World title aspirant Marc Marquez will seek his place in history by going for a win in the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi.
Fearless and fast Marquez says his first instinct is put the title beyond the reach of his main rival Jorge Lorenzo at the Twin Ring Circuit on Sunday.
It is a race strategy that has taken the Spanish tyro to the brink of history. He is just a handful of points away from becoming the youngest ever winner of the MotoGP crown and the first rookie winner since Kenny Roberts in 1978.
And after two days of soaking rain and foggy mist, Marquez looks set to test his bold plan in bright, sunny but cool conditions.
At least that’s the weather forecast for race day.
Marquez has an 18 point lead over fellow Spaniard Lorenzo.
In a stunning rookie season, Marquez has only been off the podium twice in 16 races so far, both times failing to finish the race.
He crashed out of the Italian GP at Mugello and was black-flagged out of last week’s Australian GP at Phillip Island.
Marquez has won six races to this point, the same as Lorenzo.
“The first option is to try and keep the same mentality and if I can take the 25-points (for a win) I will try and if not, try and be on the podium,” Marquez said.
“It will be an important race because you don’t know what weather we will have in Valencia.”
Marquez would much prefer to have the title under wraps before next week’s final race which has the potential to be a tension-filled affair at home in Spain.
If Lorenzo can win in Japan, with Marquez third or worse, he will cut the points gap to less than 10 for a Valencia showdown.
Two-time world champion Lorenzo is not assuming anything, knowing he has been gifted this late season chance because of the embarrassing lap count error by Marquez’s team in Australia.
“The world championship is much better than before Phillip Island but it is still really complicated because Marc doesn’t make so many mistakes during the race,” Lorenzo said.
“And for him to finish worse than third is not normal and for me winning the last three races is also not so simple.
“It is tough to win the championship but at least we have some more options than before Phillip Island.”
Lorenzo hopes that the lack of dry track running in the lead-up to the Motegi race will give him a chance of backing up his Phillip Island win and taking the title to a decider in Valencia.
“In theory it must be some advantage for us (no dry practice) and for me especially because normally I get the pace very quickly and Marc has never ridden here in the dry with a MotoGP bike, so in theory it looks good for us but we need to see what happens,” Lorenzo said.
The wild card for both Marquez and Lorenzo in Japan is Dani Pedrosa, the almost forgotten man of the Honda team. Pedrosa has won the past two races at Motegi and will be going for a race win despite his very slim title hopes.
Pedrosa owes Marquez no favors and, as usual, there are no team orders at Honda.Japanese GP, MotoGP