Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) secured the 2019 MotoGP World Championship with a breathtaking last-corner victory in today’s Thailand Grand Prix, with four races remaining. The result gives the 26-year-old his sixth premier-class crown in seven years, a title hit rate better than anyone since Giacomo Agostini in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Marquez’s ninth victory of the season also extends Honda’s advantage in the MotoGP Constructors World Championship as the company chases its own record: a milestone 25th constructors crown in the premier class. And the Repsol Honda Team is also in the hunt for the teams title.
If rider, constructor and team do win the 2019 triple crown, it will be their third in a row, another remarkable achievement from the riders, engineers, technicians and crew that help the RC213V reach peak performance wherever they race.
Marquez spent 25 laps of this afternoon’s 26-lap race shadowing Fabio Quartararo, the pair setting a blisteringly fast pace ahead of the pack despite gruellingly hot and humid weather. On the final lap the Spaniard passed the Frenchman at Turn Three, opened a small gap, only for Quartararo to close through the final sector and pass Marquez into the last corner. However, Quartararo was on the absolute limit and ran a fraction wide into the turn, so Marquez was able to undercut him on the exit to win the race to the chequered flag by 0.171 seconds. Marquez won last year’s inaugural Thailand GP in similar style, undercutting Andrea Dovizioso at the final corner.
Today’s result continues Marquez’s astonishing 2019 season: nine wins and five second places from the first 15 races, with just one DNF in April’s Grand Prix of the Americas, when the youngster slid off while holding a commanding lead. It also brings his world title count to eight, with the 2010 125cc crown and 2012 Moto2 title preceding his domination of MotoGP.
This race victory and World Championship success were all the more incredible considering what happened in Friday morning’s opening practice session. Marquez crashed heavily in the final minutes of FP1, sustaining bruising to his lower back, left leg and right hip. After medical checks he was passed fit to ride and despite some discomfort from his injuries his resolve to win never wavered.
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU RC213V) was Honda’s next finisher, the Japanese rider recording a tenth-place finish, his ninth top ten in his second season in MotoGP. This was a good result at the end of a challenging weekend for the 27-year-old from Chiba, who now heads home to prepare for his home race, the Japanese Grand Prix at Twin Ring Motegi on October 20.
Nakagami started from 14th on the grid, after a complicated time in practice and qualifying. The former Moto2 race winner and his crew regrouped for the race, making final improvements to his 2018-spec RC213V that allowed him to come through from 12th at the end of the first lap.
Team-mate Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL RC213V) also had a difficult weekend. The three-times MotoGP race winner started from 14th, alongside Nakagami, and struggled to get into the groove in the early laps. But as the race went on his pace improved and the 35-year-old Briton showed good speed. In the end, however, he had to be happy with 12th place and four World Championship points.
Three-times MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) finished outside the points in 18th. The 33-year-old Spaniard is still recovering from the injuries he sustained when he fell during practice for June’s Dutch TT at Assen. After that tumble he missed four races, finally returning to action at the British Grand Prix at the end of August. Since then, race by race, he has been working to rebuild his physical strength and confidence. He plans to take another step forward at the Japanese GP.
After a gruelling weekend in tropical heat, the MotoGP paddock has ten days to catch its breath before the action resumes at Motegi, where practice begins on October 18. The Japanese Grand Prix is the first of three races held on consecutive weekends, with Australia and Malaysia following.