After clinching the World MotoGP champion’s title a fortnight ago, Marc Marquez reached another landmark at the Malaysian MotoGP at Sepang. The champion rider equaled the 12-in-a-season record of the legendary Australian Mick Doohan for the most premier-class wins in a single season. In 1997, Doohan had won 12 races and the 17 year old record now stands on the verge of being broken, with just one race still remaining in the 2014 season. Given Marquez’s unending penchant for top podium finishes, the win at Valencia does not look so unfathomable. In Sepang on Sunday, the 21-year old Spaniard returned to his winning ways, after losing out in the last four races. Italian legend Valentino Rossi finished second while another highly talented rider and Marquez’s compatriot, Jorge Lorenzo occupied the third spot on the podium. The result also sealed the constructor’s title for Marc Marquez’s Honda team despite his teammate Dani Pedrosa crashing out of the race. With Pedrosa out of contention, the second place fight will be between Rossi and Lorenzo with the former having a 12-point advantage over his Movistar Yamaha teammate. With the top place already decided, MotoGP fans will keenly watch the battle for the second place in the last race of the season in Valencia.
On Saturday, Marquez also claimed his 13th pole of the 2014 season in a record-breaking time of 1 minute 59.791 seconds. His Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa was second and Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo was third. Marquez became the first rider at Sepang to go below the 2 minute mark in snatching his 50th career pole. LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl and Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso qualified for the second row and completing the top ten were; Valentino Rossi, Aleix Espargaro, Cal Crutchlow, Bradley Smith and Alvaro Bautista.
Strange turn of events denied Marc Marquez the top podium finish since the Silverstone MotoGP on August 31. But he looked good on Sunday after setting a new circuit record while claiming the pole on Saturday’s qualifying. However, the newly crowned world champion didn’t have a good start as he fell to ninth place after running wide at Turn 1. Regardless, the champion rider found the controls and began passing others one by one. By lap two, he had already come to the third position behind the Movistar Yamaha team duo of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi. On the tenth lap, Rossi overtook his teammate and Marquez went through with him to leave Lorenzo at the third place. In Lap 11, Marquez managed to go ahead of Rossi and continued at the head of the pack with the Italian trailing him for the rest of the race. Rossi did his best to take back the top spot but the Spaniard wouldn’t allow that by maintaining a blistering speed on his used tyres. When the race ended, Rossi trailed Marquez by 2.445 seconds. While Repsol Honda also won the constructors, championship as well, Dani Pedrosa got unlucky despite a great qualifying result on Saturday. Pedrosa crashed twice on Sunday and after his second crash, retired from the race. Behind Jorge Lorenzo, Germany’s Stefan Bradl, Britain’s Bradley Smith and Spain’s Pol Espargaro finished 4th, 5th and 6th. The last four places were taken respectively by Colombia’s Yonny Hernandez, Italy’s Andrea Dovizioso, Spains’ Hector Barbera and Britain’s Scott Redding.
It was Marquez’s 12th victory of the 2014 season and he equaled Mick Doohan’s 17 year old record, which the legendary Australian rider set in 1997. If Marquez could also win in the season ending race at Valencia, he may break one more record in his short but illustrious MotoGP career. At Sepang, Marquez rode his luck in many ways; he continued with old tyres, functioned admirably in stifling Malaysian weather and risked overtaking too many riders between Lap 1 and Lap 2.
For the season’s finale, Honda will go to Valencia with world MotoGP championship and the constructors’ title secured. Honda’s victory on Sunday, marked the end of Yamaha’s four year reign as the top MotoGP team. As for the riders, now only the second and third places are critical.