Seven years have passed by since Valencia last hosted a final-race decider. In 2013, two candidates arrive separated by 13 points.
It’s the reigning champion against the 20-year-old upstart. It’s Yamaha Factory Racing versus Repsol Honda Team. It’s Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez. And, of course, it’s 99 versus 93. There are more than six numbers between them, though.
To start with, Marquez has clearly mastered the challenge of a Saturday, having managed no less than eight pole positions including four on the spin between Silverstone and Sepang. Podiums haven’t been sparse, either, with 15 for the 20-year-old in comparison with 13 for the 26-year-old. However, it is Lorenzo who has more wins to his name (seven to six) and has led many more laps (208 to 82!).
When it comes to falls and crashes, there is a real element of irony involved. Lorenzo may have badly injured his collarbone twice and missed the race in Germany as a consequence, but he has crashed only three times this year in comparison with Marquez’s 15 mishaps. However, the Cervera man has made the most of his races and only crashed at Mugello; injuries have been sustained, but nothing on Lorenzo’s level.
Marquez also leads the way when it comes to points — penalty points, that is. His racing license is marked with three of them — just one away from a costly back-of-the-grid penalty. With this in mind, the Honda rider may elect to adopt an element of caution in order to avoid any discrepancy across the duration of the race weekend.
And so it has been seven years since the title last went right down to the wire. Back then, Rossi headed to the Ricardo Tormo circuit with an eight-point cushion back to Nicky Hayden, but an unexpected fall for No. 46 left him an unlucky 13th by the time the checkered flag flew. The title was Hayden’s as the Kentucky Kid finished third.
This time around, a single fourth-place is all Marquez requires, regardless of whether Lorenzo wins the race or not — although sometimes that is easier said than done. One race remains out of 18, and the title battle is still wide open. Place your bets.