Marquez' next big challenge? Plus: Holiday Video Message from MM93

2015 marks the 30th anniversary of Freddie Spencer's incredible 250cc/500cc Grand Prix double World Championship - could Marquez accomplish such a feat today?

can marc marquez achieve freddie spencer double world championship

After clinching his second MotoGP world title at Motegi last October, Marc Marquez confessed that he had actually thought about trying to simulate Freddie Spencer's legendary double 500cc/250cc Grand Prix world championship of 1985 by racing in both the Moto2 and MotoGP classes at the season-ending race at Valencia. In what was surely a relief to Honda's current management, Marquez quickly forgot about the idea. "The idea flew in my head for not more than a week...then I discarded it. It was too complicated," admitted the 22-year-old two-time world champion.

What other challenges are available for Marquez? He is already the youngest-ever premier class world champion, he has surpassed Mick Doohan for the most wins and pole positions in a single season. If Marquez wins his third consecutive MotoGP championship next season, what is left to motivate him? At just 22 years old next season, he will have many years of racing left in front of him, but to repeat the goals already achieved might appear boring. To tackle the monumental task of racing in two classes in the same season as Spencer did 30 years ago sounds like something that could really challenge Marquez's competitiveness. Yes, it would be without a doubt a venture full of difficulties and risks, but Marquez is a racer who relishes challenges.

In fact, Honda—an indispensable component if Marquez decided to attempt this feat—has already said through HRC communications manager Livio Suppo that it wouldn't be against Marquez trying two categories. "My personal opinion was that it would have been too much", Suppo said to British publication Motorcycle News when Marquez admitted he thought in racing in Moto2 in the Valencia GP. "What did he have to prove? That he is strong in Moto2? My advice would have been to not do it...but if a rider like Marc really wants to do it, then you need to find a way to organize it."

marquez thinks about double championship challenge
Freddie Spencer made history in 1985 by becoming the first rider to win both the 500cc and 250cc Grand Prix titles in the same year. He made good use of the all-new NSR500 that Honda provided for him that year.

When Spencer, his crew chief Erv Kanemoto, and then-HRC vice president Yoichi Oguma decided to take on the enormous task back in 1985, Honda also provided Spencer with the best tools it had to offer. The '85 NSR500 was an all-new single-crankshaft V4 design, after the problems encountered by the ill-fated "upside-down" '84 version (that had the fuel tank below the engine and the exhaust pipes running above the engine) forced the team to seriously consider bringing back the older '83 three-cylinder. Honda also provided Spencer with an all-new works bike for the 250cc class, the NSR250R-W, which was significantly different than the special production RS250s ridden by Toni Mang and Fausto Ricci (much to their chagrin).

marquez thinks about double championship challenge
Freddie Spencer's skill at adapting to two very different motorcycles (shown here on the NSR250R-W works bike) was put to the test every race weekend.

But to imply that Spencer had a machine advantage foolishly ignores the immense physical and mental requirements necessary for the task. For starters, there was the grind of double practice and qualifying sessions at each race weekend. And the race scheduling back then wasn't as formatted as it is today; in the first race of the '85 season, the 500cc race was scheduled before the 250cc event. Spencer won the 500cc race, and with literally no time to celebrate was already sitting on his 250cc bike on the starting grid. Then came the added risks of racing in the rain, as well as injuries that could be incurred during the season in either race (in Yugoslavia, Spencer hit his knee on a trackside straw bale, luckily without serious injury).

marquez thinks about double championship challenge
Anyone doubting Marquez's ability in the Moto2 class need only look back at his incredible charge from way back in the pack to the victory at Motegi in 2012.Andrew Northcott

As Spencer and crew got into a rhythm and became more accustomed to handling both bikes, the American scored several double victories. And once Spencer clinched the 250 title with two races to go, he could concentrate on the 500. The result was a victory by more than 22 seconds, demonstrating that perhaps his 500 title might've been a runaway had he not decided to take on the 250 class as well.

But Spencer paid a price for that glory. The victory at Mugello in 1985 was the last GP win of his career; in fact, he never even stepped on the podium after that year. The physical toll included the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome, which back then didn't have the benefit of quick diagnosis and relatively easy surgical fixes, and forced the three-time world champion into semi-retirement.

marquez thinks about double championship challenge
It's clear that Honda recognizes that it has an extraordinary talent in Marc Marquez, and is willing to go to great lengths to assist him in his quest for victory. The company implied that it would be willing to help Marquez if he wanted to go through with his plan at Valencia, although a full season might be another story altogether.Andrew Northcott

There are numerous reasons why attempting a feat like Spencer's in modern day MotoGP would be a very difficult task for Marquez. There is the obvious physical exhaustion standpoint; remember that he would have to do both Moto2 and MotoGP practice sessions, and most of them occur right next to each other (and the double race format of World Superbike isn't relevant here, because WSBK has two hours between races, whereas Marquez would only have about 45 minutes between races, which likely would be cut into because of the podium ceremony, interviews, debrief, etc.). The Moto2 class is a spec class, meaning the machinery is basically the same between all competitors, unlike the open 250cc GP class. The competitiveness of the Moto2 class brings added risks, as well as the additional mental stress that can drain from the pool needed for the MotoGP race. And then there's the added difficulty of organizing a separate Moto2 team.

marquez thinks about double championship challenge
Given all the right resources, could Marquez accomplish what many thought to be previously impossible before Freddie Spencer's legendary 1985 season? It's likely we'll never know, as conditions were never better for it than 2015.Andrew Northcott

But on the flip side, there's plenty of arguments in favor of Marquez attempting the double title chase. At his young age, he is at the peak of his physical fitness; and although doing double duty on a race weekend would be physically challenging, there's no doubt that the athleticism of today's racers is far above their peers of 30 years ago. There are also the additional resources available to racers now: advanced sports nutrition, physiotherapists to help with recovery, etc. As far as MotoGP, Honda's engineers love a challenge, and the new generation would relish making an attempt at the historical achievement of Oguma-san; whether that meant designing a special bike for Marquez (for example, the CRF450R he rode at the Superprestigio had many special parts on it from HRC) or helping with personnel for his Moto2 effort, it's clear Honda has a keen interest in the young Spaniard. And finally, his level of riding is at its peak as well; with all due respect to the riders in Moto2, no one is even close to his riding level (remember his charge through the field at the Motegi Moto2 race?), and his rivals in MotoGP will be mostly the same next season.

Unfortunately, it's likely that Marquez has discarded the idea for good. Meaning that Freddie Spencer's historical double world championship achievement of 1985 will likely remain unmatched.