared it with Pro Circuit everything.
I’ve heard you watch Supercross. Do you watch MXGP, too? And do you have a rider that you follow closely or do you have a mutual respect for everyone because you are a racer too?
I respect everyone because I know what it takes to go racing. I don’t like to support one than the other ones, but for the championship, I enjoy watching Tomac and Dungey. It’s incredible because Tomac is really strong and Dungey is there and consistent. It will be really nice in the races that remain. In MXGP I have a lot of respect for Cairoli because what he is doing is incredible, but also Gajser. When he arrived, boom, he won. Now there is a Spanish guy, Prado, that won his first race in Italy. I think will finish here in America.
Have you been able to ride in the United States or see a Supercross race in person?
In 2013 I was in Indianapolis for the race. It is incredible with the race and with the show, inside the stadium with the fire. It is really nice. I liked it and enjoyed it a lot. I would like to come, maybe at Christmas time, for a week or two weeks to ride in California. I know there are many good circuits.
Your MotoGP is powerful and nimble, but it’s so much different than your CRF450R. Do you every have challenges when you ride the dirt bike, like when you set up to go into a corner?
They are really different. In the end, the good thing is that I’m on a bike and there is the gas, the brakes, and the clutch. The style is really different but in the end, it’s a motorbike and like always, if you go into the corner too fast either at MotoGP or motocross, your exit will be worse. And if you’re too slow and touch the gas too early, same thing. If you asked me on the technical side what I can use from motocross to MotoGP, it’s really different. Maybe what I use most is the motocross is different every lap and I can practice different scenarios. One of my strongest points in MotoGP is that if it is half-half (half wet, half dry) and there is a change in grip on the track, I am quick to adapt my style. And this I think comes from off-road.
When you come to MotoGP, you have to do things with the media and then work with the team on different things. So when you go riding motocross in Spain, is it nice for it to just be you and some friends, without any pressure?
Here it is different and motocross I like a lot because I can go to the circuit, take the bike alone, and just go. I always go with my brother and two years ago I caught one guy, he was the Spanish champion of motocross. He was young, twenty-six then and twenty-nine now, but in motocross to be professional in Spain and to win money is difficult. So I told him, “I will pay you and you will come with me.” I want someone that I can train with and will push me. If I am there alone, I’m the fastest one. I want someone that is pushing me. He is always one or two seconds faster than me, so I push. This a way to work better.
How do you like jumping?
Jumping is something that we must take care of in the end. With the jumps, what we learn there you use zero of here. It’s just for fun [Laughs]. But motocross without jumps is not the same. I like jumping. If there is a double that maybe I can triple, I will try [Laughs]. If it’s wintertime I will try, but if it’s during the season, then everyone will tell me to be calm and not try [Laughs]. One thing I like about motocross is that when you go to the circuit, there are no cameras and you are just with friends, I will try friend’s bikes. Here it is not possible. If I want to try a Yamaha, a Ducati, or a Suzuki, it’s just not possible. But in motocross, you are alone and can try all of the bikes [Laughs].