Marc Marquez made history as he became the youngest ever 5-time MotoGP World Champion at the Twin Ring Motegi Circuit in Japan. Marquez's 8th win of the season propelled him to the Championship - his 5th in the last 6 seasons, helping him cement his position among the MotoGP's greatest riders.
Having started from a disappointing sixth position, Marquez manoeuvred quickly to second at the start of the race and was involved in an epic duel with long-time rival and nearest Championship contender Andrea Dovizioso. Duels between Marquez and Dovizioso have become a common feature in MotoGP races over the past couple of years and just like in Thailand, this race was no different as the two riders established significant leads over the rest of the pack to engage in a 2-way duel of their own.
Marquez took the lead on lap 21 but Dovizioso stuck to his tail and was looking good to re-take the lead. All that changed when Dovizioso crashed at Turn-10 in the penultimate lap of the race, enabling Marquez to coast to victory in the final lap. The win was extra special as Marquez had never won a race when starting from 6th or below.
"I feel really, really good,” said Marquez after celebrating with his Repsol Honda crew, who were joined by the company’s CEO Takahiro Hachigo at the manufacturer’s home race.
British driver Cal Crutchlow grabbed his third podium finish of the season and Spaniard Alex Rins of Suzuki rounded up the podium slots with a neat third-placed finish. Jack Miller who started from 3rd on the grid took a gamble by opting for the soft rear tyre and it backfired spectacularly with the British rider slipping to 7th before crashing out of the race with 13 laps remaining.
Valentino Rossi had a decent race and finished 4th, ahead of Spaniard Alvaro Bautista who matched his best finish of the season. Starting from 2nd, Tech3 Yamaha rider Johan Zarco never recovered from his poor start and had to be content with a 6th place finish. Maverick Vinales of Yamaha finished 7th. Rounding out the Top-10 were Dani Pedrosa, Danilo Petrucci and Hafizh Syahrin.
Marquez's 5th Premier Class MotoGP Riders' Championship moves him level with Australian great Mick Doohan. Only Italians Valentino Rossi with 7 titles and Giacomo Agostini with 8 titles are ahead of him. The victory was extra special as it came at the home turf of Team Repsol Honda.
With three races at Phillip Island Circuit in Australia, Malaysia and Valencia left in the season, everything is still left to play for Italians Andrea Dovizioso and Valentino Rossi as they battle it out for the 2nd place in the Championship.