A vintage season that went down to the wire in Valencia climaxed with the crowning of Marc Marquez as the sport’s youngest-ever MotoGP champion.
Jorge Lorenzo, who came off second best in the tightest title tussle in two decades, predicted that the Honda starlet could dominate for years.
“We have been watching one of the most incredible riders that has come into a new category in history,” said the man Marquez dethroned. “He is talented, fast, ambitious and brave ... [and will be] world champion for many years.”
Despite setting new standards for a MotoGP rookie for wins, podiums and pole positions, Marquez, who still lives at home, insists his newfound fame will not not go to his head.
“I still have to clean my room, I have to do my bed. I prepare the table and my brother cleans the table. It’s always been like that,” he told the BBC.
Lorenzo ended up winning the championship decider in Valencia, but a third-place finish for Marquez clinched the young pretender the season’s crown by four points.
He turned up in MotoGP as Moto2 champion, but not even his most fervent supporter could have envisaged what lay ahead as he replaced Casey Stoner at Honda.
It took Marquez, whose passion for motorbikes was ignited when his parents gave him a motorbike for his fourth birthday, until just the second race of the season to signal his intentions.
His victory at the Circuit of Americas GP in Austin, Texas, made Marquez the youngest ever MotoGP winner at the tender age of 20 years, two months and five days.
He rattled off four consecutive wins in mid-season, his precocious skill and consistency aided by injuries suffered by Lorenzo and his Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa pushing him clear of the pack.
Lorenzo conjured up a magnificent end-of-season rally, which left Marquez requiring a top-four finish in Valencia to make MotoGP history.
“It was the longest race of the year for me, I was very nervous before the start,” Marquez said after breaking Freddie Spencer’s record as the youngest champion set in 1983. “But the most important thing is that we have made the dream come true, perhaps a little quickly because I didn’t expect it.”
Pedrosa had started out as many pundits’ favorite to claim his first MotoGP crown, but he had to settle for a top-three finish in the standings for the sixth time.
That disappointment aside, Pedrosa was sporting in his praise for his Honda teammate.
“He has had a fantastic year, is a deserving champion and we should all congratulate him,” he said.
After a debut third in Qatar, Marquez entered the MotoGP record books at the second time of asking at Austin.
Podium finishes then followed at Jerez, Le Mans, Catalunya and Assen before striking gold again at Sachsenring in Germany, Laguna, Indianapolis and Brno in the Czech Republic.
Despite only adding one more win to that tally, at Aragon, Marquez ended last year having only failed to climb onto the podium in two of the season’s 18 races.
Among those to offer up their congratulations was Mark Webber, Red Bull’s retiring Formula One driver who described him as “a special little bloke.”
Aiming to follow Marquez’s example this year is Pol Espargaro, who has joined the Yamaha Tech 3 team after claiming the Moto2 title.
MotoGP is not for the faint hearted, with Marquez, Pedrosa and Lorenzo all requiring visits to the operating table during the year.
And the sport’s ever-present dangers were reinforced with the death of former Italian rider Doriano Romboni at an event to celebrate Mario Simoncelli, who died at the Malaysian Grand Prix in 2011.
Marquez’s title defense this year will take him to South America where MotoGP returns for the first time in a decade with races planned for Argentina and Brazil.