This has been another remarkable and historic Grand Prix season for Honda, with Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V), Honda, the Repsol Honda team and Honda’s Moto3 riders and teams all breaking records today.
Marquez went into this afternoon’s season finale with a 21-point lead, but instead of riding conservatively, he was the same Marc as always: attacking from pole position, leading the first few laps, then retaking the lead in the late stages, moments later saving a scary moment, when he ran off the track and into the gravel at high speed.
The 24-year-old Spaniard regained his composure to cross the finish line in third place and secure his fourth MotoGP crown in five years. He finished the last race of the year less than 11 seconds behind team-mate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC213V), who took his first victory since May’s Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez and moved up to fourth overall in the points chase.
This afternoon’s season finale won Honda the coveted triple crown of Riders World Championship, Constructors World Championship and Teams World Championship. This is a record seventh time the factory has taken the triple crown, since the team prize was added to the riders and constructors awards in 2002.
Marquez’s latest success gives the company its 19th Riders World Championship since 1983, an all-time record. Two weeks ago in Malaysia Honda secured its 23rd Constructors World Championship since 1966, also a record. And today the Repsol Honda Team secured its eighth Teams World Championship since the award was introduced in 2002, another record
Pedrosa’s 31st MotoGP victory takes Honda to 287 premier-class races since it first entered the class of kings in 1966. This is also a record.
Marquez proved everything today: that he a six-times World Champion (four in MotoGP, one each in Moto2 and 125cc), that he has a superhuman ability to maintain control in the most amazing situations and that he is a great sportsman. After the race he immediately thanked his Honda staff and his Repsol Honda crew, then paid tribute to Ducati’s efforts. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) had been his main title rival, taking the championship all the way to the final round.
Today is also a historic day for Marquez, who is now the youngest rider to win four premier-class World Championships, at the age of 24 years and 268 days, taking the record from Mike Hailwood, who was 25 years and 107 days old when he won his fourth premier-class title in 1965. The Spaniard is also the youngest rider to win six World Championships, taking the record from Valentino Rossi, who was 25 years and 244 days old when he won his sixth title, the 2004 MotoGP crown.
And Marquez has achieved a whole new record. He is the first rider in the 69-year history of motorcycle Grand Prix racing to win at least five GPs per season over eight years, across three categories: 125cc, Moto2 and MotoGP.
The race started watched by a capacity crowd, buzzing with excitement. Marquez led for the first three laps before sensibly allowing Johann Zarco (Yamaha) to take the lead. The last thing he wanted was a race-long battle for victory, when all he needed was an 11th-place finish, even if Dovizioso won the race, which the Italian needed to at least stand the slimmest chance of bettering Marquez’s points haul.
For much of the rest of the race that’s the way it stayed, with Zarco a fraction ahead, then Marquez and Pedrosa, followed by Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati) and team-mate Dovizioso.
By the closing stages Marquez knew that Dovizioso didn’t have the pace to win, so he decided to do what he always wants to do: go for victory. He swept past Zarco, but then lost the front as he rode into the high-speed first corner. The bike fell onto his knee at speed – which would’ve meant a crash for anyone else – but Marquez saved the crash in his own inimitable style, ran into the dirt and then regained the track. When both Ducati riders fell he was promoted back into third place, allowing him to celebrate this amazing title from the podium, in front of his adoring fans. It was another astonishing performance from the man who scored six victories and six further podiums this year.
Pedrosa rode a beautifully judged race, riding behind Marquez until his younger team-mate ran off the track. In the final laps the 32-year-old closed on Zarco, then took the lead as the pair attacked turn one for the 30th and last time. He rode an inch-perfect final lap to take the chequered flag 0.337 seconds ahead of Zarco.
Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) had an excellent ride to seventh, completing an impressive run of results at the three races since he returned from a broken leg: seventh in Australia, eighth in Malaysia and seventh here.
The young Australian just held Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda RC213V) at bay, the pair crossing the line separated by less than two tenths of a second. Crutchlow had had a difficult two days of practice and qualifying but bounced back with typical grit to finish the race in eighth place, a stirring result considering that he had started from 16th on the grid. Crutchlow was 14th after the first lap, then steadily moved forward as he passed some rivals and took advantage of other’s mistakes.
Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) was also a happy man, the Spaniard scoring his first top-ten result of the year in tenth place, behind factory test rider Michele Pirro (Ducati) and ahead of Bradley Smith (KTM).
Preparations for MotoGP 2018 begin here on Tuesday, with Moto2 and Moto2 starting their offseason tests at Jerez on Wednesday.