America’s most recent MotoGP World Champion, Nicky Hayden, won the title in 2006 in a tension-filled final race showdown with Valentino Rossi.
Honda’s star rookie Marquez holds a 13-point lead over Yamaha kingpin Lorenzo, who has won seven races to Marquez’s six.
Back in 2006, Hayden was eight points behind Rossi going in the Valencia race, but when the great Italian crashed out, Hayden secured the title by finishing third in the race.
There are multiple, similar scenarios for the 2013 showdown, although the man with nothing to lose is Lorenzo, who will go gangbusters for a race win to back up his recent victories in Australia and Japan.
If Lorenzo wins the race, then Marquez only has to finish fourth or better to become the first rookie to win the title since American legend Kenny Roberts in 1978.
“As a fan, I love to see it go down to the last race, and it is a similar situation to me,” Hayden said.
“I had nothing to lose and Lorenzo has nothing to lose playing from behind. Lorenzo is riding incredible and Marquez hasn’t been off the podium in the races he’s finished, so it’s tough spot.
“I’m not sure whose spot I’d rather be in at Valencia. It is a tight track and lots of guys can be fast there and the weather could be anything.”
On the basis of the consistency of his fast and fearless racing, Marquez is the favorite for the title. Yet, Rossi knows from 2006 that anything can happen, especially when the title comes down to just one, final race.
Marquez can put the title beyond question with a win in Valencia, to make it seven for the season.
But as he stands on the brink of MotoGP history, he will no doubt think about the possible scenarios that could also deliver him the crown.
- If Lorenzo wins the race, then Marquez needs to finish fourth or better to become World Champion.
- If Lorenzo finishes second, then Marquez needs to finish eighth or better to become World Champion.
- If Lorenzo finishes third, then Marquez needs to finish 12th or better to become World Champion.
- If Lorenzo finishes fourth, then Marquez needs to finish 15th or better to become World Champion.
- If Lorenzo does not finish in the top four, then Marquez will be World Champion, whatever his own result.