Marquez ready to fly flag
Roddy Brooks focuses on Marc Marquez as he looks ahead to the motorcycling year to come.
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Marc Marquez carries the hopes of the motorcycle-crazy Spanish nation into the 2013 MotoGP World Championship and also those of the fiercely independent Catalunyan people.
The 19-year-old is following a proven formula which he hopes will make him the next premier class champion in motorcycle racing's blue riband series to hail from Spain.
Marquez first hopes to usurp fellow Spaniard Dani Pedrosa as the number one rider at the Repsol Honda team and, if his career current path is to be followed, then take over from Jorge Lorenzo as number one in the sport.
The teenager won the 125cc world championship in 2010 before adding the Moto2 crown this year, continuing a rise up the feeder classes which mirrors that of multiple world champion Valentino Rossi.
Lorenzo has since taken over the mantle of Italian Rossi and as next season brings the friends and rivals back together at Yamaha then 2013 may be one year too early for Marquez to unseat Lorenzo as the world's best.
But if Rossi and his natural successor as the sport's showman spend the season knocking lumps off each other from opposing sides of the Yamaha garage there is no reason why Marquez will not take advantage.
With a battling style well suited to last-lap passes Marquez could well be making his mark on the MotoGP podium from the early rounds of the 2013 championship season.
Hailing from the small town of Cervera, Marquez is sure to attract plenty of support when he joins the ranks of MotoGP's world stars.
The 2013 calendar will take in races at Jerez, Barcelona, Aragon and Valencia so Marquez will have plenty of chances to shine on home asphalt during his debut MotoGP season.
And with those races regularly attracting crowds of over 100,000 there will be no shortage of backing for a rider who has followed Pedrosa and Lorenzo through the tried and trusted school of Spanish motorcycle racing.
Marquez's rise to the top could coincide with the fall of Pedrosa who was for so long the darling of the Spanish fans.
The arrival or Lorenzo and inconsistency and injuries have combined to deny Pedrosa what many thought was his rightful ascendancy to world champion.
Marquez is set to become the new Spanish hero of MotoGP and perhaps consign Pedrosa's career to the history books with his search for that elusive title set to be an incomplete journey.
Marquez hopes to put what he learned in the feeder classes to good use when he steps up to MotoGP.
"125cc taught me to be quick on the bike. In Moto2 I have learnt to think on the bike: sometimes you cannot win and must pick up as many points as possible.
"MotoGP is a very different class. In Moto2 the key is scraping fairings, while in MotoGP many times it comes down to pulling clear by yourself and the strategies of each rider.
"It's a dream come true. My dream was always to ride in MotoGP and make a space for myself amongst the best riders in history.
"Going up to MotoGP with the best team in my first year is a privilege. I thank everyone for giving me the opportunity. I am definitely not going to waste it," added Marquez.
Winning the final Moto2 race of his career in Valencia after starting 33rd on the grid - on a day when Pedrosa took the final MotoGP race of the season - has only served to enhance Marquez's already established reputation.
Another rider looking to make his mark in MotoGP after stepping up from Moto2 will be Britain's Bradley Smith.
Like Marquez, Smith made his mark in 125cc GPs but his rise to MotoGP has been a more considered one.
Smith will remain with the Tech 3 Yamaha team where he will form one half of an all-British MotoGP line-up alongside Cal Crutchlow.
Although it can't match Spain and Italy for spectator interest, Britain has a long history of motorcycle racing world champions.
Crutchlow has been ploughing something of a lone furrow for British hopes in MotoGP in recent seasons.
The arrival of Smith as his closest rival should give British fans even more reasons to smile in 2013.