The inaugural edition of the Thailand Grand Prix was an epic to say the least, with three different leaders and tight racing throughout the field, with the top 15 finishers being separated by just 23.628 seconds over the course of a 26-lap race, with the top 10 separated by 11.077 seconds, the top six by 3.023 seconds, and the top three separated by just 0.270 seconds!
However, when it was all said and done, one man took control of the Thailand Grand Prix, and now has the opportunity to take his fifth MotoGP World Championship, and become the youngest rider in history to win five premier class world championships when the 2018 MotoGP World Championship resumes with Round 16 of the championship at the Twin Ring Motegi in Japan.
Marc Márquez (271 points) leads the world championship for the Repsol Honda Team by 77 points over Ducati Team rider Andrea Dovizioso (194 points), the man who Márquez defeated to take victory in Thailand, while Valentino Rossi (172 points), who was in the battle for the majority of the race before slipping to fourth, is still in mathematical contention for the championship, but is 99 points behind the Spaniard for Movistar Yamaha MotoGP.
Behind the top three in the championship, Rossi’s teammate Maverick Viñales (146 points) leads the pack who cannot win the world championship in 2018, ahead of Dovizioso’s teammate Jorge Lorenzo (130 points), whose year has taken a nose-dive with three crashes, one in the race in Misano, one in the race at Aragon, which damaged his toe, and a massive highside in practice in Thailand, which forced him out of the rest of the weekend, ended all of his slim championship hopes, and will be racing to regain some pride in his final four races with Ducati before linking up with Honda in 2019.
Cal Crutchlow (128 points) is sixth in the championship for LCR Honda, ahead of Danilo Petrucci (126 points) for Alma Pramac Racing, and Johann Zarco (123 points) for Monster Yamaha Tech 3, while the two Team Suzuki Ecstar riders in Andrea Iannone (113 points) and Álex Rins (102 points) complete the top 10, with Rins in particular showing some great improvements, with (excluding the cancelled British Grand Prix) four-straight top 10 finishes in the last four races showing that on the right bike, Rins can be a force in the premier class in the coming years.
Looking at the permutations for this weekend, Marc Márquez can claim the 2018 MotoGP World Championship by:
- If Márquez finishes ahead of Dovizioso and Rossi.
- If Dovizioso finishes in 4th, Márquez must finish in 5th.
- If Dovizioso finishes in 5th, Márquez must finish in 7th or higher.
- If Dovizioso finishes in 6th, Márquez must finish in 8th or higher.
- If Dovizioso finishes in 7th, Márquez must finish in 9th or higher.
- If Dovizioso finishes in 8th, Márquez must finish in 10th or higher.
- If Dovizioso finishes in 9th, Márquez must finish in 11th or higher.
- If Dovizioso finishes in 10th, Márquez must finish in 12th or higher.
- If Dovizioso finishes in 11th, Márquez must finish in 13th or higher.
- If Dovizioso finishes in 12th, Márquez must finish in 14th or higher.
- If Dovizioso finishes in 13th, Márquez must finish in 15th or higher.
- If Dovizioso finishes in 14th or lower, Márquez is the WORLD CHAMPION.
So, who will win the Japanese Grand Prix?
Looking at the circuit demands, with long straights and plenty of hard braking zones, this should suit Ducati to a tee, and all of Ducati’s efforts will be geared to trying to get Andrea Dovizioso the victory to keep the championship alive, but even if that happens, you sense if Marc Márquez finishes on the podium, like he has in 12 of the 14 completed races in 2018, the championship will be a fait accompli at the Australian Grand Prix the following weekend.