Marc Marquez bounced back from two big practice crashes to win the Thailand MotoGP, and in turn take his sixth premier class world title, and his eight across all three classes.
The Spaniard suffered a huge crash in Friday’s opening free practice session and slipped off again during qualifying, however despite being able to take safe finish to secure the title, he gave a typical Marquez performance to take his ninth win of the season.
In an almost carbon copy of the previous round in Aragon, the Spaniard mugged rising star Fabio Quartararo at the last corner to take his 53rd MotoGP victory. Marquez hadn’t needed to win the race to win the title, requiring only to beat main rival Andrea Dovizioso by two points, but with the Italian unable to challenge from a distant fourth place, any podium finish would have secured the title for the Repsol Honda rider.
As it was, Marquez took the crown in style. In a typically elaborate celebration the Spaniard’s team set up an American pool table by the side of the track, at which the champion stopped to sink the black 8 ball.
“I’m very happy. I’m so happy,” said Marquez. “When you have an advantage like I had you realise you are so close to the championship but you need to find something to keep you motivated. Today it was winning the race and it’s what I did. Fabio was so fast during the race but I never gave up, even during the middle of the race where it looked like he was escaping. It was a beautiful way to win the championship – even if I wasn’t thinking about it on the last lap! Arriving in parc ferme with the whole Repsol Honda Team there was fantastic; it’s a dream to do it with the whole fan club and the nice celebration. Every year is special, it’s not easy to keep everything perfect each year to fight for the title and I had a very hard winter with the injury but myself, the team and HRC managed it well. Now we’ll enjoy this feeling a little bit!”
Quartararo was magnanimous in defeat, adding: It was an amazing race, thanks largely to feeling so comfortable with the bike from the very beginning. Unfortunately, we didn’t finish on the top step of the podium, but we were able to have another fight with the new world champion right to the last corner. It was an important race because we’ve made another step forward at a track that isn’t exactly perfect for us. Marc’s race pace in practice was three tenths of a second a lap faster than us, but we were able to battle with him. I gave it my all in the last corner because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to sleep until the next race in Japan, and I can’t wait to head there next!”
Making it two Yamahas on the podium was Maverick Vinales, and the top three finished 10 seconds ahead of the chasing pack.
Marquez’ achievement was all the more remarkable considering the apparent lack of competitiveness of the Hondas at the Buriram circuit. Behind the champ, Takaaki Nakagami was the next best RCV rider in 10th, while Britain’s Cal Crutchlow struggled to 13th and multiple world champion Jorge Lorenzo, team-mate to Marquez at Repsol Honda, finished out of the points in 18th.
“Today was not a great result, but considering the first five laps of the race it was very difficult,” said Crutchlow. “I had a brake issue at the start of the race and I was unable to stop, so I had to figure out how to ride the bike with that front brake problem. Then, once I was alone and able to ride, I was able to pick riders off. So I lost a lot of time over the first laps of the race, but then I managed to ride my own race to grab a few points in what was a difficult race weekend. We know we need to improve as a team, and also myself, for the next race in Japan. We also have to give congratulations to Marc Marquez and Honda on the achievement of winning the championship and now we look forward to Japan.”
The championship continues next weekend with the Japanese Grand Prix, held at the Honda owned Twin Ring Motegi circuit.