Marc Marquez extended his lead in the MotoGP World Championship to 77 points after beating out Andrea Dovizioso on the final lap of the first ever Thai Grand Prix.
Starting from the pole position, Marquez got a good start, but after five laps the Spaniard relinquished the lead to his bitter rival Valentino Rossi. Rossi was stalking Marquez from the off and made the move with Dovizioso following him through.
Unfortunately for the Italian his lead lasted only six laps when both Marquez and Dovizioso then went under Rossi and the lead duo tried to edge away and continued to put a tenth or two into Rossi.
Maverick Vinales managed to stay with the front-runners and from the midway point started making forward progress. Overtaking Johann Zarco and then Cal Crutchlow, on lap twenty, Vinales then went up to third ahead of Rossi.
With three laps to go, Marquez started applying pressure to Dovizioso and made a couple of attempts to take the lead, however, every time Marquez made a move, the factory Ducati man would stick his GP18 straight back under the Repsol Honda.
Going into the final lap, Dovizioso led Marquez, but on turn five, Marquez released his brakes and slid under the Italian. Dovi attempted to fight back but couldn’t do anything immediately. He then set himself up for a block pass into the final corner, and despite his best efforts, he drifted slightly wide leaving enough space for the World Champion to slide back under, giving Marquez his seventh win of 2018 by 0.115 seconds.
Waiting for any potential scraps that didn’t come his way, Vinales was third and just ahead of Rossi as Yamaha’s long wait for a win continues for at least another two weeks.
Johann Zarco’s block pass on Alex Rins on the final lap saw him finish top independent rider in fifth, his best finish in a race since his second place back in Jerez.
Cal Crutchlow was seventh just holding off Alvaro Bautista with Danilo Petrucci and Jack Miller rounding out the top ten. Andrea Iannone was eleventh on his factory Suzuki just ahead of Hafizh Syahrin. Aleix Espargaro gambled on a soft rear tyre and he ended thirteenth on his factory Aprilia with Franco Morbidelli and Bradley Smith rounding out the point scorers.
The only rider to not finish the race was Dani Pedrosa. The diminutive Spaniard was making progress on his factory Honda, only to loose the front end and crash out, thankfully unharmed.
With his 77-point lead, mathematically only Dovizioso and Rossi can prevent Marquez from winning his seventh World Championship and should Marquez beat win in Japan, the title race will be over.