Marc Marquez’s MotoGP™ career is already the stuff of legend – and he’s only 24 years old.
The Spaniard added another chapter on Sunday by wrapping up his fourth MotoGP™ world title – in the space of five years – in front of a capacity crowd at Valencia.
Marquez finished third in the 30-lap race behind Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) and Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), while his only title rival, Italy’s Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), crashed out of proceedings.
However, it was not as straightforward as that – it rarely is with Marquez.
The Repsol Honda rider had spent most of the race sitting behind fellow front-row starter Zarco, with Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) and Dovizioso also in close proximity.
Then with seven laps to go Marquez made his move, feeling comfortable enough to pass Zarco – before he proceeded to miss his braking marker at Turn 1 and lose the front end.
But like he has done many times in the past, Marquez managed to dig in his elbow and remain upright.
He did run off though, and fell back to fifth spot – but was gifted third just a short time later after Lorenzo and Dovizioso both crashed out.
Lorenzo fell at Turn 5, while Dovi ran off at Turn 8 and lost control in the gravel.
Dovi’s mistake meant the MotoGP™ title was Marquez‘s, adding to past successes in 2013, 2014 and 2016.
“I’m living a dream,” Marquez said.
“I’m incredibly happy because we worked so much this year, and today the race was incredibly tense and exciting – a bit ‘Marquez style’.
“I made a mistake, but I also made my best save of the year. From that moment on, I just tried to finish the race in a good position.
“I’m sorry that Andrea didn’t finish the race, as he deserved to do so. He had an incredible season and I would have liked to have him on the podium with me today.
“The key to the year has been our mentality. In our world it’s very important to remain positive and motivated during the difficult moments.
“Some things happened to us at the beginning of the season but when we found the way to sort things out, everything went better.
“Congratulations to Honda and the entire team. It’s an amazing achievement.
“Winning the title at the last race of the season in front of our fans is one of the best things possible, really special.
“Now I want to enjoy this with my entire team and my family, and after that we’ll start to work for next year.”
Marquez, at the age of 24 years and 268 days, is the youngest rider to win four premier-class world titles, taking the record from Mike Hailwood, who was 25 years and 107 days old when he won his fourth in 1965.
Marquez is also the youngest rider to reach the milestone of six world championships, eclipsing Valentino Rossi.
Meanwhile, Dovi said “he tried everything” at Valencia but it just wasn’t meant to be.
“We weren’t as quick as Marquez but we fought to the very end,” he said.
“I pushed hard right from the first lap, I didn’t make any mistakes and I put myself in the right position, but unfortunately I didn’t have many cards to play.”
“At the start I thought I could pass Jorge, but there were some points where I was losing and others where I was gaining.
“In the end staying behind him helped me ride in a smoother way, so it was positive he was in front of me.
“We were all at the limit, even Marc who managed to save himself once again from a crash, and I want to congratulate him because also this year he managed to make the difference.
“At any rate, I’m very happy with this season and I want to thank all the guys in the team, Ducati and all those who gave their support because our season has been over the top, full of satisfaction.”
Dovizioso finished the season on 261 points, 37 behind Marquez and in front of Maverick Vinales (Movistar Yamaha, 230), Pedrosa (210), Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha, 208), Zarco (174), Lorenzo (137) and Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Ducati, 124).
Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) was a brilliant fourth at Valencia – his best MotoGP™ result – ahead of Rossi, Andrea Iannone (Suzuki Ecstar), Aussie Jack Miller (EG 0, Marc VDS Honda), Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), wildcard Michele Pirro (Ducat Team) and Tito Rabat (EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda).
“It was a great race for me and perhaps could have been better because I lost a lot of time in the final two laps,” said Miller.
“I had to give up the fight with Valentino because I had a couple of front-end moments with my front tyre grip going down towards the end.
“I felt I could have fought with Rossi and Iannone right to the end otherwise.
“It has been a good finish to the season with three top 10s including two seventh places so no better way to end my time with this great team.”
