Historic events only come around once in a while. No, the opening of the world’s largest Wal-Mart does not count here. The events of which we are speaking are those which set records, they send journalists scrambling, they get special mention in books - or have books written about them - and most change the perspective of even the most seasoned observers.
This is what MotoGP fans may witness this weekend.
At the Australian Phillip Island Circuit over the 18 to 20 October, 2013, when the FIM hosts the next round of the MotoGP World Championship, Repsol Honda's 20 year-old rookie phenomenon (that’s no exaggeration) Marc Marquez may become the youngest ever MotoGP Champion and the first rookie to do so since American Kenny Roberts accomplished the feat in 1978 - 35 years ago!
After the Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix round at the Sepang International Circuit, where Marquez finished second to Repsol Honda teammate and race winner Dani Pedrosa, the Championship points standings placed Marquez within easy reach of the crown. Though he only pocketed 20 points there, he still has a comfortable 43 points on second overall Jorge Lorenzo of Yamaha Factory Racing, and has 54 points on pit-mate Pedrosa.
What this means is that if Marquez wins at Phillip Island, and Lorenzo only manages to take the last step on the podium, Marquez will become World Champion. However, it was Pedrosa who took victory at Sepang, and Lorenzo is always a threat, so it could be that Marquez has to wait for the next round at Motegi in Japan.
Even if the Championship is not decided this weekend, Marc Marquez has already set the MotoGP paddock alight. He has six Grand Prix victories to his name this year to go with eight pole positions. Marquez already has one note in the history books from this as he is the youngest rider to win a MotoGP race in which he sat on pole. Though many expected the Spaniard to do well in his first season in the premier class, no one foresaw just how talented of a rider he is even when facing the best in the world – if truth be told, the competition seems to have made him better.
In other MotoGP news, multi-time World Champion Valentino Rossi now holds an overall fourth place, a notable improvement for him compared to last season and mostly thanks to his return to riding the Yamaha YZR-M1. He could advance, but it will be difficult given his 46 point deficit to Pedrosa, who is consistently at the front. His biggest challenge may be not losing his spot to Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Cal Crutchlow.
British rider Crutchlow is having his best season yet in MotoGP, easily eclipsing his previous two years of results in the series. His team has managed to keep him among the top ten finishers in almost every race, and his two second-place and two third-place showings are strong evidence of a rider coming to terms with his bike and the series itself. Since only 32 points separate him and Rossi, he has a real opportunity to advance up the chart should Rossi have a difficult time at the Italian's favorite circuit.
Further down in the standings, GO&FUN Honda Gresini's Alvaro Bautista and LCR Honda rider Stefan Bradl are a single point apart. If Bradl is ruled healthy enough to participate at Phillip Island - he suffered a fractured ankle in practice at Sepang and missed the race - the two riders are likely to switch positions given Bradl’s 2013 performance so far, thus moving the German into sixth.
Bradley Smith, another Englishman and also riding for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 outfit, looks to have a chance to overtake Ducati’s Nicky Hayden, relegating the American to tenth. Complicating this, though, is the rise of Power Electronics Aspar rider Aleix Espargaro, who has had several top-10 finishes so far and could earn enough points to break into the overall top 10 in the standings. If he does, it would make history as well since Aspar is a Claiming Rules Team running a production engine against the previously untouchable factory prototypes.
The Moto2 World Championship is shaping up to be somewhat similar to MotoGP as far as the points race is concerned. Though there will likely not be any historic firsts during the coming weekend at the Phillip Island Circuit in this class, there is sure to be a generous amount of racing excitement.
Leading the pack now is Marc VDS Racing's British rider, Scott Redding. He holds a tiny 9 point advantage over second place coming into Australia after finishing a disappointing seventh at the last round at Sepang. That second place rider, Pol Espargaro of the Tuenti HP 40 team, coincidentally finished second in Malaysia securing the position he has held throughout much of the season. His lead over third is only 19 points, though.
Behind them in third overall is Espargaro’s teammate on the Tuenti HP 40 team, Esteve Rabat. His win in Malaysia helped him get within a striking distance of both Espargaro and Redding, and he has the momentum now. Fourth place is 40 points arrears of third, but do not discount the abilities of the man in that slot, Marc VDS rider Mika Kallio. He is experienced and skilled and can slug it out with this group on the track with ease.
Moto3 did experience a historic moment at Malaysia's Sepang Circuit when Team Calvo’s Ana Carrasco finished the race in fifteenth. This made her the first female racer to score points in the new Moto3 class, and the first in Grand Prix motorcycle racing since German Katja Poensgen did it in the 2001 Italian Grand Prix where she finished fourteenth on a 250.
As for the Moto3 World Championship standings, it has a similar look to the other two classes, only slightly tighter; the top three are all rather close, but there is a big gap between third and fourth place.
Red Bull KTM Ajo's Luis Salom currently sits atop the Moto3 standings. His victory at Sepang certainly helped with this, but his season-long performance is what put him here in the first place. Right behind him, standing only 14 points behind, is Alex Rins, riding for the Estrella Galicia 0,0 team. He stood next to Salom on the Sepang podium with a second place showing, demonstrating that he too has the ability to challenge for a win.
Occupying third overall is the teammate of the aforementioned Ana Carrasco, Team Calvo's Maverick Viñales. Between him and second place are a mere 12 points, and his many podium finishes this season show that he too has the ability to take the Championship. Ninety-six points behind Viñales, in fourth, sits the teammate to Rins, Alex Marquez. He has put together a decent year, and would be much closer to third if not for a crash and a poor finish early in the season which cost him dearly needed points.
Round 16 of the FIM MotoGP World Championship, officially the Tissot Australian Grand Prix, begins at the Phillip Island Circuit on Friday morning, 18 October, at 10:00 Australian time. Japan’s Twin Ring Motegi Circuit hosts the following round a week later, and the final at Valencia, Spain, is a further two weeks after. With only three races left to determine who will become a World Champion, all three classes will be increasingly more exhilarating and the action is not to be missed.