MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez has his first chance to clinch the 2014 premier class title this weekend at round 15 of the season, the Motul Grand Prix of Japan, at Motegi.
The Honda-built twin ring circuit was first added to the World Championship schedule in 1999 and has hosted a Grand Prix event every year since, meaning that this will be the 16th occasion that a GP has been held at the venue. The race weekend marks the commencement of an intense back-to-back triple header with the visit to Japan followed quickly by Grands Prix in Australia and Malaysia.
Although Marquez only managed to finish 13th in Aragon, he did finish one place ahead of his Repsol Honda teammate and closest championship challenger Dani Pedrosa, and in doing so increased his lead in the title chase to 75 points.
To win the title in Motegi, Marquez needs to finish ahead of his teammate, lose no more than three points to Valentino Rossi and lose no more than 15 points to Jorge Lorenzo.
Fans wishing to show their support for Marquez this weekend can use the hashtag #MM93TitleChance.
Amongst several potential scenarios that would see Marquez retain the title are him winning the race, or finishing second or third, ahead of both Pedrosa and Rossi. The Motegi circuit has twice been the circuit at which the MotoGP world title has been secured, in 2007 (Casey Stoner – Ducati) and 2008 (Rossi – Yamaha), so Marquez has a decent chance of becoming the first Honda rider to secure the crown on the factory’s home territory.
His rivals will all be striving to prevent him from doing so of course. Pedrosa has a good record in Japan as the rider with most GP wins at the Motegi circuit – with four in total, two in MotoGP and two in the smaller classes. Like Marquez, Pedrosa will be aiming to bounce back from a crash at Aragon which cost him significant points.
Rossi is also looking to recover from an Aragon crash, in his case a heavy fall which ended his race and saw him sent to hospital for precautionary scans on his head. The Italian fortunately escaped the accident relatively unhurt and will be pushing for the podium again. Indeed Rossi has finished on the rostrum on nine occasions in the premier class at Motegi, including two victories.
Last year Rossi’s Movistar Yamaha MotoGP teammate Lorenzo became the first rider to win the MotoGP race from pole at Motegi since Loris Capirossi in 2006. Lorenzo arrives in Japan full of confidence following his first win of the season last time out in Spain.
Meanwhile, Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso was another rider to suffer a crash at round 14, though thankfully he too was not injured. Dovizioso felt he could even have fought for victory had he not gone down in the final stages of the Aragon contest which saw his colleague Cal Crutchlow notch his first podium result of the season. Crutchlow has only four rides left with the Italian factory and intends to conclude the season in good form.
Aleix Espargaro (NGM Forward Racing) has had a big couple of weeks, with his first MotoGP podium – at MotorLand Aragon – and the subsequent announcement of his 2015 ride with Suzuki. Espargaro will shoot for at least another top five performance in the Far East but the competition is sure to be as fierce as ever.