During a visit to Honda’s Japanese headquarters last December, Shuhei Nakamoto, VP of Honda Racing, promised Estrella Galicia 0,0 teammates Alex Marquez and Alex Rins a ride on an RC213V if one of them won the Moto3 title.
On Sunday, Nakamoto kept his promise, and the day after clinching the Moto3 title, Alex Marquez, the younger brother of two-time MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez, got a very special gift from Honda: 12 laps on Marc’s factory machine, guided by his brother.
At exactly 4:03 p.m., the HRC garage opened for the show. With parents Julià and Roser watching, the pair rolled onto the track. As his father used to do with him, Marc went out first and Alex followed. After one lap, Marc let Alex pass, shepherding him as only a family member can do.
“At the first braking, I pushed a bit because I thought he could make a mistake and go wide,” Marc said. Then Marc let Alex pass, and the duo overtook the Espargaro brothers, Pol and Aleix. It looked like a fairy tale and then the unexpected happened: While on his slow-down lap, Valentino Rossi put himself between the two Marquez brothers.
“When I saw that Valentino was not overtaking Alex, I couldn’t believe it,” Marc said. “I thought that with only 10 laps, Alex already had his picture with Valentino, leading the group. Alex didn’t realize it until he returned to the pits and I told him. He went immediately to Twitter to check the photo.”
After 12 laps, when they returned to the garage, Alex was radiant. “The feeling to ride a MotoGP machine is amazing,” he said. “I was more nervous today than on Sunday, when I had to fight for the title. I was impressed by the power on the straight but also under braking. On a MotoGP bike, everything happens so fast.”
“I was a bit scared,” Marc confessed, “as I saw that Alex did not have everything under control. He was rigid and getting tired, but this is normal for the first time. After eight laps, he was already pushing, not bad for a start.”
“This was an incredible gift,” Alex said. “Now I have to focus on my next test in Moto2. I don’t regret doing like Jack Miller, who jumped from Moto3 to the premier class. I like to do one step at the time and arrive ready for the MotoGP challenge.”
Shall we expect two Marquezes in the same team? “It would be great to be teammates, at least with the same factory,” Marc said. “I will continue to give Alex advice, but only for the next two years. I don’t want him to become too competitive!”
Nakamoto was not expecting Alex to win when he promised the ride on an RC213V last winter, although he knew the potential of the new Moto3 machine, and he trusted Alex.
“The two brothers have different personalities,” Nakamoto said. “I know Marc well, and I can say that he has something special. He is an animal, a true fighter. Alex is growing and needs to gain more experience, but this is normal; he is only 18 years old. When I promised him a lap with the MotoGP bike in December, it was too early to predict, but Honda has only one target: winning.”
In 24 hours, two dreams came true for Alex Marquez: He won the 2014 FIM Moto3 World Championship and he rode a factory Honda MotoGP bike. I asked the brothers what they wanted for Christmas. “Nothing,” they replied in unison. “We couldn’t have asked for a better gift.”