Marquez wins season as Rossi, Lorenzo crash
MARC Marquez grabbed his third world championship by winning the Japan Grand Prix yesterday with rivals Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo crashing out in a stunning surprise.
The 23-year-old Honda rider became the youngest man to win three premier-class world championship titles, and did so at Honda’s home circuit, where he had never won before, with three more races remaining in the season.
Marquez finished the 24-lap race in 42 minutes 34.610 sec in dry, sunny conditions, 2.992 seconds ahead of Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso and 4.104 seconds ahead of Maverick Vinales of Suzuki.
“Obviously, amazing ... Amazing feeling,” Marquez said immediately after his victory with a big smile, his face flushed with excitement.
He knew he had a chance to claim the trophy but securing it would require Yamaha duo Rossi and Lorenzo to perform uncharacteristically slowly, so Marquez focused on expanding his 52-point lead against Rossi.
He started second on the grid, after Rossi. Last season’s champion Lorenzo also started in the front row.
The Spaniard took the first corner, but was quickly overtaken by Lorenzo, who had a commanding lead in the race’s early phase.
On the second lap Marquez and Rossi swapped places several times, with the Honda rider keeping the upper hand.
In the fourth lap, Marquez closed in on Lorenzo to take the lead and gradually expanded the gap.
With 19 laps to go, Rossi also passed Lorenzo to pursue Marquez. But in the following lap, the Italian slipped on the tarmac at a hairpin bend on turn 10 for reasons that even the nine-time world champion could not himself immediately identify.
He got up on his own only to withdraw from the race, sending Lorenzo to chase Marquez who was already flying solo.
With five laps remaining, Lorenzo also slipped on the track, this time at the V-shaped left-handed turn nine, sending Marquez to unexpected victory.
“It was difficult to concentrate” after Lorenzo crashed out, Marquez said.
Marquez said he had struggled find his form early in the season and felt immense personal pressure after a stressful 2015 season, which was marked with crashes, lost opportunities and an open feud with Rossi, while Lorenzo reclaimed the world championship.
“Last year, I paid an expensive price. I learned,” Marquez said, adding that he became a wiser rider.
The stunning result came after a number of riders suffered a series of crashes throughout the weekend.
Honda rider Dani Pedrosa returned to Spain for an operation after fracturing his collarbone in a crash during Friday practice.
Lorenzo experienced a spectacular crash on October 15 and was airlifted to hospital, where he was quickly declared fit for the race but was left with foot pain.
Marquez also suffered a small fall while testing a hard tyre.
Lorenzo said a wrong tyre choice and pains from the practice crash led to his problem in the race.
Rossi said he was trying to focus on the remaining three races.
“I was strong. The pace was good,” he said. “Fortunately, we have other races.”
Marc Marquez celebrates on the podium at the Japanese Grand Prix.