Two separate careers to be precise, and what careers they have been.
With a total of 14 World championships between them, Jonathan Rea 6x WSBK champion, and Marc Marquez 6x MotoGP World Champion, as well as both 125cc, and 250cc champions. Both riders have their upcoming birthdays next month in February, with Jonny turning 37, and Marc turning 31. Now in the twilight years of their respective careers, they both still feel they have a point to prove, and perhaps, also prove a few critics and naysayers wrong.
The end of the 2023 season saw an emotional Rea walk away from the Kawasaki Racing Team, an incredibly long partnership that saw him dominate many seasons and claim 6x World titles, becoming arguably their best WSBK rider. The struggles of the Kawasaki team over the past few seasons were well documented and a frustrated Rea could do no more than look on in envy at the sheer flawless nature of Alvaro Bautista’s wins on the Aruba.it Racing Ducati, which saw the Spaniard claim back-to-back championships.
Prior to the Ducati dominance in both WSBK and MotoGP, 2021 was the year of Yamaha, with both Toprak Razgatlioglu on the R1, and Fabio Quartararo on the M1 claiming their respective world championship crowns. In WSBK that year Toprak was a joy to watch, pushing the R1 to its absolute limits. Rea however, was once again left frustrated with the performance of the Kawasaki, only managing to finish runner up.
There was a time when Marc Marquez was considered unstoppable on the Repsol Honda RC213V, dominating his rivals and racking up incredible statistics in the process. His 2019 winning season and 6th overall in the premier class, was testament to the absolute insane level of skill he possessed at that time. He won 12 races and finished on the podium in 18 out of 19 rounds, amassing an eye watering 420 points, which was also a points record at that time. Not to mention beating riders like Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, and Andrea Dovizioso in the process.
Sadly, subsequent seasons have seen Marc suffer virtually career ending injuries, with many speculating that he’d never return. The fact that he did return, albeit on an under-performing Honda, speaks volumes about his mental resilience and sheer unquenchable desire to continue riding and return to winning ways.
2023 was not a happy season for Marc and saw him crash a total of 29 times, the most out of any rider across all the classes in MotoGP, according to the MotoGP falls report, published by Dorna media officer, Frine Velilla. That was a figure he himself had not got close to since the season of 2017, where he crashed 27 times. Similar to Jonathan Rea, a disconsolate Marc could do no more then look on as Francesco Bagnaia, rode his Ducati to back-to-back championships.
As the curtain closed on the 2023 season, both Rea and Marc walked away from their respective teams, buying their way out of lucrative contracts in the process. Rea secured a ride with the Pata Prometeon Yamaha WSBK Team onboard the R1, while Marc, will be joining his brother Alex in the Gresini Racing Team onboard the Ducati.
As race fans eagerly anticipate the start of the 2024 season, the fact that these two legends of motorcycle racing are still racing, is an absolute bonus to the sport, as well as a credit to the resilience of each of their own characters and the determination to succeed, continuing to push onwards for the next taste of race winning glory.