An unmarked van arrives in the spacious parking area of the Rufea facility, five minutes from the center of Lleida, a small metropolis approximately an hour west of Barcelona, deep into the Catalan region of Spain. It’s December, and although sunny, a thin layer of cold fog tightly wraps the hard-pack, flat, and low-profiled jumps of the adjacent motocross track.
Marc Marquez, the MotoGP World Champion, jumps out of the van, driven by his father, Julià, and with younger brother and former Moto3 world champ Alex also in tow. The Marquez family originates from the nearby town of Cervera, and they still live there. Marc’s friend and assistant (and former MX2 Spanish Motocross Champion) Jose Luis Martinez wanders over. After some warm greetings and comments about how we’ll have to wait for the mist to clear and the approaching sun to slightly thaw the frozen mud, the Marquez family opens the van and starts to wheel out their Hondas. The interior of the vehicle is impeccably clean and well ordered; Alpinestars gear and spare tires and tools all have their place.
This is no novel outing for Marquez. Rufea was the site of his first laps and feeling of speed as a child, and that opened the path to the 25-year-old becoming a motorcycle racing phenomenon and five-time MotoGP #1. Marc’s life is a bedlam of HRC, sponsor, and media commitments, both on and off the track. He must rank as the hardest-working and most visual athlete in MotoGP. There seems little time for rest. We’re in Rufea and asking him to be in front of another camera and behind another tape recorder purely because we want to talk about his passion: motocross.
“I’m from—and I live in—the right region for motocross,” Marquez explains. “There are more motocross tracks around than road racing tracks. My parents were volunteers for Moto Club Segre, which organized races at those tracks, and they helped with running the events, flagging, on the entrance. My mum also worked in the concessions preparing sandwiches. I was in that environment from a very young age, and I remember writing my Christmas list for a ‘bike to make jumps!’"
Main image: Juan Pablo Acevedo