An unforgettable moment
After crossing the finish line at the Asian circuit, Jorge Martin was visibly moved, tears rolling down his cheeks. On the screen, he could see that his main rival, Marco Bezzecchi, had finished in fifth position. The title was his. Moments later he saw his father, by the first turn, ready to celebrate.
Father and son embraced. Watching the scene, the memories of older, harder times rushed in. The journey to success has been plagued with difficulties for the Spaniard. As Jorge Martin himself put it…“It has been a succession of family sacrifices, personal struggles, financial hardship, accidents, injuries…and ‘sandwiches’ to realize a dream.”
A ‘biker’ boy from Madrid
As odd as it might seem, a pilot born in Madrid (a city that has long ago forsaken its biking tradition) has become this year’s Moto3 champion. Our hero grew up very near the Jarama circuit in Madrid, in the small locality of San Sebastián de los Reyes. It is likely that he could hear the roar of the competition engines and feel the intoxicating gasoline smell from his very home. Both that atmosphere and an inherited passion for motorcycling races from his father –an amateur driver- made Jorge Martín interested in riding.
A champions’ school in Valencia
His parents soon realised that the only way for their 9-year-old son to pursue his passion was to leave the Spanish capital. There and then, they decided to pack up their few belongings and set sail to the promised land. They had to find the perfect place for their boy to develop and polish those innate skill and love for speed that he had enjoyed from such an early age.
They landed in Valencia at the Ricardo Tormo Cradle of Champions’ programme which soon became the school that this brilliant pupil needed. The above programme awarded the family with a small grant which partly covered the expenses of their son’s very honourable but not very lucrative passion. The extra cash was a great relief for the family’s modest income and the only way they were able to fully support Jorge’s dream.
First international appearances
As a very promising and disciplined 14-year-old-boy, Jorge Martín was able to make the jump to the Red Bull Rookies Cup (RBR) in 2012. This was a key moment in his competitive career as it positioned him in the international scene. Now the family only had to pay for the Europe-wide plane tickets as the Red Bull Cup was taking care of all other expenses.
Aware of having just his talent to succeed, the family unable to afford the approximately 200.000 euros that would cost to compete in the world Championship, he really gave it all he had on the track. He came in second in 2013 and a year later he became the first Spaniard to win the Red Bull Rookies Cup. Another step towards the summit.
‘Aspar’ opens the door to the World Championship for Martín
It is at this point that many others like him have failed. In fact, the list of pilots that have not been able to succeed in the World Championship after shinning in young talent contests is very long. But this was not to be Jorge martin’s case.
In 2015 he crossed paths with a sporting angel of the same name: Jorge Martinez, ‘Aspar’. Aspar signed him for his team, the Mapfre Team Mahindra Moto3. His best result of the season was a seventh position at the Aragon Grand Prix and he achieved 45 points in total. A considerable achievement for a novice.
The season after that he remained within the same team. He finished sixteenth in the standings with 72 points and managed a second position at the Check Republic Grand Prix. Over this two years, Jorge Martinez became a more experienced and confident driver. He showed the world he had what it takes to be a champion on board those rebellious Indian bikes.
The first poles, podiums and victories
It was clear that this boy had the foundations to do great things and so thought the Del Conga Gresini Moto3 Scuderia. They signed the Spaniard to be ‘Pecco Bagnaia’s (newly Moto2 Champion) team-mate.
At the Italian team, he was able to work with Honda equipment for two years. Jorge Martin honoured the brand by getting nine podiums, the record number of poles in the category (9) and a fourth place in the standings. For his first victory, however, we had to wait until the last race of the season, the Comunidad Valenciana Grand Prix.
It was apparent that joining the Italian team had been a great step forward at both the competitive and personal levels. Then, Albert Valera, Jorge Lorenzo’s manager, also became Jorge Martin’s. The young pilot started training with the champion from the Balearic Islands as well as with Aleix Espargaró. He also worked with ‘Chicho’ Lorenzo, father of the Ducati driver, whose cutting-edge biomechanical technology helped him improve his performance on the track.
He soon moved his home to Andorra. It was a two-year stage when Jorge Martín took off and launched his career right up to the present moment when he has become World Champion of Moto3.
The struggle for the title
Jorge Martin’s very successful 2018 season, however, has not gone completely smooth. His second victory at a World Championship came on the first race of 2018 at the Qatar Grand Prix. He won again in the United States, Italy, Holland, Germany, Aragon and Malaysia, where he sealed his first crown.
Despite the seven triumphs and his great consistency, he had to face the toughest of rivals: The injuries. He fractured his left arm in the Check Republic, although seven days later he was giving it all again in Australia, where he finished in a very well deserved third position.
Later on, at the Thai Grand Prix and when he had almost completely recovered, a massage gone wrong in his still injured arm, left him unable to move it. The team geniuses created a special glove featuring some plastic extensions that allowed him to use the breaks. And in this way, the Spaniard carried on until the end, with just one race to go till the end of the Championship. As he usually says: “If it is harder to achieve it tastes better”. Well done Martinator! (The famous nickname he has finally resigned to).
Main image: Jorge Martín Twitter.