One of them espoused by riders over the generations is that “I prefer to do my talking on the track”. So there is something very reassuring when one of the young generation does exactly that, without feeling the need to articulate the threat.
The 2018 season kicked off with maximum tension between the two major riders. Valentino Rossi is the leader of the old guard: massively popular and successful, seven premier-class titles in his cupboard and amazingly still properly competitive as he knocks on the door of 40, already signed up for another two years.
Marc Marquez, now 25, is the young Turk. His current MotoGP title is his fourth, and while he appears to be at the height of his powers since he is still getting better year on year who knows how much more he can improve? And the two are at loggerheads. Big time.
What had, at least outwardly, been a friendly rivalry went badly sour in 2015. Rossi had been leading on points, but his advantage was being whittled away by Yamaha team-mate Lorenzo. In Australia Marquez defeated Lorenzo (Rossi fourth). Then, inexplicably, Rossi attacked – accusing Marquez of trying to help Lorenzo (Eh? By costing him five points?) Next race in Malaysia Rossi indulged in an extraordinarily petulant display, deliberately slowing Marquez, and eventually pushing (maybe even kicking) him into a crash. A back-of-the-grid penalty at the final round, where this time a thoroughly miffed Marquez definitely did help Lorenzo, by letting him win, meant Rossi lost the title by five points.
It was all clear enough. Valentino was feeling threatened, and after so many years of serial (sometimes brutal) domination, he didn’t like the taste of being deposed. A sore loser. Even so, his vaulting popularity means the vast majority of the fans (already wearing his clothing) took his side. Henceforth, Marquez would be booed on the podium every time he won... which was most of the time.