Spanish superstar Marc Marquez grabbed his third MotoGP world title on Sunday, winning the Grand Prix of Japan while top rivals Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi failed to finish.
Lorenzo crashed out five laps before the end of the race, all but handing a rampant Marquez the title. Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso finished in second place, ahead of Maverick Vinales of Suzuki. For Marquez, it's his fifth overall title and his third in MotoGP, after his triumphs in 2013 and 2014.
As shared by MotoGP's official Twitter account, the Honda man was as shocked as anyone when he realised he had won the title:
Per Crash.net, he couldn't help but think of his grandmother, who died toward the tail end of the 2015 season:
It's an amazing feeling. I didn't expect here. When I saw Rossi was out I pushed for the victory. Then I saw Lorenzo was out I made a mistake in 4 or 5 corners. It was so difficult to concentrate. To come back on the top and win at Honda and Motegi. I don't want to forget my grandmother who died at this time last year. I think she would be happy.
Here's a look at the results from Sunday's race:
|Japan GP Results|
|1||Marc MARQUEZ||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||42'34.610|
|2||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||+2.992|
|3||Maverick VINALES||SPA||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||+4.104|
|4||Aleix ESPARGARO||SPA||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||+4.726|
|5||Cal CRUTCHLOW||GBR||LCR Honda||Honda||+15.049|
|6||Pol ESPARGARO||SPA||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||+19.654|
|7||Alvaro BAUTISTA||SPA||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||+23.032|
|8||Danilo PETRUCCI||ITA||OCTO Pramac Yakhnich||Ducati||+28.555|
|9||Scott REDDING||GBR||OCTO Pramac Yakhnich||Ducati||+28.802|
|10||Stefan BRADL||GER||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||+32.330|
|11||Katsuyuki NAKASUGA||JPN||Yamalube Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||+42.845|
|12||Yonny HERNANDEZ||COL||Pull & Bear Aspar Team||Ducati||+52.219|
|13||Bradley SMITH||GBR||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||+53.783|
|14||Tito RABAT||SPA||Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS||Honda||+54.760|
|15||Hiroshi AOYAMA||JPN||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||+1'00.155|
|16||Loris BAZ||FRA||Avintia Racing||Ducati||+1'04.440|
|17||Hector BARBERA||SPA||Ducati Team||Ducati||+1'42.966|
|18||Mike JONES||AUS||Avintia Racing||Ducati||1 Lap|
|Jorge LORENZO||SPA||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||5 Laps|
|Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||18 Laps|
|Jack MILLER||AUS||Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS||Honda||18 Laps|
|Eugene LAVERTY||IRL||Pull & Bear Aspar Team||Ducati||22 Laps|
The current MotoGP standings:
Marquez came into the Japan GP with a major lead in the standings, but virtually no one expected he would grab his fifth title this soon, especially with Rossi grabbing pole position and looking very fast in qualifying.
Lorenzo started the race on fire, taking the lead through Turn 1 ahead of Marquez and Rossi, while Aleix Espargaro also got off the line really fast.
Rossi and Lorenzo both posted faster times than Marquez in the opening laps, but the 23-year-old surged into the lead in Lap 4 with a stunning move past Lorenzo. The Honda man quickly pulled clear by half a second, and, as a result, Rossi had to take chances to pass Lorenzo or risk falling further behind.
The veteran briefly passed Lorenzo, but before he could start the hunt on Marquez, disaster struck, per MotoGP's official Twitter account:
Rossi simply lost control of his bike, and after briefly getting back on, he turned to the pit lane and promptly retired from the race.
The crash moved Dovizioso up to third place, and the Italian found a surprising burst of pace to put pressure on Lorenzo. The Spaniard had a big crash during the third practice session, and many wondered whether his stamina would suffer as a result.
Dovizioso slowly started to close the gap, with Vinales battling for position behind him, while Marquez consistently put together the fastest times and was almost assured of the win at the midway point of the race.
Last year's world champion visibly tired toward the end of the race, and Dovzioso got ever closer, but before he had a chance to try an overtake, the unthinkable happened, per Crash.net MotoGP:
Suddenly, Marquez was just a few laps away from another world title, and the young star cruised to the finish line, easily beating the field.
MotoGP shared this fantastic selfie the Spaniard took on the podium:
With three races left to go, neither Rossi nor Lorenzo added to their tallies in the standings, and Vinales managed to close the gap to the point he has to be considered a top-three contender if Lorenzo's injuries can't fully heal in time.
Rossi still has the edge in the battle for second, and given Lorenzo's health and the Italian's wealth of experience, he's a relatively safe bet to keep hold of his position.