Marc Marquez won his first Japanese Grand Prix today, with crashes for Yamaha pairing Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo handing him his third MotoGP world title in five years.
The Spaniard arrived in Motegi with a 52 point advantage and needing an unlikely set of results, requiring him breaking his Japanese duck with the other two contenders missing big points, to secure the title with three races to go.
Both of the Movistar Yamaha riders lined up on the grid in less than perfect condition, Rossi suffering flu and Lorenzo beaten up after a huge highside in practice.
Despite that, the two sandwiched Marquez on the front row and it was Motegi specialist Lorenzo who led the opening three laps, before Marquez took a lead he would never relinquish.
Rossi’s challenge ended as he crashed under braking into turn 10 on his sixth lap, while Lorenzo’s slim hopes evaporated when he himself lost the front at turn nine while running second with five laps to go.
There was no such dramas for Marquez, the often wild riding 23 year old who looked as smooth as silk over the 22 lap race. Andrea Dovizioso took second on the factory Ducati, with Maverick Vinales third on the ever-improving Suzuki.
Marquez’ success means that he is the youngest ever rider to take five world titles (one in 125cc and one in Moto2, in addition to his three in MotoGP), taking the record from Rossi. He is also the youngest rider to have won three premier class championships, taking the record from Mike Hailwood.
Speaking directly after the race, Marquez said: "I didn't expect to win the title here but when I saw that Rossi was out I decided to push 100%, to try and take the victory. When I saw 'Lorenzo out' on the board I made probably four or five mistakes on that lap but to win at Motegi is very special. We struggled at the start of the season but we always believed and this year we changed the strategy. I was calm but in some moments I was able to push harder. Last year I struggled a lot and the pressure was there, but this year we came back stronger."
Cal Crutchlow was again the top Brit and the top Independent rider, taking fifth on the LCR Honda. Scott Redding had another battle with his OCTO Pramac team-mate Danilo Petrucci, the pair crossing the line almost as one, Petrucci eighth and Redding ninth. Bradley Smth scored three points on his return from injury, taking 13th, but there was bad news for Eugene Laverty as he crashed out on the third lap.
With Brad Binder winning the Moto3 title last time out, it means that the only Grand Prix title still to be decided over the last three rounds is in Moto2, where Johann Zarco holds a 21 point advantage over main rival Alex Rins.