AUTO #24 - Riding head first towards safety | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

AUTO #24 - Riding head first towards safety

08.10.18

MotoGP championship leader and FIA #3500LIVES campaign ambassador Marc Márquez is prepared to push to the limit in pursuit of a fifth world title, but away from the track the motorcycle racing star is determined to encourage riders in developing countries to wear a helmet.

You were one of the first personalities to join the FIA’s #3500LIVES campaign. Why do you believe a campaign such as this, which seeks to bring simple road safety messages to a global audience via billboard space, is important?

I think that public figures have to take advantage of their image to spread the word about good causes and there’s no doubt that #3500LIVES is a great campaign which can create a very positive impact around the world. This is fundamental to catch the attention of people and plant a seed in their minds.

The message you are promoting is ‘wear a helmet’. Before you became involved in the campaign were you aware of just how much of an issue the lack of helmet use is in emerging economies?

I was very aware of this, as I’ve seen it with my own eyes when I’ve been in Asia for MotoGP races and other events. The first time I saw people riding without a helmet it was a little bit shocking for me, because at home [in Spain] nobody rides a bike without a helmet. I hope this campaign will help to increase the number of people who ride their bikes with a helmet on.

You come from a dangerous sporting world but it’s one where the risks are controlled and where safety is paramount. What do you say to motorcycle riders about taking risks on the road?

When us riders are at the circuit we feel very safe because we know that every detail is being controlled for professionals. On the open road, however, it’s not like this. A little mistake can have a tragic end and that’s why it’s very important to ride carefully.

The quality of equipment at your disposal in MotoGP is obviously crucial too. Does that translate to the road? For example, should people be careful about the kind of safety gear they buy?

In MotoGP, we wear top-quality equipment to minimise the risks as much as possible and this is something that should be translated to the road to the greatest extent possible. Investing in equipment with standard marks and quality indicators is investing in your safety and your life, and there is nothing more valuable than that.

There’s another aspect to motorcycle safety and that’s awareness on the part of car and truck drivers that they are sharing the road with motorcyclists and bicycles. What would you say to drivers about paying attention to motorcyclists on the road and what would you say to motorcyclists to help them stay safer in traffic?

The most important thing is to understand that we all share the road and we need to respect each other. If you drive or ride recklessly you are not just putting yourself in danger, but other riders and drivers too.

Is there any campaign message you are also keen to promote or one that you’ve had personal experience of?

In Spain, from time to time, there are TV campaigns with different road safety messages. Some of them are very shocking because they explain real situations and accidents that happen on the road, which make you think about the importance of using seatbelts, driving sober and not using your phone while driving.

On two wheels you are enjoying a hugely successful 2018 season. Would you say you’re at your best level ever this year, or is there more to come?

This year, I feel very good on the bike. We’ve worked hard with the factory and the team in order to have a complete package that makes us competitive on all the tracks, and this is most important. Of course, there are always things we want to improve, but we are happy with the situation at the moment.

There have been some spectacular moments in MotoGP this year with some incredible races, such as Assen, which you won after a six-way fight for the lead. How much are you enjoying the battles?

I love these kinds of races, as any other MotoGP fan does. I had so much fun in Assen, even if that wasn’t the best type of race for me considering the situation in the championship. I hope we can provide more shows like that in the races to come.

You recently drove a Formula 1 car at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. How did you find it? Did it make you think at all about switching to car racing at some point?

It was amazing and I’ll never forget that experience. The thing that impressed me the most was the downforce in the fast corners – that was incredible and I enjoyed it a lot. For the moment, I don’t think about switching because I am very happy in MotoGP, but of course I would like to drive an F1 car again in the future.

Finally, beyond always wearing a helmet, what are your tips for safe motorcycling on the road?

Always wear the right safety equipment, such as a jacket and gloves, and stay focused on the road so that you’re able to react to any unforeseen incidents.

 

Click here to read AUTO Magazine #24