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Marquez looks to seal MotoGP title in Japan, Rossi on pole to thwart him

With a maximum of just 100 points available over the four remaining races, Marquez is the overwhelming favourite for the title.

other sports Updated: Oct 16, 2016 08:59 IST
HT Correspondent
Marc Marquez
Sealing the title on Sunday won’t be easy for Marquez, however, with Rossi winning pole for the Japanese Grand Prix.(AP)

With just four more races to go, including Sunday’s race at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit in Japan, Honda’s Marc Marquez will look to clinch the 2016 MotoGP title at his team’s home Grand Prix.

The 23-year-old has been one of the most consistent racers in recent times and a win at Motegi, in the 15th round of the 18-race season, will earn him a third MotoGP title after 2013 and 2014.

After victory at the last race in Spain, Marquez holds a 52-point lead over Valentino Rossi, who in turn has a 14-point advantage over his Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo. With a maximum of just 100 points available over the four remaining races, Marquez is the overwhelming favourite for the title.

Earlier in the season, Marquez equalled the all-time Grand Prix record for pole positions.

However, one can expect Rossi and Lorenzo to fight till the finish. The Italian starts Sunday’s race on pole position after upstaging Marquez in the last minute of the qualifying session on Saturday. Lorenzo will start third and Marquez will have a tough time sandwiched between the two Yamaha rivals on the starting grid.

MARQUEZ ON THE CUSP

Honda’s 23-year-old Marc Marquez gets his first chance to seal this year’s MotoGP world championship on Sunday in Japan.

BIG LEAD

The two-time world champion from Spain has built a 52-point gap over his closest rival Valentino Rossi, and would claim the season trophy if he wins and the Italian legend finishes 15th or lower on his Yamaha and Rossi’s third-placed teammate Jorge Lorenzo is fourth or worse. Lorenzo is the defending champion.

WHAT IS HIS TRICK?

Marquez tends to lean his bike at an angle of around 63 degrees while the average lean-in angle is 55 degrees. In what is called the ‘elbow slide’, Marquez leans so far off his bike during a corner that his entire forearm and elbow are scraping the track. This results in there being mere inches between the tip of his elbow and that of his knee, allowing for minimum drag through corners and maximum downforce.

DAREDEVIL

Being able to come up with a technique few even attempt is one thing, having the never-give-up attitude another matter. In 2014 at the Brno track in the Czech Republic, Marquez showed exactly why he is considered one of the best young riders of all time. Leaning into a corner, Marquez leaned a bit too much into a corner, 67 degrees to be precise, and began to fall off the bike. Instead of preparing for a crash, the then 21-year-old accelerated instead, shifted his bodyweight, and got the bike back on track. "I was completely on the floor, and I was trying to save, save, save with the elbow and the knee," Marquez says as we chat at Silverstone. "Then I say OK, I will try to open gas, and I open gas and the bike is back." At the time, the video went viral on social media.

TAILOR-MADE

Riding equipment manufacturers Alpinestars felt obliged to develop a special Marquez-proof protector for his elbows, consisting of a diamond-shaped magnesium patch on a plastic seating, attached by a Velcro fastening to the suit.

QUOTE

"We developed the elbow slider because Marc was damaging his leathers in the corners and it was a time-consuming update every time we had to make a replacement," Alpinestars’ Jeremy Appleton says. "Now it’s simply a question of tearing off and replacing the protectors at the end of a day’s racing."

FACT CHECK

Marquez has never won at the Motegi circuit in Japan, known for its hard braking and acceleration.

There have been eight different grand prix winners in an unpredictable season so far and the championship could still go to the wire at the season finale back on Marquez’s home soil in Valencia, Spain.

Marquez finished second at Motegi in 2014 which locked out his first MotoGP championship and is looking to go one better this year.

SEASON OF FIRSTS

  • Four riders clinched their maiden MotoGP wins this season.
  • Spaniard Maverick Vinales won the British GP, marking the first victory for Suzuki since 2007.
  • Italy’s Andrea Iannone, who will skip Motegi due to a vertebra fracture, won in Austria to Ducati their first win since 2010.
  • There were two other Honda successes with Australia’s Jack Miller winning in Assen and Cal Crutchlow taking the chequered flag in Brno.


Credit: Agencies, Independent UK