Wayne Rainey: “I think Marc Marquez is really an American who just speaks Spanish.”

The three-time 500cc world champion on MotoGP’s points leader, electronics, dirt track, control tires, and the state of American roadracing.

Wayne Rainey portrait shot

Marc Marquez’s winning streak...

Compared to when Mick Doohan won 10 in a row, I see a big age difference. Marc is not done winning. One streak will end, and he can always start another. It is impressive to win three in a row, four in a row, even five in a row, but 10 in a row?! That’s not something we’re used to seeing. This is a very competitive class. Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa, and Valentino Rossi are riding probably as well as they ever have, but Marquez, his machine, and his team are the dominant force right now.

How to beat Marquez...

Marquez does make little mistakes from time to time—he tends to run wide. If he runs wide and you don’t, you can catch up a half second, and then, if you catch the draft, you can be there. Or if you are in front, you can pull a little gap. If I am racing Marc, thinking as a racer, I have to avoid any mistakes and count on him making a few. He can be beaten if you can avoid mistakes.

Marquez and dirt track...

I think Marquez is really an American who just speaks Spanish. No, what I mean is I can see in everything he does that he’s a dirt tracker and that he’s been riding dirt track all his life. He’s very open about his love for dirt track, and he does it very naturally. His style on a dirt tracker is very similar to an American dirt-track style, so this means he’s done it since he was a little kid.

This type of training makes you be very aggressive, but it also has you on the edge where you can make mistakes and lose some time. But with his current bike, he’s got so much confidence in his machine and in himself and in his ability. Also he has less experience and he can say to himself, “Well, if I get beat by those guys, I should.” So he has many good things going for him.

Electronics...

I totally agree with Valentino Rossi that we need to get rid of the 70 percent of electronics that is there not for safety but to make you go faster. It looks pretty cool what they do with the bikes, but it could be so much more exciting. The racing could be more spectacular. Right now, we have an artificial element to the bike that helps the rider perform and get a better lap time.

In Grand Prix racing, that is very, very expensive to do. It takes a lot of testing, but when you have a motorcycle with close to 300 horsepower, if you could take off 70 percent of the electronics and we could watch the tire spin or the bike move around or wheelie more, I think the good riders would still win. They would just win by a lot farther.

Control tires...

I think there is a time and a place for a control tire. Currently, the tires—the way it is right now with Bridgestone—the manufacturers have to build a bike that works with that specific tire. I kinda like that in some ways, but when there is a tire war, you can have an advantage sometimes and that mixes up the championship. And it creates more mistakes. If, say, a Dunlop has more traction out of the corner and Marquez on the Bridgestone tries to go with the Dunlop guy and he makes a mistake because he does not have the same grip… I miss those days!

No American on the premier-class grid in Brno...

Wow. That makes me sad. Americans changed the face of Grand Prix racing—the style of it. We were very important for the championship. I think Marquez is riding like that because of past Americans. I see him a lot more like Jay Springsteen than Mick Doohan. So it’s very important that we have Americans in the championship.

We have two GPs, so we must do something to fix this problem because right now, even with the Americans who aren’t riding in Brno, we can’t even get close to top five let alone get on the podium. We have riders in America, but I think our national championship has been a little bit weak. Hopefully, there are gonna be some changes real soon to help rectify that.