Miller finished 11th in the championship on 82 points.
- Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda, 46:08.125s
- Johann Zarco, Monster Yamaha Tech 3, +0.337s
- Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda, +10.861s
Australian: 7. Jack Miller, EG 0,0 Marc VDS, +17.087s
Pole position: Marquez, 1:29.897 = 160.3km/h
Fastest lap: Zarco, 1:31.576 = 157.4km/h
Championship top 3
- Marquez 298
- Andrea Dovizioso 261
- Maverick Vinales 230
Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) won his third successive race to finish off the season in emphatic fashion – and serve further notice that he will be a major championship contender in 2018.
Oliveira passed long-time leader and 2017 world champion Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) with six laps to go, and then pushed hard all the way to the chequered flag.
His final margin over the MotoGP™-bound Morbidelli was 2.154 seconds, with Oliveira’s teammate Brad Binder claiming the final spot on the podium.
Franceso Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) and pole man Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) were fourth and fifth, ahead of Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) in sixth.
Italian hard charger Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) crashed, but remounted to finish in 19th position.
Australia’s Remy Gardner (Tech 3 Racing) was 22nd out of 26 finishers.
“I can’t hide how truly disappointed I am with today’s race. We tried a new setting and it didn’t suit me,” said Gardner.
“I really struggled and in the end, I just made sure that I made it to the chequered flag.
“Hopefully, when we test this week and next, we can make a big step forward and try to start getting everything ready for the 2018 season.”
Morbidelli, who wrapped up the title in the second last round at Sepang, finished the season on 308 points ahead of Tom Luthi (243), who sat out Valencia with injury, Oliveira (241), Marquez (201) and Bagnaia (174).
- Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Ajo, 43:15.843s
- Franco Morbidelli, EG 0,0, +2.154s
- Brad Binder, Red Bull KTM Ajo, +4.181s
Australian: 22. Remy Gardner, Tech 3 Racing, +51.090s
Pole position: Alex Marquez, EG 0,0, 1:35.050 = 151.6km/h
Fastest lap: Morbidelli, 1:35.628 = 150.7km/h
Championship top 3
- Morbidelli 308
- Tom Luthi 243
- Oliveira 241
Spaniard Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Honda) finally broke through for his maiden victory in the lightweight class, with the polesitter leading from start to finish to claim the spoils ahead of world champion Joan Mir (Leopard Racing Honda) and Marcos Ramirez (Platinum Bay Real Estate KTM).
Martin’s ascension to Moto3™ winner was made easier after Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Racing Team KTM) highsided on Lap 3, with third-placed Mir forced to take evasive action.
That pushed Mir way back to 19th place and, although a brilliant charge saw him fight back to second place, he was never going to catch the runaway leader who won by 3.760 seconds.
“This feeling is amazing,” said Martin, who started from pole position for the ninth time this season.
“It has nearly been the perfect weekend, and I have pushed hard from the start of practice on Friday. To achieve this win in Spain is just brilliant.”
Mir, who was chasing his 11th win of the season, led home a freight train of riders battling for second position, with Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers Honda) finishing in fourth ahead of Enea Bastianini (EG 0,0 Honda), 16-year-old wildcard and world junior champion Dennis Foggia (Sky Junior Team VR46 Academy KTM) and John McPhee (British Talent Team Honda).
Meanwhile, Fabio Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Honda) was lucky to escape injury after clipping the back wheel of Ramirez’s machine at full noise on the start/finish straight and going down.
He remounted, but a broken foot peg forced him back into the pits.
- Jorge Martin, Del Conca Gresini Honda, 40:02.193s
- Joan Mir, Leopard Racing Honda, +3.760s
- Marcos Ramirez, Platinum Bay Real Estate KTM +3.877s
Pole position: Martin, 1:38.428 = 146.4km/h
Fastest lap and new record: Ramirez, 1:39.109 = 145.4km/h
Championship top 3
- Mir 341
- Fenati 248
- Aron Canet 199