Saturday, October 1

Marquez within touching distance of title


MADRID: Marc Marquez is aiming to become the youngest ever MotoGP world champion at the age of 20 as the Spaniard takes a 13-point lead over compatriot and defending champion Jorge Lorenzo into the season’s final Grand Prix in Valencia this weekend.

Marquez has seen his lead whittled down by a late season charge by Lorenzo, but will seal the title in his maiden year in MotoGP should be finish fourth or better at the Ricardo Tormo circuit.

The Honda Repsol rider remains very much the favourite for the championship having only failed to make the podium once this year, when he was disqualified for failing to pit in time for a mandatory change of tyres in Australia last month.

“I am desperate to get back on the bike,” he told Spanish sports daily Marca.

“Obviously we know what is in play in this last Grand Prix of the year, but, as always, we will face it as we have in all the other races. We will work hard from Friday and we will do our best.”

After a blistering mid-season run of four straight wins that put him in charge in the championship standings, Marquez has won just one of the last six races and suffered a heavy crash during practice at Motegi in Japan last time out.

However, he is counting on the positive experience of winning the Moto2 race in Valencia last year to see him over the line.

“It has been good to spend a few days at home after three long weeks away. After the fall in Motegi I have been doing muscular rehabilitation on my neck ahead of the race and now I feel much better.

“We have had good performances in Valencia before. I have always given my all there and I have good memories of last year in Moto2. The weather will also be a factor to take into account because it is very changeable.”

Lorenzo had looked out of the championship running after a broken collarbone forced him to miss the German Grand Prix and affected his participation in the Dutch and American Grand Prix.

However, four wins in the last six races have given him hope of a third world title and he insists the pressure is all on Marquez this weekend.

“I’m very stimulated because three races ago we thought the championship was over,” said the 26-year-old Yamaha rider, whose only win in the race came in 2010.

“Instead we have a chance to fight for the title. Valencia is my home race and it will be very emotional considering our position in the classification.

“We don’t have anything to lose but everything to win, and this card plays on our side. Maybe our main rival can feel much more pressure in Valencia than us because he is so close to victory.

“You never know what can happen, especially if the forecast is uncertain as it was last year. We trust in ourselves and we expect a good race in front of our fans. We will never give up until the end!”

Marquez’s Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa will definitely finish the season in third place behind his two compatriots, but he has enjoyed the most success at Valencia with six victories in total, including three in the MotoGP race in 2007, 2009 and 2012.

And the 28-year-old three-time championship runner-up could do Marquez a huge favour if he manages to keep Lorenzo off the top of the podium with another victory on Sunday.

“Although we are now out of the fight for the championship, we have had good results there in the past with some victories, including last year when we won having started from the pit lane. Therefore, I would like to end the season on top,” he said.

“I am desperate to go to Valencia and ride in front of all the fans after a long trip around Asia. It will be nice to return to Valencia again, where the atmosphere is always very special.” — AFP