Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo took an imperious victory in today’s Motegi MotoGP race but a second for Marc Marquez at Honda’s home track was enough for him to take a second successive world championship.
All Marquez had to do was finish in front of Valentino Rossi and duly did, passing The Doctor with nine laps to go, crossing the line 1.6s behind Lorenzo and with two seconds in hand over Rossi while Dani Pedrosa’s fourth was enough to tie Rossi for second place in the championship.
Marquez is now the youngest rider to take two successive world titles, beating Mike Hailwood’s former mark by some 18 months and is fast running out of records to beat. The battle is now on for second place with Lorenzo closing in on team-mate Rossi and Pedrosa with his 25 points today.
“It is special. Maybe people think the championship look easy but believe me the pressure was there. I am always smiling and everything but I feel the pressure too. Getting the title for Honda at the home circuit is incredible for me too. I still can't take it in, I think it will take a while to sink in,” said Marquez in parc ferme.
It was a race of very little drama, if the truth be told, with Rossi storming into the lead from a front-row start, Lorenzo second and poleman Andrea Dovizioso in third after half a lap while Marquez got stuck behind Andrea Iannone and Pedrosa.
Rossi had fast pace in the early stages and pulled a gap on Lorenzo but the Spaniard was soon on the Italian’s rear wheel as Marquez passed Pedrosa for fifth and Britain’s Cal Crutchlow crashed out.
A lap later, Marquez was past Iannone for fourth while Lorenzo broke the lap record only for Marquez to crack it again in his pursuit of Dovizioso. Lorenzo passed Rossi for the lead into turn 11 with 20 laps to go and promptly cleared off, putting in the fastest lap of the race with a 1’45.350.
Marquez took his time catching up to Dovizioso, passing him for the final rostrum spot with 16 laps to go and set off after Rossi while Pedrosa started to wake up and also reel in the Ducati man.
As Lorenzo extended his lead to the business end of two seconds, Marquez was looking for a way past The Doctor and did so into turn nine with ten laps left but Rossi was straight back past a corner later but Marquez made the same move stick a lap after.
He didn’t manage to put much of a gap on Rossi though and the Italian was able to pull back time in a couple of sectors but Marquez just had his measure when the chequered flag came out.
Pedrosa passed Dovizioso with 11 to go and his third place was enough to keep Rossi honest in the race for second. The pair tie for second place on 230 points while Lorenzo is now only three points further back.
Dovizioso kept hold of his fifth place with Iannone sixth, Stefan Bradl seventh and Pol Espargaro eighth. Bradley Smith was ninth and Alvaro Bautista rounded out the top ten.
Scott Redding finished outside the points in 16th after running in 12th early on while Michael Laverty was 18th.