You either love him, or you don't love him at all. There is no other way to describe MotoGP legend Marc Marquez. After rocking the world of bikes for more than a decade, he's firmly established himself as one of the all-time greats.
It is perhaps a testament to his ability that he won in his debut season, in a field that already had established names: Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Dovizioso, and Dani Pedrosa.
The colours in which he competed for 11 years, those of Repsol Honda, are impossible to imagine him without. But recently he announced that he will make a shock switch to join Gresini from next season, as a team-mate of brother Alex.
After a fruitful partnership that brought unrivalled success, Marquez says the decision to part ways was a difficult one in an exclusive interview with RacingNews365.
"It's certainly true that it was a difficult and tough decision. It's the hardest decision of my career. But sometimes in life, you have to step out of your comfort zone and explore new opportunities," says Marquez.
"I have pushed myself to the limit my entire career and I don't want to be left with doubts about things I may not have done. I want to be able to do what I feel I need to do in the moment."
Marriage between me and Honda was a win-win situation
End of an era
That said, he knows very well what he is leaving behind and what he owes to the Repsol Honda family.
"I am incredibly grateful to Honda. They gave me the chance to debut in MotoGP and they gave me the chance to give me six MotoGP world titles in 11 years," says Marquez.
"It has been a very successful period. They gave me a lot and I think in turn I gave Honda a lot. It was a win-win relationship."
Marquez made his debut at Honda in 2013 at just 20 years old, competing among one of the most iconic riders in MotoGP history Valentino Rossi. The 'Rossi Effect' can't be underestimated, his immortal legacy ripples across motorsport - even Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris have colours inspired by his iconic liveries.
Did Marquez ever get star struck in the early years? He explains: "What impressed me most were the colors. Suddenly you're wearing and walking in those famous Repsol Honda colours, which previously housed big names like Mick Doohan, Alex Criville, Rossi and Dani Pedrosa.
"But from the very beginning, I felt really good on the team and my riding style immediately suited that machine. I also felt from everything that they saw in me an important pivot in the MotoGP project."
Rossi elected to retire from full-time MotoGP riding in November 2021, leaving behind a lasting legacy in top-level motorcycle racing. Does Marquez miss competing with his former arch-rival in MotoGP?
"In any championship, be it soccer, F1 or MotoGP, it's nicer when the biggest names participate. I was lucky to compete against such names, really big names. In the championship, then, we are missing names like that, including Rossi," says Marquez.
The word "riding style" had come up earlier in the conversation. He is often criticized for his attacking, aggressive riding style. But it's really not that he doesn't want to adapt his style, it's just that it doesn't make him faster.
"My style has always been super aggressive. I push the bike to the limit, sometimes to the point where I'm overdriving the bike. It's just that, prompted by my arm injury, I've had to adjust my style a bit in recent years and I'm less aggressive," explains Marquez.
"I ride more fluently now. I could ride even more fluently and precisely, but then I would be slower. So I have to stick to my own style, and that means I will always be pushing the limit."
Next year awaits a first encounter with the currently dominant Ducati, and namely this year's winning factory machine.
"There awaits me the beautiful challenge of adapting my style to a bike that is completely new to me. How? That should become clear during the first test in Valencia. But first I want to finish my period with and at Honda well."
In the 5-part Red Bull TV documentary 'All in' you get a comprehensive get a unique, honest look into the life of Marc Marquez. From his 'feud' with Rossi to his much-debated riding style and injury woes, everything is covered.