For a decade, Marc Coma represented Repsol in the world of Raids, achieving victory in the Dakar rally both in Africa and in South America and becoming one of the most successful competitors in the competition. As a motorsport enthusiast, Coma is a self-confessed fanatic of the MotoGP World Championship, which travels to Thailand this weekend with Marc Márquez comfortably leading the overall standings and Dani Pedrosa regaining form race after race.
Do you regularly follow the MotoGP World Championship? What did you think about the race that Marc and Dani had in Aragón?
“Yes. Whenever I can, I follow the MotoGP World Championship; I love it. I thought the race in Aragón was fantastic. It is the kind of race we have got used to during recent Grands Prix, with close fights until the end. It’s great that a rider who has the title at stake continues fighting for race wins. In Aragón, Marc had the best tyre strategy and at the end of the race he was the strongest.
Dani also handled the race well, although he was probably hindered by the compound he chose. I’m happy to see him high up the order and motivated, after the small step back he had halfway through the season.”
How do you think Marc is handling his lead?
“This year I’m seeing a more mature Márquez than other years and he knows how to manage the season very well. It seems that the Ducati has taken a step forward in the second half of the year, but Marc has found his comfort zone, looking for the limits in practice, and is always there.
He looks comfortable in the pack and knows that if he can’t win, he will at least be fighting for the podium. He always finds the point he needs to be on top. With the victory in Aragón, it struck a blow to the morale of his rivals.”
There are five races left and Márquez has a 72-point lead. What do you think could happen when he goes out on track in Thailand?
“With a lead of 72 points, he is very well positioned and now it’s a matter of knowing how to manage the advantage. Maybe that’s the hardest part, when you have victory at your fingertips but have not quite got it yet; it creates some nerves and discomfort that you have to know how to control. However, when you get on the bike, that disappears.
He will have to see about the weather conditions, but he knows how to isolate himself from the pressure and, if it is dry, we will see the usual Marc. Knowing him, he will not miss any opportunity to win all the remaining races. If the conditions change then he may be more conservative, but as I said before, his comfort zone is going as hard as possible.”
On a grid with riders like Rossi, Lorenzo, Viñales and Pedrosa, how do you explain Marc’s dominance?
“I think Márquez has changed the way he rides and looks for the limit on the bike. Before his arrival in MotoGP, when someone fell it was because they had lost control, especially since electronics were brought in. But now there are times when it seems that Marc is looking for a crash in order to understand the limits for the tyres and the bike at each circuit.
If you look at his statistics, he crashes a lot during practice but not in the race. This is because he learns where the limits are. I have never seen a rider with this way of looking at races.”
We are seeing very even races and close results. What do you think about the current MotoGP show?
“The spectacle that we are currently seeing in MotoGP is fantastic. The key has been the success of Dorna in limiting the electronic side of things, which is now the same for everyone. This has balanced out the championship much more and has changed the competition in relation to recent years.
Before, it seemed that in the race there was more distance between riders, and the starting position was practically always where a rider would finish. In contrast, this year we are seeing much tighter races and the way of riding and taking risks seems more typical of Moto3 than MotoGP. This is good for the show.”
In Valencia, Dani will say goodbye to the sport. You climbed Mont Blanc with him once. What do you remember about that experience?
“I’ve shared many things with Dani. For several years we had the same sponsors: Repsol and also Red Bull. I have very good memories of when we climbed Mont Blancalong with Jesús Calleja and Hector Barberá. I got to meet a very relaxed Dani, we laughed a lot and I think it’s one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve had with a rider.”
Do you think we will see him at the top of the podium again? What memory would you highlight from his career?
“Without a doubt, Dani’s best farewell would be to win in Valencia. His career has always been very meticulously managed and always very logical and thoughtful. What he has achieved is admirable, more so considering all the years that he has upheld a very high level of professionalism.
It is a pity that he never won the MotoGP title, but even so, he can be very proud of everything he has done. If he has been at Repsol Honda for so many years, it is because he is a top rider. I wish him well in the next stage of his life.”
You tested Pedrosa’s bike in 2006. What do you remember about that experience?
“Yes, in 2006 I had the opportunity to ride some laps with the 1,000cc bike and it was a great experience. It took me a while to get acquainted with Dani’s bike, as he had the footrests in a different place and I especially wasn’t used to carbon brakes, However, on the third or fourth lap I started to go faster.
I felt like Dani Pedrosa riding at Valencia and I was excited, but then, on one of the right-hand corners, I remember that Kevin Schwantz overtook me at full speed -he was testing a 250cc there.”