So to whom will the 2020s belong?
Well, as Mr Honda once memorably told us at the 1985 Spanish GP, the last European race he attended in person, “if we knew who was going to win, it would not be necessary to have the race”. But if you were to insist on a prediction, it would be necessary to say that – for the immediately foreseeable future – there is only one person who can beat the currently dominant Marc Marquez. The Repsol Honda rider himself.
Having made a career of bouncing back from crashes, sooner or later (the conventional wisdom dictates) fate will take its revenge.
Marquez had the hard job of taking control of the premier series from everybody’s darling Valentino, and a vast and still highly mobilised army of Rossi fans have never forgiven him. There are still frequently boos and jeers when he stands on top of the premier-class podium. A feat he has achieved 57 times in seven years, compared with Rossi’s 89 times in 20.
Of course Rossi hasn’t given up trying to better than, but he has never really recovered from the hiatus of his own move to Ducati for two years, in 2011 and 2012.
It is interesting that the man who effectively ousted Valentino from Yamaha, Jorge Lorenzo, was successful when he made the same move to the Italian marque, but was himself flummoxed and sent into unplanned early retirement with his own mis-step, joining Marquez at Honda in 2019. It was a painful and humiliating experience.