Winning at Buriram has allowed Marc Marquez to move in on his seventh championship title. The #93 rider is enjoying a triumphant season, having scored seven race wins, four second place and a third at Brno, which makes for a points tally of 271. With four races to go and 100 points still up for grabs, the Spanish phenomenon boasts a 77 point lead over Andrea Dovizioso, his closest rival.
In just over ten days' time, in Japan, he will play his first match point. Marc needs to maintain a 75 point lead over the Ducati rider to secure the title. If he wins he has mathematically won, if he finishes second, the Italian must do no better than third, if Marc is third, the Italian must be fifth or lower, as shown in the table. Winning at the Twin Ring would be no easy feat for the Spaniard, as the Motegi track, with its stop and go layout, is more suited to the characteristics of the Honda than the Ducati.
At the same time, he should not be underestimated, particularly considering his current form. 2018 is proving to be a dream year for Magic Marc. Aside from the setbacks in Argentina and Mugello, #93 has never finished lower than third. It is this incredible consistency that has allowed him to put together a seventh world title, as he sticks to a strict rule: “either I win or, worst case scenario, I finish on the podium”.
In comparison, Andrea Dovizioso missed out on the podium in Argentina and Texas, and Assen and the Sachsenring. Putting aside his three DNFs early on in the season, on those occasions when the Italian has not won the race, he has missed the podium on four occasions. A concrete fact that goes some way to explaining the gap that separates Magic Marc from Desmo Dovi.
If, on the one hand, the Honda rider's performance this year confirms that he has once again raised the bar, on the other hand, he sends a clear message to the Ducati rider ahead of next season, or rather: “Dear Dovi, if you want to take the title from me in 2019, you will have to be on the podium every time you don't win the race”. The Borgo Panigale rider is in for a hard time, the slightest mistake coming at a very high price when up against the likes of Marquez.
Yes, Marc Marquez. If we take a look back, the Spanish and the Twin Ring seem to have a special bond. In 2014, #93 secured his second world title at Motegi, after finishing second behind Lorenzo on the Yamaha. And what about 2016 when Valentino and Jorge both crashed out, handing the Spaniard his third title on a silver platter. A win that was unexpected considering the classification.
Aside from Andrea Dovizioso, another rider still in the mix is Valentino Rossi. It might sound strange, but despite the difficulties he's had this season, mathematics dictates that the Doctor is still in with a chance, by just one point. For #46, the dream of a tenth title has long since disappeared, but he could still close the gap to Dovizioso, 22 points ahead of him, or consolidate third place in the championship, with a 26 point advantage over Maverick Vinales. The Borgo Panigale rider should not underestimate the Doctor's form. Essentially, Dovizioso should follow Marquez's example, while keeping one eye on Valentino Rossi, who continues to be a threat thanks to his experience.