[Intervista] – Giacomo Agostini, champion of motorcycling – the only rider to have achieved 15 world titles in 13 disputed seasons – and the growing success of the Spaniard Marc Marquez in the current MotoGP, offer us the pretext to understand how much the “champion-myth” is necessary sap for the sport.
Giacomo Agostini for a champion born in 1942, what effect does it have to see Marc Marquez, born in 1993, three times world champion, equal his record of ten consecutive victories?
“I have never considered my ten consecutive victories to be a record. Throughout my career, that result had never been considered by me worthy of a record, to the point that I have never even heard of it from others, journalists, observers or colleagues. Today with the result achieved by Marc Marquez he praises the equaled record. We are all proud of our victories. I struggle to understand how a driver can be happy to have obtained a statement equal to that achieved by another and the latter can be happy to have lost it. It is a condition that I cannot understand ”.
The 311 victories achieved in official races, 123 victories in Grand Prix, 163 podiums in 190 races through a career that began in 1961 and ended in 1977 with a loot of 15 World Championships have an important weight and a unique significance …
“In whatever field the man is involved, from the athlete to the journalist, from the musician to the researcher, everyone is animated by the pride to be able to consider themselves better than others, to feel ‘the best’. What is certain is that if an important record is broken, it can be displeasing to those who are outdone in performance. Records are such to be broken. If one of my records were to remain undefeated, it is obvious that I would remain satisfied with the primacy achieved and maintained over time as an absolute reference, but I would not make it a disease otherwise. Life goes on and the world turns, just as I have broken the record that once belonged to a rival, so tomorrow there will be another who will have the opportunity to equal or surpass me ”.
Just as it was for Manuel Fangio, Valentino Rossi and Giacomo Agostini himself, it is possible that a “cannibal” of your race may find more motivation by switching to another team or another “machine” to discover and dominate a ” means “different from the previous one?
“I was happy and proud to be at MV Agusta, with which I won so much and where I felt at home, considering the team my second family. I slept and ate with my mechanics and the understanding, as well as the affection between all of us, was really important. When I realized that the four-stroke engine had reached such a level of technological development that it was impossible to increase the horsepower, I decided to switch at the end of 1973 to the Yamaha two-stroke, in order to continue my career in the best possible way. . In fact, since then, for twenty years, motorcycle races have been dominated by two-stroke engines ”.
Could Marc Marquez have the urge to change, proving to be the best of all, regardless of the medium?
“I think it represents a very difficult hypothesis to realize. The engines today are all four-stroke and I believe a return to the two-stroke engine is unlikely for many reasons, first of all that of pollution. Marquez competes successfully on a bike that is produced by the largest manufacturer in the world. I don’t think Marc has such intentions or incentives to induce him to change, switching to boiled rice after tasting the caviar… ”.
MV Agusta was “the caviar” in comparison with other manufacturers, respectable names, such as Aermacchi, Benelli, Bultaco, Kawasaki, Matchless, Norton, Triumph, Suzuki and Yamaha …
“It’s true. I changed when I realized that the team was running aground in development. If Marquez realized that another manufacturer was able to propose a better technology, he would surely leave Honda, just as I had left MV Agusta for the same reason ”.
Adjectives about Marquez’s qualities are wasted and journalists are now struggling to find new definitions to affirm the skills of this champion of today’s motorcycling …
“Marquez deservedly finds himself in a wonderful moment in his career. He is the best, the smartest and the most intelligent of all the pilots around him. God gave him everything because to be a great talent you need to have many elements to your advantage. There were many truly capable drivers who, for various reasons, won little or nothing. Instead, Marquez is in a position to be considered a great rider, in a little while… ”.
In Marquez, in addition to the desire to succeed – unlike other riders – we can read the pleasure of pure and genuine fun for competition …
“Love and passion give birth to a pilot. When becoming a pilot is the thing you most want from life, along with the satisfaction of the result. The enjoyment of seeing one’s abilities and aspirations realized is a logical consequence. I had fun and was happy in competing, just as it certainly was for Valentino Rossi when he won… ”.
In terms of interest, the bike still enjoys good acclaim as viewers and for the audience in the stands, contrary to that of Formula 1 which is in decline. Is there a risk that Marquez’s dominance could kill the audience?
“No! It is not true that this possibility exists. Everyone, we all want the myth and its timely affirmation, confirming its qualities and fame. We all went to see Eddy Merckx, Cassius Clay or Ayrton Senna who are still talked about as if he were still alive. Myth becomes the one who repeats himself in the performance, at the cost of becoming monotonous every Sunday with a full result conquered in front of everyone’s eyes. If at each race there were alternating winners, at the end of the championship no name would strike the collective imagination. Today, however, everyone is wondering what result Marquez achieved: it confirms the expectations that fuel the passion for sport through the myth. In my day I was criticized for the constant victories: “Agostini stewed”. But in the stands there were two hundred thousand people every Sunday, every Sunday tired of seeing me first at the finish line ”.
So Formula 1 is in crisis not only for the public, because it has been orphaned by a myth for a long time – perhaps too long?
“Of course! For some time, Formula 1 no longer has the great driver understood as a great champion capable of confirming expectations through his own – almost monotonous – statement that represents the measure of man’s skills. Armando Maradona or Pele knew very well how they played, yet we always went to see them. Cassius Clay always won, yet he filled the sports arenas because the public was waiting for his affirmation, confirmation. The confirmation that the champion-myth can give. In today’s Formula 1 there is none ”.