Marc Marquez will start the AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan from second place on the grid, ahead of another opportunity to clinch the MotoGP world title on Sunday.
First presented with a chance to seal the crown in Australia last weekend, Marquez’s race ended in disqualification as winner Jorge Lorenzo took victory. At Motegi, the Yamaha Factory Racing rider again heads up the grid from Repsol Honda Team’s Marquez, bidding to become the youngest premier class title winner in history.
“It was quite difficult because it’s my first time at Motegi with a MotoGP bike and it was our first time of going directly into qualifying, in wet conditions,” Marquez said, with there having been no practice ahead of qualifying because of adverse weather conditions across Friday and Saturday morning. “I took more risks than usual but we did a good job because the target was to finish on the front row – and we did.
“For tomorrow we hope for a dry race, but that will be hard because nobody really knows and nobody has a dry setup. Anyway, we will of course try to do our best.”
Teammate Dani Pedrosa, who sits third overall and 34 points in arrears of his teammate, will start the race from fourth position on the grid.
“I was doing a good practice overall and leading it before we changed the tires; when we did, something happened on the run, I couldn’t get any grip and I was dropping positions, but it was still okay to finish fourth,” stated the rider who has won in Japan over the past two seasons.
Should Marquez clinch the title on Sunday, he would become the first Repsol Honda recipient of the crown since Casey Stoner in 2011. At the same time, the 20-year-old would become the first rookie World Champion since Kenny Roberts in 1978.