Marquez seals 2018 MotoGP title with Motegi win, Dovizioso crashes

Marc Marquez secured his fifth MotoGP world championship with an eighth victory of the 2018 season in the Japanese Grand Prix as rival Andrea Dovizioso crashed

Marquez seals 2018 MotoGP title with Motegi win, Dovizioso crashes

Honda rider Marquez started only sixth at Motegi, but carved his way up to second on the opening lap before engaging in a nailbiting duel with polesitter and last remaining realistic championship threat Dovizioso.

He grabbed the lead on the 21st lap of 24 with a bold pass at the tight Turn 9 left-hander, but Dovizioso stuck to his rival's tail and looked poised to fight back until he lost the front end of his Ducati into the Turn 10 hairpin on the penultimate lap.

That left Marquez with a clear run to victory, with Honda stablemate Cal Crutchlow moving up to second ahead of Suzuki rider Alex Rins.

Marquez's fifth premier class championship moves him level with Mick Doohan, with only Valentino Rossi (seven) and Giacomo Agostini (eight) having scored more.

The 25-year-old also becomes the youngest rider to ever reach the milestone, eclipsing Rossi - who was 26 when he scored his fifth straight 500cc/MotoGP title in 2005.

Dovizioso had controlled almost all of the race up until his crash, converting pole into an early lead as fellow front-row starters Johann Zarco and Jack Miller nearly came to blows on the run down to the first turn.

Miller nonetheless hung on to second as Marquez gained three places to run third, before inevitably passing the Pramac Ducati rider for second at Turn 9 later on the opening lap.

Once second, Marquez opted to run at a conservative pace behind Dovizioso as a pack of riders formed up behind.

But only Crutchlow had the pace to run with the two title protagonists, with the three riders beginning to edge away from the rest of the pack at one-third distance.

Marquez waited until 10 laps to go to make his first move, passing Dovizioso at Turn 9, but one corner later he ran wide on the dirt and lost drive - with his rival almost piling into the back of him, and repassing for the lead.

Dovizioso pushed again on four laps later with a new fastest lap, but Marquez went even quicker the following lap and it became clear he was in no mood to settle for a safe second - which would not have been enough for the title.

Once Marquez made what proved to be his decisive pass three laps from the finish, Dovizioso kept close and the pair were running nose-to-tail at the time of the crash that settled the championship in favour of the Honda rider on the Japanese manufacturer's home turf.

Crutchlow had already lost touch with the lead pair by this point, and was forced to turn his attentions to fend off Rins, whose team-mate Andrea Iannone had crashed out of contention at the Turn 10 hairpin with five laps left.

Ultimately Crutchlow hung on to the place by just a tenth of a second, finishing 1.5s down on Marquez.

Valentino Rossi was fourth on the best of the Yamahas, a further five seconds down, having dropped behind both Suzuki riders in the early stages.

Alvaro Bautista made steady progress from 11th on the grid to match his best result of 2018 with fifth on the Nieto Ducati - helped by fellow GP16 user Miller crashing out of seventh at half-distance.

Zarco never recovered from his bad start and wound up sixth on the Tech3 Yamaha, while Maverick Vinales was seventh after dropping outside of the top 10 at one point.

Rounding out the top 10 were Dani Pedrosa, Danilo Petrucci and Hafizh Syahrin, who passed the lead KTM of Bradley Smith for the place.

Smith slipped a further place behind the Marc VDS Honda of Franco Morbidelli to finish 12th ahead of team-mate Pol Espargaro, while home riders Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Takaaki Nakagami completed the scorers.

Dovizioso remounted after his crash and finished 18th.

Race result

Pos Rider Team Bike Laps Gap
1 Marc Marquez Honda Honda 24 42m36.438s
2 Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda Honda 24 1.573s
3 Alex Rins Suzuki Suzuki 24 1.720s
4 Valentino Rossi Yamaha Yamaha 24 6.413s
5 Alvaro Bautista Aspar Ducati Ducati 24 6.919s
6 Johann Zarco Tech3 Yamaha Yamaha 24 8.024s
7 Maverick Vinales Yamaha Yamaha 24 13.330s
8 Dani Pedrosa Honda Honda 24 15.582s
9 Danilo Petrucci Pramac Ducati Ducati 24 20.584s
10 Hafizh Syahrin Tech3 Yamaha Yamaha 24 24.985s
11 Franco Morbidelli MVDS Honda Honda 24 25.931s
12 Bradley Smith KTM KTM 24 26.875s
13 Pol Espargaro KTM KTM 24 27.069s
14 Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha Yamaha 24 32.550s
15 Takaaki Nakagami LCR Honda Honda 24 37.718s
16 Xavier Simeon Avintia Ducati Ducati 24 39.583s
17 Jordi Torres Avintia Ducati Ducati 24 39.839s
18 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Ducati 24 42.698s
19 Scott Redding Aprilia Aprilia 24 49.943s
20 Thomas Luthi MVDS Honda Honda 24 52.707s
21 Sylvain Guintoli Suzuki Suzuki 24 1m01.848s
- Andrea Iannone Suzuki Suzuki 14 Retirement
- Karel Abraham Aspar Ducati Ducati 12 Retirement
- Jack Miller Pramac Ducati Ducati 10 Retirement
- Aleix Espargaro Aprilia Aprilia 6 Retirement
- Jorge Lorenzo Ducati Ducati 0 Withdrawn

Riders' standings

Pos Rider Points
1 Marc Marquez 296
2 Andrea Dovizioso 194
3 Valentino Rossi 185
4 Maverick Vinales 155
5 Cal Crutchlow 148
6 Johann Zarco 133
7 Danilo Petrucci 133
8 Jorge Lorenzo 130
9 Alex Rins 118
10 Andrea Iannone 113
11 Dani Pedrosa 95
12 Alvaro Bautista 83
13 Jack Miller 74
14 Franco Morbidelli 38
15 Tito Rabat 35
16 Pol Espargaro 35
17 Hafizh Syahrin 34
18 Aleix Espargaro 32
19 Bradley Smith 23
20 Takaaki Nakagami 19
21 Scott Redding 12
22 Mika Kallio 6
23 Karel Abraham 5
24 Katsuyuki Nakasuga 2
25 Michele Pirro 1
26 Thomas Luthi 0
27 Xavier Simeon 0
28 Stefan Bradl 0
29 Jordi Torres 0
30 Sylvain Guintoli 0
31 Christophe Ponsson 0


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