The newly crowned MotoGP champion Marc Marquez reckons the race wins in Jerez and Le Mans was key for him to clinch his fifth title at Motegi.
It wasn’t a dominant start to 2018 for Marquez who only won his first race of the 2018 season in Round 3 at the Circuit of the Americas. By then, Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso and LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow had won a race each already.
It was only time then as Marquez then picked up wins in Jerez and Le Mans as well where his key rival Dovizioso retired. Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo was still coping up with the bike, while Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi then emerged as Marquez’s closest rival.
It was then no stopping Marquez as he created a steady advantage with consistent results barring Mugello. At the same time, his rivals where there and thereabouts and crucially for the Honda rider, they were taking away points from each other.
This helped Marquez then to build on to the advantage and eventually seal it in Japanese GP with three races to spare. Looking back at the season, the Spaniard reckons the race wins in Jerez and Le Mans was the key point in his title run.
“Since the third race [of 2018] I saw that Ducati was the bike and the team to fight against the title but then I think the important point was in Jerez and Le Mans where I won two races in a row and Dovi and also Lorenzo then crashed with not many points.
“There I could increase the advantage and when you get a big advantage, everything is easier – so that was key of the season. Then of course, I was able to be fast on every track,” he said
“A bad race or a difficult race [for me from then on] was finishing second or third, so that was a good signal.” Talking about the Japanese GP, Marquez was happy that the race turned out to be as he had discussed it with the team.
Of course, he was disappointed that Dovizioso crashed out but on the whole, Marquez did all he decided pre-race to achieve. “I feel really, really good.” he said. “I would say it’s a dream came true, or better, that I’m living a dream.
“It’s something so special, here together with my team, all the Honda and HRC people, my family and my staff. It has been a great season, and ever since Aragon I’ve been tasting, imagining this title, because it was very close.
“Then I realised that this wasn’t my style, and I needed extra motivation, so I set the goal of trying to achieve it with my first match ball—in Motegi, by winning the race. This circuit was a challenging one to manage that, but it seems like when I’m under pressure, I feel better on the bike.
“Today the race was as I expected. I was prepared to make a good start and immediately make some passes. I got to second place at the end of the first lap, and then was able to follow Andrea and stay with him.
“I thought I could try and attack before the last lap because I felt I had something extra to give. He was pushing very hard and made a mistake, and that’s a shame because he deserved to be here on the podium.”
His fifth MotoGP title equaled him with Mick Doohan as he sits only behind Valentino Rossi and Giacomo Agostini, while it was his seventh world championship after wins in the 125cc and the Moto2 category.
The Spaniard celebrated his title win in a famed Japanese arcade game style with the ‘Level 7’ tag denoting his seven championship wins. But his celebrations was almost cut short when he dislocated his shoulder due to a pat from Aprilia’s Scott Redding.
Fortunately for Marquez, his team were able to fix it up for the time being and he could complete the success party in style. Post race, Marquez and Redding joked of the incident as the Spaniard admitted that he will see the doctor before next season.