Friday 24 November 2017

Marc Marquez crowned the youngest ever MotoGP world champion

Honda MotoGP rider Marc Marquez
Honda MotoGP rider Marc Marquez

Marc Marquez became the youngest ever rider to win the MotoGP world title after riding a controlled race to third place at the season finale in Valencia.

The 20-year-old Spaniard needed to only finish fourth or higher to be sure of beating Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo to the crown, and did all that was required of him with a performance that yet again belied his tender years.

Lorenzo's achievement sees him become the series' youngest champion, breaking the record of Freddie Spencer who was 21 years and 258 days old when he won the 500cc title in 1983.

Marquez is also the first rookie to win the premier class title since Kenny Roberts in 1978.

The Honda rider's title triumph was just reward for his stunning consistency across his debut season, with his podium finish on Sunday his 16th in 18 races - of which six of those were victories.

Lorenzo, the only man who could deny Marquez his moment of history, won the race but that was not enough for the outgoing champion to overcome the 13-point advantage his rival enjoyed at the start of the day.

Marquez had one or two scares with Lorenzo riding aggressively in the early stages, but once the race settled down Marquez was able to back off and waved team-mate Dani Pedrosa through into second place late on.

"I feel... I cannot explain what I feel," Marquez told BBC Sport.

"It is a dream come true - maybe too early because I did not expect to fight for the championship this year.

"Jorge did a very good job, but thanks to all my team."

Pole-sitter Marquez made a tentative getaway at the start with Lorenzo and Pedrosa leading the way on the first lap.

The duo squabbled for the lead and twice changed positions on the opening tour, while behind Marquez was content to keep a watching brief.

The battle between Lorenzo and Pedrosa almost ended in tears when Lorenzo was late on the brakes into turn two and made contact with his Honda rival, briefly forcing Pedrosa off the track, but both were able to continue.

Lorenzo, who took the title battle to the wire after back-to-back wins in Australia and Japan, then found himself leading from Marquez, who with the field now bunched up was in real danger of being tagged from behind.

Luckily for the rookie the chasing back was unable to maintain the pace and he and Lorenzo were able to pull away.

With the chequered flag in sight Marquez backed off to allow the recovering Pedrosa through into second place, while up front Lorenzo was untroubled as he came home for his third win in succession and eighth of 2013.

Lorenzo told BBC Sport: "I tried the first seven-10 laps to slow down the group. We tried our best, but when I saw the other riders didn't catch the group I tried to go away and win this race.

"Marc has been a deserving champion, so today is his day."

Valentino Rossi came home in fourth on the second factory Yamaha, ahead of Alvaro Bautista (Honda Gresini) and Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda), with Britain's Bradley Smith seventh for Tech 3 Yamaha.

However, there was disappointment for Smith's fellow Briton and team-mate Cal Crutchlow, who crashed out early in the race.

Elsewhere, Maverick Vinales wrapped up the Moto3 crown with victory in the final race of the season, while Nicolas Terol was the winner in Moto2 after new champion Pol Espargaro crashed out.

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