Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez today lifted his seventh career motorcycling world championship, his fifth in the premier MotoGP class, with a win at the Japanese Grand Prix.
The 25-year-old Spaniard arrived in Japan with a 77 point lead over Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso, and faced a race long battle with the Italian, as well as Brit Cal Crutchlow, that was ended when ‘Dovi’ crashed out of the lead with less than two laps remaining. The result sees Marquez take an unbeatable advantage of 102 points into the final three races, with just 75 points up for grab.
“I feel really, really good,” said Marquez, who celebrated with an elaborate ‘Level7’ video game theme. “I would say it’s a dream came true, or better, that I’m living a dream. It’s something so special, here together with my team, all the Honda and HRC people, my family and my staff. It has been a great season, and ever since Aragon I’ve been tasting, imagining this title, because it was very close. Then I realized that this wasn’t my style, and I needed extra motivation, so I set the goal of trying to achieve it with my first match ball—in Motegi, by winning the race. This circuit was a challenging one to manage that, but it seems like when I’m under pressure, I feel better on the bike! Today the race was as I expected. I was prepared to make a good start and immediately make some passes. I got to second place at the end of the first lap, and then was able to follow Andrea and stay with him. I thought I could try and attack before the last lap because I felt I had something extra to give. He was pushing very hard and made a mistake, and that’s a shame because he deserved to be here on the podium. Anyway, when I crossed the finish line it was an explosion of joy. My people prepared this Level7 celebration, but I didn’t know anything ahead of time. I never want to know, but I think it’s because I used to play that kind of game a lot. Now it’s time to celebrate this seventh title and enjoy these final three races.”
Dovizioso was magnanimous in defeat, admitting: “I’m obviously pretty disappointed because we wanted to win this race at all costs, but all in all it has been a positive weekend because we were very quick and we confirmed our competitiveness. Even though we did a good race we were unable to make the difference against Marquez, and so I want to congratulate him because also this year he deserved to win the championship. Pity about the crash: I didn’t overdo it but simply tried to prepare for the exit of the turn in the best possible way in order to attack him and I made a small mistake that cost me dearly.”
Crutchlow’s second place sees him close to within seven points of Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales in the battle for fourth in the championship. He added: “Everyone saw it was a good battle today. We’re pleased with the result at Honda’s home race and the Team’s done a fantastic job. The problem we had was that Dovi (Dovizioso) kept slowing down the pace so it allowed the people behind to catch up, but I think we did a great job managing the situation.
“I was struggling a little bit on the left hand side with the rear grip so I was trying to save the tyre for the end of the race and keep (Alex) Rins at bay, that’s all I needed to do. Then Dovi crashed and I took second place so in the end I was very pleased. At the moment we’re riding very, very well, we’ve had some good results lately and now we head to Phillip Island in good spirits.”
Alex Rins took third on his Suzuki, while Bradley Smith scored points for a 12thplace finish on his KTM, with Scott Redding 19thon his Aprilia.