Marc Márquez claimed his sixth MotoGP World Championship, and his eighth across all classes after winning the 2019 Thailand Grand Prix over Fabio Quartararo in what was a thrilling race at the Buriram International Circuit, and is now only behind Valentino Rossi (seven) and Giacomo Agostini (eight) in terms of premier class world championships.
Márquez also has the opportunity now (during the last four races) to not only equal the amount of race victories he had back in 2014 of 13, if he wins all of the remaining four races, but also to surpass the points-scoring tally of Jorge Lorenzo back in 2010 (383 points) for most points scored in a premier class season.
However, despite the dominance of Márquez this season, the grid remains as competitive as ever as we head into the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix at the Twin Ring Motegi, Round 16 of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship.
Márquez (325 points) leads the championship for the Repsol Honda Team by an unassailable 110 points over Mission Winnow Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso (215 points) heading into Honda’s home race, while Dovizioso’s aim now after being knocked out of the title race will be to secure second in the world championship for the third-straight season, and barring any disaster, should be able to do this.
Behind the Top Two in the championship, there is a massive five-way battle for third in the standings with Álex Rins (167 points) from Team SUZUKI ECSTAR, Maverick Viñales (163 points) from Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP, Dovizioso’s teammate Danilo Petrucci (162 points), Viñales’ teammate Valentino Rossi (145 points), and Quartararo (143 points) from Petronas Yamaha SRT are within 24 points of each other as we head into the final four races of the season!
Jack Miller (119 points) has slipped away from the battle for third for Alma Pramac Racing after his bike stopped running on the grid in Thailand, causing him to start from the pit-lane, but managed to fight his way back through the field to finish in 14th, while Cal Crutchlow (102 points), and Franco Morbidelli (90 points) complete the Top 10 in the standings for LCR Honda and Petronas Yamaha SRT respectively.
So, who is going to win the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix?
Marc Márquez is searching for his fourth-straight win, which would be the first time he has done this since winning the opening 10 races of 2014, and it will be remarkably just the third time since he joined the premier class back in 2013 that he has won four races in a row should he win this weeekend in Motegi.
The biggest danger for Márquez, other than the opposition, may well be himself, because when he has secured the world championship in the premier class before the final race of the season (2014, 2016, 2018), he has crashed or had issues in the following race, which was on all three occasions the Australian Grand Prix, that have forced him to retire from those races early.
However, you get the strong sense that Márquez is as strong a rider mentally than he ever has been, and given some of the things he could achieve in the rest of 2019, it would be wise to continue the approach that he has been using throughout this year so far.
It has been a remarkable season from Márquez, especially given the intense struggles of the other Honda riders, with Cal Crutchlow the highest-placed Honda rider in the standings (other than Márquez) in ninth, Takaaki Nakagami in 12th, and Jorge Lorenzo in a truly embarrassing 19th in the championship, and to make things worse for Lorenzo, he hasn’t finished a race inside the Top 10 in over a year!
Honda will hope the form of Márquez will continue, and that the other three will improve during the last four races of 2019. However, it is more likely that the current form trend will continue, and given that, I think Márquez will make it four wins in a row this weekend, and claim a third MotoGP victory in Japan, and his fifth across all classes.